Area guides

East Bilney


Community spirit and medieval history

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East Bilney
11 mins to Dereham
14 mins to Fakenham
24 mins to Swaffham
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With a local medieval church and a community spirit, East Bilney is popular Norfolk location.

East Bilney

The local Medieval church of St Mary is a grade II listed building which was restored and largely rebuilt in Victorian times.  A stained-glass window is dedicated to the memory of martyr Thomas Bilney who was born in the village in 1495. The village sign is copied from this window.

The village is situated approximately seven miles south of the market town of Fakenham and six miles north west of Dereham, both of which have regular farmers markets and excellent shopping facilities.

Nestled in the Brecklands, in the heart of the county, Dereham is a classic country market town and an architectural haven with plenty of Georgian gems set on generous plots, blended with more recent developments.

Mentioned in The Domesday Book, Neolithic and Iron Age relics have been discovered in the area and the town is believed to lie on an ancient road with 1,000 Roman coins discovered nearby in 2004. The town’s recorded history dates back to 645AD when a monastery was founded by St Withburga and the town is said to derive its name from a miracle by the saint.

In the eighth century, it is said that the youngest daughter of Anna, King of East Anglia, prayed for a miracle during a famine and two deers appeared every day to provide milk for the nunnery she had founded. When a huntsman tried to snare the deer, he was thrown from his horse – believed to be an act of divine retribution – and killed. The hunt is depicted on a town sign at the entry to Butter Market from the High Street.