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Scarning Village

The village of Scarning is situated 2 miles west of Dereham and 17 miles west of the city of Norwich. We are a largely agricultural parish, with a number of farms set in almost four thousand acres of land. The village has been in existence for over 900 years. In 1912, a bronze spearhead was found deep in the soil at Potter's Fen. The village was known as Scerninga in the Domesday book, Scerninges in 1199 and Skerning in 1253.


The village has a celebrated school, founded in the early 17th century. Among its more famous pupils were Horatio Nelson's father, Edmund; King George III's Lord Chancellor, Edward Thurlow; and Charles Turner, who married one of Sir Robert Walpole's sisters and whose family built the Customs House at King's Lynn. At least six members of the Nelson family were trustees at the school. Other trustees at the school included the Astleys of Melton Constable Hall and the Wodehouses of Kimberley Hall, near Wymondham. Our most famous schoolmaster, Robert Potter, made a name for himself in literary London and became embroiled in a literary scandal with Dr Johnson. 

At the start of the 17th century, Scarning was known as 'the land flowing with milk and honey.' This was a reference not only to the fertile agricultural land, but also the number of minor gentry who owned and occupied estates here. There were manor houses at Drayton Hall, Scarning Hall and Northen Hall (next to Dereham Road). 


By the middle of the 18th century, our largest landowner was John Conyers of Copped Hall in Essex. Conyers was a Governor of the Foundling Hospital. His estate was sold to John Lombe, who in 1756 sat to the popular artist Pompeo Batoni in Rome, as part of his Grand Tour. Lombe's estate subsequently passed to the Evans-Lombe family, who were long time supporters of the village. 


Scarning Village Hall was opened in June 1902 and was the brainchild of our reforming Victorian rector, Augustus Jessopp. The land on which the hall stood was donated by Henry Evans-Lombe. Guests at the opening ceremony included the adventure writer, Rider Haggard, who lived at nearby Bradenham Hall. Rudyard Kipling donated books to the Hall's library.

In 1902, a golf club was opened near Fen Road. The resident farmers still plough up golf balls on the site. The village had its own cycling club, dancing club and cricket club. In 1946, Arthur Faulkner Wright presented the village with its own playing field. The five acre field had previously played host to grazing cows. 

In 1965, the village's population was around six hundred. The construction of the Draytonhall Lane estate and other smaller developments has increased our population to more than two thousand. We are a proud and flourishing village. 

There is more about the village and its history on the village website.

Scarning: Portrait of a Village by Nick Hartley is available through the Norfolk County Council Library Service, as is a book on those from the village in the Great War; and a wide ranging` history of the school entitled Arcadia: A History of Scarning Free School.  

Scarning Village Sign
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