Stanhoe past and present
Use the navigation menu to find out more about Stanhoe’s past through old photographs and maps, and sound recordings of the memories of local people. Our Story of Stanhoe pages also give some snapshots of the village’s long history.
Stanhoe is a typical small West Norfolk village. It has been in existence for over 1,200 years, and until the last 50 years has always been totally dependent on agriculture.
150 years ago Stanhoe reached a population peak of 517 people, of whom 123 men, 22 boys and 1 woman were directly employed on the farms, while the rest, in occupations like blacksmiths, shopkeepers, carpenters and gamekeepers, were indirectly dependent on the farming community.
Since that date the population has fallen, at first because of the farming depressions and then, in the mid and late 1800s, improving transport which allowed young men, when farm wages and outlook were pretty bleak, to seek their fortunes in the northern industrial towns or in the London area.
By 1951 there were still 325 people living and working here, but with the continued and rapid mechanisation of farming, fewer and fewer people were required on the land. In time, most of the young men and their families moved away. If this had happened a hundred years or more ago, the village would undoubtedly have been abandoned, as happened in earlier centuries with the disappearance of Stanhoe’s sister village, Barwick. By 2001, however, the village still had a full-time population of 196, and today new houses are still being built and barns converted to homes.
The new Stanhoe
The reason that the village still exists is the influx of newly retired people and those who are self-employed and can work from home. These are the people who are the new generation of the village, working together with the few who remain from its former citizens and creating a different but still active community.
On the downside is the ever-growing number of holiday cottages, which from the community’s point of view serve no purpose other than to “sterilise” these houses. Some of the owners do join in village activities when they can, but that is no substitute for full-time residents. Hopefully when they themselves retire, some will come to live here permanently.
With the upheaval accompanying the loss of its original inhabitants, Stanhoe has lost its school, shops, Post Office and one of its two pubs, taking with it the popular bowling green. It does happily still have one active pub, the Duck Inn (formerly the Crown).
There is also a fine Village Hall, an annual Flower Show, a Women’s Institute, and two active churches: Church of England and Methodist. All of these welcome new members and visitors, as do clubs in neighbouring villages. It is quite possible to live in Stanhoe and attend something in the village every week.
Stanhoe Archive 2008–2023
From 2008 to 2023 Stanhoe Archive was the village’s local history group. Members worked to transcribe documents dating from the 14th century to the 1970s, collect old photos, interview Stanhoe residents for an oral history collection, and research the history of the village through maps and fieldwalking.
The members of Stanhoe Archive were Gillian Beckett, Ken Foskett, Rosemary Brown, Mary-Anne Hallinan, Mary Lancefield, Pamela Austin, Terry Austin, Geraldine Butcher, Charles Butcher. They received a grant of £2,590 from the National Lottery under the Awards for All scheme and used the money to buy a digital recording machine for oral history work, a digital projector and screen for presentations, and other equipment and materials for displays and conservation.
In 2023 the group shut down. Its work was largely completed, and several of the original members had died or moved away from Stanhoe.
If you would like to share documents, photos or memories relating to Stanhoe, please get in touch with the former chairperson (tel 01603 873386).