Topcroft: history

The parish name, Topcroft, is very probably derived from 'the croft or enclosure at the top'. The church stands on one of the highest points in South Norfolk and the top of the tower has been used as a principal observation point by the Ordnance Survey. The greater part of the present-day population lives in a little valley below the church, nearly a mile away.

Under Edward the Confessor, Goodwin appears as lord of most of this parish. A part, later know as Hoo Manor, was held by the Abbot of St Edmunds'. The Domesday Survey names the lord as Eudo, one of the conquering Normans.

By the time of Edward III, in the 14th century, the lordship had passed to the Cliftons, who also held Hoo Manor. Other families to hold the lordship were the Brews, Wiltons and Smyths, whose memorials are in the church.

John Tennison, who died in 1671 and is buried in the chancel, was Rector of the parish until he was turned out by the Parliamentarians (as were the incumbents of Hardwick and Hempnall). His son later became Archbishop of Canterbury.

Today Topcroft is a lively village with a population of 265 (2011 census). It has a sports field with a pavilion, which provides a venue for a social club. Other events held there include a popular annual 'country day', a beer festival, pancake races, an art group, and meetings of all kinds. It is the home of Topcroft's thriving cricket club and cricket is played on the field during the summer months. In 2002 new playground equipment was erected for the children.

At Airfield Farm there is a war memorial to the American 93rd Bomber Group which operated from the adjacent Hardwick Airfield in World War II. There is also a museum (usually open on the third Sunday of the month from May to October).

Topcroft is also home to a coarse fishing venue.

The brick village sign in the Street depicts Margery Brews of Topcroft Hall writing the first Valentine to John Paston. Near it stands a plaque commemorating the twinning between Melle in France and Topcroft/Bedingham in 1995. 


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