Godwick is one of the best examples of a deserted medieval village in the country.
Earthworks of the deserted village and a ruined church tower are still visible showing where the village, which was recorded in the Domesday Book of 1086, once stood.
The village was populated until the 17th Century, but a series of poor harvests and wet weather in the previous centuries had seen the village decline. The last of the villagers moved on during the 17th century when working the heavy soils at Godwick finally proved too much for them.
Godwick Deserted Village is privately owned, but through the Environmental Stewardship Scheme, is open to the general public all year and there are information boards around the site describing the scene. A good description of the history of the lost village of Godwick has been written by Stephen Fisk in Abandoned Communities. For more information about the villages of Tittleshall and Godwick please visit Tittleshall online .
In 1580 Sir Edward Coke, Chief Justice and Attorney General to Queen Elizabeth, bought the estate and then built a fine manor house that was eventually pulled down in 1962 after a fire in the middle 1800s gutted the building.
The foundations are still visible and sit just a few 100 yards from The Great Barn, which Coke built c. 1580.
Among those that lived at Godwick Manor House include Captain Sir William Hoste, a Royal Navy captain, and friend of Norfolk hero Admiral Horatio Nelson, who was reportedly born there. His father Dixon Hoste was rector and farmer at Godwick and Tittleshall.
Womack Branford and Benjamin Johnson also farmed at Godwick. Both may have lived in Godwick Hall, located north of the The Great Barn and built around 1830.
The Great Barn was built towards the end of the 16th Century by Sir Edward Coke at the east end of the street at Godwick and effectively ceased the village having any sense of community. The barn itself may have been referred to locally as a barracks and has had many uses over the years, including a garrison housing 200 troops during the reign of Charles II. Barracks also refer to buildings used to house livestock with living quarters above and this could have been the early of use of the barn.