BEDINGHAM (meaning Bede’s people’s meadow) is a small village just off the Bungay to Norwich Road. It is adjacent to Woodton which is slightly larger – it has a pub (The Kings Head) and used until 1962 to have two. The “Tumble Down Dick” has recently become a bed and breakfast after many years as a private house. Even Bedingham used to have a pub The Triple Plea (called the Trip to the Play in an old document!) until 1959.
This is a picture of a thatched wattle and daub house, given the moniker “Mud Hall”. Nowadays thatch is done with reed and is the most expensive form of roofing. A hundred years ago this house was thatched with straw which was the cheapest. Today the long straw used for thatching is unobtainable because it is not an approved variety, and under European legislation the growing of unapproved varieties is forbidden.
Two or three hundred years ago this house was used by cottagers involved in the production of flax. There was a pond in the garden used for “retting” the flax. This involved soaking the stems to rot away all but the central core. A fortnight soaking in the pond was generally enough, for although pond retting produced the lowest quality flax it was quick.
It must have made for a colourful countryside- yellow mustard flowers, red poppies among the corn (there were no weedkillers), blue flax and green pasture. The cottage used to stand in School Road Bedingham. The house was demolished over 60 years ago. Brian Jarvis built his first bungalow on the site in the 1960s while he was working for Clays, the Bungay printers.
This photo of the Jarvis family (top) was taken shortly after the First War; the young man in uniform had joined up in the aftermath of the war and served as a career soldier, largely in India. The names are from left to right: Japheth Jarvis, his wife (eventually) Sophia, their daughter Bessie and son Charlie. (Japheth was one of the sons of Noah in the Bible.) Japheth Jarvis was a woodman who would produce gates and hurdles and the wooden hoops for fish barrels. He was quite happy to spend days in the woods with a loaf of bread and water from the brook. He had a little shelter in the woods and would brew a cup of tea over a fire. Sophia and Japheth had ten children, three of them before the vicar persuaded them to get married. The Jarvis family are my wife’s relations, Bessie and Charlie being her great aunt and great uncle.
Japheth’s father William had come from Southwold where he was born in 1825. The Jarvis family apparently come from a long line of Southwold fishermen. A member of the family was in domestic service during the early years of last century, working for among other Fellowes of Shotesham and Rider Haggard of Ditchingham. Brian Jarvis still has her hand written recipe booklet which the head chef had marked out of ten. Brain’s father was Charlie, the one in uniform in the photograph that begins this blog..
At one time Bedingham had a school, but it closed well over 50 years ago, leaving the children of Bedingham to go the Woodton school. My mother in law was Doris Turner (née Fitt). Her mother was Alice Fitt (née Jarvis), and she must have gone to Bedingham school before it closed. That would have been about the beginning of the 20th century. She probably went into service herself on leaving school as she must have met her husband in North Norfolk. Her married life was spent in Wells-next-the-Sea where my mother in law was born. Alice Jarvis was married in 1913 at the same ceremony in Bedingham church as of two of her siblings. Brian Jarvis (who still lives in Bedingham), the son of Charlie, suggests that her father who was only an illiterate labourer negotiated a “job lot” with the vicar!