Roman and Saxon Times
After the defeat of the Iceni tribe and Boadicea in AD61 the region was under Roman control for some 400 years. Pottery was made nearby and Roman tiles, possibly from some ruined Roman villa, can be seen embedded in the North wall of St John Baptist Church. References in the Domesday Book indicate that Coltishall was an important Saxon settlement around 1000 AD.
At the time of the Norman conquest (1066) the manor was held by Stig and, the Archbishop of Canterbury. During Norman times the region appears to have prospered because, in the unusual charter dated 1231 King Henry III granted “to all men, women and children born, or to be born, in this village of Couteshall, freedom from all villenage of body and blood:and from toll, stallage, picage and pannage, in all fairs and markets throughout England” The area remained dependent upon trade, agriculture and forestry and does not seem to have been affected by the developments elsewhere in Norfolk of wool trade and weaving. This, combined with the absence of any great baronial family in the immediate vicinity, accounts for the charming simplicity of the Church. In 1425 King Henry VI granted the royal rights over Coltishall to the newly-founded King’s College at Cambridge, which remains Lord of the Manor today.
16th to 19th Century
The village became a thriving commercial centre with many malt houses, and a loading and unloading point for the wherries travelling on the River Bure between Yarmouth and Aylsham. It had its own ship-building yard in Anchor Street. However, the river trade declined after the coming of the railway line in 1879 and navigation beyond Coltishall became impossible when the lock gates at Horstead were destroyed in the flood of 1912.
A Royal Airforce Station, which played a distinguished part in the defence of the country in the 1939-1945 war, was situated a few miles from the village. Now closed, the station was an important base for the Jaguar fighter bombers. Many residents of Coltishall now work in Norwich, but the village is a tourist centre, which has beautiful river frontage, the river Bure, a number of picturesque walks, and “olde worlde” pubs, one of which supposedly has a ghost.