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Iconic Buildings

In 2008 Betty Martins, the past Editor of the Bawburgh News, produced a series of articles on the Iconic Buildings of Bawburgh.  These articles are reproduced below:

1. Bawburgh Church 2. Bawburgh Mill 3. The Kings Head 4. The Bridge 5. The Garden House and Hermits House 6. Church Farmhouse

7. The Old Post Office 8. Blacksmiths Cottage 9. Childs Terrace 10. Bawburgh School 11. Hillside 12. Stocks Hill Cottage

1. Bawburgh Church

Much photographed, sketched and well documented, our charming round towered flint church, has been a pivotal building in the village through ten centuries. Its form was not as it is today, when it hosted the burial of Walstan in 1016, although the tower may already have been in situ. Because of his Shrine, the church gained great wealth thanks to the hundreds of visiting pilgrims. So much so, it was noted during medieval times that six priests were housed in the village to deal with the numbers. These were housed in what is now Church Farmhouse and Church Cottage. The Shrine was demolished during the Reformation, and the church later restored by Bishop Wren in 1638. A century ago, the church’s benefactor was Charles Noverre, who donated the bible still in use, and the decorative rood screen. At the same time, Rev. Gabriel Young (1892-1931) was instrumental in improving church attendance, as well as restoring the fabric of the building (there was a grand re-opening in 1922). The pulpit came from Norwich Cathedral in 1892, and the organ (recently restored) arrived in 1908. The tower was restored in memory of Mrs. Caroline Young in 1905. There is a curious “poor-box” in situ, as well as 15th century fragments of stained glass, a wall painting of similar date and ancient poppy heads on the pews. The arms of Charles II are rare, and there are also important brasses under the aisle matting. It is a very special place, evidenced by its Grade One listing granted in 1983.

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2. Bawburgh Mill

Straddling the Yare in the centre of the village, there has been a Mill in Bawburgh since the Domesday book, although not in its present form. The present red brick version replaced a wooden structure after a major fire in 1876, the date brick on the front, indicates it was 1887 before completion of building. Over the years it has had a variety of milling including cattle food and rags for paper. There was a huge industrial chimney attached until around 1900. Jeremiah Colman started business here in 1802, just before he started mustard milling at Stoke Holy Cross. His peer John Wagstaffe was milling here in 1801, and left the village his Silver Spoon legacy. It was to be another 160 years before milling came to a close, those intervening years providing a constant hub of activity and employment for the village. The Mill cottages were also built at the same time to house its workers, and Childs Terrace was named by the Childs family (millers in 1908-1929). The last Miller, Clifford Warman, hung up his floury sacks in 1967, and one of the millstones set on the Green provides an unusual memorial to him, as well as a reminder of the importance of the business and iconic status of the building, The subsequent forty years have seen a succession of private residents, with a major makeover in 1988 providing four enviable townhouses, as well as retaining the Stable and Mill Houses. The nearby Warman Close was so named in 2000. The Mill provides an attractive centrepiece to the village—especially at night, when the lit windows reflect in the Mill Pool.

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3. The Kings Head

This marvellous building (rear of picture) has been a public house for more than 200 years, when a Mr. Hart, after whom the Lane was named, let the property, which had been built 180 years before (that is in 1602), as a pub, and named it the Kings Head. Edward I (1272-1307), was used on the pub sign, when the pub was a “Morgan's” pub and under tenants Billie Johnson and Billie Howlett (from the 1930s through to the 1950s) when the cottages on the road (left) were lived in separately. Morgan's Brewery was subsequently taken over by Watney Mann, and the big conglomerate closed the only remaining hostelry in Bawburgh in 1975—much to the consternation of the village. Sadly, the property was boarded up, having been a vibrant part of the village, since 1784. It had survived alongside, but not without rivalry, its neighbour The Cock, which closed in 1962. However, new life was breathed into the building, when late in 1976, the Kings Head Sporting Club was born, and with it a new Kings Head—the same Edward VII Anton Wimmer has chosen as a suitable icon for today’s pleasures—the King being known as a “sportsman and bon viveur”. Throughout the twentieth century, the Kings Head, Bawburgh, was a lively and successful venue. The advent of Squash, brought Bawburgh up to date, when John Abbot and Barry Mathews bought the shell of the 350 year old property in 1975 and built the squash courts (not without vocal fears of the village) and renovated the tumbling down house with the curvy roof. Thanks to them, 30 years later, it still flourishes.

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4. The Bridge

Not so much an iconic building, but an iconic structure, so pivotal as it is, having joined the divisions of “north and south” Bawburgh for nearly 200 years, each claiming to be “upper Bawburgh”! Seriously, it is well used and well loved. Its status as a Scheduled Ancient Monument (Number Norfolk 348) applied in 1976 confirms its importance. It is also No. 12721 on the Sites and Monuments Record at the Norfolk Landscape Archaeology unit, at Gressenhall Museum. It is described as an “Arched structure of stone and brick” and although after a visit in 1977 declared it “not worthy of comment”, when the Bridge was re-visited in 1979, it was suitably declared “A pleasant bridge—but not outstanding”. The County Surveyor in 1866 measured its three semi-circular arches, the centre arch with a 16’3” span, and the outer arches of 13’8”. It is coned with 6” saddleback Portland stone and the roadway is 13’8” wide, the parapet being 3’8” above the road. The present bridge replaced a previous one built during the early 1600s. It was another 200 years before the present bridge was built, in 1815, and was the subject of work by divers late in the 1800s, when presumably the iconic cross ties were fixed. More recent repairs took place in 2007, which hopefully will sustain our iconic central symbol. Although a weight limit does exist, there is no way the daily load it now endures could have been predicted when it was built in 1815.

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5. The Garden House and Hermits House

Variously described as a dovecote and slipper chapel, the two follies now residing in the gardens of Numbers 5 and 7 Hall Farm Place, were originally garden follies in the grounds of Bawburgh Hall. The Hall was demolished in 1963 and the follies allowed to stand, as long as the development which took place around them in 1980, allowed for access for the public (by arrangement). These iconic buildings have certainly been shrouded by mystery over the years, their date much debated. The question is whether they were built at the same time as The Hall (1634), or were later additions using old materials. The consensus following the advice of Gressenhall records (The Slipper House is number 9301 on their Sites and Monuments Records) and expert on landscape history, Tom Williamson of the UEA, is that they are late 16th or early 17th century garden buildings built of stone looted from some medieval structure—the dissolved chapel of Saint Walstan “perhaps”. Having established date, the naming continues to confuse. South Norfolk’s List of Buildings of Special Architectural or Historical Interest declares that the Garden House is at number 5 and was formerly a dovecote (actually the Hermits House is at number 5) and the Slipper Chapel, now Garden House is at number 7. We can safely assume the numbers have been switched, and that the Dovecote is now the Garden House, since archive photos show the dove openings where there are now windows. Mysterious and confusing perhaps, but iconic definitely!!

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6. Church Farmhouse

Sitting on low lying land to the north of the Church and with the auspicious neighbour of Saint Walstan’s Well, Church Farmhouse is certainly visually a magnificent house, with an equally fascinating history. Not so obviously, it has not housed the Vicar of the day, since medieval times, when it was necessary for six Priests to be accommodated there to deal with the hundreds of pilgrims to the Well. Since then, it has simply been Church Farm. There are records of a house on the spot since 1278 and the present 2-foot thick back wall dated as 13th century ties in well with this. Church Cottage housed Vicars until around 1813, when Rectory House on Watton Road, and then the new Vicarage in Little Melton were used. In the meantime the tenants of Church Farm have been closely associated with the Church. Church Farm was not transferred from ownership of the Church until 1820, when the Unthank family, and then Intwood Estates took over. The Unthank family, of Intwood Hall, never lived in the house, but instead a succession of tenant farmers, until in 1979, when the Hannison family took over ownership. There have been two more changes, the Green family and more recently in 2017 the Blakes. Thankfully all families have taken their responsibilities of ownership and restoration very seriously. The property is a Grade II* (with star) Listed Building and continues its association with Church and Well, with the continuation of Saint Walstan’s Day celebrations at the Well, situated in the garden.
Above information thanks to the Greens and Geoffrey Kelly’s research of 1988.

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7. The Old Post Office

The charm of the “Old Post Office” is always visible from its central position and a reminder of the architectural quaintness of Bawburgh. Similarities with the Kings Head and Blacksmiths Cottage dates it around 1600. During the 20th century, however, we know it was home to three families, with Ben and Daisy Harmer running “Bridge Stores” from the right hand portion. In 1937, the post office operation was transferred from Church Stores to Bridge Stores. This must have been a major coup! Ben Harmer was called up for War Service and Daisy was helped by Ben’s sister Elsie to “man” the shop. The property was often teeming with evacuees during the War—handy assistants no doubt. It was a typical grocery store of the day, with food stuffs sold separately and packed in greaseproof paper, the sugar bagged and the bacon cut by hand. Newspaper deliveries were carried out too. In 1919 the cottages were sold by the Costessey Estate to the Barclays at Colney Hall, and the Harmers gradually bought the whole from them. They stayed until 1970. After that period of stability, the Post Office was then to have a succession of another four owners during the ensuing twenty years. When the Williams moved to Norwich in 1993, the post office had already been trading on a part time basis for three years, and the terms offered by the Post Office made business for any prospective owners unviable.

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8. Blacksmiths Cottage

This cottage has certainly had a pole position in the village for centuries. Always handy for the public house, it seems to have survived remarkably for 400 years right on the roadside. It has a wonderful mixture of flint, red brink and ashlar stone construction. This type of stone can be seen in many cottages in this central part of the village. It is not only an iconic building, but in an iconic position, overlooking as it does, the village green and most activity which goes on! It probably started life as a single dwelling, converted to three cottages during the 1700s, and back again in the Twentieth Century. There are the initials I.B. on the east gable tie ends. Old directories can direct us to the names of Blacksmiths over the centuries, the first named, a John Brown in 1836. His son, Daniel, had taken over by 1854. By 1868, James Cole was named as Smith and Wheelwright. With the Kings Head next door, similar names crop up linking the two properties. By 1883, George Chenery was Blacksmith. His son Charlie was later to take over and he and his wife Jessie were also Landlords next door at the Kings Head until 1928. Philip Eagle moved in in 1970 and has sympathetically restored the property, but now, in his capacity as a sheep farmer, the noises of bleating orphan lambs are much more likely to be heard from the garden, than the ring of the blacksmith’s hammer on horseshoes!

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9. Childs Terrace

This attractive set of cottages, is symbolic of changes through difficult and better times for the village. Built during the 17th century (although with an even older retaining wall going back to medieval times), the terrace was known as the Poor Yard, even in living memory. It was during the Sixties that demolition was ordered, but they did not account for the determination of the last tenant—Mrs. Mabel Holmes. Fortunately by the time she did eventually move to Hockering Lane, the village was by then subject to the Conservation Report of 1973, which promised to preserve the character and seek to improve the village by encouraging schemes to restore decaying buildings. This was timely, in that not only was Childs Terrace ready for demolition, the Kings Head and Blacksmiths Cottage were in need of care and attention too. Early during the twentieth century the Terrace was home to eight families, the Woods had to occupy two of them (although inconveniently not adjoining!). Mostly employment would have been at the nearby Mill, and the cottages owned by it—thus the name of Childs, Millers during that time. With the restoration work during the Seventies, the nine cottages became five, and something not needed before—a garage block for five cars too. The work was carried out by Carters, and restoration completed in 1977. With the arrival of the Goodmans at numbers one and two in 2006, the frontage and gardens have excellent new caretakers! All this thanks to Mrs. Holmes.

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10.  Bawburgh School

Mammoth changes have been made to this icon, over the past 132 years, that we wonder just what Miss Ann Carter the first Headmistress would think! She had few luxuries to aid the education of her original 54 pupils and indeed little help by way of other teachers. There was no heating, light or indoor toilets. Central heating did not arrive until the Sixties and indoor toilets as recently as 1994. Now the building of 2008 is unrecognisable. The original building still used, but two modern extensions, the last one only in 2006; the new hall adding to the status of The Bawburgh School, which it is now known as. It has been a stable icon through those 132 years—non more so than when the Jacksons (1892-1925) not only lived in the Schoolhouse, but were recognised as improving conditions and the education of their charges, which had grown in number to 77, although attendance/truancy was a continuing problem. There was a fence to enable the schoolhouse privacy, and there was an extension built during the “Harvest Holidays” of 1905—just after Norfolk County Council had become responsible for its upkeep. Pupil numbers remained about the same during this time, reaching 88 in 1919, but as time went on it needed 19 evacuees to boost numbers in 1939 and 8 travellers in 1978 to boost the roll. Then, by the time Mrs. Baldwin arrived twenty years ago in September 1987, pupil numbers had dropped to an all time low of 36……
With a present pupil tally of 100, the rest, as they say, Is History!!

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11. Hillside

Attractively perched on the corner of Stocks Hill and Church Street, Hillside stands sentinel to the village on its southern approach overlooking the symbolic green triangle with the village sign. The distinguished property, with an interesting history started life as two cottages, evidenced by maps of the early 1800s. A photograph exists of Hillside, dated 1880 when it had become one property, with the bay windows added, and owned by Lucy Candler, great-granddaughter of John Wagstaffe of Bawburgh Mill. After that date, the central front door and porch were added, and it became the country home of Charles Noverre, the grandson of a founding Director of Norwich Union, and the great-nephew of the Chevalier Noverre, dance master to Queen Antoinette. Thus the surname with French origins, which also lent itself to a cinema in Norwich, became inextricably linked to Bawburgh. Charles Noverre did not spend much of his time at Hillside, since his home was in London, but he was a generous benefactor of the Church, and famously hosted a charabanc trip from the Norwich office to Bawburgh in 1903. Mrs. Laura Noverre used their country home after Charles Noverre’s death in 1920, and until her death in 1928. A Lady Robinson then owned the property until it became the home of Herbert Baldwin, Parish Council Chairman, who held Home Guard Meetings there during the Second World War. When it became the property of the Websdales, Coal Merchants from Norwich, it became the subject of an article in Homes and Gardens in which it was described as one of the most beautiful homes in the area. It is co-incidental that the current owner of Hillside, has just completed 11 years service as Chairman of the Parish Council, and Hillside again matches that description. Tom and Jan Hubbard bought Hillside in 1989 and painstakingly restored it, uncovering the iconic red brick façade, and bringing back the fine interiors and gardens.

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12. Stocks Hill Cottage

Now known as Corner Cottage (the door is actually on Hockering Lane) the landmark building on the corner of Stocks Hill and Hockering Lane, together with its neighbour Smugglers Cottage, was originally one. Originally dated 17th century, some remaining interior points of interest earned its Listed status, when the village became “conserved” in 1973. During the early part of the 20th century, however, the property was better known as Porretts, the butchers. But this was not a marbled refrigerated butchers shop, it had scolding baths for pigs, a back door instead of a counter, and the cellar under the front garden acted as the fridge! Horse and cart deliveries from Porretts were renowned and essential for the surrounding villages. When finally the two butchers of Bawburgh, became one, Reynolds Dobson, became Reynolds Porrett’s successor in Harts Lane, around 1921. Mrs. Porrett continued to live in the premises until the Floods arrived in 1956. The slaughterhouse facilities had to be removed to install a “modern” kitchen. The curiously named Smugglers Cottage then became separate and has changed hands more times, and often used as a quaint and desirable rented holiday cottage. Over the recent decades, Corner Cottage has been through excellent refurbishment, and this attractive and historic building continues to be maintained to a high standard.

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