Bale, Norfolk

Bale is a village within the civil parish of Gunthorpe in the English county of Norfolk.[1] The village is on the north side of the A148 King's Lynn to Cromer road. The village is 9 miles east north east of the town of Fakenham, 14.3 miles west south west of Cromer and 125 miles north north east of London. The nearest railway station is at Sheringham for the Bittern Line which runs between Sheringham, Cromer and Norwich. The nearest airport is Norwich International Airport.

Bale Village Sign 30 August 2008.JPG
The Village sign, Bale, Norfolk.
Bale is located in Norfolk
Location within Norfolk
Population261 (parish, 2001 census)
OS grid referenceTG008363
• London123 miles (198 km)
Civil parish
Shire county
Sovereign stateUnited Kingdom
Post townFakenham
Postcode districtNR21
Dialling code01328
AmbulanceEast of England
UK Parliament
List of places
52°53′27″N 0°59′16″E / 52.89083°N 0.9877°E / 52.89083; 0.9877Coordinates: 52°53′27″N 0°59′16″E / 52.89083°N 0.9877°E / 52.89083; 0.9877
The Parish church of All Saints
The top of the village sign depicts the Bale oak


Bale has an entry in the Domesday Book of 1085.[2] In the great book Bale is recorded by the name ‘’Bathele’’ and it is said to be in the ownership of the King. The main tenant was Harold holding his land from Count Alan.

The villages name means 'Bathing wood/clearing'.

The Parish ChurchEdit

The Parish Church is called All Saints and dates back to the middle of the 14th century.[3] The chancel is slightly older and there is a north transept which indicates that another was planned but never built. The windows have impressive tracery around them. The church has a collection of Norwich School stained glass in one of the south nave windows.

The Bale OakEdit

Site of the Bale Oak tree

The Bale Oak was a large oak tree which once stood in the village. The tree measured 36 feet in circumference, was over 500 years old and, reportedly, featured branches over 70 feet long.


In the middle of the 14th century, All Saints church was erected immediately east of the site of the tree. According to folk legend, the tree had previously been a site for pre-Christian worship and may have been a part of a larger grove. In 1795, the oak was severely damaged. The oak was heavily pollarded and the removed bark and some of the wood was sold to the Hardys of Letheringsett for tanning. Norfolk historian Francis Blomefield recorded use of the oak in the 18th century:

A great oak at bathele near the church, its hollow so large that ten or twelve men may stand within it and a cobbler had his shop and lodge there of late and it is or was used for a swinestry.

Deemed dangerous by the local populace, the abuse of the tree lead to its destruction in 1860. The Lord of the Manor Sir Willoughby Jones ordered the tree removed and, with much local mourning, the remains taken carted to Cranmer Hall at Fakenham. The site is now covered by a grove of Holm Oak trees and is protected by the National Trust for Places of Historic Interest or Natural Beauty.

Edgar Maurice Rowe and the TitanicEdit

One man who was aboard the RMS Titanic when it hit the iceberg and sank was born in the village. Edgar Rowe[4] was born in Bale in 1882. In 1912 he was age thirty and he was a steward aboard the White Star Liner RMS Olympic. He had then become a member of the crew for the delivery voyage of the RMS Titanic from Belfast to Southampton. After the ship arrived in Southampton, Edward Rowe, who gave his address as 56 Bridge Road, Southampton, signed-on to the Titanic’s new crew on 4 April 1912. Rowe was a steward in the first class saloon for which he would have received a monthly wages of £3 15s. Edgar Rowe died in the sinking. His body, if recovered, was never identified.


  1. ^ OS Explorer Map 24 - Norfolk Coast Central. ISBN 0-319-21726-4.
  2. ^ The Domesday Book, England's Heritage, Then and Now, editor: Thomas Hinde, Norfolk; p. 186 ISBN 1-85833-440-3
  3. ^ Norfolk 1: Norwich and North-East, By Nikolaus Pevsner and Bill Wilson, Bale entry. ISBN 0-300-09607-0
  4. ^ Titanic Biography Website

External linksEdit