Amazing 3D recreations show Norfolk castle and manor in medieval times

An impression of Gresham castle in medieval times

An impression of Gresham castle in medieval times, with the village and church in the background. - Credit: Paston Footprints

The medieval past of a pair of Norfolk landmarks has been revealed in amazing 3D recreations.

Over the past four years, a National Lottery-supported project called Paston Footprints has created a representation of what Gresham Castle might have looked like in the Middle Ages and of Oxnead Hall in its full glory in Stuart times.

The buildings were both owned by the Pastons, one of England's most famous medieval families. 

Today the Gresham Castle site lies in the middle of a field south of Lower Gresham. It cannot be visited directly but can be seen clearly from the road. 

Gresham Castle

Gresham castle as it is today from a drone photograph taken a part of the project to create the 3D image. - Credit: Paston Footprints

James Mindham, the Dilham-based computer-based artist who built the 3D models, said: “We assembled as much certain information as we could for both sites from archaeology, written information and observation, but ultimately these reconstructions are our idea of how these great buildings may once have looked.

3D graphic artist James Mindham at work on one the Paston models.

3D graphic artist James Mindham at work on one the Paston models. - Credit: Paston Footprints

Gresham Castle was built by Sir Edmund Bacon and was acquired by the judge William Paston as he sought to improve his status as an owner of manors in north Norfolk. 

Around the time of the Wars of the Roses, when the Pastons reclaimed the castle from a local landowner, it had been demolished almost to ground level. Only the moat and the flints of about a metre of the wall survive today.

The family obtained the manor of Oxnead in the early 15th century, but the great hall was built in Tudor times by Clement Paston.

A recreation of the main building of Oxnead Hall in Stuart times

A recreation of the main building of Oxnead Hall in Stuart times, from the south side. The inventory for the garden still exists, to help understand what was planted there. - Credit: Paston Footprints

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Poor management and huge debts from the English Civil War led to their family , however, and the final Paston owner, the second Earl of Yarmouth, found no way to restore family fortunes.

Most of the manor's contents were sold off and the main hall fell into ruin.

A further suggestion of the gardens of Oxnead Hall

A further suggestion of the gardens of Oxnead Hall, as they appeared in 1671 for the visit of Charles II. - Credit: Paston Footprints

Peter Stibbons, who co-coordinated the computer-based rebuilds for the Paston Footprints project, said: “Gresham and Oxnead now join the earlier two images of Paston Hall and Bromholm Priory to further the Paston story.

"We have been fortunate to have someone like James working locally with the combined skills of archaeology, research and high-grade artwork, especially in the specialist area of three dimensions.

"His work will be the basis of on-going understanding of Norfolk’s rich history," Mr Stibbons added.

Gresham castle under reconstruction as a 3D computer image

Gresham castle under reconstruction as a 3D computer image. - Credit: Paston Footprints

Oxnead Hall 3D replica

Progress within the 3D construction process, as the original hall is laid out on a modern ground plan. - Credit: Paston Footprints

Oxnead Hall as a pencil sketch

Oxnead Hall as a pencil sketch, drawn from the development of the 3D model. - Credit: Paston Footprints