The Norfolk Arms

The Norfolk Arms

The Norfolk Arms public house (sometimes called the Duke of Norfolk Arms) is shown on Bryant's map of 1826 (see above). The Grade II listed building is on Low Road Forncett St. Peter, close to the junction with Mill Lane and is reported to date to the early 17th century. It is now called 'Rectory Cottages'.

The pub dates back to at least 1790 when it was known as the Sope House (also variously written as Soap House, Sop House and Soup House). It has been suggested that the building was originally known as the Soke House. The term soke dates back to the Norman Conquest and is thought to relate to the holding of a court. A sokeman belonged to a class of tenants, found chiefly in the eastern counties, who could buy and sell their land, but owed service to their lord's soke, court, or jurisdiction.

On Saturday 7th August 1841 a meeting was reported to have been held at the Soap House, Forncett St. Mary by the Tithe Commissioners for England and Wales to discuss the Apportionment of the Rent-charge to be paid in lieu of Tithes. The Parish records of Forncett St Peter also contain papers dated 1865 to 1889 which contain reference to the purchase of the Norfolk Arms `alias the Sope House'. References in various directories list the licensees of the pub as:

Thomas Mason 1790 (Soap House)

James Spinks 1794 (Sop House)

William Moore 1826

Mary Moore 1836-1845

John Moore 1846-1865

Stephen English 1869-1875

Thomas English 1877-1883

Mary English 1883-1904

Donald and Emma English 1908