West Dereham Sign Gary Trouton


July 2008

Richard provides a fscinating report of the lated meeting of the Gtroup which took the form of a walk around the village

The meeting on the 15th of May took the form of a village walk, part two, taking in Station Road and Basil Road. We started off from the Cheques Cottages of which we now have a list of the Landlords from 1850 to when it closed in 1985 with the exception of a few years in the 1950s when there were a number of tenants of whom memory has dimmed. Going on up Station Road the first site of interest is Abbey View Cottages and Abbey Lodge. These all formed part of a large range of buildings which up until the late 1940s included what had once been the Live & Let Live pub. I believe this establishment must have closed in the period before World War II after which it went back to being a farm house with several out buildings and cottages.

The house was in line with the two surviving cottages so it stood right at the road side with the other buildings at right angles at the back. The whole of this complex received little in the way of maintenance after the war and became unfit for habitation during the 1950s and sometime later it was demolished and the present property erected which is known as Abbey Lodge. It stands way back off the road at the western boundary of the plot and the owner at that time was Terry Shin. After Terry sold up it was home to Sue and Brian Capes and has had other owners since.

Further along there are a number of modern bungalows built in the 60s which were erected by the Robertson's who owned the land and then to the site of another old farmhouse built of carrstone and brick. This was also demolished in the 1950s and the present bungalow erected by Bill Leamon. It had land out to the back and was used as a smallholding right up to when Bill retired and moved to Downham Market. It is now the home of Richard Leamon and his family. Richard is a very keen keeper and breeding of rare breeds of poultry. There is a small part of the old farm buildings still standing at the south end which is now used as a garage.

A pair of 19th. century cottages remain at the southern end of the road one of which now known as Sleepers was restored a few years ago although nothing is know of their history. We then come to a range of 8 recently built cottages on the site of the four 19th. century originals which were farm workers homes up until the late 1950s. They remained uninhabited right up until 1992-3 when they were demolished and the present homes erected. Someone did attempt some work on the original cottages in the early 70s but this was stopped by the Borough Council over planning and building regulation infringements.

Just before we reach the junction with Basil Road we come to Hall Close. This a very old site which dates back to the Saxon period judging by the number of artefacts found in the area. It's on the western edge of the road and bordered to the south by Basil Road. There could have been a Medieval house on this site but there is little in the records to prove this theory. It's now an arable field.

At the far end of Station Road just before it joins with Fen Drove there is a range of 19th or possibly earlier buildings which is know as Carmen's Farm and is still worked by that family.

Turning in to Basil Road I think I can safely say that the majority of buildings standing are as they were 200 years ago. Curples Cottage is dated 1825 and stands on part of Hall Close. College Farm is probably the oldest standing property in West Dereham and a grade II listed building and dated on the gable 1626. It is mainly timber framed with brick nogging but the gable walls have lower courses of conglomerate and reused stone, probably from the Abbey. The upper part of the south stepped gable wall is brick with a massive chimney. There are a number of blocked windows and slits with brick mullions. The west wing is modern built in 1900. The farm got it's name from the fact is was owned from the 15th century by the Cambridge College, Gonville & Caius.(Pronounced , "keys")

At the start of the 20th century it was farmed and home to the Woodley family and has only recently changed hands again when John and Doris Woodley retired from farming and sold the land and buildings.

Almost opposite is Pear Tree farm and yes, the pear tree is still fruiting after almost a hundred years. It has been owned by the Starling family since 1923 and today is the home of Peter and Jean Starling, Peter taking over after his father retired in the 1960s.

Springfield farm is now known as Springfield Cottage and lived in by Robert and Ivy Harper after they vacated the Cheques in 1940. It faces south towards Duffields Drove and at one time Fred Osler kept his traction engine and threshing tackle in buildings to the rear. Robert also kept pigs on the premises and electricity did come to this area till 1952.

The large detached house on the corner where the road turns sharply right now known as The Hawthorns was built in 1934 and named Nu Beaula Court. The Harpers daughter ,Barbara lived here for a time and brought up a family one of whom, Pauline, now lives with her husband Michael at Springfield Cottage.

There are several properties in this area including Basil Farm but I have very little knowledge of their history and is something that we are working to try and complete. Basil seems to have had many variations to it's spelling over the centuries and is another very old site certainly dating back to the 16th century but could well have been the site of a Saxon long house of wooden post construction under a thatched roof.

We walked back via Brooks Lane flanked on both sides by a recently planted (10 years ago), traditional Norfolk hedge which includes hawthorn, hedge maple, spindle and hazel.

Back at Hilgay Road we were entertained at the home of Ruth and Cyril Marsters who served refreshments which rounded off very nicely a very pleasant early summer evening. We were also pleased to welcome a new member who joined us for the walk, Mr. Paddy Murfitt, who is also to be congratulated for being co-opted to the Parish Council.

Secretary West Dereham Heritage Group.

Richard C. French

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