Burnham Norton Friary

Burnham Norton Friary

Perspectives on the Carmelites in Norfolk

The Carmelites, or Whitefriars, founded their fourth house in England between 1245 and 1247 at a coastal site in Burnham Norton, North Norfolk, then known as Bradmer. The priory relocated to its present site slightly farther inland in 1253, and was considerably enlarged during the fourteenth century. Despite its rural location Burnham Friary regularly hosted the Provincial Chapter until its suppression in 1538. Just a few fragments of this significant priory remain visible today, including a much-restored fourteenth-century gatehouse, the ruinous west front of the church and a considerable length of the precinct wall.

In 2017 and 2018 the Norfolk Archaeological Trust, with a range of local partner organisations, investigated the site and its history as part of the Heritage Lottery Fund-supported Imagined Land project. The aim was to offer the people of the Burnhams the chance to explore and celebrate the heritage of the friary site through practical research and creative activities. Archaeological and historical research was presented at two well-attended study days organised in April 2018 as part of the Norfolk Archaeological and Historical Research Group’s contribution to the project. This publication draws together and expands upon this material, and is intended as a catalyst for discourse and future research.



Preface and Introduction Brendan Chester-Kadwell

The Burnhams from their Anglo-Saxon origins to the coming of the Carmelites Andrew Rogerson

The development of the medieval friary site and its landscape context Brendan Chester-Kadwell

The urban context: investigation of Norwich Whitefriars Rachel Clarke

From hermits to mendicants: the Carmelites in England 1242 to 1247 Helen Clarke

The Carmelites, their mission and the lay community 1247 to 1538 Brendan Chester-Kadwell

Results of recent archaeological surveys of the Burnham Norton site Giles Emery

The existing remains including Friary Cottage and Our Lady’s Well Stephen Heywood

Benefactors great and small: late medieval wills relating to Burnham Norton Friary John Alban

Imagined coastlines – coastal change at the port of Burnham Jonathan Hooton

Aspects of Burnham Norton Friary’s post-Dissolution History Sally Francis

Conclusion Brendan Chester-Kadwell


ISBN 9978-1-9997752-7-8
Publication September 2019.
Est. 176 pages, 234 x 156 mm, including many illustrations, some in colour.
Notes, bibliography and index.