Sloley is a village and a civil parish in the English county of Norfolk. The village is 11.9 miles (19.2 km) north-northeast of Norwich, 13.6 miles (21.9 km) south-southeast of Cromer and 128 miles (206 km) northeast of London. The village lies 4.7 miles (7.6 km) south of the town of North Walsham.
The name Sloley comes from the 7th-century Old English for “sla” meaning “sloe”, plus “leah”, a wood or clearing; hence, “leah where sloes grew”.
The nearest railway stationis at Worsteadfor the Bittern Line, which runs between Cromer and Norwich. The station is about 1 km (0.62 mi) from the centre of the village. The nearest airport is Norwich International Airport. The civil parish of Sloley has an area of 3.04 km2 (1.17 sq mi).
The parish is bounded on the southeast with the parish of Tunstead, whilst to the west lies the parish of Scottow. The northern boundary is with the parishes of Westwick and Worstead.
Dissecting the parish east to west is New Barn lane which follows the route of an old Roman road which was an extension to the Fen Causeway and was thought to be a major East-West route which ran on to Smallburgh and possibly continued to Caister or an important port since eroded by the sea.
Sloley has an entry in the Domesday Book of 1085 where it, its population, land ownership and productive resources were extensively detailed. In the survey Sloley is recorded by the name of Slaleia. The abbot of Holme, Ralph de Beaufour and Reynald Fitzlvo are recorded as the main tenants. The survey also lists that there is a church.
The parish church of Saint Bartholomew
The parish church of Saint Bartholomew is located to the southeast of the village. The church tower is offset to the north of the main body of the church, the result of rebuilding and extensions built on to this church in the 14th and 15th centuries. The north aisle has been constructed on what was the site of the original Norman church in the 15th century. The arcades and clerestory were built in the 15th century, along with a south aisle and new south porch and the top of the tower added. Also during this time the chancel arch was moved south and it to is now off-centre. The south aisle is larger than the north in order to accommodate an altar tomb to Oliver le Gros who was Lord of the Manor who lived at Sloley Old Hall, and who died in 1448. Other internal features are some 15th-century carved bench ends, 17th- and 18th-century floor tombs, 19th- century box pews and a two-decker pulpit and 18th and 19th-century monuments, some in Gothic Revival style.
The font has such characterful figures, such apparent movement. the people on the font look alive. The extra panel, facing east, is the Baptism of Christ. Look at the expression on the bearded Christ’s face as the water is poured over him! Heading clockwise from the east, the panels represent ordination, matrimony (a deacon performing the ceremony), baptism (the infant about to be totally immersed), Mass (an odd one – the most repaired. Did the Priest originally face towards the altar?), confirmation (of a group of children, including infants), confession (in a shriving pew) and last rites, with quite a crowd around the bed. Every panel has a figure or two that delights, so full of character they are.
Sloley Old Hall
Sloley Old Hall belonged to the Le Gros family, who were at one time Lords of the manor of Sloley with family records, which run back to the reign of King Steven. At one time the Le Gros family were major holders of land within the county of Norfolk and Sloley Old Hall was numbered among their manorial establishments. The existing house, which was known as Frankfort Manor, was built by Oliver Le Gros in the 16th century. Harman, who married the last of the Le Gros family, sold to Robert Walpole. The house then passed into the ownership of the Neville family, whose descendants still own the surrounding estate. The house remains part of the Sloley Estate. The hall was once lived in by Sylvia Townsend Warner, a well-known author, who lived there with her lover Valentine Ackland also a poet. Alarmed by the growing threat of fascism, both women were active in the Communist Party of Great Britain, and visited Spain during the Civil War. They lived together from 1930 until Ackland’s death in 1969.
Previous names: Sloley Old Hall/Frankfort Manor/Hall Farm
The hall is said to have 16th century origins, though there is no external evidence for this. The main block is of two storeys, thatched, with four window bays plus a central Classical doorway, with a shaped gable of the 17th century to the east. The brick façade seems 18th century. The two-storey west extension of two bays is also 18th century and thatched. The important farm buildings on the estate include three barns (two 18th, one 19th century) and the Colt Hall, a building of 17th century origins; there is also a working forge.