Caistor Hall was built between 1795 and 1797 in the time of King George III by the Dashwood family. The actual site can be traced back even further to before the Norman Conquest and originally belonged to the Abbey at Bury St Edmunds until it was confiscated during the dissolution of the monasteries.
Caistor Manor and land then passed to the Godslave family who owned it until the early 1600’s and then in turn to the Pettus family.
Through marriage the land became the property of the Dashwoods in 1793. The first recorded owner was Horatio Dashwood who lived in the hall with his wife Harriet and their children.
Below is the timeline of events:
1795-1797 Caistor Hall is built.
1803 Horatio Dashwood becomes a priest in the parish.
1806 John Richard Dashwood sells the Caistor Hall site to his brother Horatio for 5 shillings.
1814 Horatio Dashwood becomes the rector of Caistor.
1821 Horatio Dashwood and Harriet Warren marry.
1823 Death of William Warren, Harriet’s farther.
1824 New façade added to Caistor Hall.
1828 Horatio Dashwood dies, Harriet continues to live in the hall.
1880 Harriet passes away.
In 1948 the Hall opened as a Hotel and Country Club.
Many important archaeological finds have been discovered around the site. These include prehistoric burials and cremations from the period 3000 to 1500 BC.
They were uncovered between 1989 and 1991, during archaeological excavations prior to the building of the Southern bypass just a couple of miles from the hall.
Any narrative about Caistor must start with the Roman town probably establishment in the early 2nd century AD. There is debate about what was there before and temple sites on the surrounding hills suggest earlier occupation but nothing has yet proved this.
It is often assumed that the town, Venta Icenorum, marketplace of the Iceni, was established in the aftermath of Boudicca’s rebellion in AD 60-61 but no evidence has been found of Romanisation of the site until around AD 120.
Certainly the town became a thriving community in the second century, spreading itself much more widely than the area inside the walls, built around AD 270. Streets were laid out, a temple, forum and bathhouse built and the town played an important role in the Roman rule of East Anglia.
That rule came to an in AD 410 when the Romans withdrew, leaving the Britons to the mercy of the invading Saxons. There is some evidence of the area remaining occupied after the Romans left but clearly the town was in decline, being eclipsed by nearby Norwich, positioned down the river and more able to receive boats as the rivers silted up and boats got larger.
We know little about Caistor in the Middle Ages although it is mentioned in the Doomsday Book and the earliest parts of the church date from this time.
Roman brick, robbed from the town, can been seen in the church porch.
More Information about Caistor may be found at www.caistorromanproject.org and www.norfarchtrust.org.uk/caistor.
There is also a guide book published by the Norfolk Archaeological Trust available from the hotel reception. The site is a short walk from the hotel and the trail around the town is well signposted with information boards. The church is also well worth visiting.