One of my most vivid memories as a small child was when my father would take me for an afternoon walk along the cliffs as far as what was then known, as the Hopton Jungle.
It was really only a small copse, probably stretching back about 50 yards from the cliff face and possibly 200 yards in length. I always thought it was exciting, and kept close to my dad just in case we should meet any wild animals! On our return leg, dad would carry me part of the way on his shoulders. World War II started, and when I returned to Gorleston in 1944 at the age of fourteen, very little of the jungle remained and during the next few years it had virtually disappeared. Therefore when I read an article during the 1950ís of a village that stood between Gorleston and Corton many years ago I was interested, but did not persue it further.
Sometime in the mid 1960ís a heavy storm, accompanied by a scouring sea struck our coastline. After the seas abated, my wife Carol and I went for a walk along the shore and on reaching the area where the village mentioned in the article would have stood, we were amazed to find literally hundreds of what appeared to be blackened animal bones. Plus timbers in the same condition, these had obviously been beneath the sea silt for hundreds of years. We could not identify any human remains and had that been the case we would have notified the authorities. Over the ensuing years it had been niggling me to know more of this lost village.
Since living here in Australia I have contacted the Great Yarmouth and District Archaeological Society. The General Secretary Shirley Harris has been most helpful in answering several inquiries. I have put to her over the past two years concerning archaeological sites in the Great Yarmouth area. My most recent enquires concerned the above-mentioned village. I received a reply from Shirley Harris this week. and I quote (Dear Mr. Bensley, our Chairman, Russel Smith has been busy investigating the subject. He has found a magazine article entitled The Lost Village of Newton by Michael Soanes who has done quite a lot of research into Newton.
This is a summary of the main points of Mr. Soanes article:
The village of Newton is one of those, which has been lost to the sea during the past seven or eight hundred years. It lay between Gorleston and Corton, to the east of Hopton, which, until Newton disappeared, did not have the sea as a boundary. Apparently there is still a very narrow strip of land, which belonged to Newton now surviving as the site of the Gorleston Radar Station. It appears it was joined to Corton and not Hopton when it became too small. Possibly because both Newton and Corton were at the time Royal Manors and therefore run by the same administration.
So far the date for the disappearance of Newton Church has been accepted as 1350.Recent research by Mr Soanes suggests the ruins of the church, which layed in the western part of the parish and therefore furthest from the sea, were still visible well into the nineteenth century.
Mr. Soanes has found a will of 1526 of Alexander Smith, which apparently refers to the church of (Newton near the Sea.) But he has been unable to find any Alexander Smith living in the village although perhaps other members of the family may be found nearby. The lack of any mention of the church as a separate entity in the records, may partly be due to its having been regarded as a chapel of ease attached to Corton Church.The absence of any other documentary evidence puzzles him and he is aware that the mystery of Newton Church is by no means completely solved.
Iwould like to Thank Mr.Michael Soanes for giving me permission to reproduce this information and to acknowledge him as the source of the above article, which I trust, others like myself will find of great interest.
A. E. Bensley