Wednesday, 26 June 2013

Thorpe Hamlet: Fledglings at The Nest

The Nestx

ANOTHER great photo courtesy of Picture Norfolk’s ever-growing Flickr collection. This shows youngsters at The Nest - Norwich City’s ground between 1908-1935.The gasometer in the top left, gives you a sense of perspective. It survives close to the Lollards Pit pub. The ground itself was off Rosary Road in Thorpe Hamlet. Picture Norfolk wants someone to help them with when the photo might have been taken. Contact them via this link. And let me know too.

I’ve written my entry on The Nest. And I’ve had a bit of a result when it comes to finding a fan. I’ve found a regular at Carrow Road who can also remember the last few seasons at The Nest. That must make him City’s most dedicated supporter. But you’ll have to wait till the book comes out for the full story……

Tuesday, 25 June 2013

Thorpe Hamlet: an old priory

St Leonard's Priory 1906

ONCE upon a hill in Thorpe Hamlet there was a priory. It was built by the Normans and from there the first monks had a great view of the cathedral emerging in the meadows across the Wensum.

The priory sat on the corner of what is now Gas Hill and St Leonard’s Road. Like countless other religious buildings it was sacked in the aftermath of the Dissolution of the Monasteries. And like countless others it was then taken over by a toff – Earl Surrey in this case. The history gets a bit complicated after that because Kett’s rebels occupied the building during the summer of 1549. And after that its fortunes waxed and waned according to whether the Surreys were in or out of favour with the relevant monarch. St Leonard's sale particulars

Picture-wise we’ve skipped forward to 1906. This shot is taken from sale particulars which nevertheless talk about “the ruins of the Norman Priory” still existing in the house’s substantial gardens. Apparently they included parts of a gate tower, a church and a precinct well. Mary Ash’s excellent history of Thorpe Hamlet quotes a lady called Lorna Hewitt who was born in the house. (I guess her parents might even been the ones who bought it in 1906.) She remembers her grandmother seeing a ghost in the cellar and an incredibly deep well in the garden - 200ft she reckoned. 

This building was demolished in the 1970s. Now two modern buildings share the site. But are there any remains left today? Any ghosts too? I wonder.

Saturday, 1 June 2013

The secret views from Thorpe Hamlet

Hamlet3 018

IT’S been a dodgy old spring. So when there is the promise of soft, evening sunlight, you simply have to seize the moment. I’ve been rooting around in Thorpe Hamlet for a while now, researching what I think is one of Norwich’s most under-rated suburbs. Take Beatrice Road (pictured below) for  example, it ain’t this leafy in the Golden Triangle.

Beatrice Road

But its great secret is the view (see main picture). Perched on the only high ground, many lucky residents have stunning panoramas of the cathedral and the city beneath them.

And then there are the very un-Norwich like gradients. The steep slopes put off the developers until the mid-19th century. Until then much of the land was part of a much broader Mousehold Heath. Even the name “Thorpe Hamlet” didn’t exist. But when a gas works was built on one end of the escarpment and a railway station arrived at the foot of the other end, things changed quickly.

Hamlet Houses

In the words of the Hamlet’s historian Geoffrey Goreham, the builders “saw in the chalk slopes and tree-covered valleys a challenge for their ingenuity.” For the most part those terraced houses endure one hundred years later.

Just finally on Beatrice Road. How many residents know that Beatrice, Florence, Ethel, Ella, Marion and Primrose Roads were named after the six daughters of a wealthy solicitor Isaac Bugg Coaks who bought this land in the late 19th century? After a supposedly worthy career he was struck off in the 1890s for defrauding his clients.

The reputation of his houses has lasted rather longer.