Postcard showing a aerial view of Taverham Hall in 1931; it was already a school.

Postcard showing an aerial view of Taverham Hall in 1931; it was already a school.

This “Jacobethan” hall was built in the mid-nineteenth century, replacing a Georgian mansion of which a photograph survives. Taverham Hall Prep-school came into being when the boarding school moved into the building. It had been occupied by soldiers during the First World War. The Hall was bought by the headmaster in 1920; he had previously run his school at Roydon near Diss.

The house was again used by the army in the Second Word War, and the school was evacuated to Wales; it returned to Taverham in 1946. This aerial photograph of Taverham Hall School was taken in 1931. It reveals a number of differences from the school as it is today. The pre-prep department, which now occupies the area towards the top of the picture had not then been built, and the greenhouses in the kitchen garden were apparently very much in use; this is no longer true.  All the area between the Hall and the river, which appears in the foreground was still parkland in 1931; this is now ploughed up and used as arable farmland. Basically however, the main school building still appears very much as it was; the school itself has changed in that it is nowadays co-educational.



This article is illustrated by a series of postcards showing Taverham as it used to be. I have tried to give an approximate date for these except the first view of the hall which is dated precisely. The next postcard (above) is of Beech Avenue. I suggest that it was taken around 1960.  Thereafter things began to change and Beech Avenue had the High School, Golf Club and an industrial estate erected to the left hand side, and some quite expensive houses opposite. It is all built up now and quite unrecognisable from this country scene. Nearly all the beech trees have now been felled, having reached the end of their natural lives. They were planted to celebrate the nation’s victory in the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805. By my time only one remained by the school playing field and this may now have succumbed. The avenue of beech trees was intended to provide a fine approach to the hall from the Fakenham to Norwich road for those approaching in their horse drawn coaches.

The Fakenham Road in Taverham. The Silver Fox pub is to the left.

The Fakenham Road in Taverham. The Silver Fox pub is to the left.

The next card shows the main road near the crossroads where Sandy Lane and Breck Farm lane meet the Fakenham Road. It is eerily quiet; there are no cars to be seen! There are no traffic lights or pedestrian crossing either. You can just see the Silver Fox pub to the left, but it is the earlier temporary building. The silver fox referred to was the breed of animal that was grown on the fur farm that used to exist in Taverham. Before the Silver Fox pub was opened there had been no pub in Taverham since the Papermakers Arms in the Street was closed about a hundred and fifty years ago. The shop building next to the Silver Fox has been replaced by a larger property with two flats above; it was for many years the grocers called Rosiers. It has now been divided in two, one half being a branch of Tesco and  the other a branch of Lloyds the chemist.  The date of this card is approximately the same as the view of Beech Avenue, 1960.

Silver Fox 1970

Silver Fox 1970

This view shows the old Sliver Fox in more detail. In this view of 1970 you may also see the former grocer’s shop premises. The only thing that remains is the post for the pub’s sign! In site of these changes these views of Taverham are relatively recent compared with that on the next card.

The view below is of “The Lodge, Taverham Park” and I think it was taken about 1920. In many ways the view is similar today, only there are now bungalows to be seen beyond Costessey Lane. This is the road which crosses the photo in the middle distance. You can see that Taverham Lane appears to lead straight into the entrance to the hall; this used to be the only road to the Street. It branched off to the left somewhere near where this picture was taken. The first part of the Street was not built until about 1850 and the old road alignment remained long after the new part of the Street was built.

The entrance to the Hall from the Church.

The entrance to the Hall.

The area around the church was the centre of the village before the postwar building of bungalows extended the village to the Fakenham Road. The village school adjoined the churchyard and did not close until about 1960 when the new Junior School was built just across the road. You can still see where the village post box used to be in the old school wall. The Rectory was between the church and the river and the paper mill was just upstream of the bridge. Until the bridge had been built in the 19th century there was no road to Costessey except via “Broken Bridges” at Drayton; the bridge was not then broken but a toll was levied on those who used it, collected by the man who lived in the bungalow.

Bridge over the river Wensum.

Bridge over the river Wensum.

The Bridge across the river Wensum has been rebuilt sometime between the First and Second World Wars. I assume the photograph of the old bridge was taken during WW1, as there are some figures in uniform to the left of the picture. This photograph is a hundred years old and was probably taken by Frank Welch, the Costessey photographer. Taverham was a small village compared to its current status of dormitory for Norwich, yet it could gather quite a few pedestrians on the bridge for this photograph. It had a population of under 200 before the First World War, though this was swelled considerably by the army recruits who were camped in the village. Camp Road is said to have been named at this time.

The mill shortly before closure

The mill shortly before closure

Taverham paper mill is just a few yards upstream of the bridge. This  picture  is the earliest in this selection; it dates from the last years of the 19th century. Paper produced here went  to the Times in London. That such a large business should exist so close to peaceful riverside scene is remarkable. The mill closed in 1899, but given that you can see workers are having a rest by river, and steam is rising from the building in the foreground, it was still running when this picture was taken. Today the scene is much more unkempt. The riverside is a wild mass of pink balsam in summer; there is no chance of leaving your hat on the grass. Trees have sprouted up where once the paper mill stood. A new bridge has replaced the flat low structure in the photo, but it still inadequate for the traffic that uses this busy route to Costessey and beyond.




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