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The study of old maps can often be very interesting. The map below is part of Faden's map dating back to 1797, over two hundred years ago. 


The 'Fine Heath', near which Bawdeswell is said to lie, in Chaucer's medieval Canterbury Tales, must have referred to the former Bawdeswell Common which the map shows along the Reepham Road.  An earlier Estate map shows it extending on the other side of the village towards Billingford as well. 



The only remaining evidence is the track known as Common Lane, but if you walk down it and look across towards the Reepham Road and to Foxley Wood beyond, you can take yourself back in time and picture the large common as it was before the Enclosures of 1808. 

The present Bawdeswell Heath is but part of what was Belaugh Heath on the old map. It was left in Trust to the villagers of Bawdeswell for the gathering of firewood and gravel. 

Running past it is what looks like an early Bawdeswell by-pass - from opposite Beck Hall on the Billingford Road straight to Sparham. Looking at a modern O.S. map, there is only a remnant of this left today - from near Sparham to Field Barn and towards the rear of the Elsing Lane poultry farm. It used to cross the Dereham road near The Drift then head across the fields towards the Billingford road. It was known as Norwich Waye. 

Faden's map also shows an extensive Foxley Heath stretching nearly all the way to Foulsham. One of the tracks across it exists today in the form of a Public Footpath and at the Foxley end is known to this day as Common Lane, but soon runs out. The Foulsham end of it is not under the plough and is a well signposted footpath. 

Can you see Foxley had an inn called the Dog? The Bell is shown in Bawdeswell, also a windmill where the house called 'Eros is today. 



From The Reeve'S Tale, March 1997