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Bawdeswell is a village and civil parish in the Breckland district of Norfolk, England. According to the 2001 census it had a population of 766 (2008 population estimated at 800+) and an area of 487 hectares with some 316 dwellings (2008 approx. 335 dwellings). The village is about 14 miles (23 km) northwest of Norwich and 10 miles (16 km) southeast of Fakenham. It is situated immediately to the north of the A1067 road.

Bawdeswell is sited on a Roman Road that ran from Durobrivae near Peterborough, across the Fen Causeway to Denver, followed Fincham Drove and crossed Peddar's Way between Castle Acre and Swaffham, thence towards North Elmham and Billingford, to Bawdeswell and Jordans Green, and on to Smallburgh. It was a major East-West route and possibly continued to Caister or an important port since eroded by the sea. The village lies just over 2 miles east of Billingford that was a Roman settlement and river (Wensum) crossing (wooden Roman Bridge) point. Some Neolithic and Saxon artifacts are listed by Norfolk Museums & Archaeology Service but no Roman items are recorded.

The village is mentioned in the Domesday Book of 1086 and again in the ‘Norwich Domesday Book ‘ of 1291. Evidence has been found of a church here since about 1100. The name has probably been spelt variously as Balderswella, Baldeswell, Badswell, Bawsewella, Baldeswelle.

Bawdeswell was the home of Chaucer's Reeve in the Canterbury Tales from which the village magazine 'The Reeve's Tale' gets its name.

Six roads meet here. In times past there were four Inns and a turnpike toll gate and it was a busy stopping off point for the changing of horses and coaches, for travellers and for Walsingham pilgrims. As with many villages, all the original pubs closed, mostly in the 1920s, but the Bell Inn stayed until 1970 when it was closed and converted into flats. Surprisingly, Bawdeswell reversed the national trend in 2001 with the opening by Matt Beckett of 'The Old Workhouse' bar in part of the old village workhouse. The building was erected in 1781 as a Workhouse for the parishes of Bawdeswell, Billingford, Bintree, Bylaugh, Foxley, Lyng, and Sparham but by 1845 was being used as the village school.

The church is said to be the only Norfolk village church destroyed in the 1939-1945 war having been hit by a Mosquito bomber from 608 squadron that crashed in the village in November 1944. It was replaced with one of Neo-Georgian design by architect J Fletcher Watson.

There has been significant development in the village in the last four decades with the population increasing from 331 at the 1971 census to an estimated 810 in 2001 (Breckland Council estimate). Since 2000 the developments at Saxon Meadows, All Saint's Court and Chaucers Heath plus other infill have added at least 21 new houses and the redevelopment of the sheltered accommodation at Folland Court will see 8 larger family houses built. There is considerable opposition within the village to any further large scale development, especially of 60 or so house on the site near Two Fields Way proposed by the 'Gladedale Group' (reference Annual Parish Meeting May 2007) and the draft Breckland Local Development Framework has not listed Bawdeswell for any significant development. At present the village is without a Post Office since the Postmistress retired in 2007. The village is listed in the March 2008 consultation document to retain a Post Office and the plans for the Folland Court redevelopment include the provision of a dedicated building for it - so we will await developments!

Current and historical information is available on the local website and

Project Bawdeswell has been created to improve facilities in the village. See website

The Parish Council has a website at

Coordinates: 52°44'N, 1°02'E

(Source: Wikipedia)
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