The year was 1698 The day August 20th The event which was to be the last duel fought in Norfolk took place here on Cawston Heath.
The contestants were:
Sir Henry Hobart MP of Blickling Hall & Oliver Le Neve, a lawyer from Great Witchingham.
The two had been engaged in a bitter dispute as a result of Sir Henry being accused of cowardice when fighting in support of William III at the Battle of the Boyne in Ireland in 1690.
At the same time Sir Henry lost his seat in Parliament, and denounced Oliver Le Neve as the cause of his troubles.
Further altercations followed, and Le Neve reluctantly accepted Sir Henry's challenger to a duel, which was not illegal then, provided that seconds and witnesses were in attendance.
It appears there were none present on this occasion.
It was said that Le Neve who was described as a great sportsman and a great drinker, fought left-handed and was soon wounded in the arm by Sir Henry who had a reputation as a swordsman.
However, Le Neve, who lacked the skill of Sir Henry as a swordsman then struck back and either by luck or in desperation he thrust his sword into Sir Henry's belly.
He fell, fatally wounded; servants took him home to Blickling Hall, where died the next day.
As there appears to have been no seconds or witnesses, the duel was deemed to be illegal. Le Neve fled to Holland but returned to Norfolk 2 years later where he had many friends & acquaintances, soon thereafter he was " triumphantly acquitted of any blame in Sir Henry Hobart's death". He died in 1711.
His monument may be seen in Great Witchingham Church.
It is said locally that details of the duel came from a young lady named Nelly, who was said to be hiding & watched the duel from the blackberry bushes on the heath.
Well Done to The SuffieldHunters for being the FTF.
Captain's Cottage, which stands near Cawston Park has been associated with Captain Le Neve, & a belt of trees nearby was known as "Nelly's Folly".
Tales are still told of this unfortunate event & is commemorated by the Duel Stone which stands in a small plot that must be the smallest National Trust property in the UK, it was erected in 1770 by W.W. Bulwer.