Entries in Norfolk (13)


Big Cats, the Black Shuck and Rampaging Elephants: Norfolk's Menagerie

This week, the local news once again featured a sighting of a Big Cat (capitals added for effect) in Norfolk. Those of us from these parts have seen a large number of these reports in the press in recent years, and indeed going back further – move over Beast of Bodmin! Norfolk and Suffolk have creatures to rival you... 

This time the Norfolk Puma (or Panther, depending on your preference) was reportedly sighted on the Bayfield Hall Estate near Holt. (See Evening News here). Apparently, Norfolk often has more than 50 reported sightings of big cats a year, just ahead of Suffolk, and has one of the highest rates of sightings in the whole of the UK. (For more on this see www.bigcatsinbritain.org/englishnews347.htm).

Big cats are technically those of the ‘Panthera’ genus – lions, tigers, leopards, jaguar and snow leopards. Again technically, pumas and lynxs are not big cats – they are of the ‘Felix’ genus and therefore small cats. Of course, as you might expect, ‘proof’ of these big cats, whether Panthera or Felix, is hard to come by. Scores of people swear they have seen large felines roaming the countryside though, and I would never take it on myself to declare their sightings false. Perhaps it is only a matter of time before someone with a smart phone manages to film such a beast and prove the doubters wrong!

Keeping exotic creatures in menageries was common well before the advent of the modern ‘zoo’. The Tower of London’s collection was thought to have been in existence as early as 1204. Who knows, with our wealth of beautiful country houses and estates in Norfolk and Suffolk, could any of the local aristocracy have indulged in owning exotic cats like William the Conqueror, or Elizabeth I? Could any of these hypothetical animals have escaped? Later on, could the changing of laws in the 70s, requiring licensing of big cats, really have encouraged less well off owners to dump their pets in the East Anglian countryside? And if so, in either case, could they have survived in the wild?

It wouldn’t have been the first time that an unfamiliar animal had wandered lose in Norfolk. The wonderful book “I Read it in the Local Rag” by Pip Wright includes the following passage taken from the Suffolk Chronicle on January 25th, 1845:

“On Friday evening, My Hylton, owner of the caravans of wild beasts on the Castle meadows, Norwich was showing the elephant to the company; the beast showed signs of insubordination. He was directed to kneel and confess his submission to his keeper, but did not obey….the mighty beast just then aimed a tremendous blow at the side of the booth, which at once gave way…and the giant of the forest walked off in spite of all opposition, going through the streets, out of St Stephen’s Gates, on to the London Road…After about two miles to Harford Bridges, he sought pleasure or food amongst the umbrageous woods and scanty foliage of Mr. Alderman Thurtell as if enjoying his pristine liberty in his native wilds.”

It seems on this occasion that the elephant was recaptured but according to the author there were complaints from the public who had already noted that “a lion had already nearly escaped earlier”.

The Tower of London’s menagerie, mentioned above, did not close until a few years after the Zoological Society of London was founded in 1826. You might be surprised to learn that Norfolk had its links with lions in London at least as early as Victoria’s reign, and not through the local gentry but through a working man born in 1828 in a little village. 

Seth Sutton, born in Topcroft, was one of only a few men recorded as working as a “keeper in a menagerie/zoological gardens” in the Victorian census returns. What’s more, he did the job for a very long time -  the 1861, 71, 81, 91 and 1901 censuses all show him in Marylebone – probably working at the gardens we now know as London Zoo. Seth had begun his life as an agricultural labourer, the son of George and Mary Sutton. Based on his children's birthplaces and the census, he must have left have left Norfolk behind for the city between 1851 and 1857.

The Sutton family lived at 2, Calvert’s Cottages, Marylebone, Pancras. Seth resided with his wife Maria (born in Flixton, Suffolk) and their children, less than ten minutes’ walk from the Zoo. By 1901, aged 73, Seth was recorded as “Pensioner (Lion Keeper at Zoo)” and still in London. As an aside, it seems that the census analysts must have had trouble working out what to class his occupation as in the statistics, which required occupations to be split into somewhat inflexible categories. Next to both his occupation and his son Harry’s (who had by then followed in his father’s footsteps) is written the word ‘Dog’, probably so that he would be categorised along with dog breeders and trainers! 

Of course Norfolk doesn’t just boast sightings of big cats and links to lion keepers, we also have big dogs. 

“And a dreadful thing from the cliff did spring, And its wild bark thrill’d around, His eyes had the glow of the fires below, Twas the form of the Spectre Hound”

At least, we have one in particular: the Black Shuck, known by some through its relatively recent addition in a Darkness track (which also namechecked Blythburgh in Suffolk - the “town in the east”) and by many more through its inclusion in myth, legend and folklore for centuries before a few Lowestoft rockers borrowed our Hell Hound for a song.

The beast has been argued to have been part of Norse mythology and the word ‘Shuck’ is said to have derived from the Anglo-Saxon word ‘scucca’ meaning devil or demon.  (For more see http://norfolkcoast.co.uk/myths/ml_blackshuck.htm). Whether or not either (or both) is true, these suggestions nevertheless point to a longstanding belief in the creature. I’ll be watching out for the Grim next time I’m on the road from Overstrand to Cromer as this is where he is said to spend much of his time. Overstrand even used to have a carving of the Black Shuck on its village sign and there is still a ‘Shuck’s Lane’ leading to Runton. 

As you can see from this somewhat varied post, Norfolk’s cat, dog and indeed elephant sightings have taken place over many years and have been discussed by many generations. Doubtless too, they will carry on as the topics of conversations for many years to come.

To conclude, where do I stand on the Big Cat debate? Well, I think that not knowing might be more exciting than knowing the truth!


The Rise, Decline, and Rise Again (?) of Market Gardens

Last spring, some colleagues and I began a gardening group in the grounds of our workplace growing potatoes, onions, squash and a little bit of everything else we fancied. Some of us were completely clueless (myself included – I entered into the lunchtime activities armed only with an iPhone app) while others already knew a fair amount about the art of ‘growing your own’. The group has developed and prospered, and a year later we are digging a further bed, allocating vegetables to people and looking out for an extra water butt (nb if you’re Norwich based and you can help, let me know!)

I’ve recently come across Norfolk market gardeners in my own family tree, and spotted several listed in trade directories in villages I’ve been doing research on. For this blog, I thought I’d delve into the history of the industry locally in the hope that it may be of interest to others.

While different to modern day land shares and community groups through their commercial nature, employees of market gardens of another age were nevertheless using many of the same skills as modern day gardeners - and doing so far better than many of us. I’m sure I’m not alone in wishing to see a return to more localised, seasonal and organic farming, and it would be wonderful to ensure that the East Anglian market garden heritage and skills aren’t completely lost to history.

A ‘market garden’ was historically a term for farming aimed at producing vegetables and berries, rather than grain, dairy or orchards; in other words farming by the hoe, not the plough. Although the word ‘garden’ may suggest a small set up, this was not always the case. Most gardens, especially towards the beginning of their rise to prominence, were necessarily located close to their markets. Those of the mid 1800s were growing all kinds of produce for local consumption and, by the time of the expansion of the railways, urban areas much further away.

Great Plumstead (arguably meaning ‘dwelling place near plums’) was one of many Norfolk villages to boast successful market gardens – other locations included Mulbarton and Bracon Ash. All three were within striking distance of regular markets in Norwich. In Suffolk*, one of the most wellknown villages for market gardening was Belton, and the recent discovery of market gardener and grave digger Richard Pole’s diaries (see article here) has reawakened interest in an industry which boomed with the railways and the need to feed an ever-growing population. Richard’s diaries describe growing wheat, barley, potatoes, beet, turnips, peas, lettuce, asparagus, rhubarb, strawberries, gooseberries and other fruit….showing just how varied the produce of a market garden could be. Richard, like others in Belton and villages like Filby, further north, were able to sell their produce in Great Yarmouth and later export their goods by train to London. A hundred years after the surge in market gardening took hold, the industry started to decline. The end of the Second World War brought foreign imports into the country and the growing move towards largescale monoculture encroached on previously market garden dominated areas.

(*I should note that Belton was part of Suffolk until 1974, when the border moved and it became part of Norfolk.) 

A key word search in the census for ‘market gardener’ reveals the growth of this type of farming as an occupation across the country during Victoria’s reign. About a thousand were recorded in 1841. This figured tripled over the next decade, and almost doubled again over the next (by 1861 there were 5100). The total more than doubled all over again during the next twenty years to 1881. By 1901, a total of 28,700 individuals were employed as market gardeners – and those are only the ones captured by the census.

Somewhat entertainingly, several of the men recorded also had the surname ‘Gardener’!

On a more local basis, Suffolk, and particularly Norfolk, were strong market gardening counties. Then, as now, being known for their agricultural produce.

During the middle of the Victorian period, Norfolk contributed a little over 5% of the Country’s market gardeners, and Suffolk was about 1.5% behind its neighbour. Based on Norfolk’s population, market gardening rose from the occupation of less than one in every ten thousand people in 1841 to one in every 500 by 1901. In Suffolk, proportions were roughly half that recorded in Norfolk. 

The 1908 map of Norwich South shows acres of Allotment Gardens which are today underneath modern-day developments. Nowadays, the local council has a waiting list chock-a-block with local people wanting to get hold of a piece of land – and what some of them wouldn’t give to have that growing space back!

So many of my blogs have shown just how much history repeats itself – not least where it comes to corsets, first names and vegetables in recent times! As we strive to cut carbon emissions, know more about where our food comes from and support the local economy, we are (hopefully) beginning to learn from the past while moving forward into the future. The tide appears to be turning on some of the processes which we once called ‘progress’ and we are perhaps beginning to appreciate how much better some of our forebears may have understood the environment that we live in.

It seems quite right that the Bracondale Gardeners (perhaps soon the Knucklebone Gardeners – but that will need the honour of its own post!) are making the most of a patch of land which was once in the middle of a thriving market gardening area. Hopefully we will soon be proving that we can produce just as many fabulous vegetables as the original Lakenham vegetable growers. One thing is for certain though. None of the fruits of our labours will find themselves on the train for London’s markets. If last year is anything to go by, they’ll be enjoyed much closer to home!  


The Walnes and Warnes of Kirby Bedon

One parish in Norfolk was home to two very different lines of my family. These lines didn’t connect - at least to my knowledge to date - for nearly 200 years and finally converged when my paternal grandparents married (via Bermuda, Shropshire and Rutland!).  The parish in question was Kirby Bedon. The village is known for its two churches – St Andrew, in use today, and St Mary, already out of use by the early 1700s. The churches are opposite each other; square towered St Andrew hosting the baptisms of my ancestors while round-towered St Mary was at the time already falling into disrepair and today is an interesting ruin.  


 St Andrew on the left and St Mary on the right. Taken last summer. 

The Walne family were local gentry in Norfolk, albeit arguably not in the ‘big league’. Still, they married into several other influential local families and owned some fairly large estates in the County. They traced their heritage back to the Pulham St Mary where they had been resident ‘as long as the parish was a parish’ according to a genealogy written by an ancestor of mine 300 years or more ago, and were granted arms in neighbouring Brockdish. During the last two decades of the 1700s, my 5x Great Grandparents William Walne and Jane (nee Johnson) had several children baptised in Kirby Bedon. They were resident in nearby Whitlingham, but the church there had fallen into ruin many years earlier, providing a romantic spot for walks during the 18th century rather than a location for affairs of the church. Whitlingham is now known for it’s modern broad and Trowse's ski slope. Goodness knows what they might of thought. Perhaps that the lake was wonderful (provided it was for the estate’s use) but that the ski-ing was a little off the wall?!

Meanwhile the Warnes family (to my knowledge the similarily of the names is a coincidence) were agricultural labourers in the village - for all I know, toiling on the land belonging to the Walnes. Another pair of my 5 x Great Grandparents, Phillis Warnes and William Coman, were having children baptised during the same years at the same church at Kirby Bedon. Their son, Stephen Coman, left the village to become a weaver in Wymondham some time between his birth in 1790 and marriage in 1815. Other members of the Warnes family remained, as we shall see later. The Walnes meanwhile continued to live locally but resided outside the parish. 

I wanted to find out more about the village to get an understanding of who lived there, where they hailed from and what they did for a living. Although it was taken several years after the time of my 4x Great Grandparents’ births, I decided to use the 1851 census to do a little digging into the lives of the village’s inhabitants. The census enumerated nearly 300 people that year (the 2001 census showed a population of 186), and some of my analysis appears below. 

First, I looked at the age profile for the village. The census notes children from a month all the way up to the eldest man in the village, aged 88. In general the profile shows a large amount of children and gradually fewer and fewer in each group as the decades go by. Not unexpected given the birth and death rates of the time. However, it is interesting to note the dip in both men and women in their 20s and 30s. Perhaps, like my ancestor Stephen, young workers left the parish to get jobs in nearby towns and cities such as Norwich and Wymondham.

I didn’t chose to analyse Kirby Bedon as a ‘typical’ village but rather as one that held an interest to me personally. However, I think in many ways it displays a familiar profile to other rural Norfolk villages of the time. In fact, if I asked you to guess the most likely occupations recorded for the residents, you’d probably be able to guess most (if not all!) of them - and you’d likely get the proportions about right too.

The vast majority of the working population were agricultural labourers. The second most popular 'occupation' was scholar, but more of those under 16 were already working the land than at school – the youngest boy noted as an ag lab was six years old. Most of those that were at school were taught by a governess at one of the more wealthy households. Several women also worked in the fields. The paupers, the third most populous group (although only seven, such was the dominance of agriculture) were all elderly. 

The rest of the occupations recorded appeared no more than six times each. Most were connected to farming – gamekeepers, grooms, farmers (also farm bailiffs and farmer’s sons etc), team men and a cattle dealer for instance. Women, again as expected, tended to do the stereotypical female jobs – mainly housekeeping, domestic service and cookery. 

The village had a rector (for St Andrew) who employed most of the domestic servants in the village, and whose son was a civil engineer. Kirby also had a pub, a wheelwright, a carpenter, a tile maker, a shoe maker, a blacksmith, a school master and some wherrymen (in case you were in doubt this was in Norfolk!). Where working women were concerned there was just the one governess, and one dressmaker. The final occupation mentioned was for an elderly Chelsea Pensioner. But for the wherrymen, and the lack of a post mistress, you’d be forgiven for thinking there was something a little Lark Rise to Candleford about the parish!

I also looked at birthplaces. Unsurprisingly, the vast majority of the children were born in the village but it was interesting to see that more than twice as many men were born in the village than women. It seems the men stuck to their villages and swapped their sisters for girls from neighbouring parishes! 

Other than Kirby Bedon itself, neighbouring parishes such as Framlingham Earl, Bramerton, Ashby, Rocklands and Poringland appear as relatively frequent birthplaces. I was amazed to find a total of 75 different birth locations amongst less than 300 inhabitants. The rest of the villages read like an index to a map of the south eastern side of Norwich - most of the places mentioned being south of Kirby Bedon rather than crossing the river valley to the north. Only six non-Norfolk places were mentioned and two of these were in nearby Suffolk. Three children were born in Cumberland but their parents were local and returned after five years. One wife came from Cornwall, a husband from London and another gentleman all the way from Ireland, marrying a Kirby Bedon girl and settling in the village.

Finally, I looked at the surnames in the village, intrigued to see how many already appeared in my family tree.  I had no idea until I completed this exercise that the Warnes name was the most numerous in the parish in 1851. It seems much of the family didn’t move away with Stephen at the turn of the century. The name Howes, another on my direct line, also appeared, although in lesser numbers. The Comans were nowhere to be seen. I am now expecting South, Adams, King and Bidwell to appear on the branches sooner rather than later: 

A total of 65 surnames showed up in the census including some I had not come across before in my local research - including Gillenwater, Varwell and Barnado. (Please forgive any mistransciptions).

To conclude, my research has been useful to understand the context of Kirby Bedon as a village and given an insight into the sort of community that once operated there. Of course the census can only reveal so much and as family historians it would be wrong to suggest paper records are the be all and end all. I would love to know more about the characters that appeared on the schedule - whether the Chelsea Pensioner regailed stories of distant battlefields, whether the Irish labourer was singled out by his accent and most of all, if the Warnes’ knew of the Walnes - and if so, whether they thought much of them! 


The rise of the 'monthly nurse'

Every time I come to write a blog I try and think of something that has interested me, and might interest others.

Last weekend I was doing some research looking into a lady in Chatteris. In 1861, she was listed as a pauper, head of the household and sharing with her grown up son and daughter, an ag lab and a seamstress. Ten years later, she appears in 1871 as a ‘monthly nurse’ living with a local family, the Graingers. I was intrigued by the concept of the monthly nurse, as in as little as three generations, the term has pretty much fallen out of use. Those that I have spoken to have not had a clue about the duties of these women, perhaps surprising as only a century ago there were over 5000 monthly nurses in London alone. The figures suggest that many of us will find such a lady somewhere in our family tree.

Given I am something of a Norfolk and Suffolk focussed researcher, I decided to look into the history of the profession in this part of the world. What follows are some of my conclusions, thoughts and ideas.

Firstly, I must answer the question: What is a monthly nurse? As long ago as 1700BC the Egyptions recognised female midwives, who would have both tended a woman during her lying in, during the birth and provided care afterwards while the baby was young. However, by the early 1800s, those who could afford it paid a surgeon to be present at the birth. This left families with less after care, and many families could not afford a surgeon at all. Enter the monthly nurse, to provide support to the family. While the term originates in the idea that these nurses would help out for ‘about a month’ this is a little misleading and the actual employment could last as little as a few visits or as long as several months. Many working class women could not afford to ‘lie in’ as long as their more wealthy counterparts so some nurses would have visited several mothers on a part time basis at around the same time.

The 1851 census shows approximately 4175 monthly nurses across England and Wales. Norfolk and Suffolk had relatively few, 40 and 36 respectively, based on an occupation key word search (and therefore open to some errors). The average age for a woman in this profession was just over 40 in Norfolk and 53 in Suffolk. Requirements for the job were informal, and most women providing the service were experienced mothers themselves. They tended to be older women, often widows, who would likely have been present at numerous births of relatives and neighbours, and very likely given birth themselves several times.

In 1851 the youngest nurse across the two counties appears to be Elizabeth Plantin of Bramford near Ipswich, aged 27 on the census. The eldest in Norfolk was 72 year old Mary Ann Woolsey, living with a family in Great Yarmouth and their young family. She may have been living with them for some time, or perhaps a member of the household was expecting another child. The eldest in Suffolk was 77, May Glass, of Street Farm, Assington near Sudbury.

By 1861, the total number of women recorded on the census as a monthly nurses was half as large again as ten years earlier – around 6425. Numbers in Norfolk (74) and Suffolk (49) had also risen. This time, the youngest seems to have been Mary Barnard, of Heigham, Norwich, who was just 19. In this case Mary was the youngest sister of the wife in the household. Baby Elizabeth was a month old at the time of the census. Norfolk also shows the eldest monthly nurse I found during my research – an 88 year old woman living in Norwich workhouse, listed only as ‘M L’. There is probably no way of knowing whether she was still actively helping women. The average age of the women provided this time was 54 in Norfolk and 57 in Suffolk, slightly older than ten years earlier.

1871 saw another increase in total numbers – 7125 were recorded. Norfolk had 75 and Suffolk 82, not massively different from a decade before. Average ages were almost identical, 56 in Norfolk and 55 in Suffolk. Another ten years, and the total number rose to around 8225 with a significant increase in our Counties of interest (Norfolk, 108, Suffolk, 158) although average ages remained very similar. 1891 saw the first and only decrease, with 7525 recorded monthly nurses. Perhaps due to transciption anomalies, the numbers in Norfolk and Suffolk had almost switched (152 and 93 respectively).

Finally, I looked at numbers in 1901. A staggering 22,300 were recorded as monthly nurses on the schedule this time around, 463 in Norfolk and 371 in Suffolk, with the average age remaining around 50 in both cases. Only a year later, changes to the status of midwifery began the process of transforming the care of women and babies which eventually saw the occupation drop off the radar and the arrival of our modern care processes.

It seems clear that, given skills were generally passed from generation to generation, those with most experience were often considered the best people to have around during a birth and therefore elder women were most likely to act as monthly nurses. However, few of the women had the same level of knowledge and training as midwives of the time. While some worked in lying in hospitals for a limited time, many did this purely in order to open their own, often substandard, establishments and make a living. By 1891, Marian Humfrey MRBNA, reported in “The Nursing Record” that monthly nurses were ‘one of the most despised members of the nursing profession’ and that they had ‘no place whatever in the hospital nursing hierarchy’.

This is not to say that no monthly nurses had skills, and some described them as ‘motherly’ nurses to reflect their value – I am sure there are many women today who would have liked the help of another woman for a month rather than having a few hours in hospital and then heading home. For many widows, passing on their experience enabled them to keep a roof over their heads. They moved from one family to another receiving board and lodging.

Unfortunately some had no interest in being part of a caring profession, had little or no ability and used the title only as a way of earning money, often running dirty establishments. For anyone interested in reading Marian’s article “The Monthly Nurse; her origin, rise and progress” the report, published May 21st 1891, can be found here: http://rcnarchive.rcn.org.uk/data/VOLUME006-1891/page267-volume006-21may1891.pdf. The article is followed by a fantastic ‘special prize competition’ for a sewing machine with a walnut case!

As for the subject of my initial research in Chatteris, ten years later, a Tom Grainger, now a decade old, appears on the census with his parents. Sarah, who probably helped deliver him, had moved on. She was 76 when he was born. Who knows how many children she helped into the world - and how well she did it. Still, it is wonderful anecdote for a family research project to be able to surmise that your ancestor delivered babies, especially when you can identify who some of them were. 


Lest We Forget - Norfolk Teachers who died in the Great War

Every day, hundreds of people walk past a memorial at County Hall, Norwich, on the way to the sandwich shop and canteen. The plaque reads as follows:


 “Lest we Forget”

Norfolk Teachers

who died for

King and Country


Through death to life everlasting

 Ager B.W.

Bindley R.H.

Catchpole E.J.

Carless F.H.

Crawford L.O.

Hadingham B.G.

Holman W.J.

 Johnson L

Loades G

Markwick W.P

Overment F

Payne A.C

Wade H.J.C.

Warby A.S

Withers E


The list of names may mean little to most who pass, although many of the surnames might be recognised as having local connections. Through this blog I hope to elaborate a little on the initials and surnames which grace the corridor wall and give a hint at some of the personal histories represented.

The teachers mentioned were not all born in Norfolk – one from Dorset, another from Walworth, others from Wisbech and Little Bytham in Lincolnshire for example – but all have links with the County through family, through moving to teach or by enlisting in Norwich or serving in the Norfolk Regiment. 

Some were from teaching families; more represent many other walks of life. A few were pupil teachers who taught in schools when they were as young as 14. 

Many died in France, but others served and/or died further afield – Gallipoli, Calcutta, East Africa and the Persian Gulf – thousands of miles from little old Norfolk. The names conceal stories of tragedy – one family lost two of three sons, a wife lost both her husband and brother, teachers in Bunwell and Mileham respectively – and the lives of these men deserve to be celebrated. 

Through the research, albeit brief, offered here, I hope to provide more information for those interested in the men’s origins and lives before the Great War, and perhaps even alert family members to the presence of a memorial they may not know exists. I should point out that although this memorial is present at www.roll-of-honour.com/Norfolk/NorfolkTeachersMemorial.html, not all of my research has uncovered the same results. 

While I have relative confidence in my findings, it is important that I note that research for a memorial such as this, with no dates or places of birth, may have its faults. I would appreciate it if anybody who knows better (or can fill in the blanks) could contact me with information to improve this post – I apologise if anything is incorrect.    

Benjamin Norton (William?) Ager was born in Portland, Dorset, in 1886. The 1911 census shows him in Bunwell, working as an assistant teacher for the County Council. His sisters Elizabeth Jane (who I believe possibly later married Albert Payne, a teacher in a neighbouring village also featured on the memorial) and Jane are assistant and pupil teacher respectively. The trio’s father, William, is also working at Bunwell School – as the head teacher. Benjamin’s mother, Mary, sister Lilian and nephew Kenneth, complete the household. 

Private Ager was killed in action in France on 11th January 1917. He enlisted in Norwich and fought in the 22nd Battalion Manchester Regiment and previously the Royal Sussex Regiment. 

Raymond Hall Bindley was born in Catton and died 3 July 1916 in France. He enlisted in Norwich and joined 7th Battalion Norfolk regiment (no 17148). He was awarded the Victory and British War medals. 

Corporal Bindley’s birth was registered in the December quarter 1893. His parents were Thomas James Bindley, a gas and hot water fitter, and Minnie Eliza Hall. The 1911 census shows him at 17, attending secondary school and living with his parents and two younger sisters, Marjorie Maggie Bindley (13) and Phyllis Beatrice Bindley (six) at 13 Patterson Road, Norwich. 

Francis Harold Carless was born in Walsall, Staffordshire and appears on the 1911 census working as a pupil teacher, along with his brother Ernest, for Salop County Council. His address at the time was 45, Park Avenue, Oswestry. Francis was living with his parents Fredrick (a currier) and Ada and two other siblings at the time of the census. 

Private Carless was killed in action on 22nd October 1917 in France. He enlisted in Norwich, so perhaps moved to the County to teach between 1911 and 1917. Like Private Warby (see later) he was part of the Royal Army Medical Corps. 

Edward John Thomas Catchpole was born at North End, Great Yarmouth. The 1911 census finds him, aged 19, boarding with Mary Ann Spoore at Allotment Hill, Wenhaston, Suffolk, working as a teacher in Elementary School. 

Lance Corporal Catchpole died 12 August 1916 in France. Like Raymond, he was part of 7th Battalion Norfolk Regiment (no 9270) and enlisted in Norwich. He was awarded the Victory, Star and British War medals. 

Lindsay Oswald Crawford, aged 19, was noted on the 1911 census as an assistant teacher working for the County Council. The eldest son in his family, he was named after his father, a clerk for an electricity company. The census shows Lindsay at home with his mother and father (his mother Florence Rhoda nee Corke) and four siblings – Lizzie Ada (21), Wallace John (16), Percy Graham (14) and Reginald Charles (five). Lindsay was born in Wisbech but the family moved to Cromer around the turn of the century in time for Reginald’s birth and in 1911 are living at 39, Cabbell Road, Cromer. 

Lance Corporal Crawford signed up at North Walsham and became part of the 8th Service Battalion Gloucestershire Regiment (267218). He died in action on 22 September 1918 in France, just three weeks before the end of the war.   

Bertie Gordon Hadingham ‘Certificated Assistant Teacher for the Norfolk Education Committee’ appears on the 1911 census, aged 20, at 50 Pelham Road, Norwich. Bertie was at the time boarding with the Read family headed by Edgar, a retired cigar factory foreman. The Reads’ daughter Elizabeth Agatha, 30, is also a teacher. Bertie was born in Carleton Forehoe. 

Lance Corporal Hadingham died on 17th December 1915 at Gallipoli and was awarded the Victory, Star and British War medals. He was part of 6th Battalion, Essex Regiment. At some time he must have moved to Westcliff-On-Sea, a suburb of Southend, perhaps to continue his teaching career - this is given as his enlistment location and residence. Tragically, his brother Donald James, also died, in 1918 respectively, leaving his parents – Hedley Hadingham born Woodton and Catherine Emily nee Wade born Stibbard - with two remaining children from a total of five, a daughter Mabel and son Lewis (one child had already passed away prior to the 1911 census). (Thanks to Mr Wray for additional information via e-mail).

William James Holman was born in Narborough, the son of a gamekeeper, in 1891. One of six children - four boys and two girls - he was recorded in Narborough with his parents James and Emily (nee Finbow) and siblings in 1911. His occupation is given as an assistant school teacher at a County Council elementary school. A visitor to the household, Emma Winifred Jackson, aged 19 and born in Thetford, is also a teacher. 

Sergeant William James Holman (200554) enlisted in the 2nd/4th Norfolk Regiment 7th September 1914. He died 4th January 1919 in East Africa. His entry at www.roll-of-honour.com shows he may have been assistant scout-master at Attleborough at the time of his death? 

I have not been able to track down “L Johnson” with enough certainty to include here. It is a possibility that this L Johnson refers to Leonard Johnson, born in Martham, but I have no evidence to suggest he was ever a teacher. If you can correct me, please get in touch. 

George William Loades, aged 18, appears on the 1911 census in a large household led by his parents, Cubitt Woodbine Loades, born in Catfield, a railway platelayer, and Alice nee Spooner, born in Winterton. George was one of eleven children, of whom eight were surviving in 1911. George is accompanied by sisters Ethel, May, Ena, Hilda, Beatrice and Eve, and two grandparents on the household schedule. The family live on Martham Road, Hemsby, where all the children were born. At the time of the census, George was working as a game keeper. 

Sergeant George William Loades died on 13th October 1915 in France, having enlisted in Great Yarmouth and fought in 7th Battalion, Norfolk Regiment. George’s only brother, another George William, died in infancy several years before he was born. 

William Percival Markwick was born in Little Bytham, near Grantham in Lincolnshire. In the 1911 census he appears, aged 20, as a student at St Peter’s College, Peterborough. His name also appears on the War Memorial for the College in Peterborough Cathedral. The College was a teacher-training college until 1914, reopening briefly to train women teachers between 1921 and 1930. The building remains today, converted to offices and known as ‘Peterscourt’. 

Lieutenant William Markwick died 5th June 1918 in 5th Battalion (Territorial) Norfolk Regiment. Unlike most of the men on the memorial, William was married, having wed Florrie Brown near Huntingdon in 1915. 

Frederick Overment, rifleman in the 2nd Battalion The Rifle Brigade, was already a serving soldier in 1911, having enlisted at 17 in Fakenham. The schedule shows him serving at Fort William, Calcutta with the rest of the battalion in 1911. Frederick was 25 at the time of the census. He was born in Toftrees near Fakenham. Ten years earlier, the 1901 census shows him at home with his parents and siblings Sidney, Blanche and Katie. Aged 14, he is recorded as a school teacher. 

His mother received Victory, Star and British War Medals on behalf of her son after his death – Frederick died on 9th May 1915 in France, where he was still a Rifleman of 2nd Battalion Rifle Brigade (Prince Consort’s Own). 

Albert Carsewell Payne was resident in Mileham at the time of his death and is also recorded on Mileham’s memorial. Like William Markwick, he is recorded as a training college student in the 1911 census, this time at Culham College, Abingdon, Berkshire. Albert was born in Kelvedon, Essex in 1886 to farmer James Payne and his wife Helen. 

Private Albert Payne died of wounds 8th August 1917 in France, number 30000, 7th Battalion Bedfordshire Regiment. Albert left a wife, Elizabeth Jane (nee Ager – see above) and a baby daughter, Marjorie. 

Herbert John Clark Wade was born in Felthorpe and appears as an assistant school master for the County Council, aged 20, on the census return for Roughton, 1911. His father Clark was a general smith while his brother worked for a rural district council and his 14 year old sister Mabel worked as a pupil teacher. 

Lieutenant Wade appears in De Ruvigny’s Roll of Honour:

“His Commanding Officer wrote: One of the best and most popular officers in the company, his death was a blow to the whole company, both offices and men” and another officer: “Your son was one of the best; by his own personal hard work he had made his section the first and best in the company. He died a brave soldier’s death, knowing no fear, and had not a single enemy. He was specially mentioned, and the Military Cross would have been his had he lived.”” 

He died 14th November 1917 from wounds received on 7th November. 

Albert Stanley Warby was born in Walworth, London but moved with his family to 21, Clapham Road, Lowestoft between 1899 and 1901. The 1911 census shows him as a booting clerk working on Claremont Pier and living with his parents John (a house painter) and Jane, and his three surviving siblings, Gertie, Jessie and Frank. The whole family were born Londoners. His elder sister Gertie is listed as a school teacher in 1901. 

Private Warby, 475299, died of wounds on 4th October 1917 in France. He enlisted in Norwich and went on to serve in the Royal Army Medical Corps. He left a widow, Ida Mary (nee Smith), born in Norwich. 

I believe “Withers, E” to refer to William Ernest Withers, an assistant teacher in 1911, born in Fakenham before moving as a baby to Tittleshall – the village where he remains at the time of the census. William was then living with his parents, who ran a grocer and draper’s shop, his younger brother Robert and aunt Harriet. 

Private Withers died in the Persian Gulf on 3rd September 1916, having enlisted at Battersea and fought in the Duke of Cambridge’s Own (Middlesex Regiment). 


To finish, let me just say that I hope, little as I have described here, that the names on the County Hall memorial will perhaps represent a little more than lettering next time you pass them...