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Cantley House - Cantley Lane

Cantley House, lying in the south east corner of Hethersett, was formerly a farmhouse and is now the only remaining settlement of the ancient parish of Cantelose. The present house, in three distinct builds, dates from the early seventeenth century although it is almost certain that this site was a place of dwelling back in medieval times due to its close proximity to the site of the church of Canteclose.

Built in colourwashed brick in Flemish bond under a pantile roof, the principal facade facing north-west to the road shows clearly the three periods of building. To the left a nineteenth-century single storey and attic extension with a dentilled cornice adjoins a late seventeenth-century two-storey and attic central wing. A string course of bricks separates the two storeys with a row of clamped iron crosses below. There is a stepped gable to the left. Replacement windows with iron casements are in keeping with a seventeenth-century style. The ground floor left window has been replaced by a nineteenth-century ogee door and frame brought from Burgh-next-Aylsham Hall. The section to the right, the first to be built in the early seventeenth century, now forms a crosswing. This is a timber-framed building encased in Victorian brickwork. Two storeys and attic under a steeply-pitched roof suggest thatch was used in earlier times. The front of the wing facing south west has a later central porch incorporating Gothic lancets also from Burgh-next-Aylsham.

The interior has several fireplaces with bressumers and others are brick arched and chamfered. A renovated, brick faggot oven is well preserved with evidence of the mounting for a chimney crane which held kettles and pots over the fire. Old ledged and braced doors are throughout and the ground floor has later pamments and floor bricks. Much exposed original timbers include ovolo moulded bridging beams, various chamfer stops, stairways, studwork, rafters, purlins and floors.

The house and associated farm buildings are situated south of Cantley Lane near its junction with an ancient track leading to the village of Hethersett. This track was intersected by the railway built in 1845. The site of the former parish church, All Saints, lies to the north east of the house.

Cantley House is built on an elevated site, the ground sloping gently northwards and eastwards down to the Cantley stream. This runs in an easterly direction to enter the River Yare at Cringleford. There is a brick well situated to the north east of the house and a pond close to the farm buildings.

All the medieval records show that the name was Cantelof, at which time it was a small village and separate parish with its own church. The will of one of the rectors, Simon Muriel, was proved in 1372 and is one of the oldest surviving local wills. He bequeathed his bed to Stephan and Alice le Man, a gown with a russet hood to Roger le Smyth of Cantelof and to Stephan le Man, a gown with fur and a tunic of blue.

By Tudor times the name had altered to Cantelowe, the village and church had disappeared, probably, for economic reasons. Three or four farmers only remained. In the 1700s the normal spelling was Cantloe: the modern spelling is not met with until the nineteenth century. The versions, Cantelos, Cantelose and Canteclose seem to be misreadings of old documents. The house is named Cantley White House on Bryant's map of Norfolk 1826, and on the first Ordnance Survey map of 1838. Most later references call it Cantley Farm, or occasionally Cantley House. At present the former farmhouse is called Cantley House and the farm buildings are collectively known as Cantley Farm.

Blomefield records that "Will Noppe [was] the last rector here, for in 1397, this church was consolidated to Hethersete, by Henry, Bishop of Norwich, at the petition of Ralf Cromwell, Knt. and the parishioners. it being certified that the revenues were so small, that it had laid void because nobody would accept it, and it was agreed that the profits should be divided between John Christmass and Tho. Sawnders, and their successours, Rectors of Hethersete, forever who served the church alternately as a free chapel till the reformation; when it was totally demolished. The place where it stood being called the Old Churchyard". "There was an ancient family sirnamed from this hamlet, for John, son of Peter de Cantelos, and Will. Bygod, were owners here in Henry the Third's time. The capital messuage called Cantlowe Hall is now owned by Arthur Jenney, Gent."

This was in 1752, and the Jenney's owned it until 1780. In 1793, Robert Plumtre was owner and the Denews were occupiers until 1818 when Thomas Back bought it, but still retaining Thomas Denew as tenant farmer until 1821. From 1821 until 1861, the Gurneys of Thickthorn leased the property as accommodation for their employees. Various farmer occupiers are listed until 1936 when the Backs sold out to the Westgate family.

An extensive restoration was undertaken recently, and the final result is evident today in the fine handsome building which can now be seen, standing opposite to the site of the ancient Canteclose Church.