Syderstone – Village History

 

The picturesque village of Syderstone is situated in the county of Norfolk within in the United Kingdom, midway between Kings Lynn and Norwich, about five miles west of the town of Fakenham.  It is about ten miles inland from the North Norfolk coast, see map.

 

The village dates back well over a thousand years.  It is recorded in the Domesday Book of 1066, but the village pre-dates even this.  The original Anglo Saxon name was Sidsterne, which means “large estate”, from the Old English “sid” meaning broad or extensive and “sterne” meaning property

 

In the 16th century Syderstone Hall was the home of Sir John Robsart, Sheriff of Norfolk and Suffolk, and his daughter, Amy, whose initials are still to be seen in the churchyard gate and over the entrance to the Norman church tower. The present village hall is named after her. In 1549 Amy Robsart married Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester, and her mysterious death in 1560 led to suspicion that she had been murdered so that Robert might marry Elizabeth I - a suspicion which became the subject of Sir Walter Scott's novel “Kenilworth”.

 

Amy’s ghost was seen at the Old Hall shortly after her death and continued to appear there until the Hall was demolished, whereupon her ghost moved across to the nearby Rectory, where windows opened of their own accord and other poltergeist activity was reported.  But Amy is not the only ghost of Syderstone, the village is also haunted by a phantom highwayman, who has been seen on his ghostly mount, silently galloping towards the village green.

 

 The present day village hall is named after Amy Robsart, and is still very much in use for Parish Council meetings and village social occasions.

                                                

The present Earl of Leicester, whose wife is alive and well, resides a few miles north-east of the village at Holkham Hall.

 

 

 

 

--- to be continued.

 

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