Another desertion. The photograph below was taken looking very roughly South at the present day situation of Little Hautbois; Little more than a row of houses just off the B1150, set in Pretty Farmland, it still just about clings on to its existence.

Hautbois 1 © Nick Stone

As you follow the road round this bend past this copse/wood, you turn a corner and pass the ex-Adam and Eve pub, a vestige of village-ness, apparently open and in use as a pub through WW2 mainly by the local airmen from Coltishall. Follow the road still further you come to a junction, the left hand fork of which takes you to the equally almost non-existent Great Hautbois, with it’s achingly beautiful little church ruin and moated medieval site (more on that here).

However, if you take the right turn, the road brings you to a farm, opposite which until 1907 were the ruins or rather the foundations of the church of St Mary, or at least I think that’s where they are it’s rather difficult to tell as there are no visible remains, no sign or epitaph. A church completely lost ploughed out. The information I’ve managed to glean about the site is at best confusing; maps indicate one position, things I’ve read indicate the grounds of the hall, (just out of shot on the right). I took one look at the wood and assumed it was in there, as it appeared to have some sort of earthworks in it, which in fact it doesn’t.

This area is rich in desertion, Stanninghall is less than 5 miles away, Great Hautbois and Oxnead are very close. and Sco Ruston (or Scornston) is 5 miles the other way, along with Shrunken settlements like Tunstead and probable enclosures like Westwick.

That sense of something
Vanished – like ghost-light fleeing
In the Bure’s mirror.

Cameron Self

It’s a delicate piece of countryside to explore, full of fleeting images of the past; old hedges and copses bob and sway as you walk, the manor peers from behind the treelines, ponds and water-filled marl-pits glimmer in trees.

Hautbois 2 © Nick Stone