The Old Lodge is a substantial brick built ruin. It is the fifteenth century fortified manor house built by Sir John Fastolf during the Wars of the Roses. (Sir John was the original of Shakespeare’s FALSTAFF.) On his death without issue it was left to his relatives the PASTON family, although his will was contested. The Duke of Norfolk wanted CAISTER CASTLE, Sir John’s largest propery, and the Duke Suffolk had his eyes on Drayton and besieged it with a view to taking it over. He succeeded in acquiring the neighbouring manor of Hellesdon, but Drayton manor was defended successfully by MARGARET PASTON – for a time at least. The Duke of Suffolk had his headquarters just across the river WENSUM in COSTESSEY. DRAYON LODGE makes several dramatic appearances in the Paston Letters. For instance, in 1465 the Duke of Suffolk’s men were reportedly breaking down the walls of the Lodge, taking the lead off the roof and cutting up the doors.
In later centuries it fell out of use as a manor house but found another as the Lodge for the warreners who looked after the rabbits that were commercially exploited in this part of Norfolk. Hellesdon Warren was suitably close to the City of Norwich where these rodents must have provided welcome meat and useful furs for the citizens. (Strictly speaking we should nowadays describe rabbits as lagomorphs, not rodents, but if I did nobody would have a clue what I was talking about.) A reminder of this time can still be found in the naming of RABBIT HILL just before you get to HELLESDON CHURCH going from Drayton. Since the end of the nineteenth century this has formed part of the ROYAL NORWICH GOLF COURSE (it was founded in 1893), getting its Royal appellation from Prince Albert, later Edward the Seventh, a keen golfer. The latest proposal is to move the golf course further out of the city and to build on it.
Another building in Drayton was the Lodge; I suppose we should call it the “New” Lodge to distinguish it from the Old Lodge, although it dated from the early 18th century. It was demolished in about 1960 and the road Drayton Grove was built in its place. Some of its out buildings still remain as part of Morgan’s Garage, and the large cypress tree on the corner of Drayton Grove was once in the Lodge’s garden. The building that we now call the Old Lodge is adjacent to the ruined Old Lodge. It is in fact one of newest large houses in Drayton having been built just before the First World War. It wasn’t lived in as a house for long, and after serving as a Nurses’ Home for many years and then a Health Service office block, it is now a restaurant and wedding venue.
Another large building which has also been demolished was Drayton Old House. This stood opposite the Red Lion (see my blog of December 17 2011). This site is now occupied by the yard of Carter the builder and the local branch of Barclays Bank. As you can see, Drayton was a place of some sizeable dwellings, being just outside the City and not being controlled by one landowner, as Taverham was. It was called the “Old” House to distinguish it from Drayton “New” House which had been built in the closing years of the 19th century by J. H. F. Walter, the proprietor of the paper making business in adjoining Taverham.
This propery is now known as Drayon Hall and is use for evangelical religious services. I am somewhat confused by the number of places that have been called “Drayton House ” and “Drayton Hall” just as the number called “Drayton Lodge” is rather perplexing. I have seen an old postcard of 1906 which calls another property, now Brooklands Care Home, by this name, Drayton Hall. Ever since I have known Drayton yet another house, in Costessey Lane, has had this name of Hall. I believe it is the Masonic Lodge for the area, and lies on the corner of Costessey Lane and the Fakenham Road. By my reckoning at least four houses have been known as Drayton House or Drayton Old House in the past hundred years.
Another sizeable property and another “Lodge” is West Lodge (24 Fakenham Road) but in this postcard below it is named Stoney Croft. I do not see how it could have been called West Lodge when the Lodge was still standing, because it was the next property to that building and was to the east of it. It is now of course to the west of the remaining lodges in Drayton, the Old Lodge (illustrated at the start of this article). I think that it must have got its name after Drayton Lodge was demolished, and that happened some time after the Second World War. Stoney Croft – or West Lodge – is illustrated below. Four ‘Houses’ and four ‘Lodges’; I’m sorry if you are feeling a little confused! I am too.
This building, Stoney Croft, was occupied by the owner of Buntings department store in Norwich. This large store stood at the bottom end of St Stephens St where Marks and Spencers now is. It was hit by a bomb during the Second World War and moved to London Street. Mr Bunting was a friend and patron of Alfred Munnings (he had not been knighted at the time) and kept several of his paintings in the house. You can see the croquet pitch on the front lawn in the postcard. There was no croquet pitch when I used to deliver post to West Lodge in the 1990s (the front lawn having been reduced in size by road widening), but it still had a hard tennis court. This must have built later, to to left on the picture. This area has since been used to build another large house.
The hotel now known as Stower Grange was another large Georgian house in Drayton, in this case the former rectory. It was enlarged after 1855 by rector of over 40 years, Canon Hinds Howell. The block nearest to the camera was built at this time. You may read more about this clergyman in my blog on Drayton church (Nov 28 2012). Drayton is still a pleasant place to live, but I think you will agree that it used to be a village with an unusual number of fine houses dating in some cases back to the middle ages. The position of Drayton must have helped, it being near enough to Norwich to provide the rich residents with a country retreat that wasn’t far from the city. Although at one time it had many fine houses, there was no one property that dominated the village – unlike adjacent parishes of Costessey or Taverham.
I have done a blog on the Red Lion (Dec 17 2011), and this pub is the original Red Lion built in 1678. It still stands near the rod junction. The Cock (seen in the postcard to the left) may have been almost as old, but it was rebuilt in the 2oth century. This postcard shows it as it used to stand, nearer the road than the pub is today. There is an old gentleman with a fine white beard sitting by the roadside near the pub door, and judging from the lack of traffic, it was a far more peaceful place than it is today. The landlord of the Cock was George Bone towards the end of the 19th century, and his grandson was R. G. Carter, the founder of the building firm which has its HQ just a short way up the Drayton High Road from the Cock.
Although the pub sign shows a cockerel, the original meaning of the Cock was cock horse. These were horses used to aid heavy carts up hills, and Drayton Hill starts at the Cock, with an equally steep hill going the other way towards Fakenham. Nowadays we have forgotten all about cock horses except in the old nursery rhyme “Ride a cock horse to Banbury Cross” – and we probably think this is just a bit of nonsense.
Besides my blogs on the Red Lion and Drayton church you should remember that the late Basil Kybird has written an informative article on Drayton Railway Station (August 17 2012).