Edingthorpe was added to the civil parish of Bacton under the County of Norfolk Review Order, 1935. The village is thought to date back to the 11th century. Its name possibly comes from ‘Eadhelm’s thorpe’, where ‘Eadhelm’ was a female Anglo-Saxon name and ‘thorpe’ meaning a village or outlying settlement.
The parish of Edingthorpe is elongated in shape and is bordered by Bacton in the north, Witton to the south-east, North Walsham to the south-west and Paston to the north-east. It is also quite spread out, with three distinct areas – the village around Rectory Road and Church Lane, Edingthorpe Green at The Street and The Green, and part of Bacton Road and Mill Road, which extends towards Bacton Woods.
The dispersed nature of the community has often been commented upon. In 1940 Arthur Mee stated in ‘The King’s England’ that ‘the cottages are scattered about its lanes and the church is on a lonely hill’. Although there has been some limited development since, it still remains quiet and spread out. There is no longer a village shop, which was once on the corner of Rectory Road and Church Lane, or a post office; the surrounding countryside is mainly composed of arable fields intersected by hedgerows and small areas of woodland.
Although not that well known, (some residents of North Walsham haven’t even heard of it!) Edingthorpe is significant in a number of ways. Firstly, the lovely thatched church of St Peter and St Paul, which sits on a rise looking over the village, has important wall paintings that date to the 14th century. It is one of the Norfolk’s ‘round tower’ churches, although it has an unusual octagonal belfry. The lych gate leading into the churchyard is also special, built to commemorate a rector’s son who died in the Great War.
The war poet Siegfried Sassoon used to spend his summer holidays in Edingthorpe as a child, staying at The Old Rectory. In his memoires he reflects on his time spent there, and talks about the church and the village pond. Another author, William Riviere, set his novel ‘Echoes of War’ in the area.
Edingthorpe also had a role in the introduction of sugar beet into the UK. A Dutch company realised that the local soil and climate were suitable and set up the first processing factory in Cantley in 1912. A supervisor was sent over from Holland to oversee the factory and to buy up farms suitable for growing the crop. One was in the neighbouring village of Paston, which he then managed on behalf of the company.
In the mid-1920s, his nephew Antonius de Feyter came to Paston for a holiday, and liking the area, asked his uncle to find him a farm to rent. Green Farm in Edingthorpe was secured; he started farming in 1929 and in 1930 married a local girl from Paston. The farm was subsequently purchased and the de Feyter family still farm there today.
An old church, north of Edingthorpe village and standing on a low hill surrounded by trees, All Saints consists of a round west tower, nave, chancel and south porch; construction is of flint and brick with freestone dressing. The nave is thatched, the chancel pantiled.
The earliest parts of the church are the north and west walls of the nave, which are probably late Saxon or early Norman in date. The west tower is 12th or 13th century, with a 14th century octagonal belfry. The chancel and most of the remainder of the church is 14th century with later alterations.
Inside, there are a good number of medieval survivals. The 12th century door to the now blocked north door hangs on the west nave wall behind the decorated 14th century font. The rood screen is also 14th century, and the south door earlier than that. There are rare 14th century paintings on the north nave wall of St Christopher and The Seven Sisters.
The church has remained largely unchanged, a fact noted with approval by the Great War poet Siegfried Sassoon, who spent childhood holidays in Edingthorpe, and visited again in the 1930s.