Ringland Lane, Costessey
Beehive Lodgeis the last house in Costessey before the parish boundary on the Ringland Lane. It is an octagonal building of a type that was popular two hundred years ago, with ‘Gothick’ windows. The first reference I am aware of to the building, then known as Beehive Cottage, is from 1850 when the residents were called as witnesses in a court case. The house is just across the road from the Wensum, the river level of which they maintained had been consistently higher since Taverham mill had been producing paper for The Times.
At some time it changed its name to Beehive Lodge, which is how it is known today. There is an interesting story that I heard from Fred Barnes who I have mentioned in connection with Old Costessey Post Office. It involves Alfred Munnings from the days when he frequented the area, painting his gypsy friends who lived (on and off, being of course travelling people) in Costessey. One of these was Jimmy Drake. A later member of the family was “Bluey” Drake, of whom I have some tales from Barney Welch, the Sub-postmaster, who was a friend and companion of his. Perhaps I will return to these later, but my subject today is Beehive Lodge.
Anyway, the story as related to me by Fred concerns Alfred Munnings walking down Ringland Lane on his way to paint Ringland Hills. On the way he passed the gateposts of Beehive Lodge, which in those days were octagonal white painted ones to match the octagonal cottage. Seeing a tempting surface he quickly sketched a view on the gatepost. What was it of? Who knows? It has been irretrievably lost, painted over, pulled up and burnt. The gatepost is certainly not there any more; but it makes a good story.
Here is a postscript to the history of Beehive Lodge. About twenty years ago it became a prize in a competition run by a national newspaper. It was for sale at the time and became a commodity in the circulation wars of the Daily Mail and Daily Express. It appears as “Little Snowdrop” Cottage in the Lilliput Lane Series of 2005 as this caption makes clear:” Little Snowdrop, Norfolk, East Anglia Height: 5.5cm. Situated in a lane shared with another estate cottage, this beehive lodge with gothic windows was built very early in the nineteenth century and marks the western edge of Costessey’s village boundary”.
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