Tag Archives: church

BLAKENEY

In the Domesday Book the settlement was called Sniterley; that name comes from the same root as Snetisham and according to the experts it signifies a stream, though I am at a loss to say what stream that was. Certainly no stream flows out to sea at Blakeney, now or in the past. In those olden days the place we now know as a village was called a town, perhaps because this was a substantial seaport. Now the former town of Sniterley is known as the village of Blakeney. The first recorder mention of Blakeney as the name of the place was in the mid fourteenth century (i.e about 1350). A House of White Friars dedicated to the honour of the Blessed Virgin stood to the east of the quay; the site is now the Friary Farm Caravan Park, and some medieval stonework may be found at Friary Farmhouse Holiday Home. Flints are found in abundance in the area, and that rather than wood formed the building material of the town. The White Friars or Carmelites already had an establishment in North Norfolk in Burnham Norton as well as at Lynn, Yarmouth and Norwich . The National Trust site that provides a pleasant place for visitors to relax and view the saltmarshes (that were part of the friary) does not allow dogs, so I have no intention of going there myself without Wesley.

BLAKENEY QUAY in 1957 (it is me paddling the canoe).

John and Thomas Thobury and John and Michael Storm gave 13½ acres of Sniterley to the Carmelites in 1296, and the order proceeded to erect a dwelling place for their members. Storm and Thobury were tenants of the Lord of the Manor Sir William Roos, and Sir William contributed 100 marks towards building the accommodation for the friars, with the proviso that he and his wife (Lady Maud) could stay there whenever they were in town. The site was further extended in the following years.

Blakeney harbour

Following the Dissolution of the Monasteries in 1538 the site of the Friary was acquired by the Crown. It was then purchased by William Rede, a mercer from London. What his connection with Blakeney was I do not know, because he transferred it to fellow mercer Sir Richard Gresham less than a month later, so obviously this was the intention from the start, though why Gresham could not have bought it in the first instance is obscure. Sir Richard Gresham was (unlike William Rede) a local man, born in nearby Holt. His son Sir John founded Gresham’s school in the family Manor House in Holt where ‘Old School House’ still houses the infants’ department.

BLAKENEY BAND (19th century).

The village of Blakeney became increasingly remote from the sea as the saltmarshes accumulated and Blakeney Point extended to the west. The nearby settlement of Cley became the major port of the eastern part of the North Norfolk coast, eclipsing Blakeney. Although in the diaries of Mary Hardy of Letheringsett (around 1800) vessels were still being laden and unladen at Blakeney, en route to places along he coast and even in Europe, Cley got an impressive Custom House. Perhaps this was because Cley lay on the river Glaven,  so it did not dry out completely twice a day as Blakeney does. As the nineteenth century wore on Blakeney became increasingly a port for fishermen rather than cargo ships. In the twentieth century it became concerned with leisure boats  using the harbour for their sailing dinghies, and ferries carrying people visiting the seals on Blakeney Point. It is again a much busier place than Cley.

At the time when the railway from Melton Constable was first mooted it was proposed to route it through Blakeney, but in the end it was taken through Holt instead. This would not have affected the village greatly for the whole line lasted less than eighty years.

JOSEPH MASON

THE BLOG FOR MEMORIES OF EAST ANGLIAN LIFE

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ROBERT KETT (Part One)

THE “COMMOTION”, 1549

Old postcard of Kett’s Oak between Wymondham and Hethersett

It is important to remember the political context of Kett’s Rebellion. In the year 1549 the boy king Edward VI was on the throne. He was a firm protestant (if he had been otherwise he would have had no claim to be king) and even more importantly he was surrounded by protestant advisers, principally the lord Protector Edward Seymour.

On a completely different note, across the country wealthy Lords of the Manor were increasingly enclosing local commons to graze their sheep. The Duke of Somerset (the Lord Protector) decreed these enclosures illegal, as indeed they were; when enclosure got underway in earnest in 19th century it required numerous Act of Parliament to make it all legal. The fencing of common land led to a small protest in the town of Attleborough in the summer of 1549.

The beginning of the revolt proper, the 6th of July in that year, was the occasion of the annual play in honour of St Thomas Beckett, co-patron of Wymondham Abbey in Roman Catholic times. This performance was illegal, as Henry VIII had removed Beckett from the church calendar some twelve years earlier, and plays of a Catholic nature were in any case of a dubious nature in the newly reformed church. Nevertheless the play had continued at Wymondham regardless, perhaps honouring local tradition more than from any deep theological perspective. The monastic part of the Abbey had been destroyed in the few years since Henry’s break  with Rome, and the stone reused as building material. This drastic reshaping of the town had caused resentment among the people of Wymondham. Sir John Flowedew had been instrumental in the demolition of Wymondham Abbey, and he had also erected hedges around the common land in Hethersett, so the people had at least two good reasons to attack him. Flowedew however paid the rebels off and got them instead to confront the Lord of the Manor in Wymondham.

There one Robert Kett was Lord of the Manor. Rising from humble beginnings – he was the younger son of a moderately wealthy couple from the village of Forncett. He had by all account a successful tanning business and 1549 he had purchased the Lordship of the Manor in Wymondham.  In an unexpected and fateful turn of events, Robert Kett agreed with the protestors and even put himself forward as the leader of a much more powerful and effective rising. Thus the Rebellion was born. Under the branches of a young oak tree- see the postcard that heads this post – Kett (a man in his fifties) harangued the rapidly growing crowd of Norfolk peasants. They had been brought together by economic discontent, but it had always had its religious side, and it is hard to say which was more important..

A strange transformation was taking place in the spiritual side of the protest. Although it was in origin a very conservative affair, harking back to the good old days before the Reformation, the rebels’ demands became increasingly a reaction to the slow rate of progress Protestantism was making in eastern England. In spite of modern historians stressing the reformist efforts of the Government, there was a strong feeling among the protestors that the Lord Protector was not acting quickly enough to advance the reformation. The rebels also demanded better educated clergy.

From Wymondham the rebels advanced to out skirts of Norwich. Camping first at Bowthorpe, then on the 10th July at Eaton. They crossed the river at Hellesdon and after spending Thursdy night at Drayton some 16,000 rebels made their way to Mousehold Heath.

TO BE CONTINUED.

JOSEPH MASON

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THE BLOG FOR THE HISTORY OF EAST ANGLIA

WALBERSWICK

Walberswick stands across the river Blyth, to the south of Southwold. The village is accessible from Southwold, but not by car – one must either go across the footbridge or, in the summer months, use the rowing boat ferry. If you are determined to go by car it will take you about 20 minutes to go the eight miles, through Reydon and Blythburgh.

WALBERSWICK, thatched roof

My wife Molly and I visited Walberswick on a lovely warm and sunny day in early September 2019. The older  children were all back at school, so the only youngsters about were those of under school age. Nowadays Walberswick is entirely a holiday village; and one for the rich too. If 60% of the properties in Southwold are the second homes of the wealthy (as I am informed that they are), I should think in Walberswick it is more like 95%. The woman who operates the ferry must live there, but that would be in the house that her dad lived in decades ago. As she only charges passenger a £1 each to cross the river she could never afford to live there on the proceeds of her rowing boat. The mother-in-law of a friend of mine recently passed away, and they sold her retirement home in Walberswick for a cool million quid. The publican of the Bell must live and work there, but the honest fisherfolk all moor their boats on the Southwold side of the river.

WESLEY at WALBERSWICK

I must say a word or two about this waterway, the Dunwich river. When this was a part of the river Blyth it turned south at Walberswick and continued down to Dunwich, very much as the river Alde turns south at Aldeburgh and eventually flows out to sea at Shingle Street. In both cases the distance between the salty sea and the fresh river water was not much more than a hundred yards (if that). At Dunwich the river estuary formed the town’s harbour, but in 1328 a severe storm broke through to sand bank at Walberswick and transformed the fortunes of both Southwold and Dunwich. Souhwold went from a fishing village to a substantial port, while Dunwich decayed and the sea continued to gobble up the remaining land. You can still trace the course of the river to Dunwich; here in Walberswick the creek is now called the Dunwich river.

The tide was high when we were there, and there was a puddle of water on the seaward side of the footbridge. It was only an inch or two deep, but it meant Wesley would have got his feet wet to go to the beach. Wesley hates water; even to have a drink he has to go to a watering can and drink out of the top of that. That way he cannot see the water, and the drops do not splash his beard. Anyway he stayed on the landward side of the Dunwich River.

Looking across the Blyth to Walberswick, 1960

JOSEPH MASON

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THE BLOG FOR THOUGHTS ON EAST ANGLIA

THE WHITEFRIARS OF BURNHAM NORTON

The Carmelites were also called the Whitefriars from the colour of their habits. Originally they wore blue stripped cloaks, but they were for some reason they were mocked for these garments. As a result the Pope decreed that they should wear white instead. The Carmelites took their name from Mount Carmel in the Holy Land, where the order originated. At first they were hermits living in caves, and only later did they come together to live in a friary. By the time the Burnham Norton community was set up, in the years leading up to 1247, they were mendicants. Mendicant means they survived by begging, having renounced all worldly wealth. The mendicant orders of the middle ages differed from hermits in that they travelled around preaching, rather than remaining in a cell and waiting for  people to come to them. Individual friars may have remained destitute, but the orders themselves became wealthy.   Friaries owned some impressive buildings, like that of St Mary in Burnham Norton.

As time went on and the Friaries became comfortable places to live I cannot see that the mendicant lifestyle continued unchanged. If the friars were all going round preaching they would not have needed such fine living quarters surely? The gatehouse at Burnham Norton remains – see the illustration – to demonstrate the fine architecture. The rest of the establishment was equally palatial.

The Burnhams – there are six others besides Burnham Norton; Burnham Overy, Burnham Thorpe, Burnham Deepdale, Burnham Sutton,

BURNHAM NORTON FRIARY GATEHOUSE

Burnhan Ulph and Burnham Westgate. Burnham Market is town that has grown from the old villages of Burnham Ulph, Burnham Sutton and Burnham Westgate. This has happened in the period since the Middle Ages. In medieval times all these Burnham villages already function much as a single town, though they were widely dispersed, with farms and open  countryside between them. Very important was the fact that the Burnhams had a port area, where the river Burn reached the sea. This accounted for much of the wealth of the area. The land which was not subject to flooding (i.e. not low-lying) was a fertile resource for agriculture.

The earliest example of a religious house was the Peterstone Priory of Augustinian cannons, founded some time before 1200 AD. Some half a century later the Friary of St Mary was established a mile or two to the west.

Why were the Burnhams so much to the fore in religious life of Norfolk? It was a prosperous area, which must have had a an effect. The Priory of Augustinian canons in Burnham Overy was the first of the Peterstone order to be established – there were eventually four, all in Norfolk. Carnelite Friaries were to be found in Bishops Lynn (Kinds Lynn) Yarmoth and Norwich, butt the Friary of St Mary in Burnham Norton was first Carmelite Friary in Norfolk, and the second to appear in England.  The later friaries were understandably centres of religious learning, but North West Norfolk came not only to be included with these larger places, but even  preceded them. Certainly the Burnhams were no back water in medieval Norfolk.

JOSEPH MASON

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THE BLOG FOR MEMORIES OF EAST ANGLIA

The CHURCH in ANGLO-SAXON times

This article takes us back to the very beginning of the Middle Ages. The Roman Empire had collapsed as a political entity but the Roman Catholic Church survived as its spiritual reminder. Even as the invading Germanic peoples were establishing new lands in Europe Christian missionaries were connecting these recent heathens to the spiritual hub of the Vatican. Before the first missionaries arrived in England following the invasions of Jutes and Saxons a small Christian community existed in Canterbury, centred on the Queen of Kent who had arrived from Paris in about 580. She was a Christian, and it had been agreed with her pagan husband that she should maintain her faith with the aid of a chaplain, a bishop from the Merovingian kingdom.

It is quite incredible that the church of St Martin, Canterbury, that Bertha used as her private chapel is still in regular use as a place of worship. This was described by Bede some 1,300 years ago. In fact it goes back much longer than that, which is recent Christian history by comparison. The church was established by those faithful who followed Constantine in the Roman period. The church was abandoned during the time when the pagan men arrived in the country they were to call England, but it was resurrected by Queen Bertha in the late 500s AD. Part of the walling of the church is constructed of Roman tiles and remains much as it was before our ancestors first arrived in this country. It is possible that a blocked up doorway was the entrance to the private chapel used by Bertha. Her husband Ethelbert was converted by the missionary Augustine and was baptised in the chapel in the early years of the 7th century. With the coming of Augustine to Kent in 597 the Cathedral was started nearby and the church of St Martin became less noteworthy, though it retained its importance as the first church of the new religion in the country.

The dedication to St Martin of Tours may date from the Roman period. Martin was a young man who had followed his father into the Roman cavalry. He was already a Christian from his teenage years, and later (after leaving the army) founded a monastery and became bishop of Tours; this was in early days of Christianity becoming legal in the Roman Empire, which only happened in 316 when Martin was ten.

If you recall the character of Rupert the Bear (as I am sure you must) you can reflect on the fact that his creator is laid to rest in the churchyard of St Martin’s, Canterbury. She is but one of the thousands of worshippers who have attended this church during some one and a half millennia.

As a young man Raedwald the king of East Anglia was educated in the arts of monarchic rule under Ethelbert of Kent. He inherited the kingdom of East Anglia in in the last years of the 6th century. He had come under the Christian influence of his mentor’s wife Bertha and adopted some aspects of the new faith. Back home in East Anglia however his wife came under no such pressure, and remained implacably pagan. After Ethelbert’s death Raedwald soon rose to replace him as the strongest king south of the Humber. In religious terms he attempted to please both the Christian and pagan elements in his court, and erected both Christian and pagan altars in his temple. His ship burial at Sutton Hoo shows the dual nature of his religious life, by including Christian symbols while interring him in a heathen manner. This did not impress such Christian commentators as the Venerable Bede.

St MARTIN’S CHURCH, CANTERBURY

JOSEPH MASON

joemasonspage@gmail.com

THE BLOG FOR THE STORY OF EAST ANGLIA

GRESHAM’S JUNIOR SCHOOL

A THIRTEEN YEAR OLD’S DIARY

This was my last summer as a boarder at Crossways, my house in Gresham’s Prep School. I was to go up to the Senior School at the end of the Lent term 1963.

House Photograph c1961



8th June 1962
This was FIELD DAY but it didn’t really concern me as I was still in the Junior School and was not yet a member of the ‘Corps’. We had a lecture from Purrington (an Exchange student from the sixth form) who gave us a lecture on his school in America.
22nd June
Mr Hughes gave us a lecture on gramophones. I had a dentist’s appointment.
23rd June
This was Speech Day. After the Speeches Mum, Dad and I went to Cromer. The next day (Sunday) I went home with Dad after Chapel.
26th June (Tuesday) It rained in the afternoon but we still had to play cricket.
1st July (Sunday) [I must explain that Dolphin was the name of a dormitory at Crossways, my boarding house. The seven ‘dorms’ were named after the decorations on the horse brasses that hung on the doors. It was possible to climb out of the window onto the lead roof of the ‘Play Room’ below. You can see part of this bay window to the right of the picture above. It was possible to jump down from the roof onto the path.] After going to the swimming pool I sun bathed on Dolphin roof. I had stomach ache! The next day we had a P.E. lesson which entailed a bathe in the open air pool. The water was 60 degrees Fahrenheit. I was editing the house magazine “News and Views” which was due out shortly so the editorial team were quite busy
4th July
As it was American Independence Day the Stars and Stripes was flying from Big School. On Saturday we published “News and Views”. I caught someone out in the cricket match!
8th July (Sunday)
A busy day! My friend Vernon Stanley Pollard had an illness and was transferred to the sanatorium. It was a day for a home visit, and as my friend ‘Pooky’ Woods could not go home (as his Dad was serving in the Army) I took him home with me. But my Dad had to drive my sister Tig back to Ipswich, where she was teaching, so I don’t suppose we saw much of him before it was time to drive us back to school (a journey of 25 miles or so, shorter than the trip tp Ipswich).
9th July
I had a bathe in the swimming pool for the first time in two weeks. For prep I had some geography and English comprehension. Pollard is hospitalised with kidney stones. I started swotting for exams.
11th July
In the art lesson I bring back my pictures. In P.E. I was diving into the pool. I went to Sheringham to get a book from Bertram Watts, then the nearest bookshop to Holt. In the evening I had choir practice. We were busy building the dirt track circuit we charge round on old bikes (it was suitable for our good machines). The were embanking the corners, so it meant a lot of digging. On Friday I did a dummy exam.

The swimming pool

JOSEPH MASON

joemasonspage@gmail.com

THE BLOG FOR THE STORY OF EAST ANGLIA

Haveringland

ST PETER’S, HAVERINGLAND

St Peter’s church stands remote from all other properties in the parish of Haveingland, between Felthorpe and Cawston. This was part of Swanninngton airfield during the Second World War; the road that approaches the church is plainly a relic of wartime occupation. This was in fact a runway, and Mosquito aircraft approached perilously close to the church tower, which was  whitewashed for the lower twelve feet or so, no doubt in a attemot to protect it from straying pilots. The airbase was opened in 1944 – one of the last in the war – and closed three years later in 1947. For those three years the congregation of the church must have increased somewhat. The church has a medieval round tower dating from around the time of the Norman Conquest. A lot of building material dating from Roman times is included in the tower. Financed by the squire, the rest of the church was rebuilt in 1858. The money was left in his will. It is now a fairly large church for a tiny population. There are many panes nineteenth century stained glass.

Molly and I have twice been to Haveringland church recently. In the summer I went to an exhibition of the local history of the area. Before Christmas we attended an Advent Carol Service there; although electricity is available it was all performed by candle light, only the organ used power.  Although it was cold it wasn’t as bad as the Carol Service we attended at Worsted a year before; that I had to leave half way through! The village consists of less than 200 inhabitants, and the under one hundred houses are scattered around the three and a half square miles (2000 acres) of the parish.  There is a development of modern bungalows in the Hall Park.

In 1840 there were only 30 houses in Haveringland, though the population was 150 souls – the servants who were attached to the Hall must have skewed the total. It was not always so lacking in facilities as it is today. In 1841 a fine new Hall was built in the Grecian style with extensive ornamental grounds and a lake; after wartime requisitioning it was demolished in 1947. In 1848 a school was built in Haveringland, and a wheelwright operated in the village. This place is now bereft of most things that make a village– it has no village hall or pub, although as late as 1956 it still had one that dated back at least to the 18th century. The pub was the Kings Head on the east side of the parish. Obviously it got its main trade from passing travellers on their way to Norwich; there would not have been enough business from those who dwelt there after the Second World War. It has never had post office though; no doubt it was served by postmen from the adjoining village of Cwaston.

VILLAG STOCKS

If the village has ever had a centre it must have been St Peter’s itself – unless you count village stocks! In the days when there was still a pub this was the main part of the village – the Kings Head was just opposite.  Certainly today all the local events take place at the church. It proudly announces that it is open for christenings, funerals and marriages (the stocks make a popular post nuptial venue). There was a display of old tractors and farm machinery at harvest festival, and Remembrance Sunday had a detachment of Norfolk cadets and veterans to mark the occasion. Before the rebuilding of the church the chancel was in ruins and there was only a north aisle. Now the church has chancel, two side aisles and a transept. In many another location the church would be redundant and the village would hardly exist, but because of some dedicated individuals it remains the hub of a much larger community; may that situation long continue. 

JOSEPH MASON

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THE BLOG FOR MEMORIES OF EAST ANGLIAN LIFE

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PILGRIM CHAPELS in NORFOLK

THE RED MOUNT CHAPEL

THE WALKS is name of the park in central KINGS LYNN where the RED MOUNT chapel is located. It was built on the property of the Benedictine Priory of St Margaret’s in the final years of the fifteenth century. The Priory was subordinate to that at Norwich and the Prior of Lynn could be removed on the say so of the Prior of Norwich. The use of red brick gives a hint that this was a late medieval construction. Many people take 1485 to be the beginning of the modern age, and as the lease on the land was granted in that year it is a moot point whether it belongs to the middle ages or to the modern era.

The chapel was built as a wayside resting place for pilgrims on their way to Walsingham. As the Great Ouse was a major barrier to the west many of these pilgrims would have arrived by water at the great port of Bishops Lynn – the third largest in England at the time – after London and Southampton. These pilgrims would have come from other parts of the East Coast of England, but also from Europe; Walsingham was that well known. Another pilgrims’ chapel exists in Houghton St Giles, a mile outside Walsingham. After a checkered post Reformation history (during which time it served as a poor house, a forge and a barn) this building, known as the ‘Slipper Chapel’ (where pilgrims left their shoes to walk the last mile to the shrine barefoot) was reconsecrated by the Catholic Church in 1934.

The Slipper Chapel

The Red Mount chapel has had a similarly diverse series of uses since the Reformation. It was used as a repository for gunpowder during the Civil War, and it was also taken over as a stable. It then became an astronomical observatory. In spite of having its tiles removed during the sixteenth century it has been fortunate in retaining a roof for most of its history. It was used as a chapel once again in the 20th century, but this proved to be too expensive to maintain and its lease was returned early. As the Reformation followed soon after its completion the Red Mount has only served as a chapel for 50 years of its life. In 2008 the National Lottery financed a thorough restoration of the Red Mount chapel, costing over £4 million pounds. It is now open to the public three times a week during the summer months. The interior of the octagonal chapel is even more fascinating than the exterior.

The altar in the Slipper Chapel

Interior of Red Mount

The pilgrims who went to Walsingham in such numbers were suddenly prevented from their travels in 1538. Was this a sudden thing, or was the writing on the wall when Henry VIII and Thomas Cromwell began to take over church lands? Was there a trickle of pilgrims left to stare at the empty priories and despoiled monasteries? Certainly ‘As I went to Walsingham’ became a very popular ballad in Elizabethan England, although it referred to an historic event and not to a current one. The music was used by such composers as William Byrd and John Dowland.

JOSEPH MASON

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THE BLOG FOR THE HISTORY OF EAST ANGLIA

 

 

CHRISTMAS 1971

51 Norwich Rd, Poringland, where I spent Christmas 1971 – but it wasn’t snowing!

Christmas Eve

Earlier in the week Dad had sent me to the bank to get out £40 to be distributed as Christmas Boxes. On Christmas Eve (a Friday) my cousin Andrew came over to see us at Surrey Street, my father’s business premises in Norwich. His son Thomas came with him, and he remembered Tiggie’s dog Suki from last Christmas, though he is only three years old! After we had worked till lunch time Tig arrived and we had a drink at the Bell and fish and chips at Valori’s in Timber Hill. We got a newspaper for the Christmas crossword from Jarrold’s and wrapped up Aunt Maud’s presents.

Tig and Mum left at four o’clock to give Suki a run before dark and did some last minute shopping for bread. We had a book delivered this morning, “ Trousered Apes” by Prof Duncan William. [For a review of this book click here.] We also discovered a book in the library in the basement at Surrey Street that we had possessed for years but had never read (until now)  – “Camera in the Sky“. After chops for tea Dad and I listened to a record of Corelli’s Christmas concerto.

Christmas Day

This was very mild, bright and sunny. Tig came and stole my Christmas stocking and put it by my place on the breakfast table. [We had sausages.] We went to the front room and took our presents off the tree. From Aunt Olive I got an Arran sweater she had knitted for me. I also got a couple of shirts and a woollen hat, and some slippers in a case for travelling. Dad got a silk tie from Gerry Sayer. He got dressed in his new suit and we listened to the Carols from King’s College. Aunt Maud came to us for Christmas dinner – we went to collect her from Earlham House at 11.45.

Dad Tig and I helped get the dinner ready while Mum had a rest and talked with Aunt Maud. We opened the bottle of wine with a ‘Pop’! After dinner we opened the presents between us and Aunt Maud and then she had a rest on the bed. Dad and I went into the garden an dug up some parsnips. The fire was lit in the front room and we went in to listened to the last side of The Pirates of Penzance (that we had begun yesterday).

We took the dog out up the lane and back across the fields;  the sparrows were excited about something and were twittering very loudly in a laurel hedge. Everyone we met was looking very plump (Tig said). We had a phone call from Aunt Olive who us celebrating with Andrew in the Cathedral Close. At five we had orange cake and fruit salad for tea. Took Aunt Maud home and had a game of Flounders.

Boxing Day

This was quite chilly. Dad as up with his cold most of the night, but he did finish most of the Times crossword during that time. There were two clues to go and Tig finished them off over breakfast. She had got a garden token from Renate, and after lunch we all sat round the fire discussing what plant she should buy. We also discussed Dad’s forthcoming retirement.

With his cold Dad went to bed quite early, leaving me up to drink a glass of beer. Alone, I started a picture of a cow (I had taken a photo of it on Guerney this summer).

JOSEPH MASON

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THE BLOG FOR MEMORIES OF EAST ANGLIA

OLD and NEW BUCKENHAM

Old Buckenham Mill, 1970; it has since been restored for residential use.

Old Buckenham had a Priory of Augustinian canons, founded in 1146 by William d’Albini, Earl of Chichester; it was one of the earlier monasteries to be dissolved, in 1536. The monastery was adjacent to Buckenham Castle. The site has been occupied by Abbey Farm ever since. I have written about Old Buckenham before, particularly the mill that was used by Colmans to produce laundry starch from milling wheat. This continued the clever move of selling mustard powder; small quantities of the milled product could be sold for many times the price of bread flour, with minimal extra production cost. The same reasoning applied to laundry starch.

Old Buckenham is a village in South Norfolk. The village of Buckenham appears in the Domesday Book; at that period the parish had not yet been spilt into two. Today Old Buckenham has a population of around 1200 (virtually unchanged from 150 years ago), which makes the village over twice the size of neighbouring New Buckenham. The population of New Buckenham is now slightly smaller than the 637 souls recorded in 1803. In spite of this disparity in size, New Buckenham was a medieval town; from the end of the twelfth century it had a Market and all the hallmarks of a borough. The town was laid out to a grid plan, which still forms the basis of the settlement. It is still, unlike many settlements, a nucleated village and it does not possess much land beyond its built-up limits. The whole parish extends to just 150 hectares. The Market was governed by a court that could impose fines and corporal punishments too – the whipping post may still be seen on the Market Cross. The Market ceased to function over 200 years ago, but before then the town was a place of business, with most of the inhabitants engaged in shopkeeping or manufacture. The town had a school from at least the 16th century. Stephen Stacey (d. 1634) was obviously literate and a man of culture; besides owning a bible he also possessed a violin. Nonetheless his occupation was the relatively humble one of house painter.  

One of the principal trades carried out was butchery; this was regulated to some extent, but the principles of hygiene were unknown. Other trades were leather tanning and the associated trades of shoemaking, saddlery and collarmaking. The cloth industries included tailoring, knitting and  weaving of both wool and linen. Other tradesmen such as a watchmaker, locksmith and maker of tobacco pipes also make an appearance in the records. Bakers worked in tandem – the local miller was also a baker, and brewers were often also bakers because of the production an use of yeast.  The fact that market day was on Saturday left the rest of the week less busy for the inhabitants. Saturday saw traders arrive from all parts of the vicinity, including Attleborough, Wymondham, Thetford and Diss. How did this  Market Town develop? Well, it was established by the owner of the adjacent Buckenham Castle, the afore mentioned William d’Albini, but it drew its custom from its position on the crossroads of two major routes. These were the turnpike from Garboldisham to Norwich and the road from Attleborough to Diss. These roads have lost some of their importance to the A11 and A140 nowadays, but the former town still attracts enough business to support two public houses.

Even when I was growing up there was no doctor in our village, nor in the adjacent villages, so for a settlement like New Buckenham to have a succession of physicians and surgeons was quite special. Many of the residents would not have been able to afford the attentions of a medical practioner, as a town it was a centre for professional men. The earliest we can see a doctor practising from New Buckenham is 1534, when he was paid 7shillings and 4 pence for treating the monks of Thetford Priory. Lawyers also made New Buckenham their home; in other words it had all the services that one would expect of a town, though on a small scale.

There are still many medieval houses in New Buckenham, many of them with oriel windows. These are bay windows  that do not reach the ground. In this case these widows are supported above by the projecting first floor, as this was the normal method of construction in the middle ages. The Market Place remains as an unbuilt-up area in the centre of the village, now known as The Green. The Market Cross stands to one side of this green, where it was rebuilt in the eighteenth century. It had previously been erected nearer the centre. See Paul Rutledge, New Buckenham, Poppyland Publishing, 2nd edition 2019, to learn more of the trades and professions carried out in New Buckenham.

JOSEPH MASON

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THE BLOG FOR MEMORIES OF EAST ANGLIA