The Romans established forts at nearby Caister and at Burgh Castle, south of Great Yarmouth, on either side of a great estuary. When they left, Saxon invaders were followed by Vikings, around 800 ad, who entered East Norfolk via the river systems. Danes settled this largely unpopulated area, which, hitherto, had only been used for grazing. Many of the local village names are Danish in origin. Some thirteen end in ‘by’ which means ‘new settlement’. Filby, which was situated alongside the watercourse, today known as Muck Fleet, is thought to be the place of File the Dane.
Filby features in the Doomsday Book as a community of 198 people and 287 acres who’s Tenant in Chief was Rabel the Engineer, the artificer of the Norman army.
As a result of climate change, the wet marshlands drained and peat was dug for burning. During the middle ages, there was a substantial demand for this fuel, particularly from the large religious communities at St. Bennet’s Abbey and in Norwich, to which it was transported by boat. Extensive peat ‘quarries’ were formed, some up to five metres deep and, as the water table rose again, so the diggings were filled to form what are now known as the Norfolk Broads.
Essentially agricultural in character, Filby was known for its market gardens. It was noted for its raspberries and half of the village acreage was given over to this single crop. Kelly’s Directory of 1897 mentions that the parish is ‘famous for its excellent raspberries, many hundreds of pounds worth of which are sent to London and other towns during the season’. It is estimated that, at peak, the village produced some 4 tons annually which, at today’s prices, would retail at over £1 Million.
Filby is a village in rural Norfolk. It lies on the eastern edge of the Norfolk Broads, between Filby Broad and Ormesby Little Broad, some 6 miles north-west of Great Yarmouth and 16 miles east of the city of Norwich. The parish has an area of a little over 2.2 square miles (543 acres) and, in the 2001 census, it had a population of 740 in some 308 households.
It has a long history of horticulture, however, in the 1960s, the land became more valuable than the crop and all five of the village’s market gardens were sold off for property development. Astride the busy A1064, now, the village is an attractive base for commuters to both Great Yarmouth and Norwich. The village benefits from a busy Post Office and shop. Other facilities include a uni-sex hairdresser, a laundromat, a bakery and a public house. The village also has a very popular restaurant.
In 2008, the village lost its Church Hall which catalysed the project to acquire a new Community Centre. It has been fundraising to finance this ever since and, in October of this year, it was awarded a grant of £473,600 from BIG Lottery to complete the £630,000 building. Construction started on Nov 10th and it it became available to the village on 19th June 2015.