The origins of Great Massingham are thought to go back as far as the 5th Century AD, when the area was inhabited by a group of Angles and Saxons in the wake of the Roman withdrawal.
Their leader’s name was said to be Maesron and this ‘family’ of settlers were called Maersings, hence the home of the Maersings – Maersingham, later spelt as we know it today.
An Augustinian Priory existed from the 11th century and there is a a recorded visit by King Edward I on March 29th 1302 on his way to the shrine in Walsingham. Some of the original priory stonework can still be seen in Abbey House formerly the main residence of Abbey Farm which existed as a working farm until relatively recently.
The parish is mentioned in the Domesday report of 1086, but no reference is made to a church or priest. Less than 100 years later there were 2 churches in the Village, St Mary’s and All Saints, but there are no traces of All Saints left. Sir Robert Walpole, England’s first Prime Minister in 1720, was educated as a young boy in the church's porch, which was used as a school room and it's believed his family regularly visited nearby Burnham Market. His descendents still live in Houghton Hall, which is just 3 miles north of Great Massingham.
Agriculture has been the mainstay of village life for many hundreds of years and still plays an important role. The area is extensively farmed, predominately arable but several large pig farms have sprung up in recent years, in fact this region was one of the first in the country to begin raising pigs on an industrial scale
The Royal Air Force commandeered one of the largest farms in the village to build an airfield soon after the outbreak of WW II. The airfield was returned to agricultural use in 1957, although it is still in use for private flying.
Kings Lynn is 24.
If anybody would like to expand to this series please do. I would just ask that you let SmokeyPugs know first so they can keep track of the Village Sign numbers and names to avoid duplication.
The cache is not on the village sign