THE SHELL MUSEUM
Glandford is always pronounced ‘ Glanford’, and used to be spelt that way too. It lies on the river Glaven, and the name is an abbreviated form of ‘Glaven-ford’, so where the middle ‘d’ came from I am at a loss to speculate. As things stand the place looks like a bodily organ. It is a very small village between Letheringsett and Wiveton near Cley in North Norfolk. I doubt I could say enough about it to fill up an article for this blog were it not for the 4th baronet Sir Alfred Joderell (1847-1929) and his various constructions in the village. It also has a ford near the church, but this appears to be too deep for most cars to attempt to cross; certainly no-one from my family has ever done so. The lane on the far side of the ford – Hurdle Lane- only leads by a circuitous route back to Lethringsett, which is much more directly accessed from Glandford by the Blakeney Road. Tractors may ford the river with ease, and a footbridge allows passage by pedestrians. I will refer again to the ford, but first I must mention Glandford’s greatest benefactor.
The hamlet of Glandford is adjacent to Bayfield Hall, where Sir Alfred Joderell and his ancestors lived; he was the last of the Joderell baronets. He it was who established the Shell Museum to provide a home for the collection of shells – mollusc shells, crustaceans and even tortoise shells – that he had built up over many decades. It is a very unusual to find a museum in the wilds of Norfolk, and represents a very personal interest of the last baronet.
The Shell Museum is not the only thing Sir Alfred Joderell left behind. He was responsible for the restoration carried out on various churches including that at Blakeney; in the case of Glandford church he rebuilt it from a ruin. Since the Middle Ages Glandford had no parish church and virtually no parishioners either. Sir Alfred was a staunch Anglo-Catholic, and at the beginning of the 20th century he rebuilt it as a High Church memorial to his mother. Besides the Gothick decor he provided it with a carillon. This is an arrangement of bells which rather than simply chiming will play tunes; in Glandford it is automated, to play hymns regularly every three hours throughout the day. Not many miles away Sheringham church has a carillon too, which is played from a keyboard like an organ. Miss Philips, a piano teacher at our school, used to play it at Sunday services.
Shortly after rebuilding the church Sir Alfred did the same thing for the water-mill at Glandford. Using local materials he provided the village with a useful facility; indeed he more or less rebuilt the whole place during his long life. The mill remains, converted into an elegant house. Sir Alfred was a great philanthropist and set up his former butler, disabled in the First World War, as the local miller. Im another act of generosity he provided the Norfolk and Norwich Hospital with enough chickens and turkeys every year to feed all the patients Christmas dinner.
The ford is a major part of the village. The footbridge over the river may be seen to the right in the picture at the top of this page. We took my sister’s dog Suki there in 1971, and you can see her (having crossed the ford) looking alertly towards the camera. To end on a sad note; on a hot Sunday in June in 1785 a young man called John Bullock decided to cool off with a dip in the river. I do not know if he could swim, but he certainly got into difficulties and was drowned there. He was 18 years old. This was before Sir Alfred Joderell’s time, and as Glandford had no church in the 18th century John Bullock was buried in Letheringsett churchyard by his grieving parents.