Beehive Cottage, early 20th century.

Beehive Cottage, early 20th century.

This picture of BEEHIVE LODGE was taken over a hundred years ago by Frank Welch, the Costessey photographer and Sub-postmaster. In those days it belonged to the Costessey Estate and was tenanted by estate workers like gamekeepers. It was sold when the  estate was broken up after the First World War. You can see that the building has been considerably enlarged in the last century, with single storey extensions to the right and left. This was done by Walter Ives who bought Beehive Lodge in the early 1950s. His widow lived there until the early 90s.

Back in 1908 the family are taking their picnic on the lawn outside; for those days quite an informal affair with only blankets on the lawn (no chairs). Of course the ladies are wearing hats and the men ties, anything less and they would have felt disgracefully under-dressed. What I particularly like is the friend who has joined in the festivities– a donkey!

Following my piece on Beehive Lodge (or Beehive Cottage as it used to be called) on December 2 last year (2011) I had the message from the current owners and occupants of the building, Roger and Joy Booth:

“Ringland Lane used to be known as Black Lane and the Woodland behind the house is known as Blackhill woods. The rumour as told by Fred Barnes was that the woods were the burial site for the city of Norwich for the [victims of the]  Black Death. I also have a different understanding ref Alfred Munnings in that he painted one of the gypsy horses on the gate post to say a thank you for using the river bank opposite in one of his paintings!”

Apparently the Booths still have the gatepost, complete with its coats of paint! What (if anything) lies beneath? They dare not try to remove the layers! Blackhill Woods are directly behind the house as you stand in Ringland Road. The Booths were not the winners of the property in the Daily Mail competition – they lived in Blackpool and wanted to stay there. So they sold it and the Booths bought it.

As a matter of interest, the family depicted in the photograph would have been the same that were approached by Munnings on that day he painted a picture on the gatepost. I do not know if he ever depicted a donkey – horses were more his thing – but here is good candidate. (I can now reveal that of course he painted donkeys , as I have discovered on the internet – click here for a picture of one by him.)

There is a Sir Alfred Munnings Art Museum at Castle House in Dedham which has the largest collection of paintings. This is in his former home. There is also a museum dedicated to Munnings in  Colchester and they have a Facebook page.

Returning to the history of Beehive Lodge, in 1839 the Tithe Award lists the tenants as Charles and Ann Spaul. By 1890 a Mr Barber lived there; by 1905 it was inhabited by Thomas White who in that year drowned in the river on the way back from the pub. Who the family with the donkey was is unclear, and by the time the estate was sold in 1918 it was unoccupied. By 1920 the house had been  bought by R. H. Tebb, and in 1930 Capt. George Cox Starling lived there. Since 1983 it has been a grade II listed building.




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