Monthly Archives: December, 2013




Swan Lane is a narrow street that runs between London Street and Bedford Street in central Norwich. It has been a pedestrian only street since long before the rest of London Street was pedestrianised; that happened in 1967. (Before the 20th century, when the only things in use were carts, Swan Lane may have been used for vehicular traffic like all the other streets.) The sign post saying “PUBLIC SHELTER” in the photo, and the naval rating walking down the lane both indicate that this was wartime.  The shadows indicate that this photograph was taken in the morning, but the closed shops suggest it may have been a Sunday; in those days Sunday was not a trading day for most shops.

This may have been 80 years ago, but as far as the architecture goes this could almost be 2019; none of the shops look very different today. The two shops at the top of Swan Lane are Buckingham, the shoe shop, and Bullen the jeweller.  Bullen’s is still there- their address is London Street, although most of their shop fronts Swan Lane. Bullen’s proudly announce that they were founded in 1887. Dipple the Jeweller is also still in Swan Lane – At least it was last time I was down there, although that was years ago. What with all this talk of jewellers’ shops I feel quite keen to go and buy some something nice and sparkly there for my wife.

Shoe shops have not coped so well with the changing times. Besides Buckingham there was Bowhill and Elliott and Ponds Foot Fitters Ltd among others. In 1969 there was still a shoe shop there in Swan Lane, where Buckingham’s had been, only it was then called Paramount Shoes. Besides shoe shops, Norwich was famous for its shoe factories. There were many of them. Note the advertisement prominently displayed for NORVIC MASCOT shoes. As I have noted elsewhere, Norvic had their factory a few streets away in Colegate. All shoe production in the city has now ceased.

You cannot see it from this picture, that it was taken from London Street, but down at the bottom of Swan Lane was Butchers, a draper’s shop that I have mentioned in an earlier post on Norwich shops.  Tom Stevenson the Sports shop was there too, though that was about it because Swan Lane is a short street as well as a narrow one.

Swan Lane was so called that after the White Swan public house which stood there. The first landlord we know by name was one James Munford, who was in business in 1760. In those days the person in charge of a pub often had another occupation too, and his wife drew the pints during the day, while her husband was at work. In the evenings he could act as publican; it was a busy life, as there were no licensing hours in the eighteenth century. During the day James Munford was a hot presser, who ironed material as it was made on the loom. This reflected the importance of the cloth industry to Norwich at that time, just as it had been for centuries before.

The last landlord of the White Swan was the celebrated Prize Fighter Jem Mace. He had just made his debut in the ring at Norwich at the age of 26. He held the pub for three years in 1857-9. We hear no more of the pub after 1859. A fine sign of the White Swan still exists on the wall of Dipple’s shop in Swan Lane. No doubt he spent some of his prize money on becoming a licensed victualler. Jem Mace was a champion boxer in the days of bare knuckle fighting, although he later helped to make gloved boxing acceptable, under the Queensbury Rules. He was born in 1831 at the mid-Norfolk village of Beeston-next-Mileham. He boxed widely across the world, touring  Australasia and America, where he lived for some years. He was the first world champion of boxing. Although he earned a huge amount of money during his career (he won for example $10,000 in a fight just outside New Orleans) he was penniless at the time of his death in 1910, having spent it all on “horses and women”. He ended his days far from Swan Lane, in Liverpool. In 1861 Jem Mace toured Lancashire with Pablo Fanque’s travelling circus. By coincidence Fanque – real name William Darby –  was also from Norfolk, having been born near Ber Street in Norwich around the beginning of the 19th century. He was also the first black circus proprietor  in England, indeed to date the only black circus owner, and achieved a posthumous fame from his appearance in a Beatles song.

At the time Jem Mace was growing up, the offices of the Norwich Mercury stood on the opposite side of the road from Swan Lane, at No 12 London Street. Two hundred years ago the newspaper had already been published in London Street for many decades. The Norwich Mercury was one of the oldest provincial newspapers in the country. When it was first published the street was called Cocky Lane. In the mid-nineteenth century Barnard and Boulton, the predecessors of Boulton and Paul, still had their ironmongery shop at No. 9 London Street just to the left of Swan Lane as you stand in London Street.  Boulton and Paul and the Norwich Mercury are well-remembered names that lasted into the final years of the 20th century but have now gone. The streets of Norwich are poorer for their loss.

It all goes to show what a wealth of history (and not just local history) is contained within just one small lane of a dozen shops in the city of Norwich.





[There were four of us at home in our bungalow in Poringland for Christmas; me, my sister Tig home from teaching on Guernsey, and my mother and father. There were also the two dogs, both black Labrador crosses; our Fido who was not yet 6 months old  and my sister’s dog Suki. You will note that we had yet to acquire a television.

Here are some historical events from 1973. In January Britain had become the 7th member of the Common Market (as it was then called).  October saw the Arab/Israel Yom Kippur war and the Queen opened Sydney Opera House.]

It was foggy all day.  I was brought tea in bed; Fido got up earlier, but came back when he realised I had Suki in my room. So I had two rather jealous dogs (jealous of each other in wanting to be my number one companion). I had ham and toast and marmalade for breakfast. I got dressed in my brown suit. Our next door neighbour Mrs Matthews called over the hedge that she would be ready to leave at 10.20. I took Fido out up the lane alone. My sister Tig took Suki out alone in the car later which made Fido rather cross. Dad got dressed and we took Mrs Matthews to visit her Mum who is living in a home in Wymondham. We had a look in the home and met her mother. We drove round Wymondham and to the level crossing; back to collect Mrs Matthews at 11.15. We had arranged this trip on Christmas Eve when she had given us some sausage rolls and mince pies.

Home, and the turkey was already cooked by 12. This year we cooked it in a bag, but when we let the gravy out of the bag it cracked the turkey dish. Then I set fire to the table-cloth with a candle. For dinner we had turkey, bread sauce, cranberries, stuffing, bacon, sausage, potatoes, Brussels sprouts followed by Christmas pudding and custard. With the meal we had a bottle of Asti Spumante. At 1 o’ clock we turned the radio on to hear the Queen. We had coffee while the washing up was put in the dish washer. We went through to the front room where we had lit the fire earlier (there was also fire in living room) and opened our presents round the tree. I got some handkerchiefs, chocolates, a diary and a lot of seeds for the garden.

Tig and I took the dogs for the 40 minute walk through Spur Lane. The dogs were let off their leads from the school to the end of the “cathedral” (our name for the straight walk along Spur Lane where the tall trees arching over the road resemble the columns of a cathedral). On the way we collected a good load of wood.

Back home we put on the gramophone and heard some music and the play The Bespoke Overcoat by Wolf Mankowitz which we have on record. Some of us had a cup of tea and some of us had port instead. The dogs had their Christmas treat of corned beef. Then we played card games, Happy Families and Pit. We took the dogs out again in the evening. For supper we had more turkey and ham. To drink we had a bottle of Riesling which had been given us by Andrew Anderson. We had crackers with sparklers inside. We have had a lot to eat today, but quite a lot of exercise too, what with walking the dogs, so we do not feel too fat. Later we had the record player on again in the front room and heard Corelli’s concerto for Christmas Night. [This is a forgivable mistake; as I later discovered, the Christmas night this music was written for is the night before Christmas.]

Bank Holiday, UK & Eire, WEDNESDAY 25 December, 1974

QUITE DULL all day; some lashing rain and wind at times. Asti Spumante with Xmas dinner.  Tig roused me and got me up sometime about  9.30. We had ham for breakfast.  Auntie Olioxe phoned during the morning. At breakfast time we each opened a present – mine was my M&GN tie.  Later, but also during the morning, I opened my large box of peat pellets from Canada.  Tig and I took our dogs to Dunston Common for a run. There was no one else on the common. Suki came round oblivious to wasps! When we got home Dad and I were given the veg to do.



Dad did the sprouts and I did the potatoes. We are still using the home-grown Kerr’s Pinks that we dug up in the middle of September. We had traditional turkey, bread sauce, stuffing, cranberry sauce the potatoes were roasted. Also sausages and bacon. The dogs had a good meal of Bounce first. Xmas pudding and cornflour sauce. Tig and I loaded up the dishwasher and then retired to our beds for a postprandial snooze while it worked. Then we took the two dogs up the lane.

We opened presents off the tree. I got a fine collection, slippers, hankies, a £10 cheque from David (Anderson), a £1.50 gift voucher from Uncle Eric (Rivett), £3 from Aunt Maud (Rivett) and a letter, a brush and comb set and a mains unit for the tape recorder.  Also a share in a bottle of sherry from Andrew (Anderson), coffee chocolates and biscuits. This Papermate ballpoint pen (in use as I write this) was from Uncle Arthur and Aunt Peg (Sansom). Tig was very pleased with her rug; she wrapped herself up in it.  I have a new diary from Tig and a red pullover from Auntie Olive (Andreson).

For tea we had fruit salad and ice cream out of the freezing box in the new fridge. Tig and I took the dogs up to the Railway Inn. We were lucky to miss the rain. The dogs had corned beef as it was Christmas; overfed, Fido was a bit growlie. We listened to records in the evening including Mozart’s Clarinet Concerto.




Breydon Viaduct

Breydon Viaduct

The M&GN railway line across Breydon water connected Yarmouth Beach Station with Lowestoft. It shared the line with the Great Eastern Railway from Yarmouth. The railway bridge, the Breydon viaduct, was opened in 1903 and demolished 60 years later in 1962.  It had not been used for several years by then, and the swinging section of the bridge remained open to river traffic as you can see in the picture. A road bridge carrying the A12 across Breydon Water was built in 1985. At that time the Port of Norwich was still operational, and the new bridge included a lifting span. A certain amount of commercial traffic still uses the river as far as the Cantley factory. Breydon Water connects the southern Broadland rivers (the Yare, Wensum, Chet and Waveney) with those of the north (the Bure, Ant and Thurne). It is tidal so, acres of mudflats appear at low tide, an ideal habitat for wading birds. It is a large stretch of water, four miles long and a mile across at its widest point, and it can have strong and treacherous currents. On November 24th 1774 a wherry on course for Bungay was sunk on Breydon water in a North Easterly gale with hail and snow. The crew of two were both drowned. It can still be a dangerous waterway.

A thousand years ago the estuary, of which Breydon is the last remaining stretch of water, extended to Reedham and Acle, both of which were seaside towns. The sand bank on which Yarmouth was later built only rose above the sea at low tide. The low-lying marshes were then a huge expanse of water. The appearance of a natural landscape here is misleading; this is an entirely artificial area, only made possible by constant drainage. The land would return to the sea and the A 47 would be awash were it not for the electric pumps working tirelessly night and day, filling the many dykes which criss-cross the marshes. Without this the whole Acle Straight would rapidly return to a watery wasteland.

A hundred years ago Breydon was becoming a popular place with ornithologists; it still is, but ornithology itself  has changed a bit in the intervening century. In those days the enthusiasts combined bird watching in the spring with wildfowling in the autumn, shooting wild duck and geese from gun punts. There is still a certain amount of wildfowling allowed on Breydon, but it is closely managed as the area has been a nature reserve since 1968. In the past an ornithologist would shoot any rare specimen for his collection and would raid their nests for eggs to add to his display.

The Naturalist John Knowlittle, 1857 – 1935, (his real name was Arthur Patterson) would camp out on his houseboat on Breydon. Knowlittle’s most famous book on Breydon Water and its characters was called Wildfowlers and Poachers, published in 1929. The men who scraped a living from the mudflats included eel babbers and smelt fishermen. In 1960 there were still a few houseboats on Breydon, although many had been sunk during the 1953 floods. One of these remaining boats was the Lapwing; by 1969 it had robib Harrison Breydon089become a shack on stilts on the mudflats.  Lapwing belonged to one Robin Harrison who wrote a booklet about Breydon. This was published by Jarrold and Sons Ltd.  He was a link between the old ornithologists and their modern counterparts, and was the warden of Breydon Water for the Norfolk Naturalists Trust (now known as the Norfolk Wildlife Trust) throughout the 1960s.  There are now wildlife trusts for virtually every county in England, but when it was formed in 1926 Norfolk’s was the first.

In the middle years of the 20th century there were still people living on these marshes in farmhouses miles from the nearest road, and with no mains services. They scarcely saw another soul for weeks on end. Even the postman called only once a week, and then left the letters nearly a mile from the house. These farmers were widely separated and there were perhaps four such dwellings in the marshland. A woman of over eighty years old and her husband lived there tending the cattle on 1500 acres, and she hadn’t seen a doctor since she was eleven years old! Fifty years before that, in 1900, it would have been a less lonely existence; there were a dozen or more windpumps on the Breydon marshes, each one needing a man to tend the sails and keep the drainage pump working.

CLICK HERE TO VIEW A PICTURE of Breydon by John Sell Cotman.




In the common use of the term PLANNING means building permission, and whether or not I can paint my front door pink; but planning should be a much wider concept. “Planning” and “transport” are two quite separate concepts in popular usage, whereas transport should be the primary part of the planning process. Where to build new roads and how to make the best use of the existing railway infrastructure could not be more central to planning in the proper sense of the word. When we plan new communities they need schools and dentists, libraries and doctors, but above all they need transport.

This a short sighted approach to planning which seems to ignore these essentials. It extends to the planners themselves; road improvements are done on an ad hoc basis, and the integration of rail into the whole picture does not seem to be considered at all. It is true that there was no planning involved in the creation of the railways, and we had too many as a result; but the continued lack of planning now means that we have too few. For example, it is crazy that the direct line from Norwich to Kings Lynn was closed, while we still have a line to Cromer; I am glad that we do, but it is a relatively minor place. The line from Norwich to Lynn (the two major population centres in the county) also served the major market towns of Dereham and Swaffham. To be fair to him, the infamous Dr Beeching never intended to close the line between Lynn and Norwich; this was a later action by British Railways, seemingly even more keen to close lines than the good doctor himself.

East Norfolk's railways in 1923

East Norfolk’s railways in 1923

Nevertheless he still did a lot of harm. It is one of my gripes about Dr Beeching that he seems to have taken no regard to future planning possibilities, that could be provided by the rail network; maybe he had no mandate to do so, but this made his approach rather blinkered. He only saw the then current use of the railways, not the posibility future demand. He assumed the future belonged to the motor car, but in the past two decades car mileage has fallen, while the desire for railway journeys has soared.

You may maintain that the future is unknowable, but surely that is a reason for keeping railway lines open rather than closing them. I saw the folly of closing so many perfectly good corridors of communication. Surely I was not the only person to do so. You may say that these railways lost money, but even with the much reduced railway network we still possess, without subsidies there would be no railways at all. Because of the past folly of railway closures, we are now going to great expense to reopen some lines that Dr Beeching closed. The 30 miles of the Borders line in Scotland has cost a quarter of a billion too reopen; the first trains for half a century ran in September 2015 and it has been a great success. Work is progressing on the reinstatement of part the Varsity Line between Oxford and Cambridge, but there is no projected end date nor final cost. At least a few hundred metres of new track has opened a brand new route from Oxford to Marylebone station.

Take an example from my own neck of the woods of what I mean by this planning blindness. Thorpe Marriott is a recent development a few miles from Norwich; it already has thousands of inhabitants and there is space to build many more properties. Right through the middle of this settlement runs Marriott’s Way, a pleasant place to walk your dog or go for a stroll; but only a few years before this development was begun a railway line ran along this path, making a direct and uninterrupted communication with the centre of Norwich. What a perfect arrangement for a tramway! Most of the expensive infrastructure required was already there. If only the planners had employed joined-up thinking this could have been a major centre of much-needed development, with superb communications. Instead we have a minor footpath, yet more buses and cars at rush hour, and ever greater difficulties in parking them in the city.

The opportunity for building a tramway for Thorpe Marriott has been lost, but we still have a number of railway stations which are isolated and poorly used, despite Dr Beeching. Spooner Row outside Wymondham has under two passengers a day on average, and Buckenham on the Yarmouth line has less than two passengers a week. These are extreme cases, but there are other village stations with very moderate passenger numbers. Why not concentrate development on those places where a rail connection already exists? The residents should have a choice; accept the new housing, or lose your railway station. It is quite absurd to maintain a regular train service with so few people to use it, but with more passengers the train operating company would make higher profits, and this might even be passed on to the public in lower fares. (That is rather unlikely however.)

John Betjeman made a short film about the town of Diss in South Norfolk back in the 1960s. It is a typical Betjeman documentary, with particular emphasis on the town’s architectural heritage and its most famous son, the poet John Skelton.  But Betjeman was also complaining bitterly about the proposed New Town which the planners intended to build there.  It is true that the New Town would have changed the nature of a quaint corner of South Norfolk, but with a growing population, there was even then pressure for more housing. Today we need many more dwellings in Norfolk, as we do in many other parts of the country. In the end no New Town was built in Diss, but what a perfect location for one it would have made. It would have had speedy and regular rail connections with London, Ipswich and Norwich, and the line has now even been electrified. Nobody relishes the prospect of losing farm fields to tarmac, but people must live somewhere and where better than a place like Diss?

This is slowly dawning on some planners; a major feature of the proposed Rackheath Eco-town is the provision of a re-located station on the Cromer line to give the residents an eco-friendly route into Norwich. There is much local opposition to building on a greenfield site; but should a place with a railway station really be regarded as  greenfield? This designation of greenfield is even more suspect in the case of Rackheath, as much of the proposed Eco-town would be on a former USAF airbase from the war years. It is a brownfield site in all but the most legalistic use of the word. There can be no objection to Rackheath Eco-town; the objectors demonstrate the most blatant form of  Not In My Back Yard.




The Mildenhall Treasure is a major collection of Roman silver tableware that was discovered in the mid 20th century. These 4th century artefacts are displayed at the British Museum where they form an important part of the Roman Gallery. The motifs on the plates are mostly pagan, but there are a few hints of the new faith, Christianity, in some of the items.

This part of Suffolk is now well known as the home to two major American airbases. Together RAF Lakenheath and RAF Mildenhall make up the largest USAF centre in the UK and probably in Europe. Lakenheath has been in American use since the Second World War, and with the coming of the Cold War in the early 1950s the base at the nearby town of Mildenhall was also transferred to the USAF from the RAF (although the airbase is still called RAF Mildenhall). It has been used for air refuelling for many years, and hosts over 15,000 personnel. It has recently been announced that Mildenhall airbase will close in about 2020 (now put back to at least 2024). Lakenheath Warren had been used as an airfield in the First World War, but it was abandoned when hostilities ended. It reopened during the Second World War. Mildenhall had been opened as a RAF bomber station in 1934 and in October of that year it was the starting place for the MacRobertson Air Race to Melborne, Australia.

Emily Peachey as young woman


My interest in these two places, Mildenhall and Lakenheath, extends much further back in time than the Cold War or even to First World War; it goes back to the 17th century. George Peachey was born in 1662 in Mildenhall, and his direct descendant Emily Peachey was my grandmother. She was born in Lakenheath in 1887. The written records dry up before the mid 1600s, but I have no doubt that the family goes back many generations before that in the Lakenheath area. We know less about what the early Peacheys did for a living, but those of later generations in the nineteenth century were mostly warreners. As rabbits were the principal crop of Lakenheath Warren (stretching back into the middle ages) I have little doubt that the occupation goes back into the mists of time.


My great grandfather Phipp Peachey was a warrener, but by this time the world had

Susannah Jones 1877

Susannah Jones, later to become Susannah Peachey

opened up; in 1845 Lakenheath got its railway station which still provides a service (albeit a limited one), and then the Peachey men were no longer restricted to girls from west Suffolk as wives; nor where the Peachey girls any longer compelled to choose local men as spouses. As a young man Phipp Peachey had tried his luck in London. He soon returned to East Anglia, but not before he had met a girl who hailed from Buckinghamshire. She was in service, and the couple were married at Wandsworth All Saints in 1883.

The Great Western Railway had already opened up the West of England; her father William Jones met her mother in Cornwall. The genetic possibilities of English marriage exploded across the country. A railway navvie, William Jones had sprung from a long line of Buckingshire farm labourers, going back as long as the Suffolk Peacheys had lived in corner of north west Suffolk. Now steel rails would carry him and many like him to fresh fields and pastures new. The genetic possibilities of marriage among the English working class had suddenly grown exponentially.

The newly married Peacheys went back to Lakenheath after a few years, although their first child Thirza was born in London in 1885.  Phipp Peachey returned to a job as warrener, and after a few years found a position on the Colman estate in Trowse near Norwich. Trowse station was on the same railway line as Lakenheath. The Peacheys were housed in a semi-detached cottage down White Horse Lane, just into Arminghall. It is very near the Bronze Age Woodhenge, although that was not discovered until after Phipp Peachey’s death in 1929.



LBSC 0-6-0 Tank, Bressingham

lbsc 060

LBSC tank engine photographed in 1972.

When this picture of London Brighton and South Coast Railway A1 tank engine (number 662) was taken she was still waiting to undergo restoration. This locomotive is now very smartly turned out. She was built in 1875, nearly a hundred years before this photograph was taken. The yellow on her tanks was “Stroudley’s Improved Engine Green”, while the cab is painted in red primer – a sure sign of progress. William Stroudley whose name is applied to this strange colour description became Superintendent of the Locomotive Department in 1870. At the time the motive power stock of the London, Brighton and South Coast Railway really was painted green. Stroudley introduced the yellow ochre colour which, for some reason, he continued to refer to as green. (I have been informed by his great-granddaughter, who read this account of her ancestor, that the reason was that he was colour blind; the obvious reason, but it is good to have it confirmed.) He spent 19 years in charge of the locos on the line. In the twentieth century the livery was changed to a brown colour, dark umber. The stock of locomotives remained in this livery until the advent of grouping on the First of January 1923. Then the Southern Railway reverted to green for its locomotives hauling express passenger trains and black for goods engines.

This tank engine goes by the name of Martello. It was bought by Billy Butlin in 1963 to go on static display in his holiday camp at Ayr in Scotland. It remained in Scotland for 9 years, but by the date of this photograph it had been given on permanent loan to the Bressingham Steam Museum in Norfolk. Martello was restored to working order at Bressingham. It has needed major overhauls in the years since, most recently in the 21st century. The locomotive has been returned work in Sussex, its home territory. In its restored condition Alan Bloom had it painted brown (Marsh Umber) and very smart it looked too. It has been done up in BR  black livery since 2011, which in my opinion is a not so attractive. I am unaware of its current condition.  The Terrier was a popular class of tank engine with people who wished to preserve a locomotive; this was probably because it is a pretty looking engine and quite small.  They had numbered 50 at the height of their popularity, all built at Brighton Works. As many as ten of the class have been saved which is fine, but it is a little sad that dozens of equally attractive locomotives have been lost to the scrap yard blow torch.

The class survived in British Railways use until 1963, when the last of them were withdrawn following the closure of the Hayling Island branch in Hampshire. Because of the weight restriction on the line these locos were used from Victorian times, and they continued to operate right up until the end. Nothing else was light enough to travel over the causeway to the island. This was a long working life for a class the building of which was completed by 1880 – eighty three years!

The best known among the preserved members of this class is Stepney which heralded the beginning of the Heritage Railway era, when she became the first locomotive to work on a preserved line. She arrived on the Bluebell Railway in Sussex on the 17th of March 1960. She was sold by BR for £750, a price which included two coaches. Boxhill is another well-loved member of the class, held in the collection of the National Railway Museum at York. The Terrier (this class of tank engine’s favourite nickname) Waddon is preserved at Exporail, the Canadian National Railway museum at Delson just south of Montreal. After several years of neglect in the open air she was restored by Britons living in Canada, and it now forms part of  the interior display. (For more on this establishment see my blog on the Canadian National Railroad Museum.)

Joseph Mason                  



(Autobiography 28)

It was exactly a week before Christmas, and by 4-15 pm when the service began it would have been dark or nearly so. The whole school (seniors and juniors) and guests were accommodated in the school chapel, and although extra chairs were needed you can tell that the school was quite a bit smaller than it is today. After all, it was for boys only, and Tallis House had not yet been built. Now, after 50 years, Tallis is being made over to the girls.

Revd D. C. Argyle

Revd D. C. Argyle

The service was taken by the school chaplain, the Revd D. C. Argyle. He took geography periods as well as religious knowledge, which was known as Divinity (Divs for short). He had a wooden classroom directly under the window of the art preparation room, where those naughty boys among us would throw lumps of clay down to interrupt his teaching. Fortunately he was a little deaf and often did not notice the thumps on his classroom roof. He was  a keen and accomplished sportsman (a half blue) and took the school tennis team under his wing as well as playing hockey.

Michael Allard

Michael Allard

There were 7 lessons and 12 carols in 1960, including those sung by the choir, or I should say choirs,because the junior school choir also had a part in the performance. The junior school carol came after the first congregational hymn, “Once in Royal David’s City” which traditionally begins carol services. I was a member of the junior choir by 1960, and we had been practising this piece all term. The carol was ‘Adam lay ybounden’ with music by Peter Warlock. I can still remember the tune all these years later so it must have been drilled into us, although I have heard it more recently it is true. The mixture of the medieval words and the twentieth century composer meant nothing to me aged eleven; both words and music seemed equally ancient.We told a little about Peter Warlock’s life and that his real name was Philip Heseltine. The carol was conducted by Michael Allard, then a young master newly recruited by the school.

Bruce Douglas

Bruce Douglas

Hubert Hales

Hubert Hales

The readers of the lessons were not named, but their titles were given. The fifth lesson, “The Shepherds go to the Manger” was read by the second master, who was Bruce Douglas. He was a veteran of the First World War and had been a master at the school since the early 1920s, so he had seen thousands of boys through the school. He didn’t teach us little boys in general but he must have been called in, because I remember him teaching us.  He retired in 1961. In 1963 his daughter was married in the school chapel. My friend Bill Wragge wrote to W.H.Auden in 1967 and had a reply in which Auden asked after Bruce Douglas, whom he remembered with affection from his own schooldays, but by then Bruce had passed away.

Logie Bruce Lockhart

Logie Bruce Lockhart

The other person who is revealed by his title is Logie Bruce Lockhart, the headmaster, who published his autobiography in 2013. After over 50 years he is still going. He read the last lesson; “St John reveals the great mystery of the Incarnation”. The service was preceded by three pieces of organ music; Es ist ein’ Ros by Brahms, Pastoral Symphony by Handel and Bethlehem by Gounod. The closing organ voluntary was the Concerto B-flat by Handel. Again the name of the organist is not given, but it was probably Hubert Hales, the head of music since about 1938. He was an Old Etonian, a fine musician and a charming man. Before the Blessing the congregation sang “Hark! the herald angels sing” with music by Mendelssohn. This was not the first Carol Service that I attended at Gresham’s – that had been the previous year. I was still very new at the school then and only ten years old. I had not yet found my feet to the extent of joining the choir.



This 1959 carol service came at the end of my first term when everything was still very new; running one’s life  to the sound of the bell, lining up to go into meals, holding your hands out for “hand inspection” to make sure you had washed them and having your shoes inspected for an acceptable degree of polish.

Christmas was special time in Crossways, because the last week of term included the “dorm feast” when we sat on our beds in the dormitory in our pyjamas and ate treats. I can’t remember a thing of what we ate and drank- probably quite ordinary things like chocolate biscuits and orange squash. We certainly did not brush our teeth afterwards as we had already had our nightly wash. The truly memorable thing about the dorm feast wasn’t what we ate but the light we consumed it under; the ordinary light bulb was removed from the one light fitting in the ceiling and was replaced by a coloured one – red, blue or green – and  everything was bathed in an eerie light. Eating food of such an unusual hue made me feel rather queasy, but the dorm feast was the high point of the Michaelmas term, and everybody joined in the fun, especially Derek  Addleshaw our housemaster. Although he kept decently in the background he was secretly enjoying it as much as anyone.

I went home that Sunday evening with my father who had been a guest at the evening service. No doubt he had arrived earlier in the afternoon to load my trunk and tuck box into the car. Those of the boarders who had further to go would have had to wait till Monday morning to catch the train. In 1960 you could still get on the British Railways train at Holt station and start your journey from there. Your trunk would already have gone PLA; PASSENGERS’ LUGGAGE IN ADVANCE, although for this service it probably had to go from Norwich. I wonder how many decades it is since that service ended from every railway station?





Steward and Patteson,

The Pockthorpe Brewery,   108 BARRACK STREET

s & p brewery

The gates are closed and the brewery stands empty. The last beer had been brewed on the site a few months before, in January 1970. The chimney was demolished in 1974, and the rest of the brewery followed soon after. The pub between the ESSO Garage and the brewery was called the SPORTSMAN; although it was right next door to the S & P brewery it was a BULLARDS pub! This closed over 20 years ago, and was a solicitor’s office for some time. It is no longer used as a pub or a legal office, but the building is still there – which cannot be said of Cutmore’s Garage, the Esso filling station. STEWARD and PATTESON bitter was still available in 1970, only it went by the new name of Norwich Bitter. In the same way BULLARDS ale was still produced under the name of Norwich Mild, although both brands were brewed in the old Morgan’s brewery site in King Street. As well as the SPORTSMAN building, the property on the same side of the road beyond the brewery is also still there; this used to be the brewer’s head office. In 1969, the year before closure, all the Pockthorpe Brewery (i.e. this S&P brewery) was still operational, only the name on the beer bottles had changed to the new owners; Watney Mann.  This name has disappeared  too, and after a brief period in the Norwich brewing firmament Watneys completely abandoned the city. Norwich became a desert in brewing terms. Luckily the growth of the micro-brewery has changed this state of affairs and there are now over 50 of them in Norfolk.

The three storey block of council flats on the other side of the road (extreme left of the picture) have been demolished, although they were in perfect structural condition. As I recall they were sold by the council during a property bubble, which inevitably burst soon after, with the consequent long period of dereliction and delay in rebuilding. It was a shame for all those tenants who had bought their flats in the expectation of living out their days in their familiar homes, newly purchased under Mrs Thatcher’s right to buy. Incidentally the car parked on the roadside nearest to you is a brown Daf 44, which I had just got out of to take the photograph!



Howard house king street.

Of the two buildings shown here one has vanished and one was in a distressingly derelict state for half a century; I gather that it has now been restored, though I have not seen it.  Of all the changes that have happened to Norwich in the years since the Second World War, the decade of the 1960s has undoubtedly seen the greatest alteration to the city. As the 50s drew to close and the 60s began rows of houses between St Catherine’s Plain and the Dereham Road  disappeared, to make way for the inner link road. St Stephens was a narrow one way street in 1959. Where Rouen Road now is was a warren of narrow lanes,  and Anglia Square was only a dream in the planners’ minds. There were no tower blocks. There was an RAF station where Norwich Airport now is and there were three railway stations. A busy port full of seagoing shipping occupied the riverside. It had both a gas works and an electricity generating station, and every Saturday livestock were brought into the very centre of the city for sale. The library was in Duke Street, a large chocolate factory dominated Chapelfield and Theatre Street was so narrow that opposite St Stephen’s church the traffic had to be controlled by traffic lights. By contrast, the forty odd years since 1970 have seen relatively modest changes, mostly to banish the car from nearly the whole city.

The name Howard House comes from its builder and former owners, the Duke of Norfolk.  Howard was the family name, and the Howard family also gave their name to Duke Street  and Surrey Street – the Earl of Surrey was the title of the Duke’s eldest son. The Dukes of Norfolk remained Catholic when most of the aristocracy converted to the prevailing faith, and in the early years of the 20th century built the impressive church that is now the Catholic cathedral.




THE VILLAGE with two names.

Lenwade is a village on the river Wensum, ten miles north west of Norwich. The parish in which the houses of Lenwade stand is known as Great Witchingham. The two names of Lenwade and Great Witchingham appear to be used almost capriciously.  The road sign announcing the village reads “Lenwade (Great Witchingham)”. What is going on? The school and Post Office (now closed) are called Great Witchingham, but the mill  and  the Bridge Inn are always referred to as being in Lenwade.

The popular restaurant used to be a pub. It was called several names in the hundred of years it has stood there, including the William IV, the King of Hearts and most recently the Kings Head. It closed in the 1980s and it was used by the Maxims as tea room, but when they sold it the new owners again have acquired a licence, and changed the name to the Queen of Hearts, which means it is more than halfway back to being a pub! But is the building in Great Witchingham or in Lenwade? Take your pick!

Lenwade used to be pronounced “Lennard”  in the eighteenth century, a fact we can deduce from Parson Woodforde’s diary. Sometimes he spelt it “Leonard” and at other times Lenwade. Woodforde used Lenwade mill on occasion for the corn he took as his tithe, although he more usually used mill at Trowse.   Mary Hardy, another eighteenth century diarist and the Norfolk brewer’s wife, also refers to the Bridge Inn at Lenwade. Her family often stopped there for some refreshment on the way home from Whissonsett. Before the bridge was built (a long time ago) it used to have a ford on the river Wensum, which is how it got the “wade” part of its name – “wade” meaning a ford in Anglo-Saxon. The “Len” part of the name is more obscure; it may mean a lane.

The village hall which used to stand next to the school has been pulled down and the new hall has been constructed on the other side of the Fakenham Road. When my wife started to work as a teacher at the school 20 years ago (and which she has continued to do  ever since as a supply teacher) the village hall was used for serving school meals.  In its day it was a useful building. I am almost certain it was one of Boulton and Paul’s flat-pack structures that they supplied across the world.



People tend to assume that the bit of village to the south of the A1067 is called Lenwade and that Great Witchingham is to the north, where Great Witchingham church is situated. The map which appears in the EDP What On pages (to help you find venues) has Lenwade marked in this way. This is not true, and even the alternative division between east (Lenwade) and west (Great Witchingham), although closer to the facts is also misleading.  Another unusual feature of Lenwade is the fact that it extends both sides of the river. A river almost always forms a parish boundary unless the course of the waterway had moved, which appears not to have happened at Lenwade; the contours of the ground do not suggest this. The industrial estate which occupies the roadside on the southerly bank of the Wensum always goes by the name of Lenwade. The Newsagents by the river also goes by the name of Lenwade News; but this just proves the point that Lenwade is not a parish. The parish is Great Witchingham, and this does not extend beyond the river. This bit of Lenwade is in Morton from an ecclesiastical point of view, although since Morton lost its church when the tower collapsed on it the parish has been incorporated in Weston Longville.  It is all rather confusing, and even I am not quite sure.

Until 1959 Great Witchingham had a railway passenger service although the station was called Lenwade. Goods traffic remained for two more decades, Lenwade station finally closing for freight in 1983, one year after its centenary (it having opened in 1882). The reason for it lasting so much longer than most of the M &G N was of course the industrial estate. The main user of the railway was the manufacturer of reinforced concrete girders for the motorways that were being built, and when that business ceased to use the railway the line was closed. A good ten years after the rails had been pulled up and the trackbed had become Marriott’s Way, a long distance footpath, I was surprised to see a complete London underground train standing in the Lenwade scrap yard. It had obviously come there by rail while the line was still open, although it would have to leave in pieces by road, the rails having long gone.




Henry Howard and the English Sonnet

The EARL of SURREY, Henry Howard

The EARL of SURREY, Henry Howard

Surrey Street in Norwich gets its name from Henry Howard, Earl of Surrey, the son of the third Duke of Norfolk. He was born in 1517 and succeeded to the title in 1524. His father built Surrey House to be his son’s base when he visited Norwich. The Duke’s Palace was in Duke Street and the family built another house in Thorpe and Howard House in King Street. The most senior of the country’s aristocrats, the Duke of Norfolk, used to have a lot of residences in Norwich. The building in Surrey Street was where the Marble Hall now stands, the company headquarters of Norwich Union (Aviva as we now have to call the Insurance Company). The 16th century Surrey House stood there until 1901. The Norwich born novelist R. H. Mottram could remember the old  house and played in it as a child. Until the Earl of Surrey came to live in the street it was known as Newgate.

Henry Howard mixed with the very top members of the society to which he himself belonged. His father the Duke of Norfolk was the premier baron in the land, and Henry spent much of his childhood at Windsor Castle. He became adept in the military arts of the soldier and in the French language; he spent a year in France in the service of the French king. What interests me most about him and his friend Sir Thomas Wyatt (1503-1542) is the seminal importance they had in the development of English poetry.

Sir Thomas Wyatt

Sir Thomas Wyatt

They were the writers who first made the sonnet an English verse form, preparing the way for Shakespeare (1564-1616) and others to follow. The sonnetto (or ‘little song’) originated in Italy, and the translations from Petrach which Howard and Wyatt made introduced the sonnet to our tongue. A sonnet has 14 lines; and it was Wyatt who introduced the rhyming sequence of four quatrains followed by a rhyming couplet (a-b-a-b, c-d-c-d, e-f-e-f, g-g), which became the hall-mark of the Elizabethan sonnet. The ending of the poem with a rhyming couplet was an innovation of the English verse, not copied from the Italian original.

These poems were circulated by Howard among his friends in manuscript, and were not printed until 10 years after his death. They were first published in Totell’s Miscellany (1557). The sonnet became the form in which Shakespeare worked as poet, and the nature of his verse makes a delicate but equally impressive counterpoint to his plays. John Milton (1604-1674) also wrote much of his verse in sonnet form  and it became a staple part of English poetry for at least two hundred years. The rhyming scheme varied, with Milton’s On His Blindness, for example, having the sequence a-b-b-a, a-b-b-a, c-d-e-c-d-e.

The Earl of Surrey fell victim to Henry VIII, who convinced himself that the young man was plotting to take over the throne. He certainly had a good claim to the throne – perhaps as good as that of Henry VIII himself, a fact that must have played on the ageing monarch’s mind. His own son and heir was only a young child whereas Howard was in the prime of life. There was, in the king’s mind at any rate, some damning evidence against the Earl in the illegal quartering of the Royal Arms with the Howard Arms in some stained glass roundels in Surrey House in Norwich. The young man, not yet thirty years old, was arrest by the king’s men and after a brief trial was beheaded on Tower Hill on January 19th 1547, three days after being found guilty of treason. His father the Duke of Norfolk was due to follow his son to the same fate ten days later, but was saved by the death of the king the day before the execution was due to take place. He remained in prison during the six year reign of Edward VI’s reign but was released on the accession of his fellow Catholic, Queen Mary.

To round off the East Anglian connections of the people in this story; Mary Tudor was with her household at Kenninghall in Norfolk when the death of her half-brother Edward VI was confirmed, an event that would bring her to the throne and release the Duke of Norfolk from the Tower. The body of the Earl of Surrey was eventually interred in the family vault at Framlingham in Suffolk.

            From the Italian, sonnet by Henry Howard