St Peter's Church, Norton Disney
|OS grid reference|
|• London||110 mi (180 km) S|
|Sovereign state||United Kingdom|
Norton Disney is a small village and civil parish on the western boundary of the North Kesteven district of Lincolnshire, England. It is situated on the border with the adjacent county of Nottinghamshire and shares a boundary with Collingham in that county. This county and parish boundary of Collingham and Norton Disney also splits the Potter Hill area which has important Iron Age and Roman archaeology. The population of the civil parish at the 2011 census was 226. It lies midway between Lincoln and Newark, 2 miles (3.2 km) to the south-east of the A46.
Norton Disney was one of the seats of the Disney family, an Anglicised version of the original French surname d'Isigny, of Isigny-sur-Mer, Normandy, from whom film producer Walt Disney's family might be descended. The Disney family were also lords of the manor in Swinderby, Carlton-le-Moorland and Kingerby.
The Disney family were lords of the manor subsequent to the conquest in 1066; a charter of 1386 naming their estate as Disnayland. They continued to be lords of the manor up until 17th century. Within the parish church there are a number of memorials to the family. There is a commemorative brass in the medieval church of St Peter commemorating three generations of the d’Isigny or Disney family, made about 1580. In the bottom panel is an inscription reading:
- "The lyfe, conversacion and Service, of the first above named William Disney and of Richard Disney his sonne were comendable amongest ther Neighbours trewe and fathefull to ther Prince and cuntre & acceptable Thallmighty of whom the truth they are received to Salvation accordinge to the Stedfast faythe which they had in & throughe the mercy and merit of Christ our savior Thees thuthes are thus sett for the that in all ages God maybe thankfully Glorified for thes and suche lyke his gracius benifites."
There have been two manor houses in Norton Disney: an original moated manor house opposite the church, now demolished, and a 17th-century replacement, sited off Main Road, Norton Disney.
The lordship of the manor subsequently passed on in the following two centuries with Lord St Vincent’s estate, the Brown family taking the title.
In 1933 a Roman villa was discovered with two mosaic floors in the parish off Folly Lane. Subsequently excavated in 1934/5 the finds were taken to nearby Newark Museum. The villa site is a scheduled ancient monument of national importance. The site in the following 80 years has revealed complex and a high density of both Middle Iron Age and Roman archaeology. Near by Gallows Nooking Common running along side the A46 between Folly Lane and Hill Holt Wood has an Iron Age and Roman British boundary bank and ditch. It has been excavated three times in 1991, 2001 and 2002. Thought to be a boundary for the Roman Villa. Villa Farm has also revealed through geophysical surveys and two excavations in 2019 and 2022 to be the site of Iron Age roundhouses and a Roman road that runs between North Scaffold Lane and the Roman villa. The fields to the east and south of the Roman Villa had geophysical surveys carried out by the Norton Disney History and Archaeology Group in 2020. These surveys and the group’s subsequent excavations in 2021 and 2022 revealed a roundhouse site to the south of the villa. Also extensive evidence of iron smelting dated by XRF analysis to the Middle Iron Age. To the south of Villa Farm, next door Brills Farm in a 2019 excavation showed evidence of Iron Age pottery. In 2023 an excavation near the farmstead confirmed it was a 2-3rd-century farming settlement. The farmstead itself has a double ditched and banked enclosure feature which is potentially Iron Age in origin. Close to the Lincolnshire boundary in 1989 a mounted Iron Age deity was discover by metal detectorists. This deity, aka the “Norton Disney rider god” was subsequently bought by the British Museum. The site is also important in that William Stukeley, the antiquarian, visited Potter Hill in 1722. He described the site as having a Roman pottery and drew a view of the landscape taking in the Fosse Way, Potter Hill, Crococalana and Newark. This correctly linking Crococalana and the Fosse Way within the landscape with Potter Hill as Roman sites. The Roman town of Brough or Crocoalana, on the Fosse Way, just over the border in Nottinghamshire.
During the Second World War, RAF Station Swinderby (later renamed RAF Station Norton Disney) was home to No 93 Maintenance Unit (No 93 MU) from August 1939 until 1958. It was also a mustard gas filling station and required a site decontamination subsequently.
Walt Disney visit
Disney had been in the UK from 20 June 1949, arriving at Southampton on RMS Queen Elizabeth; he embarked on a six-day motoring holiday with his two teenage daughters, Diane and Sharon, and his wife, with a convoy of cars. After seeing the village, he left for a night at Boroughbridge in North Yorkshire, later visiting 8 Howard Place in Edinburgh on 8 July. He visited Loch Ness. Disney also planned to visit the Derbyshire Peaks, Stratford-upon-Avon, the Scottish Highlands, and Burns country.
His film Treasure Island was being filmed at Denham Film Studios from 4 July 1949, being also filmed at Falmouth and Hartland Quay at Bideford, in Devon, from 4 July 1949 on the Ryelands 158-ton schooner, owned by Plym Shipping Line, for three weeks. It was the first film that Disney had made abroad.
In 2023, Disney historian Sebastien Durand commented on Norton Disney and its connection to Walt Disney: "This is the oldest place in England where you can find a trace of Disney, of Walt Disney's history and his family tree and even his coat of arms. The name comes from here. The exact possibility that Walt Disney is related to that is, I would say, 99%."
- "Civil Parish population 2011". Neighbourhood Statistics. Office for National Statistics. Retrieved 26 May 2016.
- Uncle Walt's lost ancestors - The Independent newspaper, 1997
- Historic England. "Church of St Peter (Grade I) (1360555)". National Heritage List for England. Retrieved 16 October 2023.
- "The Lincolnshire village honoured in every Disney film since 2006". BBC News. 16 October 2023.
- Walt Disney’s Lincolnshire connection RideRater. 6 December 2020. Retrieved 9 December 2020.
- Scotsman Saturday 9 July 1949, page 6
- Sunday Post Sunday 10 July 1949, page 4
- Liverpool Echo Thursday 7 July 1949, page 3
- Dundee Evening Telegraph Thursday 7 July 1949, page 3
- Media related to Norton Disney at Wikimedia Commons