All posts by Elizabeth Howard

Please contact me, Elizabeth, at My email address

Downham boys of WW2 .

HAROLD JAMES ANDREWS : Pilot officer . Royal Australian Air Force. Died 18th June 1943 aged 21 ;son of William Howard and Lydia Grace Andrews, of South Yarra, Victoria , Australia . ( See James Clark Greenwood , RCAF , died 14th June 1943 . these two young men died within four days of one another and it is possible they were killed in the air crash at Magdalen the unit was 17 PAFU ( Pilot Advanced Flying Unit ) ) The Dandenong Journal “ Young Dalmore airman loses life in England . Mr and Mrs William Andrews received the tragic news that their 21 yr old son HJ Andrews , P/O lost his life in an aircraft accident in England on June 18th ; deep sympathy is felt for the bereaved parents and his two brothers and sisters , Bill and Ron , Marion and Dorothy . “ “ A tribute to the memory of a very dear friend of P/O Lyndon Jarrett , Sgt Melvin Jarrett and Geoffrey Jarrett , RAAF . “. P/O Greenwood and P/O Andrews are buried in Downham Cemetery next to one another .

EDWARD GEORGE ALLEN , aged 24, bd Le Paradis , Lestrem , Pas de Calais , killed 19th May 1940 2nd Bttn, R Norfolk Regt .

As the German Army swept through Belgium and Northern France a massive naval operation was launched in May 1940 to bring home the British Expeditionary Force. At Dunkirk about 335,000 troops were taken off the beaches.

The 2nd Battalion was part of the force whose task it was to delay the German advance while the evacuation took place. It suffered very heavy losses and many men were taken prisoner. The 2nd Battalion had been a thousand strong but only 139 officers and men returned from Dunkirk.

Edward was killed on 19th May , so it seems he was spared the massacre of the 97 2nd Bttn Norfolk regiment prisoners of the Germans who were shot at Le Paradis .

At a barn at Le Paradis, near Dunkirk, ninety 2nd Battalion soldiers who had been taken prisoner were massacred. The event was the subject of a war crimes trial after the war and the officer in charge, Fritz Knoechlein, was executed . …….

STANLEY BERNARD ATKIN , 78 DIV HQ , 7th Battalion Royal Norfolk Regt , killed between 2-11 Aug 1940 aged 25 . son of John ,retired labourer , living 85 Railway Road , and Harriet nee Sindall : husband of Phyllis Maud ( nee Gore )married 1935 , living Watlington 1939 with her parents . Commemorated London Cemetery and Extension , Longueval “In heavenly love abiding “.. London Cemetery and Extension was used again in 1946 by the Army Graves Service for the reburial of Second World War casualties recovered from various temporary burial grounds, French military cemeteries, small communal cemeteries, churchyards and isolated graves, where permanent maintenance was not possible.

“ 7th Norfolk Regiment was a 2nd line Territorial Army unit formed on the outbreak of war in 1939. Originally part of the famous 51st (Highland) Infantry Division it served with them in France in 1940 stationed on the Maginot Line, thus escaping encirclement, and Dunkirk. But the reprieve was only temporary. The Battalion suffered heavy casualties when the 51st Division was surrounded and forced to surrender on 12th June. Just 31 members of the Battalion managed to escape to Britain.”

ALFRED LAWRENCE BECKETT , 5th Bttn Seaforth Highlanders , killed in action 23 March 1943 . The Marenth Line, Tunisia . “To support them the 51st Highland division was ordered to send two battalions to hold a sector of the Zigzaoug anti tank ditch. The 5th Camerons and 5th Seaforth found themselves pinned down in the Wadi and caught in tremendous fire. When they were withdrawn, under cover of smoke, at 0300hrs on 24th March they had suffered very heavy losses.” (see 51st Highland div ) . comm Sfax cemetery , Tunis

son of John Beckett , farm foreman of Salters Lode , and Julia Ada nee Damms late Brooks . “A beautiful memory is dearer than gold , of a son whose worth can never be told “. By chance he and Joseph Jesse Bland although in different regiments were at the same place and killed within 4 days of each other in March 1943.

JOSEPH JESSE BLAND , lance sergeant , 3rd battalion Coldstream Guards. Killed in action 19th March 1943 aged 26, commemorated Sfax cemetery Tunisia . son of Frank Bland , painter and decorator , and Bertha Ellen , nee Day , living 1911 in Theatre Yard , Downham . “ In the south, the Axis forces defeated in Egypt at El Alamein withdrew into Tunisia along the coast through Libya, pursued by the Allied Eighth Army. Most of those buried in Sfax War Cemetery died in attacks on successive Axis positions at Medenine, the Marinth Line and Wadi Akarit, in March and April 1943 “. “ His memory is our greatest treasure , in our hearts he will live forever . “

HAROLD BLOY. Private, Royal Pioneer Corps . Born Downham 1922 .Died 14th June 1947 aged 25. Stepson of Mrs B Herring , of Downham Market. “ Sweet are the memories that never fade of one we loved but could not save . “ Harold was the son of Maud Emily Bloy and had a younger brother Maurice . In the 1939 register the family were living in the home of Henry Dack , b 1880, Maud being his housekeeper. She later married Mr Merrell .

HAROLD BYE,28 , driver, RASC , 14th Dec 1944 , bd Italy. Married Muriel Wright , June ¼ 1940 , DM. Son of Albert and Rose Bye , of Crabbs Abbey Cottages , Downham , farm worker . Buried Santerno Valley , Italy ..”Following the fall of Rome to the Allies ; in June 1944 the Germans retreat became ordered and the Gothic line was one of the last defensive stands . The cemetery was started by the British 78th Div during the fighting in the Appenines at the end of 1944 . “Father in thy Gracious Keeping , leave we now our loved one sleeping .”

JIM COLLEN , 5th Norfolk Regt , POW , Chungkai , 11 March 1944 .

. The Japanese aimed at completing the railway in 14 months and work began in June 1942. The two sections of the line finally met near Konkoita towards the end of October 1943 and the completed line, 424 kilometres long, was operational by December 1943. The graves of those who died during the construction and maintenance of the Burma-Siam railway (except for the Americans, whose remains were repatriated) were transferred from camp burial grounds and isolated sites along the railway into three cemeteries at Chungkai and Kanchanaburi in Thailand and Thanbyuzayat in Myanmar. Chungkai was one of the base camps on the railway and contained a hospital and church built by Allied prisoners of war. The war cemetery is the original burial ground started by the prisoners themselves, and the burials are mostly of men who died at the hospital.

WALTER ROBERT COWELL , RAF , 9 Squadron , or lX squadron , killed in action 20th July 1940 aged 20 . Sergt . Commemorated at Runnymede. 9 Squadron was based at Honington and flew Wellington bombers on precision bombing missions . “9 Squadron Operation book . 19/7 20.10pm Eleven aircraft took off for operations . Ten aircraft returned safely . Aircraft L 7795 ( S/L Monypenny and crew failed to return .) son of Robert John and Sarah Elizabeth Cowell, (nee Chapman ) of Porter Street , ag lab.

DOREEN MAUD DACK . WRAF . ACW2 . Born Downham 23rd April 1923 . She was the daughter of David and Elsie Dack who ran a dairy in Priory Road . In 1941 the war came to Downham and an airfield was built on higher land just outside the town . “ Construction began in the latter part of 1941 . It was built at great speed . For months on end the roads to Downham and Bexwell were like mud tracks as lorries busily transported sand and gravel from pits to the site where hundreds of Irish navvies laid down the concrete runways . By the spring of 1942 the airfield was largely complete . “ ( John B Hilling . Strike Hard) Doreen travelled to Norwich on 27th March 1941 . She was enrolled as ACW2 on 17th May 1941 and then on 25th June 1941 transferred to Gloucester .This is followed by a reference in the Unit column of her service record which simply says 13BC and three MMM or HHH dated 8th July 1941 . She was promoted to ACW1 in November 1941 . However on 14th Jan 1942 she was discharged as being “ physically unfit for air force duties ( and crossed through) although fit for employment ( words lost ) “ She died at home in Priory Road of cardiac arrest , inanition and anorexia , and is buried in the cemetery next to the church . The commemorative words are “ We loved her, but God loved her more . “ She died on 2nd March 1942 in her 19th year .

RONALD ARTHUR DENNIS , leading Telegraphist , HMS Turbulent , d March 1943 . Commanding officer Cmmdr Linton awarded VC for his work in the Mediterranean .

1 Mar 1943
HMS Turbulent (Cdr. J.W. Linton, DSO, DSC, RN) missed with torpedoes but then sank with gunfire the Italian merchant San Vincenzo (865 GRT, built 1905) off Paola, Italy. This attack is believed to have been from Turbulent as it was well within her patrol area. The torpedo-boat Giuseppe Dezza was sent to hunt the submarine but without success. The German merchant Tell (1349 GRT, built 1938) proceeding from Cagliari to Civitavecchia was ordered to alter course to avoid the submarine.

3 Mar 1943
It was most likely HMS Turbulent that sank the Italian sailing vessels Gesu Guiseppe E Maria (64 GRT) and Pier Delle Vigne (65 GRT) with gunfire off Milazzo, Sicily, Italy.

According to Italian sources the corvette Gabbiano recovered four survivors from the Pier Delle Vigne.

25 May 1943
Commander John Wallace Linton, DSO, DSC, RN was posthumously awarded the Victoria Cross.

PETER ANSELM DORMAN . Killed in action over Germany .Friday 17th July 1942 . aged 22 , Sgt RAFVR , son of Rev Wilfred Dorman and his wife Alice Marguerite , nee Cregoe , she had been a professional violinist and Dorman and Cregoe families came from Cornwall and Devon . Peter Anselm their third child ,( an older brother John Richard became a priest ) served with 218 Gold Coast squadron . He was killed during an operation of 218 Squadron on Duisburg . 218 had transferred from Marham to Downham and their Stirling bombers took off to mine and bomb the industrial town of the Ruhr . The squadron had only been based in Downham for matter of two weeks . He is buried in Downham Market cemetery . “In dear memory , killed on active service . May light perpetual shine upon him . “

JAMES CLARK GREENWOOD . Pilot officer , Royal Canadian Air Force , died 14th June 1943 ; aged 19 . son of Oswald and Agnes Greenwood of Niagara Falls , Ontario , Canada . “He sought the glory of his country ; he found the glory of God .” Globe and Mail of Niagara Falls, “ died of injuries received on active service overseas ; son of Oswald Greenwood Lookman Crescent , Niagara Falls , Ontario .” 1911 census Lot 17 “ Oswald , b 1884 , Laura, b 1885 ,Arthur b 1908 .” Oswald was Presbyterian and son of John a farmer . From the Canadian war memorial “ GREENWOOD, JAMES CLARK P/O(P) J23230. From Niagara Falls, Ontario. Killed Jun 14/43 age 19. #17 Advanced Flying Unit. P/O Greenwood was killed when his Miles Master aircraft AZ 811 struck an overhead high tension cable with the tail plane and then crashed at Three Holes Bridge. Pilot Officer Pilot Greenwood is buried in the Downham Market Cemetery, Norfolk, England.

LT MARCUS HUGH HAWKINS ,d Italy , d 27th Aug 1944 , 2nd Battalion Rifle Brigade . Buried Arezzo cemetery . “All you had hoped for , all you had, you gave . “ son of Lancelot and Mabelle Hawkins of King`s Lynn . This last major defensive line ran from the coast some 30 miles (48 km) north of Pisa, along the jagged Apennine Mountains chain between Florence and Bologna to the Adriatic coast, just south of Rimini. In order to shorten the Allied lines of communication for the advance into Northern Italy, the Polish II Corps advanced towards the port of Ancona and, after a month-long battle, succeeded in capturing it on 18 July.

During Operation Olive, which commenced on 25 August, the Gothic Line defences were penetrated on both the Fifth and Eighth Army fronts; but, there was no decisive breakthrough.

. “ Another of the German defensive lines was the Gustav line . The Germans made a stand in front of Arezzo in July 1944 . The town was taken on 16th July 1944 by 6th Armoured Div . The site was chosen in Nov 1944 and graves were brought in from other sites . “

ERIC CHARLES HEMMANT, 100 Sqdrn RAFVR , died 1st Feb 1945 . Aged 22 . Son of Harold George and Ida Hemmant of Downham Market. Commemorated Durnbach cemetery . “Love`s last gift – remembrance “ The Hemmants lived on the Green and Harold was , in 1939, a retired dairy farmer as was his father who lived next door .. Harold married Ida Andrews in 1921 . “100 squadron was reformed in 1942 when it became part of I Bomber Group equipped with Lancaster bombers and based at Grimsby . From 1942 the squadron was minelaying off Brest , Lorient and St Nazaire . Eric was possibly lost on the final raid of January 1945 against the Boschenworke at Stuttgart or possibly the raid against Ludwigshaven . “

DOUGLAS FREDERICK HUNTER , signal man Royal Corps of Signals , died Burma , 27 Feb 1945 , commemorated Rangoon. Was signaller with 2nd Div Signals . Died 27 Feb 1945 , aged 31 . in 1939 was a chemists assistant . son of Frederick Walter , grocery store manager , married to Alice Maude Eggleton , in Oct 1942 . “ Work began in 1951 for the reception of graves from four battlefields Akyab, Mandelay , Meiktila, and Sahmaw, which were difficult to access and could not be maintained . After the war several hundred more graves were retrieved from other positions and brought together . “

JOSEPH WALTER JACKSON ,telegraphist RN . Died 24th November 1941 aged 25 on HMS Dunedin . She was a D Class cruiser based in Freetown South Africa searching for a German cruiser when she spotted a mast probably a periscope , At 3.26 pm two torpedoes from U-124 hit her and she sank .Only 4 officers and 63 men survived . The survivors were 4 days and 3 nights afloat and were finally rescued by an American cargo ship . He is commemorated on the Portsmouth Naval Memorial . He was the son of Percy and Mary Jackson , of Bexwell Road , Downham Market in 1939 . His father Percy was a certified accountant and special constable .

JOSEPH HENRY JOPLIN , Capt , RASC , d 18 April 1944 in Surrey. Born 1912 Hampshire , son of John Joseph Joplin, (club steward of Paradise road, DM , in 1939. Born Rangoon , Burma , 1883. 1911 soldier ) and Caroline Elizabeth Halls ( married Brentwood 1911). Married Elsie Lucina dau of Charles Haderer , pearl merchant of Hackney, in Downham 1940 . “Loved and remembered always”.

FREDERICK ERNEST MOUNCER , 276 Sqdn , RAFVR , Died 17th April 1944, Redruth, Cornwall , buried Mundford . Born 1909 son of Herbert and Emma Mouncer . 276 Squadron was used mainly in the South West for Airsea Rescue based at Portreath . Husband of Mary Alexandra , of Denver . ( brother of Sgt John Henry Mouncer , Suffolk Regiment , d June 1944 ) “ Not lost but gone before “.

REGINALD MANSELL, 80 Anti tank regiment , Royal Artillery gunner. Son of Harry and Florence ; died 16 Feb 1942 . In 1939 the family are in the Council houses on Wisbech road, father is an agricultural labourer and Reginald is a corn porter . Commemorated Singapore Civil Hospital cemetery , this stands in the Kranji war cemetery “The SINGAPORE CIVIL HOSPITAL GRAVE MEMORIAL stands at the eastern end of the Singapore Memorial. During the last hours of the Battle of Singapore, wounded civilians and servicemen taken prisoner by the Japanese were brought to the hospital in their hundreds. The number of fatalities was such that burial in the normal manner was impossible. Before the war, an emergency water tank had been dug in the grounds of the hospital and this was used as a grave for more than 400 civilians and Commonwealth servicemen. After the war, it was decided that as individual identification of the dead would be impossible, the grave should be left undisturbed. The grave was suitably enclosed, consecrated by the Bishop of Singapore, and a cross in memory of all of those buried there was erected over it by the military authorities (this still exists near Block 8 in the grounds of Singapore General Hospital). 108 Commonwealth military casualties buried in the grave are commemorated on the Singapore Civil Hospital Grave Memorial”


Was born in 1910 in Downham Market, the last of 8 children of Arthur and Alberta Marchant . His father was Arthur Daniel the eldest son of Thomas Marchant a pork butcher of Market Place , Downham . By 1919 Arthur Daniel was an ironmonger and shop keeper of High St , Downham Market . His mother was Alberta Elizabeth dau of Albert Fuller of Cambridgeshire although she was born in Wandsworth ,Surrey . She and Arthur Daniel married in 1891 . Later William joined his brother Albert Thomas in Manchester and both became Methodist ministers , Albert in 1932 and William in 1936. In 1938 he was appointed to the Blackpool circuit .

William joined the army and was appointed to the Chaplain`s Dept and was gazetted as 4th class minister . In 1939 he married at Knaresborough , Yorks , Hildegard Bayersdorf ,.

He died on 28th April 1945 just as the war was ending , attempting to save the life of a fellow passenger on the ship taking them to Australia which had docked at Chennai , India . He is buried in the Madras War cemetery , Chennai . India . His widow is described by CWGC as of Hamilton , Vic. Australia . His estate was probated by his brother Harold Arthur . (NB Albert Thomas came to a very sad end . He was found drowned by his own hand in 1944 , the inquest said he was depressed about his state of health and the new post he was to take up in Rochdale ).

WALTER THOMAS OLYOTT, F/O Air bomber, died 4th June 1944 , Normandy , 635 squadron ,son of Thomas ( Police inspector ) and Maude Olyott of Colchester, RAFVR .aged 21. “Essex Newsman 9th June 1944 . F/O W T Olyott a pathfinder air observer , son of Insp T Olyott of Colchester Borough Police , has been killed on operational duty . He was 21 and an old boy of Colchester Royal Grammar School . “. Walter was part of the attacks on Northern France preparatory to the D Day landings . He is buried in Downham Market cemetery . “ Peace perfect peace . “

DONALD JAMES RIX , son of Sidney Thomas ( fish and chip shop owner of Bridge Street ) and Florence , of Downham Market , died 2 Oct 1944, aged 18, 7th Bttn Hampshire Regt , buried Mook cemetery , Limburgh, Netherlands . The bttn fought at Operation Market garden in Sept 1944 , defending the southern end of 2 bridges over the river Wall and stayed until 4th Oct 1944 . “ Loved and remembered always . “

ROBERT SADLER : Flight Sergeant ( wireless operator and air gunner ) RAFVR died 4th June 1944 . aged 23 . Son of Richard and Sarah Sadler, and husband of Ada of Flixton , Lancs . “ We planned a beautiful future , only to end in a dream . Your heart broken wife Ada . “ Robert and Walter Olyott and Wharton all died on 4th June 1944 ( Watson died 18th June so possibly as a result of a later raid ) All were 635 squadron . “ During much of April and May , 635 squadron`s targets were switched to to the enemy`a transport system in France as a prelude to the D Day invasion ( 6th June ) and the opening of the long awaited second front . “ Robert`s parents were from Salford, and all his siblings worked in heavy industry . He married Ada Croston in Salford in October 1943 : she remarried in Jan 1945 William Quirk.

PETER ROBERT WADSWORTH , Royal Marines , killed in action 6th June 1944 , ashore , D Day . HMS Copra which was not a ship but a shore base , Combined Operations , son of Percy and Edith Wadsworth, he was a lorry driver and Peter was an iron foundry store keeper ( in 1939) and they lived close to London road . Commemorated Chatham Naval Memorial .

RICHARD GARNEYS WALES , ,died 22nd March 1941 , aged 29 , RAFVR , 254 squadron , son of Dr Edward Garneys Wales and his wife Annie (nee Dowling ; who were married in Stockport in 1902 ) .. They also had a daughter born in 1908 , Nancy Edith Garneys Wales , who died in 1926. and is buried in the Churchside cemetery . Richard was living in 1939 with his parents 6 High Street, Downham Market , art student . The Wales were an old Downham family of doctors . Between January and May 28th 1941 ,254 squadron was based at Sumburgh and flew Bristol Beaufighters . The squadron was mainly engaged in coastal duties . Commemorated at Runnymede.

DONALD ERNEST WALKER , 205 Squadron , RAFVR , aged 26 , 205 Squadron which was based in Ceylon equipped with Catalina aircraft and used for anti submarine and coastal rescue work . Son of Edward Albert Walker , Registrar of Births Marriages and Deaths in the Downham district and his wife Sarah ( Tuckey) . Born Downham 1917 and died March 1944 . Commemorated Runnymede .

CLAUDE REGINALD WAY . Died 2 Sept 1940 , aged 58, Petty officer steward , HMS Ivanhoe . Son of Frederick ( watchmaker ) and Rose and husband of Elsie nee Ambrose , married Downham Market, January 1918. Daughter Mary born July ¼ 1918 . In 1911 Claude is serving in the Royal Navy in Essex and continues until he is discharged in 1935 . In a 1933 directory he is a commission agent living in Lynn Road . And in the same directory his mother Rosa is operating a registry office for servants in the High Street . Rejoins at the outbreak of war and is appointed to HMS Ivanhoe . She was with a flotilla of ships mine laying in the North Sea when HMS Express hit a mine and Ivanhoe going to her assistance was also mined . Attempts were made to make repairs but it was found she had broken her back and the decision was taken to abandon . Later she was sunk by a torpedo from HMS Kelvin . Commemorated Chatham Naval Memorial .

HAROLD HOPPER WHITEHEAD, 83 Squadron, Sergeant later Pilot Officer , awarded February 1941 DFM . Son of Thomas Cave Whitehead and Agnes his wife , butcher , of Railway Road , Downham Market . Died 26th July 1942 , commemorated Runnymede . 83 Squadron was based in Scampton and was equipped with the Avro Manchester which was replaced by the Avro Lancaster . ( Harold had a brother Reginald Cave Whitehead, Norfolk Regiment , who was a FEPOW but survived )

PETER WILLIAM WOODWARD , died 23rd August 1943 , aged 22 , 6th Bttn R Norfolk regt , son of William James ( Singer sewing machine agent ) and Mildred Sarah ( nee Knott ) of Downham Market living 1911 Southsea , Hampshire . The Japanese aimed at completing the railway in 14 months and work began in June 1942. The two sections of the line finally met near Konkoita towards the end of October 1943 and the completed line, 424 kilometres long, was operational by December 1943. The graves of those who died during the construction and maintenance of the Burma-Siam railway (except for the Americans, whose remains were repatriated) were transferred from camp burial grounds and isolated sites along the railway into three cemeteries at Chungkai and Kanchanaburi in Thailand and Thanbyuzayat in Myanmar. Thanbyuzayat became a prisoner of war administration headquarters and base camp in September 1942 and in January 1943 a base hospital was organised for the sick. The camp was close to a railway marshalling yard and workshops, and heavy casualties were sustained among the prisoners during Allied bombing raids in March and June 1943. The camp was then evacuated and the prisoners, including the sick, were marched to camps further along the line where camp hospitals were set up. Commemorated Thanbyuzat cemetery Burma 23 August 1943. “At rest until we meet again . “

Please contact me, Elizabeth, at My email address

Please contact me, Elizabeth, at My email address

Herbert Raby , photographer.


Version:1.0 StartHTML:0000000168 EndHTML:0000006366 StartFragment:0000000435 EndFragment:0000006349

By the year of Herbert`s birth 1888 , George Eastman had invented the Kodak camera . It took 100 individual images and then had to be returned to the factory for developing . The big glass plate cameras used by professional photographers which were in evidence here in 1911/1912 Trade Directories , would have been both heavy and unweildy and possibly very expensive to buy . There is a story of Herbert using a bicycle to carry his tripod and camera from one job to the next . But the heyday of the bellows plate glass camera was over by the 1920s superceded by more modern equipment . Perhaps at this time both Herbert and his neighbour Royal Watson were able to buy slightly obsolete cameras to use commercially . 100 years on we are lucky to have so many Herbert Raby photographs of the town and various celebrations .

In 1891 Herbert was living with his family in Bridge St , “ next to the Temperance Hotel “ . Grandfather James Raby , aged 71 , a brickmaker and burner, was living with them . Amos , Herbert`s father was 34 , and a stonemason and born in Downham, his wife was Martha , aged 32 a dressmaker born Upwell. Martha was the daughter of Samuel and Sarah Braybrooke of Upwell and born in 1859 . She and Amos married in 1881 and she died in 1912 aged 53 . Herbert`s siblings in 1891 were Kate ,12, Maude, 8, Frederick, 6, and Ruby , aged 1. Someone in the family had a sense of humour to name the last of Martha`s daughters Ruby Raby , or more correctly Ruby Hepzibah Raby . Several of the Raby children did not survive childhood . Kate whose full name was Harriet Kate, died in January 1898 aged 19. But there were two younger brothers after Herbert including Norman who served in WW1 latterly in the RFC/RAF .

Perhaps significantly three doors away lived the family Royal Watson , who is described as a letter press printer and his sons are compositors and bookbinders and printers . In 1891 he is not yet a photographer . Perhaps Herbert became apprenticed either formally or on an ad hoc basis to Royal Watson . And it may be that Royal Watson printed the local interest postcards which Herbert sold from 1908 ( Denver Regatta) . And it maybe that Watson had the space for a darkroom .

The Royal Photographic Society says that the plate camera that Herbert might have used for his big set piece photographs , might have cost as much as £15 in the 1920s . “The weight is quite variable depending on the type of camera being used but a reasonable plate camera, tripod and some loaded dark slides would be at least 5kg.  The cost of say a Sanderson quarter plate camera with standard lens in 1930 was £15 15s 0d but could be up to £29 15s 0d for a Zeiss lens. “ But the development of the camera meant that by the 1930s much smaller and more portable cameras were in use .

“Yes, photography – the equipment and sensitised materials – was relatively affordable by the early 1900s, so a normal working man would be able to pursue what was seen as a educational and improving hobby. The growth of camera clubs from the 1890s reflected this and many clubs had darkroom facilities too. “ (quotes Dr M Pritchard, RPS , Director of Education) . Happily we now know where Herbert`s small shop was and what it looked like both in a Christmas and a Fireworks display .

In the Christmas display , seen below, Herbert is advertising Regal Records which appeared around the mid to late 1920s and 1930s . It is difficult to date the word ” hit” referring to popular music , but Meccano was invented by Hornby in 1898 so this would have been a usual toy for children to collect extra bits for .

Herbert died in 1943 in the 2 High Street possibly at the home of his sister and brother in law the Mastins . His death was certified by Dr Elsie Johnson and the principal causes were chronic bronchitis and emphysema and cardiac failure . He was 54. His occupation is given as Stationer , Master . He left everything , £2,240 , to Kathleen Ethel Dent . She was one of a number of daughters of Robert Dent , master blacksmith, of Windsor St and in the 1911 census 8 adults were living in 6 rooms . In the 1939 General Register she was a Stationery shop assistant , and she was living with Mrs Smith and Arthur her son in Station Terrace . Kathleen died in 1986 in Blackpool . Herbert`s grave in the Kings Walk cemetery has the words , ” Tis God to fix my time of rest .”
As to the rest of Herbert’s family , Harold Chapman Mastin married older sister Florence Maud , he was a baker and confectioner of Bridge St . They had at least 3 children .
Frederick , Herbert’s older brother married in 1910 Ethel Elizabeth Hardy , he was a boat dealer .
Ruby Hepzibah married Ernest William Bullman in 1917 .

The Raby children’s mother Charlotte Keziah Martha was bapt at Welney in August 1858 the day of Samuel and Sarah Braybrooke , labourer of Welney In 1871 the family are living on Bedford Bank Welney . Samuel has died but his widow Sarah is 42 and making a living as a garden farmer . With her are Martha Mary Ann , also known as Mahala , who later married Jonathan Beals , Charlotte K M , Samuel and Sarah .
Next door is Charlotte Braybrooke , widow, 77 , also a garden farmer born Kettering , Northants .
Finally , Charlotte Keziah Martha Raby died in 1912 wife of Amos . Probate was granted to Herbert and Ruby Hepzibah spinster. Assets £388.
Amos died in July 1945 , his estate of £110 , was probated to Wm Canham solicitors cashier. . Hannah the second wife of Amos , married in Downham in 1920 , died in June 1944 and left £182 to Wm Marriott .

It is interesting to see that Herbert left a mighty £2,200 and his father dying at a similar time , left £110 and his widow , £182 .

Please contact me, Elizabeth, at My email address

Please contact me, Elizabeth, at My email address

Downham boys of World War I







 . Born 1883 Rugby : in 1911 lodging with Mrs Elizabeth Canham in Bexwell Road  ; builders clerk . Enlisted Downham , Machine Gun Corps .  Killed in action in an air-raid on the base depot at Etaples . 20th May 1918 .  Aged 34 . Buried Etaples Military Cemetery . Awarded British War and Victory medals  . Married Ethel L ?  living in Chelmsford 1920.

May 20 Mon. (1918)

Last night, about 10:30., we had a disastrous air raid as a result of which we lost two men (one killed and the other died of wounds) and had one man wounded and also the O. C. Major E. V. Hogan, wounded. Enemy aircraft suddenly were heard, and began dropping bombs without our having received warning. Practically the entire Etaples hospital area was subjected to an aerial bombardment for fully an hour, after which the raiders departed, returning again some time after midnight, and dropped more bombs. They also employed machine guns. It is unofficially estimated that the total casualties in the Etaples area were about one thousand. Casualties were numerous in the staffs of several of the hospitals, and certain patients were also casualties. — Bright moonlight last night. The anti-aircraft fire appeared to be feeble.”

Lambert Victor, son of Charles and Emma Adams, sewing machine agent, of London Road, apprentice plumber, Private 8th (service) Battalion Norfolk Regiment, he died on 21st October 1916 commemorated at Thiepval. The 8th Battalion were serving on the Somme battlefields including that of Thiepval Ridge at the time and suffered many killed and wounded in the latter half of October. He was awarded the Victory and British war medals. Lambert was born in 1892 and had two younger sisters, Florence and Alice, and a much younger brother Sidney Ernest. The family were living in a 9 room house in London Road in the 1911 census.   War Diaries  : ” Albert : 21st October 1916 .   Battalion left Albert about 12.30 am and proceeded to trenches , arriving about 4.30am .  The Battalion  took part in an attack on Regina Trench .  Casualties  ORs killed 25 , wounded 89, missing 13 .  -First Phase – zero to 2pm .  Punctually at Zero hour, 12.6pm  C B and D companies left our trenches and Regina was entered about 12.12 1/2 pm .  Germans holding it adapted different attitudes . So far as can be gathered , those opposite C surrendered easily , those opposite B especially in a gap of about 100 yards between the left of B and the right of the 11th Lancashire Fusiliers showed fight and put up a good resistance but were finally either killed or taken prisoner .  We lost 4 officers in taking the trench  ( 2 killed , 2 wounded ).    About 90 other ranks were casualties . One machine gun was knocked out on the way over .  Information was slow in coming back due to the fact that a German barrage opened on Zollern , delaying the runners, the first intimation of things mentioned above , was at 1.53pm when Capt Morgan , DSO , commanding B company stated that the objective had been reached and that he was in touch with 11th Lancashire Fusiliers , 74th Infantry Brigade , on his left and 10th Essex regiment on his right.     Second phase :  2pm to 6pm 21st October .  A considerable amount of consolidation was necessary and D company remained in Regina   Owing to the casualties and the amount of work to be done, I decided that D company should remain in Regina and not return .  At the same time I issued orders to A company to be in readiness to move into Regina should Capt Morgan require them . “

Albert John, son of John and Mary Akred of Black Fen Drove. He was born in 1896 the oldest of their children, he had two younger sisters and a younger bother. His father was a yardman and cattleman , and his mother a field worker. They lived at Downham West , Ouse Bank. He joined the 4th ( special reserve ) Battalion of the Bedfordshire Regiment and died on 18th February 1917 after the Battle of Miraumont He was possibly among the wounded who were taken to hospital at Etaples. He is buried in the Etaples Military Cemetery. He was awarded the Victory and British war medals.      War Diaries : 4th Feb  ; ” Zero hour 9pm.  Barrage on enemy front system lifting gradually until 9.30.    At 8pm line advanced .   The left company temporarily  held up by enemy wire and the company in support then pushed forward .  3 am objective gained, line strengthened outposts consolidated .   Casualties 6th- 16th February , killed 68, wounded 90, missing 3, believed killed 45 . 3 officers killed , 5 wounded . “


taken from Martin Edwards Roll of Honour, Fred Allen.

Frederick Samuel, son of Samuel and Rosalie Allen, signal fitter`s labourer .   In the 1911 census the family are living at 3 Windsor Street .   Fred is at school .  He enlisted at E Dereham and joined the 1st Battalion Norfolk Regiment .  War Diary ;   ” 2/9/18.   5.15 am .  Battalion attacked , objective gained . The enemy dribbled back and penetrated the line between the battalion and the New Zealanders . Casualties heavy . ”  He  died of wounds on 2nd September 1918 in the Favreuil area and is buried at the Red Cross Corner Cemetery , Beaugny   . He was awarded the Victory and British War medals .  ” Never will your memory fade away from home . “

Walter Albert Aveis

Walter Albert, son of Walter and Charlotte of 9 Windsor St, carman for an oil company. He was born in 1898 and became an apprentice baker and confectioner. He enlisted on 28th Dec 1914 aged 17  in Norwich in the 13th Battalion King`s Liverpool Regiment and died of wounds in May 1918 aged 20 during the final battles of the Ancre and the Somme, and is buried at Lapugnoy Cemetery. He was awarded the Victory, British and 1914-1915 Star medals. See this on UTube : Created by Mr and Mrs C Utting.” He was sent to the Dardanelles in May 1915 returning in September suffering a nervous breakdown .  In March 1918 he went to France to meet his death 5th May 1918 aged 20 . He was buried at Lapugnoy Military Cemetery: Grave reference Vll F 4  ” Greater Love hath no man than he who gave his life for his friends .”

 Old Cemetery Downham Market

Ernest William, born Hockwold. enlisted 27th Aug 1915, Royal Army Service Corps attached to Casualty Clearing Station and was killed in action on 6th August 1916 and is buried at Bethune Cemetary. the date of his death and location of the cemetary would indicate he was a casualty of the battle of the Somme 1st July 1916 onward. He married Margaret Naomi Greenacre in 1903 and they had a daughter Lucy aged 8 in 1911 . He was a coachman and chauffeur to a Downham auctioneer and estate agent and lived in Lynn Road, maybe Hawkins. Awarded the British War, Victory and 15 Star medals.

War Diary 33 Casualty Clearing Station .

Bethune : 6th August . Evacuating by Ambi Train No 10 . Staff Nurse J B Lyle , SFNS , to be Sister from 5th July 1916 Att WO 24/7/16 “take in “ . And 154 patients admitted . Capt J Stansfield returned to duty from 1st Corps Rest Station. 7Th 11.30 am . Evacuating 60 patients to Barges 107 and 366 . 11.50 am . First German shell exploded about ¼ mile outside the town near the coast . 12.30 pm, finished loading the barges which were dispatched . Bombardment of town still continuing with heavy shells , decided to put into operation orders for evacuating all patients to the cellars . 1.15pm , all patients officers and other ranks reported in the cellars . 1.30pm , large German shell struck on the west corner of the chapel roof and exploded in mid air over the 3 ton motor lorries of the unit . The three lorries caught fire at once together with 2 motor ambulances of LW12 MAC standing next to them. The remaining cars of MAC saved but five had their outer covering torn to ribbons . The united efforts of the unit saved the fire from spreading helped by the hose of the town Fire Brigade sent by the Town Mayor . 3.30pm, DMS 1st Army arrived and ordered all patients to be evacuated to No 1 CCS at Chocques. This was completed by 4.30pm . 6 pm , nursing sisters evacuated to No 10 Stationary hospital as a temporary measure .

Casualties in the Unit .

Killed ; six ASC motor drivers of the 3 3 ton motor lorries . One officer`s servant from officer`s sick ward. Wounded . Six medical officers , remaining on duty ; four nursing sisters , remaining on duty ; five rank and file , one remaining on duty . Bethune : 6th August . Evacuating by Ambi Train No 10 . Staff Nurse J B Lyle , SFNS , to be Sister from 5th July 1916 Att WO 24/7/16 “take in “ . And 154 patients admitted . Capt J Stansfield returned to duty from 1st Corps Rest Station. 7Th 11.30 am . Evacuating 60 patients to Barges 107 and 366 . 11.50 am . First German shell exploded about ¼ mile outside the town near the coast . 12.30 pm, finished loading the barges which were dispatched . Bombardment of town still continuing with heavy shells , decided to put into operation orders for evacuating all patients to the cellars . 1.15pm , all patients officers and other ranks reported in the cellars . 1.30pm , large German shell struck on the west corner of the chapel roof and exploded in mid air over the 3 ton motor lorries of the unit . The three lorries caught fire at once together with 2 motor ambulances of LW12 MAC standing next to them. The remaining cars of MAC saved but five had their outer covering torn to ribbons . The united efforts of the unit saved the fire from spreading helped by the hose of the town Fire Brigade sent by the Town Mayor . 3.30pm, DMS 1st Army arrived and ordered all patients to be evacuated to No 1 CCS at Chocques. This was completed by 4.30pm . 6 pm , nursing sisters evacuated to No 10 Stationary hospital as a temporary measure .

Frank. son of Walter and Agnes , carpenter, living 1911 at Bennett St     He was born in 1898 at Norwood , Mddx, when his father was a police constable .    Enlisted Sleaford, Lincs. Lance Corporal 2nd/4th Lincs Regiment , killed in action 8th June 1917 at Cambrai , commemorated at Thiepval   .Awarded the British war , Victory and 15 Star medals.   “War diaries :  Gouzeaucourt wood : 2/4th Lincolnshire Regiment . 7th June 1917 . Bt H Q at SW of Beaucamp ; C and D Coys in front line  with B and A Coys in close support and intermediate line .      Beaucamp 8th June 1917 .  Two different officer patrols proceeded to German advance posts with the object of reconnoitering enemy wire , one patrol was fired on from an isolated German rifle pit. ”  7th June, 19 mines of Messines went up at dawn as a preliminary to the Battle of Ypres .

Walter, born 1886 at Marham ,son of William and Elizabeth , farm labourer at Stow Bardolph , living in Lynn Road. Enlisted Downham , 28th Aug 1914 ,.formerly 4th Norfolk Militia . married Lilian Rumbelow at St Edmunds 1907 . Their son is noted as ” not the son of the soldier ” 51st Machine Gun Corps , died of wounds 14th November 1916 on the Somme, and buried at Coutray .British War and Victory medals awarded, but returned to the War Office in 1923 “undisposed of ” .

The history of the 51st MGC suggests that Walter arrived in Camiers from Folkestone , on 25th October 1916 , and was in 49th Casualty Clearing Station on 12th Nov 1916 and died of his wounds 2 days later .

Charles William , born Bourne , Lincs, son of Joseph and Ann Bryan , brewers labourer, living Lynn Road, 1901 . Both parents died 1902 and 1907 and younger sister Ethel found in 1911 living in Dr Barnardos Girls Home , Barkingside. Enlisted Downham Market, 1st Battalion Norfolk Regiment , killed in action 27th July 1916 , third battle of Ypres, commemorated Thiepval . Awarded British War , Victory and 14 Star, with clasp, medals. Married Downham 1913 Daisy daughter of Emma Spinks.      War Diaries :  26th . 10.45pm.   Left Bivouac at Pommier and moved up to assembly positions in Longueval .   Had to go through heavy barrage of poison gas shells and whole battalion had to put on their gas helmets.    There was also an artillery barrage on most of the road going up.   Moved via Quarry ( map reference)  at junction of tracks at ( map reference ) and German trench near Windmill at ( map reference) , then along trench to road at ( map reference)  and up street running N and S through Longueval .  Relieved 2 Coys 12th Gloucester regt who were roughly on line L of Longueval along road to cross roads at (map reference) and from there to road at ( map reference ) . On the L of the cross roads there was a slight trench but on the R it was all ruined houses and only one small section of trench for one platoon.   The remainder took cover behind ruined houses and in shell holes .               27th  2am . Arrived at Longueval .  A Coy was on L from L in Longueval to cross roads at ( map reference) . B Coy was on R from there to road at ( map reference  C Coy went into a partially dug trench behind A Coy running from (map reference)  D Coy occupied a bit of trench from ( map reference) and all Coys did what they could to dig themselves in . .  Bn HQ arrived at ( map reference) .  Orders as enclosed were issued for the attack at 7 10 am on 27th . 1/Bedfords were in support and 16th R Warwicks were in reserve .         5.10am Our artillery  preparation started and the German heavy artillery kept up an intense fire on our positions at Longueval especially on A and B Coys  and on the approaches to the village .     This bombardment was kept up for 24 hours with only slight lesser intervals and the barrages were so strong that practically every runner became a casualty during this period .        MO (Capt M Scott) RAMC attd , wounded (gassed).   Other ranks 50 killed , 133 wounded , 50 missing believed killed ,  5 wounded shell shock , 4 wounded gassed .   15 wounded remained at duty .     Total 12 officers and 257 other ranks .          28th  .  5am . The positions gained were consolidated and held until relieved by 1/E Surreys on morning of 27th when they withdrew to the Pommier bivouac . “

James Reginald , born Downham one of five sons of Henry and Mary  Browne , of Bridge St , game and fish dealer. .Enlisted Attleborough, 2nd Battalion Rifle Brigade. Killed in action 24th April 1918.    War Diary :  “At 9am enemy Very lights were seen going up on the NW outskirts of Villers Brettoneux  and enemy machine guns opened up at Bn HQ .  It was afterwards ascertained that the enemy after breaking through south of VB – Warfusee road , had turned  in northwards between our front line and support lines and also in the rear of the latter being unobserved owing to the dense mist and smoke barrage .  A and C Companies taken unawares in the rear were overwhelmed after a sharp fight by superior numbers of the enemy the whole of the two companies with few exceptions being killed or captured . Very little was ascertained as to their exact fate but it is known that one platoon of D Coy fought to their last man and was completely wiped out .   2nd Lt Doyle was dangerously wounded whilst commanding this platoon and was found the night of 24/25th during a counter attack by the Australians .   Casualties  23/26th April  , Officers 15, killed , wounded and missing . ORs killed 18 , wounded 96 , missing 268 .” Awarded British War and Victory medals.


Charles William , born 1889, ( born Union Workhouse )  son of Louisa  Bushell,  later Stapleton, living Ouse Bank, with grandparents Mark and Lucy Bushell , gardener, in 1901 , and with widowed grandfather at Hythe Cottage in 1911, farm labourer. Enlisted Sheffield 2nd/5th York and Lancaster Regiment . Killed in action 7th March 1917 aged 26 ,buried Queen`s Cemetery , Bucquoy . Bucquoy was taken by the 7th Division in March 1917 when the cemetery was started. Awarded British War and Victory medals.    War Diaries :  “Miraumont : Front Line , 7th March 1918 . Brisk shelling of sector . Great coolness and devotion shown by Pte Parkinson ( stretcher bearer) C Coy , attending to wounded under fire when 4 men were killed and 7 wounded of a total of 14 men occupying a shelter although wounded himself ….

William Osborne , born 3rd August 1892 Downham , son of William Charles and Susannah of Ryston End , butcher.and of Crossways , Lynn Road . Enlisted Downham 2nd Battalion Norfolk Regiment 1911, transferred to Belgaum Aug 1914 , arrived in Bombay  Sept 1914 , disembarked at Saniyah and formed part of 18th (Indian) Brigade ) .  15th November ,  began march toward Basra along the Shatt Al Arab meeting Turkish resistance and experiencing cold windy nights initially without great coats or blankets , killed in action 17th November 1914 Mesopotamia aged 22 , commemorated Basra cemetery . Awarded British War , Victory and 15 Star medals.

Charles Thomas was the son of Charles Collen and his second wife Ellen , of The Queen`s Head , Bridge St, and later of York Villas . He enlisted with his older brother Sidney in Sept 1914 and joined the 9th Battn Norfolk Regiment . He is listed as wounded in the regimental casualty lists after 21st March 1918 , the first day of the last Spring Offensive , and was evacuated to 1st Southern General Hospital in Stourbridge .  His right shoulder was operated on to removed shrapnel on 2nd April , but he suffered a sudden collapse and died there on 5th April 1918 . He was brought home and is buried in Downham King`s Walk Cemetery . The War Diary gives this account . “Lagnicourt Sunken Road . At 5 am the enemy heavily bombarded our system with gas and heavy calibre shells and an attack was evidently imminent . This bombardment continued intensely all day obliterating our front and close support lines also Strong Points . Owing to the heroic resistance of our men the enemy had only penetrated our front and close support lines up to 12 pm . This was due to the overwhelming numbers of the enemy and the obliteration of our system of defence . Our support company C Coy , did very gallant work in Skipton Reserve holding on till 5 o`clock then when both flanks had gone and not until then did they retire . Previous to this a very gallant counter attack was launched by the company in reserve going forward from Sunken road Lagnicourt to Skipton reserve . This and other persistent efforts of the men in Skipton reserve must have entirely baffled the enemy as attacks there were given up and he confirmed his attacks to Lagnicourt and the flanks . They being successful our men in Skipton had to retire owing to their part of the line being exposed to great danger . 22nd March 1918 . The battalion HQ and remainder of the officers and men then took up positions in the Morchies Vaux line . “ .  (photo copyright N Brunn)

George born Denver, coal carter living Bennett St , 1911. Son of Edward and Jane, marine store dealer of Downham West . Enlisted Downham 15th November 1914, 2nd Battalion Norfolk Regiment died of disease , 16 Oct 1916 in Mesopotamia commemorated Basra Cemetery. Awarded British War, Victory and 15 Star medals.    The date of his death is given on the CWGC site as 31st October although the Medal roll gives it as 16th Oct .  ”  The Mesopotamia campaign  : Gen Sir Frederick Maude was appointed to the so called Tigris Corps in July 1916 , and the following month of the whole corps .  He immediately set about reorganising and resupplying British and Indian forces in the region .  British strength in the region was reinforced by an influx of Anglo Indian troops although sickness continued to claim an inordinate number of casualties until Maude finally revamped the British system of medical supplies , virtually non existent to that point .  By October 1916 he had 150,000 troops under his command around half of which were serving on the front lines . He was determined to launch a renewed offensive against Kut before the arrival of the winter floods . “

John , brother of the above George , living 1911 , farm labourer in Bennett St . .Enlisted E Dereham 1st/5th Battalion ( Territorial Force ) Norfolk Regiment died 1917 aged 25 , Palestine. commemorated West Jerusalem memorial . Married Florence Venni ( dau of Jacob and Margaret ) in October 1914 ; had Frederick J born and died Dec quarter 1914 and George in March quarter 1916., later of Wisbech Road. Awarded British War and Victory medals.   War Diaries :  ” 2nd Battle of Gaza 17th – 19th April 1917 : Gaza was defended strongly by the Ottoman Army .  The battle began at 5.30 am with a 2 hour artillery bombardment during which the French ship Requin fired at Ali Muntar .  During that afternoon the ship was targeted by a German submarine .  All guns had been deployed at one  per 100 yards compared with one every 36 feet at Arras.   The guns could not provide a sufficiently dense bombardment .  On the right the 54th East Anglian Division with the Imperial Camel Brigade was to advance north from Sheik Abbas toward Kh Sihan .   This attack by the 163rd Norfolk and Suffolk Brigade was led by a tank toward the Ottoman redoubt , 4th Battalion Norfolks on the left and 5th Battalion on the right .  At 9 .00 the tank followed by part of the 5th Battalion entered a redoubt capturing 20 prisoners and killing most of the infantrymen , so many casualties they were unable to withstand a strong counter attack .   1,500 men including 2 commanding officers , 12 company commanders were killed from 8th Hampshires , 4th and 5th Norfolks . “

Thomas son of George , farmer , and Sarah , born Littleport , one of 10 surviving children , horseman on farm. . Living Tallymore Farm, Denver ; with his six older unmarried brothers and two older unmarried sisters aged between 37 and 17 . . Enlisted 9th Oct 1914 1st Battalion Norfolk Regiment , killed in action 20th Oct 1915 .   War Diaries . ” Oct 15th – 27th .  We were in billets at Vaux where we did route marches and carried out company training .  Here the whole battalion were trained as grenadiers .  We had one accident with grenades causing two men to be killed  and Lt Borton and 4 men wounded . ”    He is buried Villers Bretonneaux Cemetery. . Awarded British War , Victory and 1914 Star medals.

Arthur, of Priory Terrace, clerk to ironmonger, born 1890 Downham , son of Harry and Sarah , of 5 Priory Terrace , painter. enlisted 8th July 1915, 8th/9th Seaforth Highlanders at Fort George , Invernesshire .   War Diary : ” Canada Huts at Dickebusch .  Lillers rebuilding Battalion after its decimation on 28th Sept . the casualty lists killed in action 11 NCOs and 32 men . In action at Crenay – Vermelles , main line of trenches .  Addressed on 2/10/15 Major General MacCracken who thanked them for the great honour they had done to themselves, the regiment and Scotland  in the great battle of 25th Sept .  He died of wounds 6th Oct 1915 aged 25, buried Le Treport cemetery.  Le Treport was an important hospital centre for No 3 , No16 and No 2 hospitals , which were established by March 1915 eventually totalling 10,000 beds .       Awarded the British War , Victory and 15 Star medals.

Thomas, older brother of the above Arthur, cowman working in 1911 , born Downham. 1888. Joined 2nd Battalion London Regiment which took part in the 3rd battle of Ypres . Killed in action 16th August 1917 . Commemorated Menin gate, Ypres.Awarded the British War and Victory medals.   “War Diary :   All Companies.   Zero hour will be at 4.45 am tomorrow morning .   Warn your men to assemble in silence and to keep still between dawn and zero hour .   2nd London regt will be on the left . 2nd London regt will assemble in Jargon trench and Jargon switch and the area between these two trenches .  Objectives will be captured as mentioned below .  The creeping barrage will start 200 yards in front of our present front line and will move at a rate of 100 yards in 5 minutes .. Lt Col Kellett , C/o 2nd London regiment . “

George , born Swaffham, 1888, son of Mrs Emma Dixon, of Priory Road, lodging 1911 with Fred Dye hairdresser and tobacconist , Bridge St , Downham . Joined 9th Battalion Royal Fusiliers ( part of 12th (Eastern) Division , killed in action 7 Oct 1916 at the battle of Le Transloy , commemorated Thiepval cemetery. Awarded British war , Victory and 15 star medals.     The 9th Bttn R.F. were “in the XV Corps area , the objective was set 300 yds forward along the north west end of Rainbow Trench and Bayonet Trench  up to the Gird trenches .  Just before zero hour a German machine gun barrage began on the front trenches of the 12th Division and began an artillery bombardment particularly on Gueudecourt .  The 6th Royal West Kent on the left was  stopped by the machine gun barrage as were the 9th and 8th Royal Fusiliers of the 36th Brigade  on the left . . “

Donald Ernest , born Easter Sunday , 14th April1895 , son of William and Frances , painter and plumber of Lynn Road , employed as a groom to Charles Hawkins on enlistment . Enlisted  E Dereham 10th August 1914  1st /5th Battalion Norfolk Regiment ( TF) Embarked Mediterranean Expeditionary Force 30th July 1915 ,  missing presumed killed in action 28th August 1915 at Gallipoli , commemorated Helles memorial . Awarded British War, Victory and 15 star medals.

Percy, one of 8 sons and 6 daughters of Arthur and Martha Eagle , born Massingham 1891 . living 1911 Welney brother to Albert George who took the licence of the Rose and Crown Hilgay , 1918 . Enlisted from the Swan Hotel , Downham 15th May 1st/6th Prince of Wales Staffordshire Regiment. Killed in action on the first day of the first battle of the Somme, 1st July 1916 . commemorated Thiepval cemetery. Awarded British war and Victory medals. Mother applied for 14 star for her late son in 1923.

War Diary for 1st/6th :-

War Diary entry for 1st July 1916.

Battalion in trenches at Fonquevillers , preparatory to an attack on Gommecourt wood and village. Battalion on right 6th South Staffs , Battalion left 7th Notts and Derby regt . The attack was preceeded by an intense bombardment lasting 65 minutes and the infantry assault took place at 7.30am under cover of a smoke barrage. The attack was carried out by means of four waves, each wave consisting of one platoon per company . The 1st wave occupied the assault trench the 2nd and 3rd waves the fire trench and the fourth wave the retrenchment . These were followed by consolidating and carrying parties found by the 5th North Staffs. Immediately the smoke appeared the enemy opened heavy machine gun fire and barraged our front line. Whilst the assault was in progress this fire caused heavy casualties which occurred chiefly in the first four waves . The casualties so depleted the strength of the waves that very few men succeeded in reaching the enemy wire which was found to be very strong in parts. Owing to the smoke many men lost direction and were unable to see the gaps in the wire. Previous heavy rain had made the trenches in a very bad condition especially the assault trench which was from 2 – 3 feet deep in mud. This caused delay in the waves leaving the trenches. The enemy front line trench was found to be very strongly held and with so few men left it was impossible to advance. After this those who had not become casualties retired to the assault trench . Nothing of note occurred between this and 5pm when the Battalion was relieved by the 5th North Staffs and proceeded to St Amand and billeted.

Strength prior to 1st July, 32 officers, 960 ORs ; strength return July 6th , 18 officers, 709 ORs ; Casualty return officers killed 8 , missing 4 , wounded 6 .  Total 18 , ORs killed 34 , missing 122 , wounded 170 , total 326.


                                                    Commemoration for 1st July 1916 , St Edmunds 1st July 2016.

Herbert, son of Lot , baker, and Sarah , of Bridge St . born Fincham . enlisted 18th May 1915 , 7th Battalion Norfolk Regiment . killed in action, service record notes died on or since 12th October 1916 , battle of the Somme , nr Flers, buried Grevillers British Cemetery. Awarded British war , Victory and 15 star medals.    War Diaries :”  10th October : Bulls Road, near Flers .  7th Norfolk & 7th Suffolk in front line -D Coy right front , A Coy left front – we are due to attack Bayonet Trench the Hun front line opposite us on 12th October .    12th October : Today at 2.5 we attacked Bayonet Trench – last night assembly trenches were completed and all the battalion lay out in them until 5 am .   The attack was carried out with all four companies in the line .  The object was first to attack and capture Bayonet Trench and then to sweep on to and take Luisenhof farm and establish a line beyond it .  At 2.5 our artillery barrage commenced and our men advanced to the assault.  After advancing 50 yards the Hun opened fire with MCGs from both flanks and from in front .  Our troops continued to advance but before reaching the enemy`s trench , ran into barbed wire which had not been cut .  This coupled with the machine gun fire prevented any further advance and our men lay down in shell holes from which they brought rifle fire to bear on the Germans who were standing up in their trenches shooting at them .  We caused considerable casualties this way .  After dark we made further attempts to cut a way through to the enemy trench but ran into barbed wire which had not been cut .  But the wire proved too strong and the survivors then crawled back to our lines and reformed .   Only 2 out of 12 officers came back unhurt .  ORs killed 36 .  “

Edgar, born 1887, Hilgay, son of John and Elizabeth , farmer and agricultural labourer of Hilgay. Working 1901 aged 14 as a cattle and milkman at Ten Mile Bank. He joined the Royal Marine Artillery in 1903 underage. Re-enlisted 1915, gunner , served on HMS Invincible at Jutland, killed in action 31st May 1916 . Invincible received a direct hit on Q battery which caused P battery to explode .  The German High Seas fleet ships the Lutzow and the Derrflinger sank the Invincible in 90 seconds , with a loss of 1,026 lives . There were 6 survivors .   Commemorated on the Portsmouth memorial. Awarded British war , Victory and 15 star medals. Also awarded Coronation and Delhi Durbar medals 1911.

John William , son of John and Eliza Frost of Farthing Sq , Downham West , 1901 eldest of five.. Enlisted 17th Aug 1914 , 19th Hussars , promoted Cpl and Sergt . The London Gazette of May 1917 shows him being transferred to the Northants Regt as a Sergt. He was commissioned in April 1917 as 2nd Lt. He was awarded the Military Cross , ” For Conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty. After successfully capturing his objective, with his platoon, he attacked an enemy strong point which was occupied by a machine gun, and imperilling the whole line, and captured it , thus enabling his company to join up with the battalion on the right. He displayed an admirable courage and quick grasp of a critical situation.” He married Vera Thompson in 1918 whilst at Roehampton hospital . Templeton House and Roehampton were hospitals which specialised in amputations and the new use of prosthetic limbs. 42,000 officers and men were admitted to Roehampton in the course of the war. He died 23rd March 1919 . He was also awarded the British War, Victory and 14 Star medals . His widow applied for the 1914 star via the hospital matron, and the address given was Wisbech Road. , later changed to Sunderland. (Possibly).

Frederick Alexander, born Downham 1888, son of Augustus and Charlotte , grocer and draper. Living 1901 Lynn Road. joined 1st Battalion Norfolk Regiment 16th August 1914. . Invalided out Feb 1917 with an aneurism , and the Silver Badge which prevented him from further service or a white feather . The 1st Battalion were at the battles of the Somme throughout 1916 .Died in Doncaster on 30th November 1917. He was at the time a coal screener at Colliery and had an Army pension . His mother was present at his death . Sgt Firth was one of  three brothers serving in the Army (His older brother Horace Augustus was a CSM in the Suffolk Regt ). Mother living Coronation Terrace Downham 1919 applied for the clasp to the 14 star for her late sergeant son , 1919. Awarded British War, Victory and 14 Star.

John , son of Fred and Fanny Goddard, house painter of Windsor St , Downham; auctioneers labourer , married Florence Dorman Dec 1/4 1907 , 2 daughters , living Church Road . joined 28th May 1916 at Norwich , 3rd Reserve Battalion Norfolk Regiment , discharged physically unfit for service due to his left shoulder being damaged by a gunshot wound , on the Somme battlefield ,  admitted to Etaples for 2 days , and sent home in 1916 to spend 3 1/2 months at Gosford War Hospital , Northumberland , and later Ripon hospital  ; discharged 5th April 1918  ;  widow awarded 22/- per week and 12/8d for their three children .  Died 21st May 1919 buried Downham Market , grave reference 10.31. Awarded British War and Victory medals.

William Smith , brother of the above , b 1888, working as an hotel boy in 1901 , and as a corn porter , living in Railway Road, 1911 . Enlisted 28th Sept 1914 9th Northamptonshire Regiment , sent to France 1916 , discharged unfit for further service 25th Oct 1918 , chronic laryngitis June 1917 possibly gassed .   HIs medical record shows his later address as Flour mill, March .. Died at Downham 8th January 1919 possibly in the influenza pandemic ; grave reference 10.40. . Awarded British War and Victory medals.

(photo copyright N Brunn)


Nathan, son of George and Harriet of Bexwell Road.  He was born 21st Nov 1881 and was working as a gardener , Playhouse Yard , 1901. In 1911 he was working as a gardener at Johnsons Hall Gardens, Eccleshall, Staffs.  ( This still exists as a garden centre today )  Living with him at the time of the 1911 census was William Blackston who was some 6 years younger .  He too joined the 1/5th North Staffordshire Regiment ,  they had consecutive regimental numbers, and was killed 21st July 1915 .  Nathan enlisted 3rd March 1915 1st/5th Prince of Wales Staffordshire Regiment ,  he embarked for France on 3rd March 1915 and died on 13th Oct 1915 .  The war diary for that date shows the battalion in Trenches at Bailleulmont , and that the 13th was a quiet day . However the previous week on the 4th a raiding party had gone out to attack an enemy listening post , and one man was killed .  On the 5th 3 men were diagnosed with scarlet fever and 4 officers and 49 men were isolated .  Commemorated at Loos, awarded British War, Victory and 15 Star medals.

Robert, brother of the above, working as a hotel waiter in 1911 at Cliff Terrace, Hunstanton , enlisted Dover , 6th Duke of Cornwall`s Light Infantry ex- Royal Fusiliers, killed in action April 1917 at Tilloy les Mofflaines , aged 30, husband of Daisy Victoria daughter of Reuben Goodrum, married West Ham 1913, and had two possibly three children.. Buried Tilloy British Cemetery. Awarded British War and Victory medals.    War Diaries : 9th April :  the battalion remained in Brigade Reserve in their position until 12.30 pm when orders were received from Brigade HQ to advance and take up position in the Assembly trenches .   About 2.35 pm orders were received for the Battalion to advance in the direction of Central and to assist 6th SLI who had been held up .   The battalion moved forward and took up a position in trenches and shell holes .  At about 5 15 orders were received fro 6th DCLI in conjunction with 6th SLI to attack and capture the Brown Line .   Immediately on advancing the leading companies came under heavy machine gun fire.  They suffered heavy casualties and were forced to fall back into the German Communication trench which they held for the night .  Casualties 4 officers , 96 other ranks . “

Charles , son of Charles and Sarah nee Walsh ,of Bridge St , fishmonger , born Downham. 26th June 1888, enlisted 22nd October 1907 .   Living in Salamanca Barracks , 1911  , 2nd Bttn Yorks and Lancs , L/Cpl :   promoted Sergeant 20th August 1914 ,1st Battalion East Yorks Regiment which landed at St Nazaire on 10th Sept 1914 ; wounded in the thigh at the battle of the Aisne ; died of wounds 27th Sept 1914. buried St Nazaire.. Married Edith Cobb at Beverley Dec  1913 .Awarded British War, Victory and 14 Star with clasp.


Ernest, brother of the above , born Hull 22nd November 1885 .    Living with parents in Downham 1891 , the elder by 6 years of his brother Charles  .   Enlisted at Regina, Canada. 3rd August 1915, 2nd Battalion Canadian Pioneers.  Arrived in France 11 January 1917 . Was part of the Canadian Railway troops , tasked to keep railways lines working to take men and materiel from the ports to the front .   Killed in action 22nd May 1918 at Arras, buried Bellacourt Military cemetery which was enlarged by the Canadian Corps from 1916 – 1918 , Riviere , Pas de Calais . .

Ernest George , son of Henry and Matilda , of Parsons Lane, grocers porter , born Crimplesham . enlisted Motor Machine Gun Service , RA , and later 6th Battalion Machine Gun Corps ;   the Motor Machine Gun Service RA was motorised by motor cycles with sidecars , and armed with Vickers Machine Guns .  In the 1911 census for Bridge Road , Ernest was living with his three sisters ,  they were dressmakers and a council teaching assistant , and he was working as a cycle and motor mechanic .    Died of wounds at home 20th Oct 1918 aged 31 following the last battles of the Hindenburg Line . Grave reference 37.12.. Awarded British War and Victory, and 14 Star medals.

(photograph copyright N Brunn)

William John, brother of the above , joined 8th Battalion Norfolk Regiment . Killed in action aged 41 , 9th March 1917 at the battle of Miraumont, husband of Ethel (possibly Chapman , married Spalding 1913) , buried Miraumont German Cemetery , commemorated Bucquoy. Awarded British War and Victory medals.     War Diaries :   11pm 9th March .   All 4 companies in Miraumont trench , most from 6th March until zero hour 5.15am 10th March .  Casualties noon 9th March – noon 10th March  6 killed, 14 wounded, 4 missing .  Appendix C notes ” barrage during operations against Irles and Grevillers trench on 10th March  the officers commanding B C and D Coys are of the opinion that it was the best barrage they have ever followed not excepting 1st July 1916 .  It was very noticeable how it was one of the first topics of conversation among wounded , prisoners escorts  and runners .   Not a single shell was reported as having fallen short .  It inspired confidence even in men who had not been over the top before .   Caught between the two bodies of British troops , the Boches surrendered  ( a few were killed , one man who ran away being dropped at 50 yards by a sniper .) “

George son of George and Mary Harnwell , of Bridge Road, coal merchant`s carter . In 1911 George is 13 and an ag lab. .Joined 1st/5th Norfolk Regiment , killed in action 21st August 1915 , aged 16 , Gallipoli , buried Haider Pasha cemetery Istanbul.. His family say ` On 21st August 1909 , exactly three years before he died , when he was just 11 years old , George saved a younger boy from drowning in the creek at Salter`s Lode. He received a bravery commendation.` Awarded British War , Victory and 15 Star medals.     The 1st/5th Norfolk regiment was formed in E Dereham in August 1914 , part of the Norfolk and Suffolk Brigade , East Anglian Division .  They embarked at Liverpool on 29th July 1915 for Gallipoli via Mudros .  They landed at Suvla Bay on 10th August 1915 .  After the landings , the fate of the 5th Battalion became shrouded in mystery .  E Company was known as the Sandringham Unit and its officer was Capt Beck of Sandringham .  The War Diary continues  ” 19th August 1915 .   7.30pm . Commenced to move and arrived at new position which we learned to be the firing line the same night .   20th Spent the day digging ourselves in , were troubled by snipers , had a few casualties .  21st same position . Were told to hold ourselves in readiness for attack at 3pm but had no orders to move .  16 officers killed ( including Capt Beck ) missing 2, wounded 3 .  “



John, son of Albert and Mary A , farm manager, Railway Road, born Denver 1890,. living Station Road, Walsoken 1911 , horseman., married Rosetta Smith, West Ham 1916 Enlisted 12th August 1914, 3rd Coldstream Guards, L/Corp , killed in action 27th July 1917 aged 27. at Passchendaele , 3rd battle of Ypres. Buried Bluet Far Cemetery , Ypres. Awarded British War, Victory and 14 Star with clasp medals . “War Diaries: Trenches Boesinghe sector . 27th At 1pm there were few if any grenadiers between the canal and the Steenbeck . The Battalion was ordered to advance at 5pm . At 5 pm the Battalion advanced and occupied a line from SE Corner wood 14 south of Boisen Baboon reserve and SW line of Artillery wood to railway . Trench was obtained with 38 Div on our right near in canal corner and with the French on our left . We took 3 officers 35 other ranks prisoner and many others killed during operation . 28th Quiet day , At 4pm left half battalion Wood 14 – Souteuf were relieved by 1st Battn Irish Guards . 29th Bttn relieved by 1st Bttn Scots Guards and returned to Camp Forest area. Casualties during this time . Officers 7 wounded , OR s 29 killed , 82 wounded , 72 missing . “

Walter Ernest , son of Robert and Marie Haylett, town post man. of Railway Road, born Downham, joined Royal Garrison Artillery, home address given as Telephone Exchange , clerk, married Elizabeth Bradford of Newmarket, 30th July 1916, enlisted 10th December 1916 140th Siege Battery RGA.   Entrained for Southampton and onward embarkation for France , 31st July ,  killed in action April 1917 , buried Achiet le Grand Communal cemetery, between Arras and Bapaume which was opened in April 1917 , and used by 45th and 49th Casualty Clearing Stations .   Widow awarded 13s/9d per week pension .  Awarded British War and Victory

Ernest , youngest child of Jonathan and Clarinda ,of the Railway hotel between 1901 and 1911, born 1897 . enlisted King`s Lynn, RASC transferred to 18th London Irish Rifles, London Regiment. died of wounds 15th  August 1917 at the third battle of Ypres , buried Brandhoek New Military Cemetery, between Poperinghe and Ypres.Awarded British War and Victory medals.   “War diaries :  15th August 1917 :  Esquerdes .  Training . on one hours notice  ”  The 18th LIR went into the line on the 18th and suffered a number of casualties from that date ,  they were in Halifax camp on the day Ernest died.

Ernest , youngest son of John and Caroline of Lynn Road, tin plate worker 1901. .Born Downham 1897, enlisted East Dereham , 1st/5th Norfolk Regiment 6th August 1915. died prisoner of war ( of the Turks) 2nd Sept 1917 in NIgde hospital , buried Baghdad military cemetery. Awarded British War, Victory and 15 Star medals.

Harry, born Wereham 1895 son of Harry and Elizabeth , waggoner for miller, living 16 Windsor Terrace ., in Downham West 1911. Working 1911 as assistant in mineral water manufactory ; enlisted 1st/5th Norfolk Regiment , landed at Gallipoli 6th August 1915 , died 28th August 1915 aged 19 at Gallipoli , commemorated Helles war memorial . Awarded British War , Victory and 15 Star medals.

Walter Edwin, b 1888, son of Harry and Rose , carpenter and builder of Lynn Road. Enlisted Norwich 18 May 1915 Royal Engineers A/Corp 2nd Field Company. Discharged 8th Oct 1917, sickness, after the battle of the Aisne.  Transferred to 25th Field Ambulance France ,  died of wounds May 1918 .  Awarded Military Medal. and the British War, Victory and 15 Star medals; commemorated Soissons war memorial. Married Hannah English, 25, daughter of Noah , chimney sweep April 1914.   “At the end of May , IX corps  found themselves facing the overwhelming German attack when despite fierce opposition  pushed the Allies back across the Aisne  to the Marne . Having suffered 15,000 fatal casualties IX Corps was withdrawn . The Soissons memorial commemorates the 4,000 officers and men who died during the battles of the Aisne and the Marne 1918 . ”


Frederick , b 1881 , son of William and Mary , self employed cabinet maker ,of Lynn Road. Living in 1901 aged 20 , at the Charles Club , St James Westminster, kitchen porter.(Also livng in were Albert E Steward , 20 b Downham, and Sarah Burgess, 50, linen room maid also b Downham). 1911 living as a chef in restaurant in Plumstead, with wife Mary Jane (nee Buck married 1905), helper in sweet shop ,and 2 children Frederick and Doris.. Enlisted Ilford 7th Battalion London Regiment , died 29th Dec 1917 at Cambrai , although according to the war diaries there were no casualties over the Christmas week .   Buried Etaples . Etaples was the site of more than a dozen general hospitals, four Red Cross hospitals, and could accommodate 100,000 men in the sand dunes. In 1917 the hospitals were treating 22,000 wounded and sick and it may be that Fred Kendle was transferred from the battlefield to Etaples for treatment and then to be shipped home  , but he unfortunately died there .   Awarded British War and Victory medals.  War Diary 7th London Regt  :  “Ribemont : 25th Dec 1917 : Xmas day . Voluntary church parade in shed at station.      26th Dec , Battn had dinner in shed near the Railway station . Every man was seated at tables made by Pioneer sections .  Sgts and Sen NCOs waited on the men . Brig Gen visited the men after dinner and made a short speech .”

Albert William, born 1894 Battersea, son of Albert and Adelaide of Russell Cottage, Railway road , gasworks asst, 1911 labourer for baker. Enlisted Downham 1st Battalion Suffolk Regiment , died of wounds May 1915 aged 21. after the first battle of Ypres/ Loos. buried Cologne Southern Germany . This would indicate that Albert William was a prisoner of war of the Germans . Awarded British War and Victory medals.

Arthur Ernest Gromett , born Salters Lode c 1887, son of Arthur and Elvina , miller .   Living 1891 Salter`s Lode , with parents and sister Ruby , grandparents William , wind miller, and Rose Anne living next door .  In 1911 he was married to Alice and living in Farthing Sq , 2 daus . Enlisted Norwich , 13th Royal Sussex Regiment , killed in action 28th March 1918 during the 2nd battle of the Somme .   War Diary : Battalion ordered to withdraw but owing to late arrival of orders because heavily engaged and only with difficulty got back to position between Marceleave and Wrencourt  where it withdrew to a position 500 yards from Marceleve .”     Buried Villers Faucon cemetery extension , Somme. Awarded British War and Victory medals.

Frederick , born 1895 , son of Emily Lack , field worker, of Farthing Square, Downham West ; working for Hugh West at Salters Lode 1901; enlisted 1913 Norfolk regiment, transferred to 18th Co. Machine Gun Corps, embarked Folkestone 13th September 1916 , reported missing 16th Oct and then confirmed killed in action 16 Oct 1916 possibly killed when the 6th Division were capturing Thiepval village , part of the 1916 Somme battles. Awarded British War, Victory and 15 Star medals.   No War Diary has been found for 18th MGC but this is a summary of their activities in October 1916 .  ” The 18th MGC was formed from the Machine Gun sections of 18th Brigade , 6th Division in February 1916 .   Later that year they were in action at Flers Courcelette on the Somme , and again at the battle of Morval and the battle of Le Transloy.   Le Transloy  : in the 12th Brigade the 1st King Own tried to bomb down Spectrum Trench to Dewdrop Trench in the evenings of 14th and 15th October and in a pre dawyn attack on 15th October , the 2nd Sherwood Foresters in the 6th Division took the gunpits in front of the British held section of Cloudy Trench and took several prisoners .  On the left of the division the 11th Essex overran Mild Trench and bombed up the Beaulencourt road before being forced back by a counter attack .  In the 111 corps area, the 3rd South African regt attacked after dark on 14th October , captured the Pimple, and 80 yards of Snag Trench .   The rain gradually abated and 17th October began fair but clouded over and rain fell again during the night .   The British bombardment had continued as planned but the German artillery reply was vigorous leading up to zero hour at 3.40am on 18th Oct . !  Wikipedia .

Ernest, son of Frederick and Maud , baker and farmer , of Railway Road, b 1899 Downham. joined 18th Highland Light Infantry, possibly from the Norfolk regiment , killed in action 1st Oct 1918 commemorated Tyne Cot. ( There seems to be some problem identifying the date of death , two Ernie Lankfers are given both HLI one previously Northumberland Fusiliers, the other Norfolk regiment , one kia 26 /10/1917 and the other 1/10/1918 ) Lance Corporal.. Awarded British War and Victory medals.

Arthur, born 1898 Southery, Brandon Creek, son of Mary Ann Leverick , named Archer L Peckett in 1901 census and as Arthur L in the 1911 when he was a telegraph messenger. enlisted Downham Market, Lance Corporal 23rd Royal Fusiliers formerly Royal Sussex Regiment, killed in action 28th Jan 1917.third battle of Ypres; .commemorated Thiepval. Awarded British War and Victory medals.       War Diaries :    “On January 9th a move was made from Oneux to Candas, to Beauquesne on the 11th to Bouzincourt on the 13th and to Aveluy on the 2oth .   From there it went into the trenches at Courcelette  A and C Companies being in the front line and B and D in support .   After its capture , Courcelette remained near the front lines until the Germans withdrew to the Hindenburg line early in 1917.    Intense cold was experienced at this time .  The ground , like iron , was covered in snow .  The frost was intense , one man being actually frozen stiff at his post on sentry  and drinking water carried to the front line arrived as lumps of ice from which bits were chipped off for eating . ”


2nd Lt JAMES NELSON MARTIN, born 1893 . Royal Field Artillery, 61st Trench Mortar Battery : Killed in action 21st March 1918 at the battle of St Quentin.    

Younger of two sons of Henry Richard and Gertrude Martin of the Swan , High St. Working as a chemist`s shop assistant 1911 , and possibly apprenticed to Augustus and Whitmore Baker, chemists of High St , Downham Market . Father died 1907 . Enlisted Newcastle upon Tyne , RFA , gunner, 2nd November 1914 .Embarked to France 10th Sept 1915 . Gun shot wound to face 11th July 1916 , admitted to general hospital Rouen 14th July 1916 .To England 15th July 1916 ; Promoted Sergt Feb 1916 , Returned to France April 1917 .: Discharged to commission April 1917. Entered RA Cadet School , Exeter, June 1917 . Commissioned July 1917. 2nd Lt 61st Trench Mortar Battery , RFA . Missing presumed killed in action 21st March 1918 aged 25 . His death was confirmed by Gnr Michael of Y Battery 61st TMB in 1919 . see letter attached . Commemorated at Pozieres . Will probated to brother Sidney Wallace Martin, effects £473 . Notification of his death also sent to Miss M Crane , 49 Florence Road, Thorpe Hamlet , Norwich , following enquiries to the Netherlands Legation without result which ended as a presumption of death . This letter below was received in January 1919 when Gnr Michael was repatriated from POW camp in Germany .

Skidbrooke , North Somercotes, Lincs . 7/1/19.

Dear Sir , ( letter addressed to Messrs Reed and Wayman)

In reference to your advt in The Times, I very much regret to state that I saw 2nd Lt Martin shot and I believe he was killed instantaneously . On the morning of the 21st March . Mr Martin and 9 men ( including myself) were holding a position which was called The Three Cottages and abutted the road from Holnon to Fayet ( about a kilo from St Quentin) . We had two gunpits which were connected and had the same outlet by a passage to the rear .

It was arranged that we should fire on the crossroads in the village of Fayet , in the event of the enemy breaking through the front line and advancing . .

At 10 am we received news that the enemy was in Fayet and Mr Martin told us to begin firing our objective being about 900 yards distant .

We continued firing until 2pm when we were attacked from the rear by a body of about 200 Germans . Mr Martin saw we were quite unable to cope with such a strong force and told us the only alternative was to surrender .

Accordingly he went out of the gunpit with 8 of us immediately following all of us with our hands up . I am afraid he was shot through the chest for I saw the fluff fly from his tunic as the bullet struck his chest . I being stood about two paces to his left rear at that moment . We had no opportunity of attending to him for the Germans struck us with rifles , kicked us and sent off through their lines .

The reason Mr Martin was shot was that we fired to the last , if we had not done so I should think that they would have taken him prisoner along with us .

Our captors appeared to be very angry because they had seen the bombs leave the guns .

I believe the enemy had several casualties as the bombs were very powerful . One of the gunners did not come out of the gun pit when we surrendered but hid under a bed in our dug out and was not captured until 5 pm and he saw Mr Martin lying dead just where he was shot . I take this opportunity of remarking that Mr Martin was both liked and respected by the personnel of the battery and I tender my sincere sympathy to his parents.

They have at least the consolation of knowing that he died nobly in the act of doing his duty .

Please excuse the plain stating of details and lengthy letter.

I am yours respectfully , W B Michael .

NB My address was 112435 , Gnr WB Michael, Y Battery , 61st TMB . France .


George, b 1861 , son of John Moore, gardener and rose grower , of Bottom Wells, Paradise Road , and Cock Drove. . Sergeant 18th Labour Corps , Army Service Corps Was enroute for Gallipoli in the RMS Royal Edward from Avonmouth via Alexandria when it was torpedoed by U14 and sunk 13th August 1915 , commemorated Helles memorial . Awarded British War and Victory medals.    Married Sophia Lowe of Derby , had one dau Edith .

Theodore , son of Robert and Jessie Moulton , living Lynn Road, 1911, b 1884 Fincham , bricklayer`s labourer. formerly hotel page boy at the Castle . Enlisted 16th Aug 1914 Norfolk regiment , discharged 15th Dec 1915 , re-enlisted Waterford , Ireland, 20th Battalion Middlesex Regiment ,( 20th Duke of Cambridge`s Own) killed in action 4th Jan 1917 on the Ancre  , in the action known as the Retreat to the Hindenburg Line, commemorated Thiepval . Awarded British War , Victory and 14 Star medals .    War Diaries :  4th January 1917 , Bouchavesnes.  On 3/1 the usual intermittent shelling during the forenoon .   Afternoon several medium TM ( Trench Mortars) fell on our support line and behind the right company .  It appeared to be firing from the orchard .  Patrol went out 11.15pm but no hostile patrol was encountered nor could the enemy be heard in his trenches . Casualties 3 killed , 3 wounded . ” .

John Seraphis , b 1888 brother of the above , joined 6th Battalion East Kent Regiment , died 4th August 1916 at the battle of Pozieres , commemorated Thiepval . Awarded British War and Victory medals.        War Dairy :

Trenche : 3/8/16/ Orders from B`de re attack received . The day was quiet on the whole . In the afternoon the Bn was moved into position for the attack . B coy on the left , D coy on the right A and C coys in reserve .

About 9 pm the enemy shelled our trenches heavily but the French 75s were turned on to the German batteries with gas shells, which completely stopped the shelling . The guns then opened an intensive bombardment of the enemy`s trenches . At 11 pm 2nd Lt Hanmer and a party of bombers crept up under the barrage to be ready to bomb an enemy MG should it open on our men or on the 8th Fusiliers on our right . At 11. 05 pm C coy went over the parapet followed by D coy the barrage lifting at the same time . D coy then went through B to take the trench on the left of the strong point. D coy went rather to the right . A coy were brought up from reserve and then C who consolidated the strong point taking together with a coy of R Es . The coys then pushed on and when dawn broke it was found that B coy was in Ration Trench where 2 blocks had been made. 2nd Lt Routley and a Sussex officer made a reconnaissance as far as Mouquet Farm . The Germans attempted a counter attack from Mouquet Farm upon whom our Lewis Guns were turned with good effect . All the dug outs in the captured trenches were cleared of Germans , the total bag of prisoners amounting to 2 officers, one of whom wore the Iron Cross and 87 ORs chiefly Prussian infantry . About 4 am the enemy started to shell the captured trenches. About 11 am the Bn was relieved by the 6th R W Kent Regt going back to huts in Martinsart Wood . The total casualties were : 4 officers wounded, 114 Ors killed , wounded , missing .”

William , born Stamford, Lincs. son of Alfred and Leonora Nicklin, draper , lived Grantham, Bristol, York, Chesham , and retired to Downham ( sister Leonora known as Siss , died on Christmas day 1942 aged 67 in the Howdale Home ). 2nd Lt C Co. Special Brigade , Royal Engineers, died of wounds 24 August 1916 aged 40, commemorated Flatiron Copse, Mametz Wood. The Special Brigades RE were formed after the successful use of gas at Loos in 1915 and coordinated the training of men in the use of gas   .  C Coy 1st Battalion was part of the Special Brigade to handle gas cylinders . ..Awarded British War and Victory medals.  ( the photograph is courtesy of the Imperial War Museum, HU 118393 of 2nd Lt William Nicklin, RE.)  2nd Lt Nicklin had a varied life , he was a draper`s apprentice , his father was a draper  and a miner in Johannesburg, S Africa .  He volunteered whilst in S Africa for the Imperial Yeomanry and served in the Boer War to 1902 .   He is buried at Quarry Cemetery .


Alfred Edward,  one of 12 children of William and Emma Pack , rural postman , of Lynn Road. Assistant bootmaker living in Wisbech in 1911 . married Mabel Perkins Wisbech March 1/4 1913 . Enlisted Wisbech 1st Battalion London Regiment , Royal Fusiliers, died 16th March 1918 aged 29 , buried Hamburg Military cemetery . Citation on gravestone ” Death divides but memory clings ”    . Probably a prisoner of war . Awarded British War and Victory medals.

Horace Algernon, brother of the above, born Hilgay, married Edith Olive Darkens at Yarmouth 1910 and had 3 children , butcher`s assistant living Thornage 1911. .Enlisted King`s Lynn, Suffolk Regiment , 7th Northamptonshire Regiment , killed in action July 1917 aged 32 , 3rd battle of Ypres. commemorated Menin Gate. Awarded British War and Victory medals.  “ War Diary : 31/7/17 . Reninghelst . A and C Companies attacked the enemy line at Shrewsbury Forest at 3.50 am this morning during which the commanding officer Lt Col Mobbs DSO was killed . Our casualties were 2 officers killed , 2 officers missing , 8 officers wounded . OR s killed 37, wounded 162 , missing 47 , total 246 . Congratulatory memo received from BGC 73rd IB. ( At zero hour the barrage will be put down 200 yards in front of assembly positions . At zero plus it will move forward at the average rate of 100 yards in 4 minutes . Previous to zero hour ( 3.50am) the Germans were shelling moderately in No Mans Land causing some casualties amongst our troops we were forming up for the attack . A German barrage fell 50 -100 yards in front of our forming up line less than 3 minutes after zero causing rather heavy casualties . It had rained incessantly throughout the operations and the men were thoroughly exhausted , wet through , and covered with mud .)


Harold , baker journeyman, born Hilgay 1880, son of Robert and Susanna of the Jolly Angler , Hilgay , publican and baker. married 1905 Mary Elizabeth Register , Ely district, had Dorothy and Richard.. Enlisted Feb 1898 Norfolk Regiment , but discharged in Sept 1898 having misrepresented himself .  Joined Suffolk Regiment , Lance Corporal , transferred to 2nd Battalion Essex Regiment , killed in action 9th August 1917 , aged 37, buried Feuchy British Cemetery .   Awarded British War and Victory medals.  ”  “War diary 2nd Bttn Essex Regiment ; front line . 9th August 1917 . 180 men of the Battalion plus 30 men of the Duke of Wellingtons took part in a raid on the enemy` s front line in conjunction with a large raid made by the 12th Division on our right . The object of the raid was to capture or kill as many of the enemy as possible and to obtain identification . The objectives were two portions of the German front line . Zero hour was 7.45 pm . At zero minus 4 minutes the raiding party crawled out onto the ridge in front of our line . At zero hour they advanced toward the enemy lines under a creeping barrage which was not very intense .  The party soon came under very heavy machine gun fire and in some cases the enemy came out of his trenches to meet them and formed a bomb barrage .   What remained of the raiding party had then to retire .  Casualties 3 ORs wounded , 3 ORs to FA , 8 ORs evacuated .   10th August very quiet , a few of the bodies of men who had been killed in the raid were got in  ”

William Ernest, born 1880 ,  son of Robert and Hannah Rumbelow, of Builder`s Place, Lynn Road, bricklayer`s labourer. formerly of the Essex Regiment later Hampshire Regiment .  married Valentine Silvys  Rozier , milliner of French origin  , Downham 1912, of Bridge St.. killed in action Aug 1917 aged 25.  Passchendaele , 3rd Battle of Ypres , commemorated Tyne Cot. Awarded British War and Victory medals.   “War Diary :  16th August . 2nd Hampshires .  At 1.30am the battalion was in assembly positions . The concentration march was successfully carried out mainly owing to the careful arrangements made by Capt D Day , OC Y Coy , who had laid out a tape from Knowle farm and the Steenbeck .  This tape was followed by the whole battalion and also by the Essex regt .   Had it not been present our CO was of the opinion that the battalion would have arrived incomplete as the night was very dark and the ground very wet and boggy .   A certain number of casualties wee suffered during the approach march and while in the assembly position several NCO s and men were knocked out by one shell .  ”

Leonard Harry,. born 1892 Stoke Ferry, son of William and Louisa of Lynton House, also Cyprus house , also Acacia house , miller`s clerk . Enlisted King`s Lynn, 21st September 1914 , embarked for France 20th August 1915 . Gunner, 23rd Siege Battery, ( four 6″ howitzers) Royal Garrison Artillery 25th Heavy Artillery Brigade . Died of wounds 9th Nov 1917 aged 25  buried Lussenhoek Military Cemetery . This village was part of the British communications trench and later  it was the site of four casualty clearing stations and a hospital  . It is between Poperinghe and Ypres. .. Husband of Olive Ada nee Nixon of Stow Bridge.Awarded British War and Victory medals.


Sessions Samuel Sheldrake was the son of William and Louisa Sheldrake , millers clerk , living Stoke Ferry . Enlisted London , disembarked 21st Sept 1914 . Awarded the British War and Victory medals and his father applied for his 1914 Star . His will was probated in June 1919 by his father , effects £191 , of Acacia House. War Diary : “ 8th April . Enemy shelled Armentieres with 25,000 gas shells . This bombardment lasting throughout the evening . Our area not affected . Our ration wagon slightly delayed . Casualties 3 CQMS , . Weather misty and damp .”

William.   Possibly Frederick William Smith ,policeman, son of James Smith, bricklayer; enlisted August 1914 , 1/5th Battalion Norfolk regiment . married Florence Murrell , sister of Evelyn Murrell see below , in Downham 12th July 1915 one daughter Muriel born 1916 , landed Gallipoli 6th Aug 1915,  killed in action 21st August 1915 . commemorated at the Helles memorial. Awarded British War , Victory and 15 Star medals.

George William, son of John, mole catcher, and Mary Spinks of Denver .  He was a navvy working in Dartford , Kent with his brother Charles in 1901 . Married 1906 Sarah Watson , and by 1911 was living in Fulham as a builder`s labourer with 2 children.  Enlisted Attleborough B Btty  ,93rd Brigade Royal Field Artillery , killed in action 22nd March 1918 , when the 5th Army was driven back across the Somme battlefields., buried Pozieres . Awarded British War and Victory medals.

Charles Edward,  born 24th Dec 1872 Downham , baptised Wimbotsham .  son of John and Mary Steward .  Joined the Rifle Brigade 11th Jan 1894 aged 21 .  Service included Hong Kong, Singapore , India , South Africa, before finally being discharged January 1906  at the end of his 12 year term .   Awarded the  South Africa medal with the clasp for Transvaal .   Living in 1911 in Victoria St , corn porter , with brother in law Alfred Daines, and his wife, and 3 surviving children (out of 6) .  Married Rosa Daines 1904 in Downham . Enlisted Norwich 3rd/9th Norfolk Regiment at Norwich 27th August 1914 .  He was gassed on two occasions in January and March 1918 and hospitalised . but returned to duty .  Killed in action 8th Oct 1918 aged 45.  close to the village of Magny la Fosse ,   commemorated Vis en Artois cemetary which was created for the casualties of the Advance to Victory between the Somme and Loos.   Awarded British War and Victory medals.

Alan(Allan) John , born 1895 ,gas fitter ,  son of Claud and Charlotte Stocking , pork butcher and grocer of Bridge St , Downham . Married Annie Johnson daughter of Harry and Rose Johnson, and sister of Walter Edwin Johnson , see above ;  had Nancy 1914 and Alan J 1916. served Norfolk Regiment and 10th Battalion Essex Regiment .missing presumed killed in action 22nd Oct 1917 aged 25, Passchendaele , 3rd Battle of Ypres . The 10th Bttn had become part of the British Salonika Force St. The 10th Bttn were at Poelcappelle “ 22/10/17 . Battalion attacked and captured enemy positions east of Poelcappelle , afterwards relieved by 11th R Fusiliers , then proceeded to Cane Post . 23/10 moved to Tunnelling camp. OR s killed 26 , died of W 10, wounded 182 , missing 23 .”. The medal rolls seem to indicate he was a prisoner .    Commemorated Tyne Cot . Awarded British War , Victory and 15 Star medals.. ( Annie Stocking remarried in Lewis Matthew Francis, 28, in 1919.).


courtesy of Janet Stocking

Frederick John, born 1888, Denver, son of Walter and Rebecca Thorpe , father died 1894 aged 32 at Silt Fen ag lab , mother remarried Isaac Bailey 1899 ; married Alice Cooper , March 1/4 1915 . Enlisted Worcester with the Worcester Yeomanry Cavalry , having previously been in the 3rd Volunteer battalion Norfolk regiment 1907 and subsequently the 19th Hussars. Killed in action in defence of the Suez Canal , April 1916 , commemorated Jerusalem memorial . Awarded British War, Victory and 15 Star medals.

Richard Henry , born Salters Lode , son of Daniel and Jane, roadman , of Lynn Road, assistant horse breaker 1911 served 8th Battalion Bedfordshire Regiment , killed in action 15 Sept 1916 aged 25. married Elizabeth Ann Lynn, in Sussex in June 1/4 1916. Buried at Flers which was a village captured in September 1916 . Awarded British War, Victory and 15 Star medals.       War Diary :  “14th September 1916 : Battalion in trenches making all preparations for part in 4th Army offensive on 15th September .     15th September 1916 : Battalion ordered to take Quadrilateral assisted by the Heavy Section of the M.G.C. with “Tanks” advance about 500 yards N E and dig in .   Battn was in a position for attack about 4.30 am .  Zero hour 6.20 am .   Three waves were supplied by D, D and A Coys under Capt Hatch , 2nd Lt Hodges and Lt Draisey respectively to attack the Quadrilateral , which was on our left flank whilst B Coy co-operated by bombing down trench leading to it .  At 6.00 am heavy artillery opened slow barrage on Line Morval to Les Boeufs .  At Zero hour 6.20 am intense artillery  barrage opened and unluckily was cut short where our 3 companies were drawn up for the attack in shell holes .. This mistake caused many casualties .  Our attacking companies pushed forward and though supported by 1st The Buffs, and later reinforced by the 2nd Yorks and Lancs Regt , failed to take the position .   “Tanks” did not arrive to assist and the position was not heavily shelled previous to the attack .   Brigade ordered original trenches to be held and to await orders .  As battalion had suffered very severely in casualties , 6 officers killed, 7 wounded , we were relieved by 2nd Yorks and Lancs at 6pm and put in Brigade reserve in trenches S E of Guillemont . ”

Cyril , b 14th June 1896 St Ives Huntingdon , son of Arthur and Emma Walker, nee Cook, living at Wissington in 1911 with his grandparents. Served 7th Battalion Norfolk Regiment ,arrived in France May 1915 , killed in action Oct 1915 aged 19 during the first battle of Ypres ;. commemorated at Loos. Awarded British War, Victory and 15 Star medals.


Charles Vince Watson was the son of James and Elizabeth , of Church Road , relieving officer of pensions . born 26th Sept 1880 . By 1911 he was working as a mineral water manufacturer . Married 1914 Cecily dau of Herbert Jones of Verdun House , Bridge Road, farmer . Each Heavy Trench Mortar Battery consisted of 70 personnel , and were used alongside the main infantry and artillery . He was killed on the 18th April and his will , value £400 9s 1d was probated by Donald Sutherland , telegraphist and James Alfred Beckett , gas company collector . Awarded British War and Victory Medals . Commemorated Cambrai .

Henry Parsons, born 1900 in Downham., son of Beatrice , grandson of George and Sarah Watson, builder , of Lynn Road. Enlisted Maidstone , Kent, 20th Duke of Cambridge`s Own, Middlesex Regiment . killed in action August 1918, aged 19 , at the battle of Lys , buried Hagle Dump cemetery , created from April 1918 on the Ypres – Poperinghe road . Awarded British War and Victory medals.

Frederick , born 1881 Southacre, son of Newton Watts , coachman of Westacre, and Ann . Groom and stable helper, Royal Mews, St George Hanover Sq . Enlisted Peckham, Surrey, 1st Battalion East Surrey Regiment , killed in action May 1917 aged 37 , battlefields of the Somme,. commemorated Arras memorial . Awarded British War and Victory medals. War Diaries :  “Philip Gibbs , British HQ Wed May 9th 1917.  Fresnoy itself has been a difficult place to hold since the Canadians too it so gallantly on May 3rd .   As we had not Acheville, to the north of it , and Oppy to the south ,  it jutted out like a square walled bastion with exposed sides ……….The Canadian officers are full of praise for the dogged spirit of the South Country English lads who held on inspite of a frightful fire , served their machine guns to the last , and only fell back from their advanced lines when for a time Fresnoy village , a heap of ruin like all these villages of war , became a death trap in which no man could stay alive . ”

“ A good deal of rain fell during the night of 7th /8th May and during the morning . The wood and village of Fresnoy will be attacked this evening and our original line re-established . East Surrey`s , DCLI and Gloucesters will remain in present positions and hold line at all costs . Zero hour 7pm E Surreys and Gloucesters all withdraw to position E of Vimy Ridge . Loss of Fresnoy village . Total casualties on May 8th , officers killed wounded or missing 14 , Other ranks killed wounded or missing 495 ( of which 420 missing). “ Married Mary Hudson , Camberwell 1903 , 2 daus , and one son . Enlisted 11th Dec 1915 . Wounded and gassed February 1917 . Awarded British and Victory medals .

Horace Elijah, born 1877 South Creake/Downham son of Frederick and Roseanna Way , watchmaker and jeweller, of High St Downham . In 1911 was living in Worcester as a commercial traveller in cattle medicines. Enlisted Birmingham , Norfolk Regiment and later 246th Co Machine Gun Corps , killed in action July 1917 third battle of Ypres, commemorated at the Menin Gate. Awarded British War and Victory medals.      He has no known grave but is commemorated on the Menin Gate. “War Diary : 15th July 1917 . Embarked ib HMT Austrolinda 4pm , strength of coy 10 officers , 177 O.Ranks , sailed 5.30pm. 16th Disembarked marched to Rest camp no 1. 17th Medical inspections . 18th 7pm Entrained at Le Havre for Bailleul via Abbeville Hazebrook . 19th 7pm Detrained at Bailleul marched to camp . 20th Taken on strength of 19th Division . Inspection by GOC division. 21st Gun drill . 22nd Church parade . 23rd Baths for whole coy . 1 Sect attached to 58 MGC for instruction in the line . 25th No 3 section relieved no 1 section and no 2 section relieved no 4 section for instruction in the line. 26th Gun mounted in camp for anti-aircraft work . Fired 50 rounds at 3am at enemy plane . 27th No1 section relieved no 3 section , no 2 section relieved no 4 section ,. and takes up position in line with guns . 28Th 2 O R wounded . 29th No 3 section relived no 1 section, casualties I OR killed , gas came over billet about 3 am . 30th General attack opens 3.50am . 8 guns of the coy in the line. 31St 2 teams of no 4 section sent to reinforce no 3 section . 1 team reported missing . “

Alfred James, born Godstone , Surrey, 1875, son of James, gardener of East Grinstead, and Martha b Litcham. Living Lynn Road, 1911 hotel beer driver . Married Minnie Burt, 1905, living Bennett St , 1919.  3 children . Enlisted Norwich , 9th Oct 1914 1st Battalion Norfolk Regiment , killed in action 27 July 1916 aged 41 during the Somme battles of the summer of 1916. commemorated Thiepval. Awarded British War Victory and 14 Star medals.(Minnie remarried aged 35, widow, in 1921).        See Bryan , Charles William who was in the same battalion and killed in the same place on the same day . Longueval . War Diaries :War Diaries :  26th . 10.45pm.   Left Bivouac at Pommier and moved up to assembly positions in Longueval .   Had to go through heavy barrage of poison gas shells and whole battalion had to put on their gas helmets.    There was also an artillery barrage on most of the road going up.   Moved via Quarry ( map reference)  at junction of tracks at ( map reference ) and German trench near Windmill at ( map reference) , then along trench to road at ( map reference)  and up street running N and S through Longueval .  Relieved 2 Coys 12th Gloucester regt who were roughly on line L of Longueval along road to cross roads at (map reference) and from there to road at ( map reference ) . On the L of the cross roads there was a slight trench but on the R it was all ruined houses and only one small section of trench for one platoon.   The remainder took cover behind ruined houses and in shell holes .               27th  2am . Arrived at Longueval .  A Coy was on L from L in Longueval to cross roads at ( map reference) . B Coy was on R from there to road at ( map reference  C Coy went into a partially dug trench behind A Coy running from (map reference)  D Coy occupied a bit of trench from ( map reference) and all Coys did what they could to dig themselves in . .  Bn HQ arrived at ( map reference) .  Orders as enclosed were issued for the attack at 7 10 am on 27th . 1/Bedfords were in support and 16th R Warwicks were in reserve .         5.10am Our artillery  preparation started and the German heavy artillery kept up an intense fire on our positions at Longueval especially on A and B Coys  and on the approaches to the village .     This bombardment was kept up for 24 hours with only slight lesser intervals and the barrages were so strong that practically every runner became a casualty during this period .        MO (Capt M Scott) RAMC attd , wounded (gassed).   Other ranks 50 killed , 133 wounded , 50 missing believed killed ,  5 wounded shell shock , 4 wounded gassed .   15 wounded remained at duty .     Total 12 officers and 257 other ranks .          28th  .  5am . The positions gained were consolidated and held until relieved by 1/E Surreys on morning of 27th when they withdrew to the Pommier bivouac .

Herbert, born Downham 4th Sept 1868  , son of Daniel , nurseryman`s labourer, and Fanny ,  living Bridge Road 1871 .  In 1891 living Cromwell Terrace, greengrocer, with younger brother Ernest, and wife and dau : 1901 furniture shop asst living Chelsea.   Married Harriot Elizabeth Monk , 1899 , had two daughters Adeline and Winifred .  Served 5th Battalion Norfolk Regiment ,  Gallipoli ,    and later in January 1915 , perhaps because of his age , with the  Canadian Army Medical Corps in France . Killed in action 19th May 1918  in an air raid on the Canadian General Hospital at Etaples. ” Area attacked by Enemy Aircraft , casualties I officer , I nursing sister , 167 O R s killed , 19th May 1918. ”  Buried Etaples. (Probably awarded British War and Victory medals.)

Edward Charles , born Downham 1891 , son of George and Emma , both born Suffolk, general and rural postman . Living Priory Terrace 1911 . Enlisted Peterborough , Northamptonshire Regiment , and 1st Royal Dublin Fusiliers . Died of wounds June 1917 aged 26. buried Reading Cemetary , Berks.. (Probably awarded British War and Victory medals.)

“ War Diary : Acheux .Raiding party arrived Front Line 0030 . 2nd/Lt Devon and 80 other ranks told to take enemy`s wire before our barrage lifted but was wounded whilst returning . Party left our trenches at 0130 . Upon reaching enemy wire fire was opened by enemy with bombs , rifle grenades , rifles , M guns, guns and trench mortars and party had to retire . All ranks behaved very well and some behaved very gallantly in bringing in dead and wounded . Casualties 3 OR killed , 2 officers and 7 OR wounded and 19 OR missing . 30/6/1917. Orders for tonight to move up ready for the attack . 6 OR fromthe raiders came in early morning having hidden in shell holes in No mans land for all of yesterday . 2 men of raiders reported missing now reported killed. “

Thomas William, born 1869 St Luke`s Middlesex, son of Thomas Young, general labourer b Wells Norfok..Living 1901 Salters Lode, bricklayer, and later builder and contractor. husband of Harriet Grace Booty, married 1896 Downham, dau of John Booty . Enlisted 9th Oct 1914 served 3rd Battalion Norfolk Regiment ,this was a reserve battalion , based in Felixstowe where it remained throughout the war. died at the Cliff Hospital Felixstowe Sept 1915 aged 46. Awarded the British War, Victory and 14 Star and clasp . buried St Edmunds , grave reference 20.24.


William Thomas., son of the above .apprentice plumber living Ryston End 1911. enlisted Downham Sept 1914 , 5th Battalion Norfolk Regiment , served in Gallipoli 1915 and then in Egypt and Palestine , killed in action at the 3rd Battle of Gaza   2nd Nov 1917 buried Gaza War Cemetery . (Probably awarded British War , Victory and 15 Star medals .)

Evelyn Irene, born Downham 1895 daughter of William Murrell , innkeeper of the Coffee Pot who died in 1932 aged 72 , and Harriet nee Bird daughter of Henry Bird previous owner of the Coffee Pot . Mother died May 1915, older sister Florence married Frederick William Smith 12th July 1915,. see above. Evelyn joined the Women`s Royal Air Force in May 1918 and was posted to work as a clerk at RAF Marham . She died at home aged 23 on 27th November 1918 of influenza and pneumonia in the presence of her sister Florence. The third sister Muriel Grace Murrell married in the June 1/4 of 1934 , Thomas Frederick Frost , a younger brother of the above John William Frost MC. They too had a daughter Janet E , in the Sept 1/4 of 1935. So far Evelyn Irene Murrell, WRAF, is not commemorated on either war memorial . NOTA BENE Thanks to the Town Council of Downham Market , Evelyn is now commemorated on the main town war memorial . April 2015.   And as of 6th April 2016 the small brass plaque to Evelyn`s memory is now in St Edmunds close by the main War Memorial .


Old cemetery, Downham Market

The influenza pandemic of 1918/19 is reported in the County Medical Officer for Health`s 1918 return .  He is for the duration of the war the School Medical Officer for Health as well .  He has,  as he remarks, no deputy nor assistants , and the routine medical inspections of children are in abeyance..  However he says he has tried to maintain a medical inspection service to schools.   None of what he says is particular to Downham but for the county as a whole .    This influenza was particularly virulent in young people .  Evelyn Murrell, see above, was typical of the age group.  She may well have become infected through the soldiers who drank in the Coffee Pot , or at work at RAF Marham . Prof John Oxford,  virologist , has now attributed the outbreak to the 3 million plus soldiers who were processed through the Army camp and hospitals at Etaples .  And the MOH Dr Nash has in 1918 grasped that Scabies or the itch , may well have been contracted from the soldiers on leave who were notoriously lice ridden . But he still has not linked soldiers coming home and influenza . The Downham burial register shows the deaths of six young people in November 1918 including Evelyn.  the others are 27, 27, 45, 9 and 40 years old .  5 deaths are from the Union Infirmary and one at Lynn Hospital .    There were 43 deaths in all in 1918 comparing with 33 in 1914, 41 in 1915, 25 in 1916 , and 36 in 1917. .  Marriages too show the pace of the war,   just 8 recorded in Downham in 1914, 21 in 1915 , 8 in 1916 ,  2 in 1917 , 13 in 1918 and 12 in 1919.

Please contact me, Elizabeth, at My email address

Please contact me, Elizabeth, at My email address

Downham Bells and Angels .

EDP 1979

Bell being removed for cleaning and refurbishment .

Copyright EDP , via DMDHS .

Throughout 2019 , the bells have been under the care of Taylors of Loughborough who have fitted an automatic chiming system . This allows for a peal of bells to be rung with the hour and for various hymns appropriate to the season to be rung . During the lengthy installation the workmen have taken photographs of the bells . As far as we know for the first time . The only other photograph is the 1979 one from the EDP .

Please contact me, Elizabeth, at My email address

Please contact me, Elizabeth, at My email address

RAF Downham Market.



RAF Downham Market has long been abandoned . The runways overgrown and the buildings mostly derelict with a few saved and adapted to small industrial units .  The farmland has been reclaimed and the whole airfield has returned to private ownership .

The most recent over winter searches , with the farmer`s permission ,  ( Dec 2014-March 2015) have been on the field adjacent to the airfield where Lancaster D -Dog crashed in 1944.   One day we hope to have a plaque  placed somewhere near where D-Dog crashed .    The most recent finds were  uncovered in the dormitory area of the airfield in June 2016 .  They are a razor, a tiny handmade lighter from a spent bullet case and a well used Macleans toothpaste tube .    These can be seen in the photograph of Flt Lt Colin Bell DFC.

Whilst the airfield was active there would have been about 2,000 people living and working on the site . The town would have been busy with an almost doubling of the population ;  the skies would have been full of aeroplanes coming and going , the roads full of traffic  .    Some of the service men and women would have lodged in the town with families and that would have conferred an intimacy with the work and dangers of the airfield .   Accidents did happen and although the town itself was not damaged , there were some close run accidents .

Ops book : 27th October 1942 .   15 Squadron.

16 Aircraft detailed to garden at Deudar . One brought bombs back , rear turret unserviceable , others planted . One landed at Downham Market .  AIR 27/203 .

28th Oct 1942 . 14.07 Mr Tyson to test Stirling B No N 3720 ;  14.25 aircraft now at Sebros .    15.30 Downham Market contacted us through GR as to weather , have reported that weather was unfit .


Ops book : RAF Bourn   ROC reported have reported that a Sterling has crashed 5 miles SW of Downham Market   The crash was not a Stirling but may possibly be a 2 engine fighter .  29th October 1942 .

Aircraft crashed at Downham Market is Q15  time 11.50 .  5 bodies recovered  unrecognisable .  Aircraft disappeared completely .   AIR 14/2539 .

The pilot took off at 11.08 to test the aircraft following a rigging check . This had been made on account of a complaint by a previous pilot that the rear fuselage shuddered doing a rate 2 turn and when pulling out of a dive.

About half an hour after take off the aircraft was seen flying slowly below the cloud  which was 1200 ft . It then went into a steep dive which continued to the ground .

All the occupants were killed instantly , the aircraft crashed near the Old Bedford River forming a large crater in the fenland mud . Owing to the proximity of the river bank , it was impossible to effect salvage and the crater was filled in .  AVIA 5/21  AIB . 29 /10/1942 .

Avro Lancaster 111 : F2 , D-Dog ND 841.
Pilot : F/O George Ambrose Young. 635 Sqdn aged 24 buried Southampton.
Flight Engineer: Sgt Thomas Snowball. 635 Sqdn aged 32 buried Tynemouth.
Navigator: F/Sgt Howard Pritchard .635 Sqdn aged 22 buried Tettenhall Regis.
Bomb Aimer: F/O Walter Thomas Olyott. 635 Sqdn aged 21 (buried St Edmunds churchyard).
Wireless operator : Robert Sadler .635 Sqdn aged 23 (buried St Edmunds churchyard).
Air Gunner : F/Sgt Stanley Wharton. 635 Sqdn aged 30 (buried St Edmunds churchyard).
Air Gunner ; F/Sgt Charles Patrick Nallen . 635 Sqdn aged 20 ( from Australia) buried Cambridge City cemetery.

D-Dog took its place on the main runway , and attempted to take off at 00.27 hours 4th June 1944. Because of the variable weather, D Day had been postponed from 5th June to 6th June. Therefore D-Dog was going to bomb any German batteries on the coast of France . It swung to starboard from the main E – W runway , clipped the top of a B1 hangar , and crashed just outside the airfield boundary, near to Broomhill farm. All the aircrew were tragically killed instantly. The target for this operation was the coastal batteries around Calais in France . The remaining 8 aircraft dropped their bombs and returned safely .

The official Operations Record Book for 635 Squadron , RAF Downham Market ( National Archives )   for 1st to 10th June 1944 is as follows . ” 1.6.44. Stood down.

                      2.6.44. Stood down. Lecture on Master Bomber and Deputy Master Bomber . Decorations awarded to S/L Roache DFC and F/S Wrigley , DFM .  Missing Personnel decorations awarded included F/L Nicholls , DFC,  P/O Easson, DFC , W/O Jolly , DFM .

                      3.6.44. 9 Aircraft detailed to attack Calais .    “S” P/O Bourrassa ,  “C” F/L Johnston , ” B ” P/O Hayes , “E” F/L Connolly ,  “J” P/O Johnson    “A” P/O Vines , “D” F/O Young  P/O Johnson  ( Aus)   “E” S/L Roache .

                      “D” F/O Young hit hangar after taking off and crashed on airfield when large bomb exploded and the crew all killed .  8 aircraft returned to base .

                         6 aircraft of B flight on night flying exercises   “X” W/C Voyce  “P” F/L Wheble ,  “M” S/L Bazalgette ,  “T” F/L Henson   “W” F/S Griffiths ,  “N” F/O Swan .

                         4.6.44.  Stand down.  Defence talk to all Defence Flight Commanders  by the Station Commander .

                         5.6.44.  9 aircraft detailed to attack Longues ( Caen)  and 2nd front opened .   “R” F/S Griffiths , “D” P/O Healey , “Y” F/L Henson , “H” F/L Connolly ,  “J ” P/O Johnson , “K” F/L Johnston , “B” S/L Henderson , “M” S/L Bazalgette , “N” F/O Swan .      6 aircraft detailed to attack Ouithrehain ( Caen)    “A” P/O Vines , “W” P/O Weaver failed to get off .  “C” P/O Beveridge ,  “G” P/O Bourrassa , “P” F/L Wheble , “S” W/C Voyce , “X” F/L Gillmore , all aircraft returned to base .   S/L Roache and P/O Beveridge on practice Master and DMB flying .

                          6.6.44. 14 aircraft detailed but all cancelled with the exception of “Y” F/L Smith  “X” F/L Gillmore , master and deputy master bomber . Aircraft attacked Lisieux Choke point. Returned to base .

                          Copyright of the above from the National Archive AIR 27 /2155.




RAF Downham Market was built as a result of the expansion plans which were adopted after WW2 started . The site was fairly flat and well drained and was higher than the surrounding fenland . Construction began in late 1941 ; the main contractor was W & C French Ltd. The sand and gravel pits ate Tottenhill were opened to provide the raw materials for this huge undertaking . Hundreds of Irish labourers were employed to construct the airfield . There were 3 runways which were all 50 yards wide . These were laid out in a triangular pattern , east – west , N/W – S/E , N/E – S/W . The main runway ran approximately East – West and was 2,000 yards long .

Most buildings were of single brick thickness with a 3 inch concrete render on the outside , with asbestos sheet roofs . Many other buildings were of the semi circular , corrugated iron , Nissen hut type. The three runways were linked by three miles of perimeter track with thirty five circular aircraft dispersal areas spread around . In all there were six aircraft hangars used for maintenance and storage . Miles of drainage and wiring was installed including two sewage treatment works . Bomb stores were built on the North East corner of the aerodrome . These comprised rows of bomb pits protected by brick and earth blast walls which were heavily camouflaged with netting .

The main Downham to Swaffham road bisected the aerodrome . To the north was the flying and technical side , the main entrance being where Bexwell kitchens are today . This building was once the guard room . To the south of the road were the dormitory sites , mess sites and communal sites , which included NAAFI , post office, cinema, squash courts and gym. RGD engineering on the A 10 at Stone Cross was the site of the officers mess . The whole airfield covered a huge area , in order to prevent the base being wiped out by enemy air attack . This was a base with nearly 2,000 airmen and women at its busiest . It became fully operational in June 1942.

Initially the airbase was used to land Wellington and Stirling aircraft from RAF Marham after the first thousand bomber raids . In July 1942 , 218 squadron with its Stirling aircraft arrived from Marham and they were based here until March 1944 . Marham was a WW1 airfield but as late as 1942 it still had grass runways which were obviously unsuitable for 4 engine heavy bombers like the Stirling . RAF Downham Market now came under 3 Group Bomber Command .


The Stirling bomber was a very robust and manoeuverable aircraft , much liked by its crewmen .Its main deficiency was that its wingspan of 99 feet meant that it suffered from lack of lift to get to high altitudes away from flak which made it an easy target for enemy anti-aircraft fire . The original design was made in the 1930s when hangar doors were 100ft wide , and the aircraft was built with this in mind . 218 was known as the Gold Coast Squadron as it had been sponsored by the Governor and people of the Gold Coast , now known as Ghana . It was the squadron of Flt Sgt Aaron who won the VC whilst serving at RAF Downham , and a memorial plaque is today sited beside the church at Bexwell commemorating him and Ian Bazalgette also awarded a VC .

Between July 1942 and March 1944 ,218 squadron flew 1,787 operational individual sorties from RAF Downham Market.. The first of these 438 were mine laying duties off the Frisian Islands on the north west coast of Germany. Of the squadron aircraft , 77 failed to return , and 20 squadron aircraft crashed in Britain . ( A very high attrition rate when you consider that each aircraft lost had a crew of 7 men .) In April 1943 Stirling bomber E-Easy while on route to bomb Stuttgart , flying low level , hit an electricity pylon and damaged the fuselage and electrical sparks ignited incendiary bombs on board. With remarkable bravery , the pilot managed to dump the bomb load and made a safe return to RAF Downham , a testimony to the toughness of the Stirling bomber.

But even when the aircraft had landed , the crew were not necessarily safe. In May 1943 , Stirling I-Item , damaged by flak over Germany , landed and swung off the runway up onto the banked side of the blast shelter and continued smashing into the building in the operations block where two aircrew from another flight were being debriefed . Both were killed in the impact .


The London Gazette of 7th November, 1943, gives the following details in the citation. On the night of 12th August, 1943, Flight-Sergeant Aaron was captain and pilot of a bomber detailed to attack Turin. When approaching its target, the aircraft was hit by fire from an enemy fighter, which caused it to become unstable and difficult to control. Flight-Sergeant Aaron was wounded in the face and lung, and his right arm was rendered useless. After a rest, he made determined efforts to take control again – persuaded to desist, he wrote instructions with his left hand, and guided the bomb-aimer in the hazardous task of landing the damaged aircraft at Bone in North Africa. Nine hours after landing, he died of exhaustion. In appalling conditions he showed the greatest qualities of courage, determination and leadership, and though wounded and dying, he set an example of devotion to duty which has seldom been equalled and never surpassed.

The following particulars are given in “The London Gazette,” of 14th August 1945.  He flew in a Short Stirling bomber of 218 Gold Coast Squadron detailed to bomb Turin .

623 squadron was also equipped with Stirling bombers and they were based at RAF Downham briefly from August to December 1943 . 623 was formed from 1 flight of 218 squadron and the intention was to make it 2 flight with 20 aircraft . But it never achieved more than 10 aircraft strength before being disbanded. However during its short life , it flew 137 operational sorties , mostly bombing but some mine laying . Incredibly 10 aircraft failed to return , one crashing on the airfield itself , so out of 10 strength , all were lost and had to be replaced. Not just the aircraft but all 7 crew of each of the 10 aircraft. This was a very heavy loss rate and a constant crisis for Bomber Command to lose a whole squadron strength in four months.

214 squadron of Stirling aircraft were at RAF Downham from December 1943 to January 1944 perhaps to fill the gap left by the losses of 623 squadron . In this short period they made 36 sorties , 25 to the flying bomb sites, V1 and V2 , and 11 minelaying . They subsequently were reassigned to RAF Sculthorpe .

Bomber Command in November 1943 withdrew the Stirling from main force attacks on Germany and became the attack force against the flying bomb sites in France , mining duties and air sea rescue searches . Bomber Command reorganised its forces and RAF Downham ceased to be part of 3 Bomber Command and transferred to 8 Group the Pathfinders. The war in the air had for this small airbase cost a great many lives and aircraft . The tour of duty for aircrew was 30 missions , many did many more , fighting against the odds of one in seven aircraft not returning with the loss of all 7 crew per aircraft , though some were saved to become prisoners of war , or were injured dreadfully .

From March 1944 , RAF Downham came under 8 Group RAF Pathfinder force . Although it still remains one of the most successful advances for the RAF , it was immensely dangerous and complex. In today`s world of Satnav and GPS range finding a target seems simple but then the practice was to send out aircraft with master bombers to pinpoint a target for the following bombers . But so it was that the master bomber flew round the target to assess how successful the pathfinders had been in identifying and marking their target with flares and coloured target indicators . And to gives the thumbs up by radio to go ahead with bombing or to change the target indicators to a different position . And this brought RAF Downham to the vanguard of Bomber Command`s raids .

Pathfinder crews were by the very nature of the job extremely experienced and had usually completed at least one if not two 30 operational tours of duty . The aircrew serving with the Pathfinders usually faced a 45 operational tour of duty . After the 45 tour was finished they were given the options of 6 months rest or a further 15 ops . Most chose the latter.

635 squadron were equipped with the magnificent Lancaster bombers and arrived at RAF Downham in March 1944 and remained until the war`s end in September 1945 . It was new to Downham and made up of aircrew from B flight of 35 squadron from RAF Gravely and C flight from 97 squadron RAF Bourn. Its first operation was on 22nd March 1944 to Frankfurt . The Lancaster could carry 14,000 lbs of bombs and target indicators . It was a formidable weapon unleashed against German cities and industrial areas. It had also had the latest in target finding radar equipment which sometimes required an extra member of crew to operate and to help with navigation and bomb aiming .

“Master bomber”

On 4th August 1944 Squadron Leader Bazalgette was of a Pathfinder Squadron detailed to mark an important target for the main bomber force. When nearing the target his Lancaster was seriously damaged and set on fire by anti-aircraft fire; the bomb aimer was badly wounded. As the deputy had already been shot down, the success of the attack depended on Squadron Leader Bazalgette who despite appalling conditions in his burning aircraft pressed on gallantly, bombed, and marked the target accurately. That the attack was successful was due to his magnificent effort. The condition of the aircraft had by now become so bad that Squadron Leader Bazalgette ordered his crew to leave the aircraft by parachute. He attempted the almost hopeless task of landing the crippled and blazing aircraft to save the wounded bomb aimer, and one air-gunner, who had been overcome by fumes. With superb skill and taking great care to avoid a French village, be brought the aircraft safely down. Unfortunately it then exploded and this gallant officer and his two comrades perished. His heroic sacrifice marked the climax of a long career of operations against the enemy. He always chose the more dangerous and exacting roles. His courage and devotion to duty were beyond praise.    He was flying a Lancaster , T for Tommy , as Master Bomber , of 635 squadron .

The squadron flew a total of 2,099 operational sorties and lost thirty four aircraft on operations , plus a further seven which crashed in Britain . For a squadron only in existence for 18 months , this is a very high rate of losses. But it existed during the final year of the war when the tide was turning and everything was thrown at the Axis powers to bring the war to an end. It was during such a raid on Dresden in February 1945 that such squadrons were used . Their CO Wing Co Sidney (Tubby) Baker, DSO and bar, DFC and bar, completed his 100th mission to Wuppertal in March 1945. He was 27 years old . 635 flew for the last time in April 1945 when it bombed Hitler`s mountain hideaway at Berchtesgaden . In the peacetime world 635 dropped food supplies to the Dutch people in an operation known as Manna . And were instrumental in repatriating allied prisoners of war known as operation Exodus .

Not generally known is that after the war , 635 squadron was engaged in happier duties between April and May 1945 when they took ground personnel over the bomb damaged German cities , so that they could see for themselves the results of the bombing campaign they had all worked tirelessly to achieve . These were known as “Cooks Tours” !!!

608 squadron has the distinction of being the last to bomb Kiel Harbour and maybe even of dropping the last bomb of the war , this aircraft returned to RAF Downham at 2.18 am 2/3rd May 1945. This last raid was sent over in two waves, with 8 aircraft in each wave , each carrying 4,000 lb bombs . 608 was equipped with the Mosquito bomber , part of 8 Group Pathfinders, Light Night Striking force . It was reformed at RAF Downham Market in August 1944 and was a fast though lightly armed bomber , despite being largely constructed of wood, it was highly versatile and fast , it carried a two man crew and between August 1944 and the last flight in May 1945 , the squadron flew 1,685 sorties from RAF Downham of which 11 aircraft failed to return and 7 others crashed in the UK . One in October returning clipped the tower of Stow Bardolph Hall and crashed in Wimbotsham , killing both crew members . All the raids were directed to the heartland of Germany , including 762 individual sorties over Berlin.

see also:

Probably the most exciting event of recent times concerning the airfield  ,   was the visit , albeit fleeting , of Flt Lt Colin Bell , DFC , in January 2018 . He flew from Downham with 608 squadron in 1944 with his Canadian navigator Flt Lt Redmond .   He is one of the very few left who flew from Downham , in fact may well be the only survivor .  He flew in Mosquito XX aircraft .     From the National Archives AIR/27/2101 these are some of Flt Lt Bell`s sorties over Germany .  They illustrate how relentless the work was , day after day , taking off in the darkness for Germany and knowing that they faced flak , fighters etc  .  Its a plain report of truly heroic actions by dozens of young men .   For some 700 plus of these young airmen , the last green grass they stood on was the runway at Downham .

608 Squadron and Colin Bell DFC .



Mosquito IV de Havilland , re loading RAF Marham , 105 squadron 1942.


Operations record book from the National Archives , AIR/27/2101 for October 1944.

2/10/44 39 hours .

9 Mosquito XX – 21- crews 8 a/c to attack Brunswick Flt Lt Bell , F/O Redmond . KB 360 H . All attacked primary dropping 24 x 500 MC 8 x 500 GPLD between 2035 and 2037 hours from 23,000 ft .Weather clear. Vis very good . All crews saw route markers and all bombed the centres of red and green TI s which were failry well concentrated . At 2039 hrs a large column of smoke was seen from target aread . Four fires were seen two of which were large . Moderate to accurate H/F was encountered no S/L in action.

3/10/44 . 33 hours .

9 Mosquito XX – 21 – crews 6 a/c to attack Saarbruck Flt Lt Bell , F/O Redmond . KB 261 D . One a/c failed to take off other five windowed as ordered and dropped 20 x 500 GP between 2020 and 2025 from 20/25,000 ft . Weather clear , vis good.

6/10/44 23hrs 37 mins .

6 a/c to attack Berlin . Flt Lt Bell , F/O Redmond KB 441 Q . One a/c did not take off . The other five attacked dropping 15 x 500 GP and 5 x 500 GPLD between 2020 and 2025 hours from 23/22, 000ft . Weather clear vis good TI s seen 2220 , other reds and greens later . Marking generally scattered some cookie bursts seen in area , also dummy red TI to the west of target . Moderate to intense H/F and S/L were active .

10/10 /44 32 hrs 15 mins .

11 Mosquito XX – 22 -crews . 11 a/c to attack Cologne . Flt Lt Bell , F/O Redmond . KB 235 A . Nine a/c attacked dropping 27 x 500 MC , 9 x 500 GPLD between 1943 and 1947 hrs from 20/23,500 ft . Weather 10/10 str cu above green TI seen 1941 hours and red floaters seen at 1942/43/44 hours . These disappeared in cloud . Glow suggested triangular formation over whole area 6 a/c bombed on red TI s or glow and 3 on estimated position of TI s which had disappeaed into cloud . Several cookie bursts seen and a large bluish white explosion lasting several seconds was reported by several crews at 1946 hours . A smaller explosion was seen at 1948 hours . Fires were also seen reflected on clouds . One a/c crashed on t/o crew unhurt . One a/c brought bombs back , hang up . Mod predicted H/F . No S/Ls .

13/10/44 32hrs 26 mins .

13 Mosquito XX -22-crews 12 a/c to attack Koln . Flt Lt Bell ; F/O Redmond . KB 417 D.

14/10/44 13 Mosquito XX – 24 – crews 8hrs 13 min. 2 a/c to attack Mannheim Flt Lt Bell , F./O Redmond , KB 235 A . Both a/c attacked dropping 2 x 250 TI green and 6 x 500 MC at 0159 – 0202 hours from 23/24,500 ft Weather 5/10 str cu tops 5/10,000 vis fair . Red T I s seen at 0156, 0159 , 2020 , 0210 hours . Green T I s seen at 0159 hrs . T I s well concentrated . No bombing results observed . A spoof red T I seen 30 miles west of targer at 0204 hrs slight to moderate H/F and about 40 S/Ls attempting to cone .

16/10/44 . 12 Mosquito XX 27 crews , 2240 hours , 11 a/c to attack Cologne Flt Lt Bell , F/O Redmond KB 417 D . All a/c attacked primary dropping 33 x 500 MCTD and 11 x 500 GPLD between 2328 and 0015 hours . Weather 10/10 , cirrus very hazy . Most aircraft bombed on Gee and DR some report of glow of red T I s and confirmed their positions. Cookie bursts were seen in area. No crew saw route markers . There was slight pockets of H/F , No fighter activity .


Flt Lt Colin Bell DFC at Downham , January 2018.

23/10/44.   10 Mosquito to attack Berlin. Flt Lt Bell, F/O Redmond , KB 417 D .   9/10 Mosquito attacked primary dropping 30 x 500 GP and 10 x 500 GPLD  between 1930 and 1936 hrs from 23/25,5000 ft . Weather 10/10 cirr/cu tops 12/15, 000 ft , vis good . First red T I seen to cascade at 1927 hrs followed by further reds at 1928 and 1930 hrs all of which formed a good concentrated and enabled all crews to bomb accurately .  Cookie bursts seen under to concentration of T I s . There was slight H/F no S/Ls .  I  a/c detailed to attack Berlin experience trouble with port engine . In addition to which Gee , Loren and VHF were u/s  so bombed unidentified target in Germany pos 54.15N O855E  at 18.55 hrs 25,000 ft .Weather as for primary . Slight H/F was encountered.

27/10/44 . 17 Mosquito XX – 21 crews- to attack Berlin .  Flt Lt Bell, Flt Lt Redmond  235 A .   12/12 a/c attacked primary dropping 32  x 500 GP and 10 x 500 GPLD between 2303 and 2310 hrs from 20/23, 800 ft . Weather 10/10 , cirrus ?

29/10/44 . 15 Mosquito XX – 22 crews- 12 Mosquito to attack Cologne  Flt Lt Bell, Flt Lt Redmond . KB 406 K .  All a/c attacked primary dropping 36 x 500 GP and 11 x 500 GPLD  between 1957  and 2000 hours from 22/25,750 ft . Weather clear vis good . A cloudless sky enabled all a/c to bomb red T I s which were clearly seen over target Markers made a very good concentration and bombing was accurate .   Many fires from the attack of the previous night seen over a very large area of target .

31/10/44 . 10 Mosquitos to attack Hamburg . AB 405 K  Flt Lt Bell , Flt Lt Redmond.   All a/c attacked primary dropping 30 x 500 GP and 10 x 500 GPLD between 2127 and 2134 hours from 22/25, 000 ft . Weather 10/10. Str cu , vis good .

There are memories of the men and women who served in the short but urgent years of the war .   The church and the Crown in the town have black and white photos of the airmen and their crews .   And for some young men , nearly 750 , the town and the airfield were the last of home .   Amazingly this airfield lost that number of crew and today we have almost forgotten who they were .   A memorial has been designed and planned , it will carry the names of all those who were lost .   At the moment all we have is the small memorial to the two VC s Bazalgette and Aaron , but in time and with funding , we hope to have a substantial memorial.

It is good to note in April 2018 that the International Bomber Command Memorial has opened with all the names of those who were lost including our 770 from RAF Downham  in Lincoln .  see also .


Please contact me, Elizabeth, at My email address

Please contact me, Elizabeth, at My email address

Downham`s Workhouse



The Poor House to High Haven

St Mark`s Gospel chapter 14 verse 7 in the King James version has ” For ye have the poor with you always , and whensoever ye will ye may do them good . “

For as long as the church of St Edmund has stood on the hill in Downham Market , there will have been a poor house alongside , maintained by the church and for the benefit of the poorest people of Downham .


Over the centuries the poor house and its pauper inmates had been maintained and cared for by monies left in legacies in wills of local people and from the Poor Rate levied on tradesmen and farmers who in a good year made a little money and paid a proportion of it to the church for the Overseers of the Poor to distribute.

One such benefactor was the Rev Thomas Batchcroft who was born in Bexwell in 1572 , educated at Ely School and who became a priest . He was appointed Master of Caius College Cambridge in 1626 but was expelled during the Civil war in 1649 and replaced by William Dell an extreme Puritan . With the Restoration in 1660 Batchcroft was reinstated but died a very short time later . Apart from his great gift to Downham , he also left substantial bequests to Methwold and various Suffolk parishes .

His £100 bequest to Downham is recorded on a wooden board in the vestry of St Edmund`s church . It says ” March 1660 . The Reverend Thomas Batchcroft DD who by his will gave and bequeathed as follows : that is to say , I give one hundred pounds to purchase five pounds per annum in land for ever , for the use of the poor of Downham Market to be distributed amongst them to buy victuals to nourish them , clothes to cover them and firing to warm them and one of these to be done yearly for ever for better performance of which gift he requested the minister of the town and two of the chiefest inhabitants thereof , to perform that office year after year for the use and benefit of the poor thereof for ever . The land purchased with the above money consists of the two following pieces of land in Downham Market , that is to say five acres , two roods and three perches of pasture land abutting upon the turnpike road leading to Wisbeach toward the north , and upon Saint John`s Eau towards the west and one acre three roods and thirteen perches of pasture land abutting the Ouse river bank towards the west and Saint John`s Eau towards the east and upon the public house and garden belonging to the Bridge Reeves of Downham Market toward the north .”

Henry Saffery in his will dated 1721 proved 1721/2 ” I give and devise unto my said son Thomas Saffery £30 and forty shillings to be distributed to the poor of Downham Market by the churchwardens and Overseers at their discretion .” Forty shillings or £2 would be worth about £170 today and a useful amount for the Overseers to distribute . An earlier John Saffrey in his will dated 1687 also left the sum of forty shillings to be distributed on St John`s day to forty poor widows .



The Account books of the poor house were found when High Haven was completed in 1969 and given to the local library these date from 1823 and make very interesting reading .

The first Master mentioned in these accounts is Robert Simson and he was paid 45/- a week to provide for 15 inmates with ” sufficient meat, drink, washing, lodging, cloathing , employment and all other things necessary for their keeping and maintenance ” He had a further allowance of 3/6d per week if he overspent .

This small poor house now believed to be the late Police Station and local jail then Breckland house , received two payments amongst others in 1825 and 1827 from the Poor Rate for burying a drowned man and a drowned boy . In 1832 the workhouse paid out 13/- for a coffin for Wortley`s daughter and in July a huge sum of £1.7s.7d to women laying out William Francis of Salters Lode who died of the cholera . “

Throughout 1833 Raper`s wife seems to have had an insatiable appetite for mutton , one shilling and fourpence worth is given to her at regular fortnightly intervals . In 1834 ” Raper`s wife still ill , mutton 2/4d ” .

In May and October 1833 four weight pounds of mutton is given to Robert Haylett and two pounds to his wife . However the next entry for the next day in October shows that 4/- was paid for women to lay out Haylett`s wife and 4/- for carriers .

In 1834 cholera was about again and an adult coffin cost one guinea and a child`s coffin cost 10/6 . But in among all the gloom and illness and death , a midwife was paid 5/- to attend Anne Buttersin in the workhouse and a further 1/8d was paid for a pint of gin for her . It is not clear if the gin was for Anne Buttersin or the midwife , but perhaps they shared it .

In 1836 the average rateable value of Downham Market parish was £1,066 and the poor rate was one eighth of that being £133 per annum . The Union created in 1835 by the Poor Law Amendment Act brought 34 parishes into the Downham Union and the workhouse proposed was to be for 250 persons . The Board spent many an anxious meeting at the Castle Inn in 1836 and 1837 valuing each parish in the union and trying to estimate how much income they would have to support the paupers of 34 parishes which could be as many as 250 people. In addition there were also disbursements for out-relief . That is those people whose condition was not so serious that it warranted them being removed to the workhouse .      In the Cambridge Chronicle of Friday 26 August 1836 , ” The Board of Guardians of the Downham Union, will assemble at the Castle Inn in Downham Market at 10 o`clock in the morning of Friday 9th September to Elect Medical and Relieving Officers to receive Plans for a Union Workhouse  and Tenders for Contracts for Flour .  The Board of Guardians divided their Union into the following Districts  for the Operations of the Medical and Relieving Officers .   Downham District  .  Downham, Denver, Ryston, Fordham , Hilgay , Southery , Welney ( Norfolk) Welney ( Cambridgeshire ) Roxham Also such parts of Wimbotsham and Stow as lies on the East Side of Tongs Drain .       Fincham District .   Marham , Fincham, Barton , Stradsett, Crimplesham , Bexwell , West Dereham , Wereham , Boughton , Stoke , Wretton .      Wiggenhall District.   Wiggenhall St Mary Magdalen, Wiggenhall St German`s , Wiggenhall St Mary , Wiggenhall St Peter, Watlington , Wormegay Holme, South Runcton , Tottenhill , Wallington, Stow, Wimbotsham , Shouldham Thorpe , or Shouldham , and such part of Downham as lies on the west side of Tongs Drain . !

At an October meeting in 1836 , Downham district needed £7.19s 9d in money , £3.10s in kind, a total of £11.9s 9d for the week. These amounts were distributed by the Relieving Officer of the district in agreement with the parish Overseers of the poor .

The poor house was usually close to the church and was usually owned by the parish . The Poor Law compelled parishes to look after their own people those born in the parish or belonging to the parish by legal settlement . Those who were successful in moving to a different parish got a Settlement certificate from their new parish a copy of which was sent to their original parish . It was crucial that if people wanted to live in another parish , that they were fit and well and working , if not the parish would not accept them and they would be removed back to their parish of origin . These people got a Removal order and it was enforceable taking them back to their parish of origin . No small rural parish could afford more than its own poor .



Unsurprisingly this new Government initiative , the Poor Law Amendment Act created opportunities for the great and the good of the district to become the power brokers . Some were dull , good and honest but some also took advantage of their new powers to advance friends and family in new positions and jobs .

At the end of the Napoleonic wars in 1815 , the army and the navy were demobbed and discharged back into their parishes with or without tiny pensions . Here in West Norfolk by 1816 there were riots resulting in hangings at Norwich castle , riots whose slogan was BREAD OR BLOOD . Add to that a series of terrible harvests over the next 20 years and you have the makings of a real national crisis. The old simple ways were inadequate and a new Government , anxious to avoid revolution , came up with a new Poor Law Amendment Act in 1835 .

On Wednesday 24th August 1836 at the Castle Inn, at 10 in the forenoon, the nominated Guardians of the Poor met , the names are familiar , William Bagge, Edward Roger Pratt, John Dering , and James Bradfield among others ..

Immediately the Guardians chose Mr Charles Berners Plestow of Watlington Hall as their Chairman . Watlington Hall , which is long gone, had been designed in part by a young architect called W J Donthorn , who will play a large part in the workhouse development .

The next matters on the agenda of that first meeting were that Messrs Gurney bankers should be appointed Treasurers to the Union , and that the Medical Officer for Downham District should be paid £110 per annum , and that the salary shall include accommodation for attendance, medicine , assistance in such cases as midwifery , as the Board of Guardians may require , the performance of surgical operations , the provision of medical instruments ( trusses excepted ) and any other matter used in the treatment of Disease or accident for all poor persons .

Then it was moved and seconded that it was expedient to erect a workhouse for the Union ; that the workhouse be provided for not exceeding 250 persons . It was moved further that a Committee be appointed to report to the Board as to a suitable site for the erection of the workhouse . And further that advertisements be inserted in the Bury Post, the Cambridge Chronicle and both the Norwich papers for Plans for a workhouse for 250 paupers classified according to the regulations of the Poor Law Commissioners to be accompanied by an estimate of the probable expense of erection .

In September 1836 Thomas Garneys Wales was appointed Medical Officer for the Downham District . But most of that week`s meeting was taken up by the discussion as to where the workhouse should be built . The committee viewed two sites . The workhouse piece adjoining the lane leading to the Howdale containing one acre and the north piece of the Cambridge ground in Wimbotsham containing about five acres . ” From its proximity to Downham your committee are of opinion that the workhouse piece is the most eligible for the Union house . The situation is dry and airy ” The Board duly elected the Downham site as being the best one by 23 votes to 10 for Wimbotsham .

Still in September , the Board examined several plans for the Workhouse and finally settled on the Plans of Mr Donthorn as the most eligible for the workhouse , noting that Mr Donthorn`s square plan return at a cost of £2,000 and this proposal was carried unanimously by the Board Full of their own importance, the Board now added a rider that they and the Building Committee should be given powers to alter Mr Donthorn`s plans ” to an extent not exceeding £120 . This was going to cause a lot of problems all round in the next eighteen months . The Board then moved that advertisements for the building of the workhouse be put in the Norfolk papers and that Mr Peckover of Wisbech be accepted as security for Mr Gurney the Treasurer and that they enter a joint bond for the sum of £2,000.

Like other public building works under committee control , the initial estimate of cost was going to be woefully inadequate .

A diversion of interest came in Oct 1836 when the Treaurer of Thorpe Lunatic Asylum asked the Board for payment of several sums of money for pauper lunatics presumably belonging to Downham and the Union parishes .

A note at the 12th Oct 1836 meeting instructs that Mr Donthorn and the Clerk of Works must be clear that no building works are carried out in the frost . Work however has begun and the Contractor , Mr Briggs , is ” to commence forthwith . ” and immediately the Building committee start altering Mr Donthorn`s plans by insisting that the staircases and windows should be of stone not wood ; the fence in front of the Boys and Girls yard should be of iron not wood ; that the water spouting conducting pipes round the house should be installed and two reservoirs for the water built . Although each of these items cost less than £120 the cut off point for Board amendments to the plans, collectively they cost over £200.

As building continued so did the Building Committee`s involvement .



At this lengthy meeting of 12th Oct , the Board also discuss how the “slope ” which they think can be used to advantage for cellars or other uses and that windows be inserted in the buildings for that purpose . It seems also that to build such a large building extra depth of foundations may be needed and must be paid for at ” per rod ” .

A Christmassy note comes to the attention of the Board on 16th Nov 1836 . The Institute for the Indigent Blind in Norwich writes to say that a pauper named William Chapman belonging to Fordham parish wishes to leave the Asylum , and that he was intending to marry a blind girl . The Board instruct the Clerk to write to the Institute that Chapman may come back but he will have to maintain himself or be confined to the workhouse .

The first small disagreement between the Board and the Contractor Mr Briggs comes in the last meeting of 1836 when Mr Briggs asks for a variation in his contract as to payments , but the Board are firm and write that no alteration can be made .

In the new year of 1837 , contracts are entered into with Mr Tilyard of Norwich for one dozen pairs of mens shoes, one dozen boys, one dozen girls and one dozen womens , of various sizes . More importantly the Board having already set a date for the completion of the building of the workhouse are now reluctantly agreeing to an extension of this date to 14th Sept 1837 . And still mindful of the public unrest , the Board agree that the Contractor be excepted for riots .

The new year message from the Board of Guardians to HM`s Principal Secretary of State at the Home Department says ” The poor have this last winter been generally extensively employed instead of spending their time in Beer Houses and other places of unprofitable resort .”

1837 starts with some very busy meetings , and the shortcomings of Mr Donthorn as an architect are being exposed . Apart from the lowest tender for the building from Mr Briggs of £3,532 almost double the original estimate of £2,000 , additional costs are being allowed for the ” depth of brickwork caused by the uneven-ness of the ground ” surely Mr Donthorn noticed this when drawing up his plans . The garden of High Haven today is noticeably sloping . The new depth of brickwork adds £263 to the costs , and now the plans must be adjusted to lower the kitchen , scullery , pantry and larder and all workhouse floors to meet the ground . This with other suggestions made by Dr Kay of the Poor Law Commissioners had added a further £672 to the overall costs . In the original cost no entrance gates , boundary wall, and making a roadway up to the entrance of the workhouse have been taken into account and a further £295 is added to the cost..

At this point the Board of Guardians makes an application to the Poor Law Commissioners to borrow £5,000. Time is ticking by and the Board order that ” the walls of the Union Workhouse be immediately carried up level and that the works stopped be immediately proceeded with Ordered that £600 be paid to Mr Briggs . “

Now with the building itself proceeding , the Board of Guardians appoint another committee , this time to ” ascertain the best method of fitting up the Union House “. And to help them the Board order Mr Brown , master of the current poor house , to attend the next meeting on Thursday . In addition the clerk to the Board is instructed to write to Mr Briggs the Contractor that it is reported to the Board by Mr Darley that the workhouse will not be completed at the apppointed time and that a request must be made to Mr Briggs to proceed more rapidly .

As the summer of 1837 moves on advertisements are put in the Norfolk papers and the Bury and Cambridge Chronicle plus two London papers for a Master and Matron for the workhouse to be elected this day 5 weeks , offering a salary of £80 per annum for the Master and £20 for the Matron. In addition the Porter will be paid £25 per annum and the Chaplain to the Union paid £40 per annum . The Board request Dr Kay to look for a suitable schoolmaster on his next trip to Scotland at a salary of £35 per annum .

But as August ends Mr Darley is still reporting to the Board ” that the Union House was going on very unsatisfactorily . The Board resolved to proceed to view the House” .

This viewing took place on 7th September 1837 just one week before the due date of completion and all that can be reported is that the house is ” now proceeding properly”. Realising that the paupers cannot occupy a house without furnishings , the Board now spend money with urgency and order quantities of all the necessaries of life , knives, lamps , tin mugs, soup cans, . Messrs Coleman get the contract for bedsteads , iron, at 14/- each in various sizes ; Messrs Johnson get the contract for sedge mats for the beds , Mr Harman gets the contract for blankets , Mr Ryley for Scotch Forfar sheeting , and towelling . Mr Baker gets the contract for cotton rugs, Mr Harman again for flannel and shirting , and Mr Johnson for serge ……ever practical Mr Hawes gets the contract for shrouds , and Mr Palmer gets the contract for huge number and variety of shoes including expensive men`s Highlows at 8/6d a pair . Mr Hawes is to provide stockings and hats .

The beds are to have a pair of blankets each and one and a half sheets ; and that they be filled with long straw .

And the paupers may be without clothes so the Board now orders yards of grograin for petticoats, stout twist , whole suits of mens clothes , stays are very expensive at £1.2.4d a dozen .



The spending spree is halted for a while by a Mr Bell, solicitor of Downham , appearing before the Board to claim compensation for damage done to Mrs Poll`s mill on the Howdale during the building of the workhouse . Inevitably a sub committee is formed to see what damage has been done to Mrs Poll`s mill.

Further and far too late , an advert is inserted in the Norfolk papers for tenders for the building of a seven foot wall on the north and east side of the Union Workhouse land . Whoever got this tender and built this wall would be gratified to know his wall still stands without any maintenance 175 years later .

In October 1837 progress is still continuing , the Clerk is to order deal tables and benches and fixtures . The Building committee reports that the house would not be completed for some time and that the Clerk give notice to the Contractor that the penalty for not having the house completed according to contract would be inflicted . And the fitting out committee now want a boiler and oven in the kitchen instead of the present one on order .

Food is now the main consideration , and Mr Scott of Downham gets the contract for the supply to the Union of Dorset cheese , brown soap, salt , soda , loaf sugar , bastard sugar , rice , treacle , starch , mustard , black tea, green tea, vinegar , oats, bacon, . Mr Bolton gets the contract for the supply of ” good steer beef at 7/- per stone , steer suet at 7/- per stone , mutton at 7/- per stone and pork at 7/6d per stone . Messrs Bennett and Goose get the contract to ” supply and fit up the fixtures of the Union Workhouse . “

At last the candidates for the position of Master and Matron are interviewed, Mr and Mrs Dakins, Mr and Mrs Pyle, Mr and Mrs Gostling, Mr and Mrs Harrison, Mr and Mrs Muskett , Mr and Mrs Wright , Mr and Mrs Harvey, Mr and Mrs Chamberlain , and Mr and Mrs Fisher . After due consideraton, 18 votes were given to Mr and Mrs Pyle who were appointed Master and Matron at a salary of £80 and £20 a piece per annum .

And ” Roe ” is appointed Porter at £25 per annum being allowed to maintain his wife , ” she making herself useful in the house ” .

The sub committee looking into the damage to Mrs Poll`s mill , report back that damage has been done and recommend that £100 is offered as compensation.

By the meeting of 19th October 1837, the Board of Guardians are of the opinion that the workhouse is very nearly completed and in ” many instances that the defects may be remedied without any hindrance to the house being occupied and that in the opinion of the committee the house although not finished may be accepted as soon as the necessaries and furniture can be got in . “

The committee also say they are ” extremely dissatisfied with the inattention of the architect Mr Donthorn …and he be requested to attend the Union House on 26th October. That the Committee will meet him on that day and that the house be thoroughly examined at 10 o`clock precisely . Mr Donthorn and Mr Briggs , present , agreed that the building should be forthwith completed and Mr Donthorn further stated that he did not consider any blame was attached to him as he had frequently given orders to Mr Briggs but” he could not get him to attend to them . “

The meeting of 26th October at the Workhouse was understandably busy and fraught . The Board are ” extremely surprised ” at the inattention of Mr Briggs . There is a long list of essential building works to be completed the pipes to the washing places are incomplete , the water spouts are not put up , the urinals ordered by Mr Donthorn are not done , the hand rails to the stairs are not done , the windows are not embedded or complete, the floors are in an unfinished state and very importantly , the water closet to be fitted for the Guardians has not been done and the current fireplace in the Board room is inadequate ” not of a proper size or quality “.

A further blow comes in the form of a letter to the Board of Guardians from the Royal Exchange that they have ” declined advancing any further sums to the Union “. The Treasury now has to step in to close the financial gap and guarantee the full finished sum of £4,250.

By 9th November 1837 a further letter is received from Mr Briggs the contractor undertaking that the Board should now take possession of the Union Workhouse without prejudice to the contract . But nothing is that simple and now the Board have the workhouse , they must decide what to do with those ” indigent poor ” who are not in the workhouse . ” Outdoor relief is to be continued in the following classes 1) the aged , 2) the infirm , 3) indigent widows with families of children too young to work , 4) indigent widows in the first 3 months of their widowhood , 5) cases of accident, sickness and urgent need , 6) that relief for paupers who are resident beyond the limits of the Union be discontinued except for the aged , infirm and sick .”

The meeting of 23rd November 1837 was held in the Board room of the Union Workhouse . Mr Donthorn states ” that the mass is completed but there are several little points to be done ; overflow pipes, buckets in the well are too heavy , the dining hall casements must be made to fit , gutters over the infirmary , the stove in the Board room , chimney in the committee room , some brick floors need relaying , the ventilation to the ward over the laundry , all still need to be finished “. The committee also recommend that iron bars are fitted in the windows next to the public road and that the wall alongside be raised to 7ft .

But on the 28th December 1837 finally , Garneys Wales, surgeon , having examined the workhouse , states ” all the rooms are fit for the reception of the paupers with the exception of the north infirmary and room below . “


copyright Norfolk County Council.

Chapter Two

Extracts from the Minute Book of the Board of Guardians of the Downham Union Workhouse from 1836.
Board of Guardians Minute Book C/GP/5/1 NRO


Deed of Sale
English Copyright Norfolk County Council
English Copyrights

August 1836 Downham Union
Present Bexwell Alfred Muskett
Downham West William Johnson Sanders
Downham Market George Mumford , Michael Lelland , etc .
Magistrates Guardians ex officio
Edward Roger Pratt, esq
John Thurlow Dering , esq
William Bagge, esq
James Bradfield Sanders Bradfield, esq
Charles Berners Plestow, esq
William Lowth Jones , esq
The Rev Arthur Loftus , clerk .

At the first meeting of the Board of Guardians held at the Castle Inn in Downham on Wednesday 24th August 1836 at 10 o`clock in the fore noon .
Present Edward Roger Pratt , esq , Mr Ambrose Thompson , John Thurlow Dering , William Bagge , etc.
Moved by Mr Bradfield seconded by Mr Milnes that Mr Plestow be elected Chairman . Carried unanimously .
Moved by Mr Mumford seconded by Mr George Wood that the Directors of the East of England Bank be appointed Treasurers to the Union.
Moved that Messrs Gurney be appointed Treasurers to the Union .
Moved that the Medical officer for Downham District be paid £110 per annum. That the salary shall include accommodation for attendance , medicine , assistance in such cases as midwifery as the Board of Guardians may require , the performance of surgical operations , the provision of surgical instruments ( trusses excepted ) and any other matter used in the Treatment of Disease or accident for all poor persons .

Moved by Mr Milnes seconded by Mr Brown that it is expedient to erect a workhouse for the Union . Carried unanimously . Moved that a committee be appointed to report to the Board as to a suitable site for the erection of the workhouse . Carried unanimously . Moved that an advertisement be inserted in the Bury Post, the Cambridge Chronicle and both the Norwich papers for Plans for a workhouse for 250 paupers classified according to the regulations of the Poor Law Commissioners to be accompanied by an estimate of probable expense of erection .

[ Bury and Norwich Post and East Anglian , 21st Sept 1836
Downham Union

To Builders and Others

Persons desirous of contracting for the erection of a new Union Workhouse to be situate in Downham Market may see plans and specifications at the Clerks office or at the Office of the Architect , Mr W J Donthorn , 18 Hanover St , Hanover Sq, London any day after 30th Sept next .

Tenders are to be sent to the Clerk on or before 11th Oct next ( postage and carriage paid ) and on the outside of each tender to be written ” Tender for the erection of the Downham Union House “. Edward Hett, Clerk . Downham Market , 14th Sept 1836 ]

9th Sept 1836

Resolved that Thomas Negus Rose be appointed Relieving officer for the Fincham district and reside in the parish of Hilgay . Moved that Thomas Garneys Wales be appointed Medical officer for the Downham district .

The Committee set up for the purpose of reporting as to a suitable site for the workhouse reported as follows . Your committee proceeded to view two sites offered for the erection of the Union workhouse , viz, a portion of the workhouse piece adjoining the lane leading to the Howdale containing one acre and the North piece of the Cambridge ground in Wimbotsham containing about 5 acres . From its proximity to Downham your committee is of the opinion that the workhouse piece is the most eligible site for the Union house . The situation is dry and airy and it is expected that the difference in price in the sites offered will be compensated by stabling not required if the Union house is erected on Workhouse land . The price of the workhouse piece three acres at a cost of £86.13s 4d per acre being £260 and of the other piece about 5 acres at £40 per acre being about £200 . Your committee beg to state that the whole of the workhouse piece contains about 4 acres and that about one acre thereof fronting the Turnpike road was not offered for sale and forms a part of the site recommended . Votes for Downham site 23, Wimbotsham , 10 .


Meeting 14th Sept 1836

Your committee examined the several plans produced to the Guardians and decided upon the Plan of Mr Thorold and the Plans of Mr Donthorn as the most eligible for the Workhouse . Moved by Mr Kerridge seconded by Mr Wood that one of Mr Donthorn`s plans be accepted . Carried unanimously. That Mr Donthorn`s square plan return at a cost of £2,000 be adopted for the Union house . Carried unanimously . Moved that the Building Committee have power to alter Mr Donthorn`s plans to an extent not exceeding £120 and that they advertise for tender for the erection of the Union house . Moved that Mr Peckover of Wisbech be accepted security for Mr Gurney the treasurer and that they enter into a joint bond for the sum of £2,000.

Meeting Wednesday 21st Sept 1836

Moved that John Long be appointed Door keeper until further ordered . That the Clerk communicate to Mrs Doyle that the Guardians do not feel themselves justified to make any alteration in the measures they have adopted as to erecting a house on the workhouse land . At this meeting a request was produced by the Clerk from the inhabitants of Downham and their parish officers a request for the Board of Guardians to apply to the Poor Law Commissioners to allow the parish of Downham to sell their workhouse piece of land containing three acres .

Meeting Wednesday 28th Sept 1836

Proposed that George Kaywell Wilson a Lt in HM Royal Navy and now or late on board HMS Rodney be Auditor . Mr Wilson declared nominated .

Meeting 5th October 1836

The salary of John Long , doorkeeper, 5/- per week

Meeting 12th October1836

Read a communication from the Treasurer of the Thorpe Lunatic Asylum for payment of several sums of money for pauper lunatics and requested payment by the Board instead of the several parishes . The Building Committee having retired to consult with Mr Donthorn and the Clerk of Works to prevent any works being carried out during frost . That the Contractor be informed to commence forthwith and that instructions should be given to Mr Donthorn . That the stair cases and windows should be of stone and NOT wood , the extra expense of which would be £84. That the fence to the front of the Boys and Girls should be iron not wood , the extra expense would be £60. That the water spouting conducting pipes round the house would cost £23 that two reservoirs for the water would cost £40. That as the site of the building the Contract should be delivered in according to the specifications and that any extra depth of foundation should be paid for at per rod . That advantage might be taken of the slope of the ground for cellars and other uses and that windows be inserted in the building for that purpose .

That fire proof floors , iron girders, and brick arches would cost £40 extra and your committee are of opinion that by insuring the building is rendered fire proof to the Board Your committee recommend that £5,000 should be borrowed , that the time for completing the house should be left to the Committee and that the Clerk of Works ought to be here on 24th Oct and that it would be desirable to ventilate the house by Brick flues the probable expense of which would be £30 . And that the surgery should be in the store room and the store room the surgery and the skylight abolished .

Meeting 19th Oct 1836

Moved that the lowest tender ( for the building ) be accepted viz £3,532 . Mr Briggs tender of £3,532 was accepted .


copyright Norfolk County Council .

Meeting 26th Oct 1836

Read a letter from Mr Thorold requesting he be allowed for his trouble in making the plans for the Union workhouse . Ordered that the Clerk write that an allowance could be made . The Building Committee met at Wereham Old Hall and that it might be altered for the purpose required but it would be at great expense and cannot be recommended the Guardians accept the offer .

Meeting 16th Nov 1836

Read a letter from the Institute of Indigent Blind in Norwich that a pauper named William Chapman belonging to Fordham parish wishes to leave the Asylum and that he was intending to marry a blind girl . Moved the Clerk write to the Institution that if he will come back he will have to maintain himself or be confined to the workhouse .

Meeting 23rd November 1836

Read a letter from Poor Law Commissioners approving of the plans of Downham Union House with their observations thereon letter dated 21st Inst .

Meeting 7th Dec 1836

Moved by Mr Milnes that it is the opinion of this meeting that a rural police should be established . Carried unanimously .

Meeting 28th Dec 1836

Ordered that advertisements for Tenders for Hats, calico , strong grey cloth , worstead, stockings , flannel and sheeting be inserted in the two Norwich papers .


copyright Lynn News and Advertiser. 1969.

Chapter Three


copyright Lynn News and Advertiser 1969.

Deed of Transcription
English Copyright Norfolk County Council

Meeting 1st Feb 1837

Ordered that £2,000 be borrowed for the Union House .

Meeting 8th Feb 1837

Ordered by Mr Bush that an advertisement be inserted in two Norfolk newspapers for a tender for coffins for the Union . That in the case of a pauper dying requiring to be buried by the Union application be made to the Relieving officer and that the Relieving officer take possession of the effects of the deceased .

Meeting 8th March 1837

The tenders for coffins were opened and Mr Thomas Bennett of Downham carpenter being the lowest tender . Moved that this offer be accepted . ( Extract from a letter from the Board of Guardians to HM Principal Secretary of State for the Home Dept ) ” but by instilling into the minds of the able bodied the necessity of providing for themselves and depending on their own exertions the office of the Guardians have been most efficiently seconded by the high spirit and manly independence of the labourer as also by more kindness and consideration on the part of the employer . The usual applications for relief in the winter season have not been received the Poor well knowing they must depend on their own exertions and to have the satisfaction of expressing our belief that the Poor have this winter been generally and extensively employed instead of spending the time in Beer houses and other places of unprofitable resort . “

Ordered the suggestions made by Dr Kay be adopted and that Mr Donthorn draw up the specifications and plans of the same . Mr Donthorn draw up the specifications and plans of the same . Mr Donthorn delivered the following returns of the works required at £3,532 viz Depth of brickwork required and caused by the unevenness of the ground , £263 ; Forming the culvert part of the unevenness of the ground into into receiving it , and bathroom £200 ; Lowering the kitchen , scullery , pantry and larder, and workhouse floors to meet the ground ; standing steps and various items and sundries suggested by Dr Kay , £120 . Total £672 . Entrance gates , boundary wall, and contingencies and making roadway up to the Entrance , £295 Total £967.. Percentage to the Architect Mr Donthorn according to the terms of agreement £210 . Superintendent of works, £80.

Application be made to the Poor Law Commissioners for their consent to borrow £5,000.

Moved that the plans and specifications of Mr Donthorn be adopted in the Union House and that a request be made to the Poor Law Commissioners for their consent to the same .

Ordered that the walls of the Union Workhouse be immediately carried up level and that the works stopped be immediately proceeded with .

Ordered that the sum of £600 be paid to Mr Briggs.

Ordered that a committee consisting of the Chairman , the Vice Chairman , Mr Jonathan Flower etc , be appointed to ascertain the best method of fitting up the Union House and that they meet on Thursday fortnight to report to one another and on the following Thursday report to the Board.

Ordered that Mr Brown of the Downham Workhouse be directed to attend the Board meeting on Thursday .

Ordered that the Clerk write to Mr Briggs that it is reported to the Board by Mr Darley the workhouse will not be completed at the appointed time and that a request be made to Mr Briggs to proceed more rapidly .

Ordered that an advertisement be inserted in the Norfolk papers , the Bury and Cambridge papers and two London newspapers for Master and Matron for the workhouse to be elected this day 5 weeks the salary of the Master £80 per year and the Matron at £20 a year and also a Porter salary £25 a year and Board and Lodging for each and also for a chaplain at £40 a year . ( Henry Harrison of the Oulton Workhouse, Wm Harvey of Thurston , nr Bury St Edmunds , George Fisher of St Giles , Norwich, Thomas Gosling of Diss , Thomas Muskett of St Faiths Union and Charles Wright of Chichester . Original applicants for the post of Master and Matron ).

Moved that Dr Kay on his trip to Scotland engage a schoolmaster for the Union House at a salary not exceeding £35 a year.

Mr Darley reported to the Board that the Union House was going on very unsatisfactorily . Resolved that the Board proceed to view the same .



copyright Mrs Lance /Mrs Lee.

Meeting 7th Sept 1837

Chairman reported to the Board that he and others had proceeded to view the progress of the house and the same was now proceeding properly .

Ordered that a contract be entered into with Mr Diver for lamps and tin mugs and knives that the soup cans be made according to pattern no 1 , Pints 2/- per doz, quarts 3/10d per doz , 6 doz of each several pint tin mugs 2/8d per doz and 8 doz knives and forks 9/- per doz.

Moved that the tender of Messrs Coleman for Bedsteads be accepted and they provide according to pattern 25 . Iron bedsteads at 14/- each , 5ft x 10ins x 2/- , Iron bedsteads at 15/- each 6`6″ x 2`6″ , 14 at 16/- for 8`x 3` , 15 at 17/- 6`3″ x x 3` and that the hoop iron of each be made to every one .

Moved that Messrs Johnsons tender for sedge mats for beds be accepted . Ordered that a contract be entered into with Mr Harman for blankets at 1/10d per lb , the blankets to be made to size and order .

Ordered that a contract be entered into with Mr Ryley for Scotch Forfar sheeting at 5d 3 farthings per yard for single bed cases and for double at 4/- each and for bolsters single 12 1/2d each ditto double 12 3/4d each and for towelling at 5 3/4d per yard .

Ordered that a contract entered into with Mr Baker for cotton rugs at 8/4d at 2 ¼ and 2/4 at 8/11d .

Ordered that a contract be entered into with Mr Harman for flannel at 10 3/4d per yard and a contract with Mr Harman for shirting at 4d per yard .

Ordered that a contract be entered into with Mr Johnson for serge at 13 3/4d per yard ¾ wide .

Ordered that a contract be entered into with Mr Hawes for shrouds , 4 doz at 1/6d , and to be in four sizes one of them the largest also for stout grey twist calico at 3 1/2d and also at 5 1/2d per yard .

Meeting 14th Sept 1837

Ordered that a contract be entered into with Mr Palmer for shoes with laces viz. Mens heavy highlows per pr 8/6d , mens heavy highlows ditto at 8/4d , mens lace shoes per pr at 6/9d , mens 2 types ditto , at 6/9d , mens , old mens , for house , and shoes, at 5/3d , Boys highlows whole tongues, at 7/5d , boys shoes 3 -13 , at 5/6d, 10 – 13 , at 4/6d . Womens highlows at 4./6d , Womens shoes at 4/6d , childrens shoes at 2/3d , childrens highlows at 4/- , childrens highlows at 3/-. The above to be of different sizes .

Meeting 21st Sept 1837

Ordered that a contract be entered into with Mr Hawes for a supply of stockings , mens size £1.1.0 per doz , Pair womens ditto at 18/-, ditto Youths ditto at 14/6d , do boys do at 13/- , also for drilling at 9d and 4d per yard also for hemp check at 11d per yard , also for Hats mens size at £1.1.0 per doz , youths at 18/- per doz , boys at 14/- per doz , also for hats .

Resolved that a pair of blankets be ordered for each bed , a pair and a half of sheets , 36 yard of towelling , cotton rugs for each bed, 40 yards of flannel, 30 yards of shirting , 6 pair of each sort of shoes, 35 pairs of stockings , 60 pairs womens ditto , 20 pairs youths ditto , 35 pairs of boys ditto . I piece of dwelling(?), at 1d , and one at 6d . I piece of hemp check 1 doz of hats mens size , 40 yards of stout twist , 12 suits of mens clothes, 10 of lads, 14 of boys drapes , 1 piece of grosgrain , I piece of linsey woolsey , 2 doz of stays , 4 doz of handkerchiefs , 40 yards of serge .

Ordered that a contract be entered into with Mr Baker for the supply of mens clothes as per pattern at 15/- per suit , lads at 13/- , boys at 8/- per dress .

Ordered that a contract be entered into with Mr Johnson for grosgrain for petticoats and gowns ag 4 3/4d per yard also linsey woolsey at 1/21/2d , also for stays at £1.2.4d per doz , also for handkerchiefs at 9s 3d per doz .

At this meeting appeared Mr Bell of Downham Market solicitor on behalf of Mrs Poll , and represented to the meeting that he claimed compensation for damage done to her mill on the Howdale by the erection of the Union Workhouse .


Board of Guardians 1929-1930
English Copyright – By kind permission of Janet Stocking

Meeting 28th Sept 1837.

Offers of Master and Matron adjourned also adjourned election of Porter . Sub committee chosen to see what damage has been done to Mrs Poll`s mill by the erection of the workhouse .

Resolved that the parishes of the Union be valued at 3d per acre and poundage on the buildings at 3/- ( this not to include farm buildings ) .

Resolved that the clerk insert in the two Norfolk papers for the tender for the building of a 7ft wall on the north east side of the Union workhouse land . Resolved that Mr Donthorns preparation to forward specifications of fixtures be accepted and that on the receipt thereof tenders for the same be advertised . Resolved that the beds be filled with long straw .

Resolved that the Board of Guardians subscribe third of the price of a clock and that if the other two thirds can be subscribed a clock be placed in the Union workhouse . Resolved that Dr Kay purchase books for the Union house at a sum not exceeding £12 to include Bibles and Testaments .

Meeting 5th Oct 1837

Ordered that the Clerk advertise for Deal tables and benches and fixtures required for the workhouse .

Building committee reported that the house would not be completed for some time and recommend that the Clerk give notice to the Contractor that the penalty for not having the house completed according to contract would be inflicted . The committee also reported that a boiler and oven ought to be fixed in the kitchen in lieu of the present one contracted for . That 6 doz trenchers at 5/6d per doz , ½ a gross of spoons at ½ d , hand bowls at 2/- and ½ doz bowls without handles .

Meeting 12th Oct 1837.

Resolved that a contract be entered into with Mr Scott of Downham for the supply to the Union workhouse of Dorset cheese at 42/- each , brown soap at 44/- per cwt , salt at 3/- per cwt , soda at 14/- per cwt, loaf sugar at 9d per lb, bastard ditto at 7/- per stone , treacle at 4/- per stone , rice at 2/9d per stone, starch at 6d per lb , mustard at 6d per lb , black tea at 2/6d per lb , green tea at 4/- per lb , vinegar at 2/6d per gall , groats at 9d per bushel , broom head bannister brushes , dairy brushes, bacon 6d per lb,

Resolved that a contract be entered into with Mr Bolton for the supply of good steer beef at 7/- per stone , steer suet at 7/- per stone, mutton at 7/- per stone, pork at 7/6d per stone .

Resolved that a contract be entered into with Mr Bennett for the supply of American birch chairs as per pattern at 5/6d per ½ doz , and with Mr Langman for 4 windsor chairs at 6/- per chair . Resolved that a contract be entered into with Messrs Bennett and Goose for the supply and fitting up of the Fixtures of the Union workhouse .

Resolved that an advertisement be inserted into the Norfolk papers for the supply of coals , straw, potatoes, pails , milk, for the workhouse .

At the board meeting , the following persons appeared as candidates for the positions of Master and Matron , viz, Mr and Mrs Dakins , Mr and Mrs Pyle, Mr and Mrs Gostling, Mr and Mrs Harrison , Mr and Mrs Muskett, Mr and Mrs Wright, Mr and Mrs Farm, Mr and Mrs Bodger, Mr and Mrs Harvey , Mr and Mrs Chamberlain, Mr and Mrs Fisher . The candidates being put to the vote , there appeared to be 18 votes for Mr and Mrs Pyle , being a majority and they were duly elected at a salary of £80 and £ 20 . Resolved that they be allowed to fit up their own rooms .

Resolved that Roe be appointed Porter at £25 per year and that he be allowed the maintenance of his wife in the house , she making herself useful in the house .

Read a report regarding the damage , if any , to Mrs Poll`s mill . In the opinion of the Committee damage has been done to Mrs Poll`s mill and recommend that £100 be offered for the damage done .

Meeting 19th Oct 1837

Report of the building committee

Resolved that their committee is of the opinion that the house is very clearly completed in many instances but that the defects may be remedied without any hindrance to the house being occupied and that in the opinion of the committee the house although not finished may be accepted as soon as the necessaries and furniture can be got in .

Resolved that the committee are extremely dissatisfied with the inattention of the architect Mt Donthorn . Resolved that the architect be requested to attend the Union House on 26th October and that the committee meet here on that day and that the house is thoroughly examined at 10 o`clock precisely . Mr Donthorn and Mr Briggs being present agreed that the building should be forthwith completed and Mr Donthorn further stated that he did not consider any blame was attached to him as he had frequently given orders to Mr Briggs but that he could not get him to attend to them .

Resolved that a Diet table be considered at the next meeting . Resolved that books be ordered for the Union workhouse . Resolved that the Clerk write to the Poor Law Commissioners that the House would be completed in a week or two .

Meeting 26th Oct 1837

Resolved that a contract be entered into with Wendell Wenn for supplying the Union with Wallsend coal at £1.5.0 per ton. Resolved that Robert Meadows supply the Union with Pails at £1.8.0 per doz. Resolved that the first 6 ” of the wall on the east and north be made of concrete provided round stones are not used and that the clerk to the works look to this being properly done . . Moved that the tops and bottoms of the windows be embedded completely in the stonework . Moved that Mr Donthorn have power to put lead in the glazing of larger dimensions in lieu of embedding . Resolved that the issue pipes at the corner of the yards be of 3″ piping and that the Cistern head be made larger . That the committee is extremely surprised at the inattention of Mr Briggs in not completing the pipes in the washing places . That water spouts not put up be immediately completed . That the Urinals expressly ordered by Mr Donthorn not done . That the handrails to the stairs are not done , that the glass windows be completed , that the walls are many of them not flushed up fair . That there is a great deal more work to be completed the Committee cannot account for the slowness of the contractor . That some of the brick floors are in an unfinished state . The Committee recommend that a regular water closet be fitted for the Guardians . That the fire range in the Board room be not removed though not of proper size or quality . Moved that Mr Briggs be not compelled to remove the defective slate in the stone cistern but that £25 be returned in hand . Read a letter from the Poor Law Commissioners that the Royal Exchange Loan Office had declined advancing any further sums to Unions but that the Treasury would advance a loan to the Guardians of £4,250.

Meeting 2nd Nov 1837

Resolved that a contract be entered into with Mr True for a fender for the Board room at £1.8.0 and fire irons at 9/6d . Fire irons for the kitchen at 12/- , scullery fender 8/6d , poker and fire shovel 7/6d.

Meeting 9th Nov 1837

The Clerk reported that he had received a written undertaking from the contractor Mr Briggs to take possession of the Union Workhouse without prejudice to the Contract . Ordered that the Union Workhouse be insured for £3,000 . Ordered that the following system of Out door relief as suggested by Dr Kay be acted upon viz that on completion of the workhouse outdoor relief be continued and the following clauses 1) the aged 2) the infirm 3) indigent widows with families of children too young to work 4) indigent widows in the first 3 months of their widowhood 5) causes of accidents sickness and urgent need 6 ) that relief for paupers who are resident beyond the limits of the Union be discontinued except for the aged, infirm and sick .

Meeting 16th Nov 1837

Read a letter from Messrs Colman and Glendinning that the iron bedsteads were ready ordered be forthwith sent . Ordered that they send mats to each bed . Read an application from Mr Briggs that an advance of £350 be made . Resolved that no further money be advanced except on the certificate of Mr Donthorn. Ordered that the following Prayer books and testaments by the Christian Knowledge Society , 6 prayer books for the aged octavo , 30 for the young , 8 testaments for the aged, 12 for the young, 6 Bibles for the aged , 5 for the young .. Resolved that the Building Committee and the Board of Guardians meet next Thursday at the Union Workhouse and that the Clerk request the attendance of the Architect to have a report prepared of the progress of the house at 10 o`clock precisely . Ordered that the east wall be raised 2 ft .


copyright Lynn News and Advertiser, 1969.

Meeting 22nd Nov 1837

Meeting in the Board Room of the Union Workhouse . The building committee reported that the 28 beds examined by them had been found correct also the flannel sheeting and blankets . They had rejected the boys hats , the youths hats, also shrouds and hemp cloth as not according to contract . Report by Mr Donthorn states that the mass is finished but there are several little points to be done , overflow pipes , buckets in the well much too heavy , dining hall casements must be made to fit , gutter over the infirmary , stove in the Board room , chimney in the committee room , brick floors very uneven and need relaying ., ventilation to the ward over the laundry , iron rails to stair cases. It was agreed to accept the report that iron bars be placed in the windows next to the public road as required . Resolved that an advertisement be inserted in the Norfolk papers for a water closet and for what iron ware is required .

Meeting 30th Nov 1837

Read a letter from Dr Kay that he would wish to attend the Board in the house being fit for the reception of paupers.

Meeting 28th Dec 1837

Letter from Garneys Wales reporting that I certify that I have inspected the new workhouse and that all the rooms are fit for the reception of paupers with the exception of the north infirmary .

Ordered that the Refractory cells be made secure and the Dead House tiled and wall plastered

Chapter Four

Extracts from the Minute Book of the Board of Guardians of the Downham Union Workhouse from 1836.
Board of Guardians Minute Book C/GP/5/1 NRO


Howdale Home Teaspoon
English Copyright By kind permission of Mrs Lance

Meeting 5th Jan 1838

No person has permission to see any pauper in the workhouse except between the hours of 10 – 12 and 2 – 4 . Resolved that paupers of sound mind and paupers who are disorderly be placed in separate apartments and that they have cold diet and are separate for 2 days . That persons of sound mind who are refractory be placed in the refractory cells and have cold diet during the whole time they are confined .

Meeting 18th January 1838

The Chaplain respectfully requests ( the B of G) their acceptance of the Red Cloth and Lace fittings of the Desk appropriated for the performance of Divine Service in the Dining Hall .

Meeting 25th January 1838

Ordered that church catechisms , slates , pencils, writing books , and copies , pens , ink holders , doors for a cupboard in the school room . Ordered that tools of husbandry , knitting needles , tailors thimbles , tailors, shoemakers, carpenters, bricklayers tools be purchased £10 allotted .

Meeting 15th Feb 1838

The Committee are of the opinion that Mr Wales`s salary be reduced to £110. Moved that the Board pay Lynn Hospital £20 a year . Ordered that Mr Ross purchase what gardening seeds he may require and he submit a plan for the laying out of the land adjoining the House .

Meeting 15th March 1838

Ordered that Edmund Bacon be turned out of the House and that his son be left under the care of Mr Wales until he is well .

Meeting 26th March 1838

The Appointment of Maria Chamberlain to instruct the children in the duties of domestic servants . Application to be made to the parish of Downham for the price of the piece of land 150 foot in front of the Union Workhouse and in the event of the Guardians buying this land if the parish would sell the old workhouse and the site thereof and about 40 foot at the south end of the 150 foot .

The Rev Mr Bellamy requested the names of the 25 children alluded to in the pamphlet of the Rev Mr Musgrave as having never heard the Name of Christ .

Thomas Bacon, 8yrs, St Germains

Richard Norman , 6, Downham

Edward Chapman , 12, West Dereham

Thomas Barrows, 12, Magdalen

William Rungey, 12, Magdalen

William Welham , 10, Denver

James Rungay , 8, Magdalen

James Rogers, 11, Welney

Thomas Carpley , 5 , Welney

William Smith, 5, Denver

Mary Ann Edwards , 7, Denver

Martha Edwards, 6, Denver

Sarah Boyden , 5, Denver

Martha Smith , 7, Denver

Josiah Webster, 11, Denver

George Goodrum , 4, Stow Bardolph

James Griggs, 6, Magdalen

Elizabeth Stimpson, 7, Holme

Jane Stimpson, 5, Holme

Susan Clarke , 12, Holme

Ann Clerk , 8, Holme

Francis Clerk , 6, Holme

Elizabeth Rungey , 10 , Magdalen .

William , Joseph and Henry Pile , 10, 9 and 7 , Holbeach , under removal order from Downham .

List of Guardians elected 29th March 1838

Barton Bendish Mr James Bloomfield

Bexwell Alfred Muskett

Boughton Simeon Steward

Crimplesham John Negus

Denver George Wood

Downham West George Pass

Downham Market John Dixon, James Horton

Fincham Robert Wright

Fordham Charles James Kendle

Hilgay John Lansdale Milnes

Holme next Runcton Rev F Edwards

Marham Richard Thompson

Roxham Michael Pattern

Runcton South William Cambridge

Ryston Thomas Brown

Shouldham John Bird

Shouldham Thorpe John Brakenbury

Southery Frederick Robinson

Stoke Ferry John Flatt

Stow Bardolph John Bath

Stradsett John Merry

Tottenhill Thomas Allen

Wallington with Thorpland Robert Green

Watlington Robert Porter

Wereham William Des Forges

Wimbotsham William Betts

Wormegay Thomas Curtis

Wretton Francis King

Wiggenhall St Germans Jarman Patrick

Wiggenhall St Mary Magdalen John Whisler

Wiggenhall St Mary Henry Lane

Wiggenhall St Peter John Carter

Welney, Norfolk Rev Townley

Welney , Cambridge Gabriel Scott

Magistrates Guardians ex officio

Edward Roger Pratt, esq

William Bagge , esq

James Bradfield Sanders Bradfield, esq

Charles Berners Plestow, esq

William Lowton Jones, esq

Rev Arthur Loftus

Henry Villebois , esq

Moved that the several officers be continued in their offices for the ensuing year at the following salaries

Mr Edward Hett, clerk , £90

Mr Richard Salmon , Mr Thomas Negus Rose, Mr John Chamberlain , relieving officers for Downham, Fincham and Wiggenhall . £90

Mr Thomas Garneys Wales, surgeon to the Downham District Union Workhouse £130

Mr H B Steele, surgeon , Fincham District , £80

Mr Wm Johnson, surgeon, Magdalen district , £90

Rev Geo Musgrave, chaplain, £40

Mr Thomas Pyle , master, £80

Mrs Mary Ann Pyle, matron, £20

Mr William Ross, schoolmaster, £35

Miss Mary Chamberlain, instructor of female children £15

Mr Robert Roe, porter, and Mrs Roe, Assistant in the house , £25 .

Meeting 26th April 1838

Resolved that the clerk write to James Parker of Denver to maintain his mother and father .


Copyright Lynn News and Advertiser.

Meeting 3 May 1838

Resolved that the order for Mr Rose for the admission of Elizabeth Pollard and 5 children be confirmed .

It appears to this Board that the conduct both of Mr Ross and Miss Chamberlain has been most improper and that Miss Chamberlain had been seen to come out of the bedroom of Mr Ross between 2 and 3 in the morning of Monday last .

Moved that Mr Ross be suspended and Miss Chamberlan discharged .

Mr Pyle being called into the Board room stated as follows ” I heard about a fortnight ago rumours that Miss Chamberlain was frequently seen with Mr Ross. I spoke to Miss Chamberlain and cautioned her . I mentioned the matter to Mr Ross and cautioned him . He said if Miss Chamberlain would come she must take the consequences . Miss Chamberlain has frequently been in the schoolmaster`s room. I never saw Mr Ross turn her out of the room I have heard them laughing together in the room . Previous to Saturday night last I had no reason to suspect that anything improper was going on . I did not go into Mr Ross`s room on Saturday night but my wife did . On the Sunday night my wife appeared very uneasy and told me that Miss Chamberlain was in Mr Ross`s room . This was about 11 o`clock she told me she had locked Miss Chamberlain`s room door . I went to her own room and she was not there . I waited until about ½ past 2 o`clock and my wife got up and made a noise about and I heard a noise in Mr Ross`s room and as my wife was returning to bed, I heard Mr Ross`s door open and a short time after Miss Chamberlain came out . My wife followed her to her room . I have seen Mr Ross about the matter and he said he several times wished her to go out of the room , but that she would not go .. Since this Miss Chamberlain has been once or twice in to her room .”

Mrs Pyle being called said ” I went into Mr Ross`s room on Saturday night about 9 or 10 o`clock . Miss Chamberlain was standing by the fire . I said to her it was time she went to bed . She made no reply and Mr Ross made no reply . That on Saturday night I followed Miss Chamberlain upstairs and her clothes were disordered and in my opinion criminal intercourse had taken place .

Mr Ross being called denies that he has had any criminal intercourse and has frequently told Miss Chamberlain to leave his room .

Miss Chamberlain stated that Mr Ross did not tell her to go out . Mr Ross promised to marry me and Mr Ross never took liberties with me . “

Meeting 10th May 1838 ( with 24 Board Members )

The minutes of the last meeting relating to the conduct of Mr Ross and Miss Chamberlain were here read to the meeting and the letter from the Poor Law Commissioners to the Board and one from Mr Pyle to the Poor Law Commissioners were read to the Board by the Chairman .

Poor Law Commissioners, Somerset House, 8th May 1838

Sir, The PLC of England and Wales have received the letter of the Clerk to the Downham Union dated 3 May relating to the dismissal of Miss Chamberlain the schoolmistress and the suspension of Mr Ross the schoolmaster at the Workhouse at Downham .

The Commissioners desire to be guided by the Board of Guardians and accordingly sanction and approve their resolutions and determine that the functions of Mr Ross as schoolmaster are at an end . In reference to the evidence on which the decision of the Board is founded and in justice to all parties the Commissioners desire to draw the attention of the Board to the following letter received from Mr Pyle , Master of the Workhouse .


copyright Ben Rutterford.

Downham Market, May 4th


An Unpleasant Affair has happened in Our Union Workhouse respecting Mr Ross and the schoolmistress which has unsettled the whole house especially as Mr Ross is very respected by all inmates of the house and I have no doubt that this is a laid plot by the girl as she is reported to be in the family way before she came here . What leads me to think so is her always seeking his company and his shunning her and turning her out of his apartment . What induces me to take this step in writing to you is to prevent any hasty means to deprive him of his situation and character – as to the girl`s character it cannot be much hurt as there was a stain on it before she came here . I think it will be only fair to Mr Ross if Dr Kay to take the matter in evidence which I have no doubt it will finish in Mr Ross holding his situation and his previous good character .

I am , gentlemen, Yours respectfully , Thos. Pyle, Governor.

Resolved unanimously that Mr Pyle has taken an independent and incorrectly step toward this Board in writing to the Poor Law Commissioners without the knowledge of this Board and that Mr Pyle has therefore been reprimanded by the Chairman .

Board members voted 6 to keep Mr Ross , 20 against .

Mr Ross`s dismissal confirmed .

The Clerk to write to Dr Kay requesting his assistance in procuring for the Union an efficient schoolmaster and mistress from the model school of Edinburgh with a small or no incumbrance and a joint salary of £50 per annum .

Ordered that the order of the Chairman for the admission of Richard Matthews of Hilgay and Jane his wife, William Gounge of Fincham into the Union House be confirmed. The following letter from Mr Ross to the Clerk was read , ” Sir, having resolved to quit this scene immediately and finding you were not at home , I have left in the hands of Mr Pyle , my account as it stands between the Board and me . By your presenting the same on Thursday and when paid , paying the amounts after reducting £2.17s6d., for the account Mr Pyle has at the Bank of Mr Gurney in Downham to be payable at Barclays Bank as I can then draw it immediately upon arriving in Edinburgh through my friends . You will exceedingly oblige your obedient servant Wm Ross . PS the money payable to William Ross`s account .”

Meeting 17th May 1838

Ordered that a contract be entered into with Bennett and Goose for a mangle for the sum of £11 to be 6ft 6ins long and 3ft wide.

Meeting 31st May 1838

It has been represented to this Board by Mr Pyle that H Fendike, employed as Cook in the Union Workhouse had feloniously taken away some meat and sugar out of the workhouse . Ordered that she be discharged and that her wages be at once be paid and that she be prosecuted for felony .

Meeting 7th June 1838

Appointment of Mr Dunlop and wife from Glasgow Normal School , (B of G) stated he had a larger family than they would have wished – the Board would prefer to receive a man and wife having only two children .

Meeting 14th June 1838

The Master reported that Elizabeth Clarke and 5 children had been admitted into the house by the order of Mr Chamberlain and Elijah Dammet by the order of Mr Salmon ordered that their admissions be confirmed .

Meeting 21st June 1838

Orders were signed consenting to the purchase of the pieces of land in front of the Union Workhouse at the sum of £100 .

Meeting 5th July 1838

Ordered that the Clerk write to the Poor Law Commissioners appraising them of the arrival on Thursday week last of the schoolmaster and mistress, Mr Archibald Dunlop and wife .

Meeting 2nd August 1838

Resolved that Elizabeth Butler an aged and infirm person be allowed to go to Mrs Brown the Master of the Old Downham Workhouse tomorrow after dinner and return by half past 7.


copyright Ben Rutterford. 

Meeting 9th August 1838

Resolved that Mrs Pyle be allowed to visit her friends for a fortnight .

Meeting 30th August 1838

Ordered that Elizabeth Salter be allowed to go into service to Mr Page of Stow Fen ; to have 5/- wages and clothes . Ordered that William Linstead be allowed to go into service with Mr Smith, White Hart, as ostler, to have what he can make .

Mr Pyle reported that 4 of the boys viz J Cann, J Tufts , James Eggett and John Ollett had run away and that they had be returned except J Cann.

NRO ref C /GP. 5/ 2 .

13th Dec 1838 ( C/GP/5/2)

” Moved an application to be made to the Poor Law Commissioners for an authority to apprentice out to shoemakers or tailors the following persons :- William Wellam aged 19 ( an orphan and a dwarf) belonging to the parish of Denver . Henry Tingay , aged 13 ( father dead mother dying of consumption ) belonging to the parish of Stoke Ferry and Samuel Page , aged 13 subject to fits , (father dead) belonging to the parish of Watlington”.

” Moved by Mr Press for permission to take into the workhouse for 3 months , two of the children of Robert Bushel of West Dereham a pauper at 12/- per week and at home family consists of himself , his wife, and 6 children oldest 9 years of age the wife expecting to be confined any day . Mr Press stated that he believed the family were starving and that they would not be able to get anyone to assist them in her confinement for want of means . ( aged 76) “

” Resolved that the Poor in the workhouse have roast beef and plumb pudding on Christmas day .”

31st Jan 1839

” Resolved that the Board are very surprised that Mr Johnson has entered in his Medical book the family of Leator (Leates ? ) Of Stow Bardolph cured of the Itch when they appears to be still very bad . “

7th Feb 1839

” Resolved unanimously that for the future the rules and regulations of this Board made 10 Jan 1838 to disorderly and refractory persons be strictly adhered to and that the Master receive no further authority . “

” Moved by Mr Reed that Mr Pyle for the future keeps a journal of all punishment conduct and transactions of this house so far as the paupers are concerned . “

” A letter dated 5th Feb 1839 from the Rev Henshaw presents to the Board that Henry Merry who died at Southery on 1st last was discharged from this workhouse and furnished with the sum of 1/- toward proceeding on a journey to Ditton in Cambridgeshire the poor man being otherwise destitute feeble and an invalid and that he reached Southery at the end of three days in a state of great exhaustion . “

” Mr Pyle and several paupers having appeared before the Board stated most distinctly that the pauper was not discharged but went out of his own account and further that Mr Pyle only a fortnight before he went persuaded him not to go out for the present and that in their opinion the pauper was able to leave the house .”


copyright Ben Rutterford.

25th March 1839

” Board of Guardians elected

Barton Bendish James Blomfield

Bexwell Alfred Muskett

Boughton Wm Steward

Crimplesham John Negus

Denver Capt Geo Wood

Downham West James Ollett

Downham Market John Dixon, Robert Steel Wright

Fincham Wm Hebgin

Hilgay John Lansdale Milne

Holme next Runcton Rev F Edwards

Marham Wm Lang

Runcton South Wm Cambridge

Ryston Thomas Brown

Shouldham David Brown

Shouldham Thorpe John Brackenbury

Southery –

Stoke Ferry Robert Flatt

Stow Bardolph John Harrison

Stradsett Edward Newman

Tottenhill William Allflatt

Wallington with Thorpland Thomas Butters

Watlington Robert Porter

Wereham Edmund Crowe

Wimbotsham Richard Garahan

Wormegay Thomas Curtis

Wretton Henry Townley

Wiggenhall St Germans James Patrick junr

Wiggenhall St Mary Mag John Whisler

Wiggenhall St Mary George Moncton

Wiggenhall St Peter John Hall

Welney , Norf Rev Townley

Welney , Cambs John James

Magistrates Guardians ex officio

Edward Roger Pratt, esq ; William Bagge, esq ; James Bradfield , esq; Charles B Plestow , esq ; William Lawton Jones , esq ; The Rev Arthur Loftus ; Henry Villebois .

April 1839

“Ordered that if George Adderson does not take his children out of the Union workhouse he be apprehended and sent to Swaffham .”

April 1839

” Ordered that tenders be advertised for the laying of a tunnel from the Cess Pool on the south western corner of this house to the highway . “

May 1839

” The Porter for the future not to sell the swill and bones and that Mr Pyle sell the same and hands the amount over to the hand of the Treasurer . “

May 1839

” It having been reported that Maria Johnson an inmate of the House had charged Mr Pyle with improper criminal conduct . A charge having been preferred by Susan Addison of improper conduct to her by the Master Mr Pyle . A further charge was also brought against Mr Pyle that Elizabeth Fretwell was in the family way by the master . Charges were partly investigated and ordered to be taken into further consideration by the Board .”


copyright Ben Rutterford. 

May 1839

” The Guardians investigated the charges brought by Maria Johnson and Susan Addison and also investigated the truth of the statement by Elizabeth Fretwell as to her being in the family way by Mr Pyle After the examination of witnesses the Guardians came to the unanimous opinion that the charges against Mr Pyle had fallen to the ground but that he had been extremely lax in the discipline of the house . “

May 1839

” Ordered that Elizabeth Fretwell take her child Rebecca Fretwell belonging to West Dereham out of the house and if she refused to do so have an order made for the house . “

” Mr Milnes having read a letter from Mr Clive Auditor stating that he intended to investigate the charges against Mr Pyle .”

” Resolved that it is the opinion of this Board that the charges having once been investigated by the Board and of which investigation Mr Clive had notice , it is most extraordinary that a further investigation be attempted by Mr Clive in the absence of Guardians and Mr Clive have notice that the Guardians object .”

June 1839

” Resolved that Application may be made to the Poor Law Commissioners that Mr Pyle and Mrs Pyle be continued in Office until the end of the next quarter ending Sept next .”

June 1839

“Resolved that the Clerk take the necessary steps for pulling down the Old Workhouses in front of the Union Workhouse and selling the material . Tenders for £14 accepted Juler and Flatman ..”

June 1839

“Read a letter from the Poor Law Commissioners stating that from the laxity of the discipline of the house under Mr Pyle the Commissioners think it is entirely inconsistent wit their duty to permit Mr Pyle to continue any longer as Master of the workhouse and that they therefore request that he may be called upon to resign his office at the Close of the present quarter and that if he should refuse to do so the Commissioners would then have no alternative left but to issue an order for his dismissal . “

July 1839

“Ordered that the boy Hill of Wereham go to Norwich for the purpose of having a wooden leg at a sum not exceeding 30/- . “

July 1839

“Letter to the Poor Law Commissioners ` the Guardians respectfully but earnestly hope that the Poor Law Commissioners will reconsider the case of the Master of the Downham Union Workhouse . The Board of Guardians having acquitted the Master of all charges brought against him are of opinion that alone the charge of laxity of discipline could not be sufficient – and grant Mr Pyle a further trial of six months . “

3 July 1839

” Letter received from the Poor Law Commissioners , Somerset House. To say they will agree to keep Mr Pyle on to the end of the current quarter ( they deem the period long ) to allow the board to find a successor . ” ” Mr Pyle appeared and ordered to resign. “

August 1839

” Letter received from the Poor Law Commissioners to say they would not alter their opinion as to Mr Pyle`s resignation and could not permit him to resume the same .”

September 1839

” Candidates for the Office of Master and Mistress : Mr and Mrs King, Mr and Mrs Swann, Mr and Mrs Rose , Mr and Mrs Chamberlain . For Mr and Mrs Rose , 18 ( votes) , for Mr and Mrs Chamberlain , 4, Mr and Mrs King, 1 . Further resolved that Mr and Mrs Rose should have 2 children with them but to pay 2/6d a week for one of them . Salary Master, £80, Mistress , £20 . Resolved that the Clerk advertise for a Relieving Officer . “

October 1839

” The Poor Law Commissioners approve the appointment of Mr and Mrs Rose at salary of £80 and £25 ( as written) .”

” Ordered that the ceiling of the cooking copper be covered with wood, zinc or copper and that a tender for same be sent in . “

October 1839

” Ordered that a piece of wood be put on the top of the Cess Pool in the front of the workhouse ,

” Ordered that a man be employed to clean out the privvies .”

October 1839

” A check for coffins and funerals to Mr Pyle , £3.10.0 . A check for wine for the paupers to Mr Pyle , £5 7.8d . A check to Mr Pyle for labour mending clothes, £22 1.0. A check to Mr Wake for lunatics , £24
10.0 . A check to Mr Pyle for labour £10.10.0 .”


               What follows concerns the Denver workhouse , prior to the PLAA , in 1825 but is worth recording here to illustrate further the way in which the ancient parish care worked . A letter was sent on 7th Dec 1825 from Christ Church Spitalfields parish overseers of the poor , to Denver overseers.   ” We the churchwardens are requested to inform you that Charles Welham and family belonging to your parish , made application to us in consequence of his wife being very ill and no person to attend on her or children. We were under the necessity of taking her and four children into our Workhouse having obtained an Order of Removal bearing date November 12th 1825 which Order was suspended as her Life at that time was despaired of  but our Apothecary now considers her out of danger and likely to recover .  the husband states that he was ill some little time since and you sent him and family up relief , he works for Mr King , Pork Butcher and has eight shillings a week and his board  – we submit this to your consideration whether you wish us when the woman is able to travel to remover her together with the Husband and children down to you , or reimburse the expense we may have been at. and let the man continue in the situation he now holds , we therefore solicit your early attention and Answer to this letter . Gentlemen , your compliance with the above , will much oblidge  (sic) Yours , most respectfully , Joseph Adkin churchwarden . ”

Further to this , there is a Charles Welham buried in Denver July 1832 , no age given and a marriage of a Charles Welham to Mary Lubbock in Fincham , he is described as of Denver , in 1818 .   There are four baptisms found for William , Elizabeth , Mary and Ann in both Denver and Fincham , between 1825 and 1832 . It is possible that other children may have been born in Spitalfields between the marriage in 1818 and 1825 , but that only 4 survived as of 1825 .

At almost the end of WW1 ,  this report written possibly in anticipation of the end of the war and the demobilisation of tens of thousands of men , wounded mentally and physically , and their impact on their families and the welfare system .

The Daily Telegraph London , Thursday , January 26th 1917.

End of the Workhouse

New System of Relief .

A far reaching social reform is proposed in the report that has been presented to the Ministry of Reconstruction by the Local Government Committee on the Poor Law . Briefly they recommend no less than the abolition of the workhouse and the complete tranference of the functions of the guardians to other bodies uner the contdrol of the municipal authorities . Their main proposals may be shortly stated as follows .

Workhouse Inmates

Children of school age to be placed under the control of the local education committees . Lunatics and mental deficients to be placed in charge of the already existing Mental Deficiency Committees of county and borough councils.

Mothers with children , the aged and the infirm to be entrusted to the care of health committees based on the existing authorities , which look after public health , with some changes to secure economy and prevent overlapping .

Outdoor relief

Families in need of assistance to be in the care of District Home Assistance Committees under the supervision of large councils .

Able bodied men and women unemployed and in distress to be taken charge of by Prevention of Unemployment and Training Committees appointed by the elected councils , whose duty it will be to look after these persons as part of the general business of preventing unemployment and of fitting people to do the work they are best able to do

It is pointed out that the changes involved by the abolition of the workhouse can all be made without creating any new committees or sets of officials and that they will mean a saving in time as well as in the use of buildings some of which are overcrowded and some empty . For the proposals as a whole is is claimed that they are well calculated to dovetail easily into any scheme of social reform that may be established in the future .

Stigma of the Poor Law

In arriving at the conclusion that an end ought to be made of the existing system , the committee have taken account of sentiment as well as of facts . Popular feeling , which has grown stronger in recent years, is that working men and their families should not be forced to go to a Poor Law authority if they are in need of help . There may be no reason for this feeling where guardians and their officers treat the people with consideration but the feeling sprang up in the days of a harsh Poor Law system such as was pictured by Dickens and that feeling survives to this day . With sentiment , therefore the workhouse should go .

But looking at the facts of the case, the same conclusion is reached by a different route . Poor Law guardians today , hard and well as they may work , are trying to do too much . It has been all to the good that in recent years they have paid so much attention to the treatment of sick persons , the care of mothers and infants , the education of children , the nursing and attendance of the feeble minded , the harmless lunatics and the aged persons , who all find a place in the general “mixed workhouse” . But on top of these duties there is all the work connected with outdoor relief , which takes the form of money , goods or visits by a doctor ; there is the work of looking after the casual ward , the only place both for the genuine working man who is out of a job and for the habitual tramp , who has been “ on the road “ for years , and there are a number of other duties such as the assessment of rates, the regulation of public vaccination , and the registration of births and deaths .

All these tasks , the normal work of the guardians are more than enough the committee contends for any single body of men . But they are not yet all Recent years have brought one social reform after another and someone has had to carry out the arrangements. As public feeling has been against any “stigma of the Poor Law “ attaching to those services, the guardians have been passed over …. Independent authorities have been created to administer pensions, insurance , the relief of distress , separaton allowances and all this time the guardians have gone on with their work , which often covers much the same ground .

Distress and Unemployment

With regard to the distribution and supervision of help given to people in their own homes , the committee remark that the advantages of bringing these forms of assistance into the knowledge of a single body are obvious Nothing is more irksome to the person who honestly asks for help than the stream of inspectors and philanthropists : visitors which at once beings to flow into his house. Nothing leads to more harm than the fact that a dishonest person is able to obtain help from half a dozen places at the same time because no single body knows what the others may be doing for him . Hence the proposal that the elected councils should set up Home Assistance Committees whose duty it would be to act as a centre of information concerning each families wants .

If the committees proposals were carried out the Poor Law guardians would , of course , disappear . It is therefore proposed that when the mass of duties which now fall on the guardians is distributed among the committees , provision should be made for securing the services of experienced guardians on the committees , and for employing or compensating Poor Law Servants .




Please contact me, Elizabeth, at My email address

Please contact me, Elizabeth, at My email address

Bridge Street, Downham 1840/41

A walk through Bridge Street. Soon after 9 am on Thursday , 10th June 1841 , 33 year old solicitor Edward Hett, left his elegant double fronted house in Bridge St , and made his way  across Market Place to the High St. It was raining and he was anxious to get to the Union Workhouse before the gentlemen of the Board of Guardians arrived and without his file of papers being soaked . The weekly meeting was scheduled to start at 10 in the forenoon. The first planning and building meetings had taken place in the upper room of the Castle Inn, but since its opening , the Guardians had met in the grand fireplaced, half panelled Board Room over the front entrance of the Workhouse .
Edward had lived in Downham for a number of years ; he had been appointed solicitor and clerk to the Board of Guardians of the newly opened Union Workhouse . He was the minute taker of the meetings and general clerk attending to the business of the workhouse , his neat sloping handwriting filling page after page of the thick Minute book . He had married well . His wife was Julia daughter of the Rev Charles Mann of Southery , and on this June morning she was expecting their second child. Edward`s salary of £100 per year allowed the family to employ four live in servants .
Edward had been articled to Wm Nanson, solicitor of Carlisle by his mother Elizabeth Hett of Bawtry in 1826 , and in 1835 he in turn was asked by Fidelia Blackborn of Wisbech to take on her son Edward as an articled clerk for five years.
Edward Hett`s subsequent career after he left Downham sometime after 1841 was unexpectedly varied and unusual . By 1851 Edward and Julia were living with Charles Furtado , singing master, in Camberwell . But before Camberwell , in April 1850 , he advertised his “residence in Bridge St …on a two acre site….to let….with 6 best bedrooms , a water closet, stabling for 4 horses, granary , brewhouse and a walled garden ” In 1861 he and Julia were in Newcastle under Lyme , and he was an earthenware manufacturer, master, employing 56 men, 41 boys, 52 women and 7 girls. Ten years later they are back in Camberwell and after Julia`s death Edward decided to become a Feather merchant aged 72 . His will of 1892 showed that he left a net estate of £12 .
Edward Hett`s next door neighbour , to the left, was John Powell , the 40 year old owner/occupier of the historic Crown Inn . John died very young aged 43 in 1849 and ” a large number of townsfolk attended the funeral ” It was a sizeable inn, including stabling for 40 horses, piggeries, cowsheds and a walled bowling green . This last may still exist at the back of the Conservative Club . At 9 am on Thursday morning the Union coach from King`s Lynn would have left some half hour earlier from the Swan on its way to London , and the Market Place would no doubt have still been busy John and Sarah Powell and their four working age children would be about the daily chores of the inn . The Inn then as now was a long inconvenient building and needed many hands to keep it ready for its customers and the Royal Mail coach from London would be in to Downham at half past 6 that evening .
To the right of the Hetts , another big family rented a substantial house , called Eagle House, further down Bridge St away from Market Place , and these were the Pattersons. Both born in Ireland , James was a 37 year old surgeon and married with four children . Also in his household was his assistant surgeon , 20 year old Thomas Hall . Despite being born in Ireland , all James` medical qualifications were from Edinburgh and he continued to live in Bridge St into the 1850s. It may have been that James Patterson had hoped to be appointed medical officer to the Union workhouse but that post had been taken by the local doctor Thomas Wales . It is also possible that Edward Hett`s brother Alexander another surgeon , had hoped to be appointed to the Union workhouse , but maybe the Board of Guardians had felt uncomfortable with Alexander`s American medical degree and his French wife .
But the Pattersons too were on the move and by 1854 James had sold his horses and carriages and his furniture because he was emigrating to Australia .
The Patterson`s landlord John Houchen was a gentleman farmer and landowner of Wereham , though this one property in Bridge St seemed to be his only investment in Downham , he owned other property in the villages around .
Tucked in behind the Pattersons was Charles Bunkall , a 30 year old tailor , his wife Mary and their new baby William , all born in Downham.
Charles William and Mary Ann (Carter) were married in Downham in 1840 and Eli William was born in the early days of 1841 Charles William born 1806 was one of several children of Barker Bunkall and Sarah his wife. Barker and another son Henry were tailors and drapers in High St and Lynn Road . Also in this small group of buildings was William Steggals , born 1809 in Northwold . He was a saddler and later a collar and harness maker . He married Elizabeth Crisp in 1835 at St Edmunds, and by 1841 they had two young daughters and a son.. Another neighbour was John Long, a 40 year old police officer, one of the first in Downham , his wife Elizabeth and their daughter Matilda who earned her living by dressmaking , and possibly Matilda`s daughter Matilda Worby aged 4 .
The next house and buildings in Bridge St were owned by the 72 yr old Rev Henry Say , who lived at Swaffham , a widower and recently bereaved of his son the Rev Thomas Henry at only 29 years old . The Rev Henry was an educated man having attended Trinity College, Oxford in the 1780s . He was the son of William Say and Elizabeth Bell of Wallington , and the brother of Col. William Say . The premises were tenanted by William Bennett ., and consisted of a house plus four tenements and gardens . William was a bricklayer and had married the young Mary Lee of Stow Bardolph in 1829 , she was described as a minor and had been baptised in 1812 the daughter of Thomas and Elizabeth Lee . In just twelve years of marriage , William and Mary have four sons and a daughter .
Of the house and buildings and four tenements , apart from Wm Bennett, there lived Matthew and Margaret Horsley , an 80 year old brother and 78 yr old sister both born in South Lynn , but in their long retirement living in Bridge St . Matthew Coats Horsley married Isabel Phelps in Canterbury in 1809 , and their daughters Jane and Isabel were born in 1814 and 1816 and baptised at South Lynn . In Pigots Directory of 1839 Matthew Coats Horsley was listed amongst the gentry . .However the London Gazette reported that in 1804 due to the bankruptcy of George Gowan , Thomas Gowan and Matthew Coats Horsley were the principal creditors and were described as merchants of Calcutta . Matthew and Margaret`s father another Matthew Horsley had been a farmer and grazier in King` Lynn and had left a considerable estate . Possibly as a result of the turmoil of the riots of 1816 , Matthew sold up his farming stock and implements at Marsh House, South Lynn in 1817 . He would have been in his late 50s . In 1820 he dissolved the partnership he had with Edward Mugridge , they were “Chymists” . As late as the beginning of the 20th C , Jane, Matthew and Isabel`s older daughter died at a great age, as her father had done, and left £12,000. She and her father spanned three centuries, he was born in 1760 and she died in 1903 . Jane was commemorated in the churchyard at Downham .
So it is perhaps odd that the Horsleys were renting property in Downham rather than owning their house . Next to the Horsleys was John Clarke, a 42 year old baker , with his wife Sarah and their three children , John , William and Eliza . Another old lady , 81 year old Elizabeth Shinn, lived next door to the Clarkes with her unmarried 38 year old daughter Sarah who was a dressmaker .
Then in the next substantial house and garden , as owner occupier lived George Mumford . By June 1841 he was a man of consequence and had lifted himself above the trade of tanner to the status of wool and seed merchant .. He married Sarah Garnham at St Edmunds in 1824. For the baptisms in St Edmunds of all his children in the 1820s he was a tanner but by the publication of the 1839 Pigots Trade Directory he was a man of many parts . He was agent for the East of England bank , a maltster and a surveyor . He also became trustee with Robert Winearls of Marham , to the estate of John Bush, farmer of Stow Bardolph . The estate was put in trust in order to pay the creditors of John Bush ; this was 1841 and George Mumford was described as a farmer . Of his four children , both Sarah Louisa and Fanny Maria married , but sadly his son George Richard died in 1845 at just 20 years old . George Mumford was the brother of Charles Mumford who was also a surveyor and perhaps the railway coming to Downham in the mid 1840s had brought the brothers here. George lived next door to William Chapman`s property tenanted by the James family . This William Chapman may be the same as the 60 year old William who was living with his wife Sarah in Church Lane . He was described as a farmer ; and he may have been born 1781 the son of the William Chapman in the 1791 tax assessment who was the owner of a tan yard A tan yard close by the Market Place where cattle were regularly for sale , and where several butchers plied their trade, would seem likely and it may well have existed behind Bridge St , in Chapman`s Yard . In the 1841 census this seems to be an alleyway between Alexander James family house and the premises of Wright Daines, basket maker .
Tanneries were noted for their appalling smell and mess and were usually sited away from residential property for this reason . However as Downham grew and spread it may be that by 1841 the tannery became surrounded by dwellings and people . Maybe Alexander James who lived next to the Mumfords was able to bear the tannery . Alexander was born in Woolwich in 1792 probably the son of an Army family . He married Mary Bowles in Great Yarmouth in 1814 Their first two children Alexander and Mary Ann were born in Great Yarmouth which must have been Alexander`s first posting as an excise officer . Later children, and ten are still living at home in 1841 , were born in Holt , Wymondham and Downham . Sometime between 1841 and 1851 Alexander retired to London .
Between the James family , tenants of William Chapman , and the home of Wright Daines, was Chapman`s Yard down which some 40 people lived , so it must have had a considerable number of tenements and buildings . Perhaps they had been developed out of the disused tannery which might have moved further out of town .
Wright Daines lived in the first of six dwellings beyond Chapman`s yard. However on the Tithe map apportionment there are only two houses between Alexander James and the White Hart , yet the census shows six separate households which may not be the same as six separate houses . Wright Daines was born in 1806 in Carbrooke the son of Sarah Daines . No father`s name was given which perhaps suggests that Wright was illegitimate . With the family in the 1841 census is 60 year old Sarah Thompson . She may have no relationship to either of them , as a Sarah Daines married in St Edmunds in 1810 to John Heffer , a widower. Wright married Harriot Haylett in Great Dunham in 1826 and their four surviving children were with them in Bridge St .. Wright was a basket maker .
Next to the Daines was Francis Mace , his wife and four grown up children . Francis was a 44 year old gardener born in South Runcton in 1794 . Mary Fuller was his wife and they married in 1815 , their youngest son James was also a gardener but their 23 year old son William was a brazier , a skilled craft worker in brass . The name Francis Mace appears in the lists of Unlocated Downham pubs in 1836 ,1845 and 1854 as licensee of an unnamed pub in Bridge St . Francis and Mary are both in the cemetary of St Edmunds church, he died in 1875 aged 82 and she died in 1865 aged 48.
The unusually named Thomas Withnoe , was the occupier of the premises next to Francis Mace . The Withnoes were not without troubles in their lives. Thomas was 34 , born in March , Cambs , in 1808 , and had been imprisoned for Debt in Lincoln Gaol. The Stamford Mercury of Friday 11th March 1836, under the heading Insolvent Debtors , reports Thomas Withnoe, the younger, formerly of Long Sutton , following no employment, then of March , schoolmaster, then of 2 Johnsons Ct, Fleet St , London, journeyman printer, since of March , schoolmaster`s assistant , afterward of Long Sutton, schoolmaster, and late of the same , printer , bookbinder and stationer . In 1841 he is simply a printer and stationer .
But there was good with the bad and earlier in the Stamford Mercury of Friday , 5th Feb , 1830, “On Monday se`night, at Long Sutton, Mr Thomas Withnoe , son of Mr Withnoe , schoolmaster of March , to Mary Daffern, widow of Mr Daffern , blacksmith, of the same place , married .” Mary Daffern had been Mary Warwick , and had married William Daffern in 1827 only for him to die a year later aged 40. Later in the summer of 1830 Thomas Withnoe`s mother died aged 47, wife of Mr Thomas Withnoe of March , schoolmaster . It would appear that the elder Thomas Withnoe had also found life a struggle , and the Cambridge Chronicle of June 1827 reports , that the said Thomas has assigned by Indenture , all his household furniture , stock in trade, and all his personal estate and effects whatsoever to George Ball of March , fellmonger, and Thomas Elliott of the same, yeoman, for the benefit of his creditors . Thomas`s daughter 19 year old Mary Ann`s death appears in the Bury and Norwich Post of April the same year . The same solicitor who dealt with this , Edmund Barley , also dealt with the conclusion of this case, in 1835 when Thomas Withnoe`s estate is advertised for the creditors thereof to contact Edmund Barley . Thomas Withnoe senior was described as deceased .
Hard to live with, these business failures were reported not only in the local papers , but in the London Gazette of 1841 Thomas was described as of Downham Market , printer and stationer , as well as newspaper agent , and licenced dealer in tobacco and cigars There also was a mention of Thomas Withnoe as licencee of the fancifully named pub , the Lady of the Lake , in Bridge St , King`s Lynn in 1846 . Mary Withnoe , his long suffering wife , died aged 50 in Long Sutton in 1849 and two years later in 1851 Thomas himself is a lodger and widower living in Albert St , Wisbech . His daughter Mary appeared in the 1861 census living with her uncle Thomas Warwick , and his daughter Eliza appeared in the 1851 census as a servant in a household in March . After his wife`s death , Thomas seemed to have moved to Dudley in Worcestershire, he was there in 1858 when he returned to administer the estate of £50 of his late wife Mary . No reason was given for the 9 year gap between her death and his administration . Thomas survived until 1860 when he died in Dudley , Worcs. But saddest of all was the death of Thomas`s small son Tom aged 5 in 1841 who was buried aged 8 in St Edmunds in 1843. .
Another incomer with aspirations lived next door to the Withnoes . Robert Newman Murrell had been born in 1806 in Covent Garden , and married Catherine Whincop in St Nicholas, King`s Lynn , in 1832 . He described himself variously in the registers of South Lynn and King`s Lynn for each of his children`s baptisms . He was a writer of Valengers Road, or a mail guard , and by the mid 1830s , he was an attorney`s clerk and remained that or solicitor`s clerk for the rest of his life ..He lived in Bridge St with his family , elegantly named children Ashley , Robert Debenham, Sophia Whincop , from the 1841 census to his death in 1872. Both Robert and Catherine were buried in St Edmunds churchyard , he in 1872 and she in 1877
For Sarah Carter, living next to the Murrells , the busiest days of the week were Tuesday and Saturday . She and her only son William had inherited the carrier business in Bridge St from her late husband Isaac who died in 1838. For William this meant carrying goods and passengers to King`s Lynn on Tuesday , Thursday and Saturday , whilst his mother Sarah , was carrier to Wisbech on Saturdays, to Norwich and Swaffham and East Dereham each Tuesday . Of Sarah`s four daughters , two were already working as dressmaker and bonnet maker , and after Sarah`s death in 1849 , and perhaps not coincidentally three years into the new railway line carrying passengers and goods from King`s Lynn to Downham and further afield , they and their brother moved to Lynn Road , he taking a beer house to keep himself and his family .
Next to Chapman`s Yard and back in Bridge St ,was a barn, yard and field owned by Thomas Harris . This would have been the Thomas Harris who was described as a farmer, living in High St with his family , 27 year old Maria and a 16 month old baby , Albert , and the same Thomas Harris owner of the Castle Inn .
The last house before the White Hart , was owned by Philip Winearls and tenanted by Charles Mumford . Charles was born in 1804 in Lavenham and became a surveyor . His principal work was the Tithe maps and apportionments for many of the villages around Downham. He married in 1825 Louisa Woolnough in Sibton , Suffolk . In the 1841 census their four small children were living in Bridge St with their young governess Fanny Allcock, and two live in girl servants Lydia and Sally Banham .
On this June day , their parents Charles and Louisa Mumford were away in Ufford in Suffolk . Three days after the census , on the 9th June, Louisa Mumford`s father John, gent, died in Ufford . The four Woolnough siblings had gathered together in the family home for this sad event with Charles having to lodge with a next door neighbour for the time being . The Winearls and Mumfords were both interested in education. By 1851 young Charles aged 12 was away at boarding school in Fakenham with two Winearls sons. The previously mentioned George Richard Mumford son of George and Sarah , was also at the same school in Norwich Road, Fakenham in the 1841 census .
The Winearls were of Shouldham Thorpe and Marham , in particular Robert Winearls had owned the Smock mill at Marham and Philip who was a farmer at Shouldham . Philip and his wife are buried in St Edmunds in 1874 and 1883 respectively .
The White Hart inn was owned by Arthur Morse a scion of the Morse brewing family of Swaffham . Prior to 1822 the inn had been called the Whalebone and George Morse put it up for sale in 1847 when it was taken over by Stewart and Patteson In 1841 the licencee was John Capron or Capurn Brown . He was born c 1800 the son of John and Mary Brown (Wright) and married Jane Smith at St Edmunds in 1832 . He also appears to have been licensee of the Bridge Inn in Downham West for a short period and maybe it was whilst travelling across the bridge between the two pubs , that he fell and was drowned . John and Jane had four young children living at home in the White Hart as well as four ” dealers ” and two families of Irish hawkers , 21 people in all .
According to the Tithe apportionment and map , Oxley English owned the first house beyond the White Hart and his tenant was Edward Clark a 42 year old baker. However there is a John and Elizabeth Willimott on the census between the White Hart and the bakers . It may be that this John Willimott who was a hairdresser , somehow took over the running the White Hart in 1845 – 1847 to fill the gap between the death of John Capurn Brown and the sale in 1847 by George Morse , but he was certainly the licensee in 1847. John Willimott was the son of another John Willimott who was also a hairdresser, and married Elizabeth Ranson daughter of William Ranson , miller, at St Edmunds in 1840.
Oxley English who owned the bakers was born in 1810 and baptised at St Nicholas , King`s Lynn . He was the son of John and Mary English and in the 1851 census was still living in King`s Lynn with a footman and a house servant ; he described himself as a timber merchant . However after his death in 1884 , his will stated that he was of 19 Pall Mall and his executors were Sir Lewis Whincop Jarvis , knt , of King`s Lynn and William Floyd of Middlesex , the latter was almost certainly a relative of Oxley`s mother Mary Floyd who had married John English in Swaffham in 1802 . He left a shade over £139,000 .
Edward Clark , baker and miller , tenant of Oxley English , was born in Shouldham around 1799 , and Clarinda his wife at Stradsett . She was Clarinda daughter of John and Margaret Harper of Stradsett born 1798 . By 1841 they had 7 children all girls apart from 8 year old George, and by 1851 had a further two daughters .
The next group of houses was owned by Zachariah Stebbings, a gardener . He was listed as owner and occupier of five houses and gardens . It would seem that the appellation gardener does not mean in 1841 what it means today . In the Norfolk Chronicle of 1833 was reported the death of Frances , wife of Mr Zachariah Stebbing, seedsman and nurseryman of Downham , aged 43 . They were married in St Edmunds in 1827, she was a widow , Frances Dunham , and he a widower . In the 1841 census , two young women Mary and Sarah Dunham aged 25 and 16 are living in the Stebbing house as female servants . These were Frances Stebbing formerly Dunham`s two daughters by her first husband , William Dunham who died aged 35 in 1825 .
Zachariah Stebbings also owned a six acre nursery which is not recorded in the Tithe map apportionment but where it was may have been a plot of land off Lynn Road . And whether this was the same as the much later American Nurseries is not currently known . The 1840 Tithe map recorded that he owned this group of houses in Bridge Street and a further four tenements and gardens on the opposite side of Bridge St further down toward Andrews cottages .
One of the Stebbing`s tenants was John Brown a 44 year old grocer , sometime chandler, sometime farmer , who married Susanna Whybrow, widow , in St Edmunds in 1827 . One of the witnesses was Rachel Stebbing , possibly one of the daughters of the Brown`s landlord Zachariah . In fact Susanna before she married Thomas Wibrow in St Edmunds in 1822, was Susanna Stebbing . So it was as a mark of respect that the Browns oldest child was named Zachariah Stebbing Brown after their landlord and relative . With John and Susan was Henry , a baker, and John`s brother .
The next family to the Stebbings down Bridge Street, was William Scott, 35 , butcher . He was the third husband of his wife Martha , her first had been a Mr Robinson, the second Edward Simpson Stannard whom she married in St Edmunds in 1825 and thirdly William Scott who she married in 1836 also at St Edmunds .. Next door to the Scotts was Sarah Timwell, 40, a laundress with a young William Timwell aged 12 . There was no marriage for a Sarah and a Timwell or Timewell , but there was a marriage for a John Timewell, sadler, and Elizabeth Wilson , a marriage witnessed by George Garman and his soon to be wife Susan Pooley .. John and Elizabeth had a son William baptised in St Edmunds in 1828 . Could this Sarah , laundress, be a relative rather than young William`s mother . And next to them were the Wignalls, John , a gardener who no doubt worked for his landlord Zachariah Stebbing , his wife Mary and their daughter Rachel . Their daughter Rachel was baptised at Stow Bardolph in 1816 and John was described then as a lighter man . Mary his wife was Mary Snelling.
These families fill the street space between the White Hart and the Queenshead , which like the other two pubs in the street had lost its licencee within the last 5 years . In this case it was George Garman who died in 1840 aged 47, he had been the licensee of the Queenshead and on his death his widow Susannah took over the business . As well as the pub she had four small children to look after , Susanna the oldest at 10 and Frederick the youngest only 2 . Her lodgers were a mix of locals and hawkers, one in silk , one in china, a rake manufacturer, a book seller and two horse breakers and dealers .
The owner of the Queenshead was Biddy Blackburn the widow of James Blackburn whom she had married in St Edmunds in 1810 , she was Bridget daughter of James and Sarah King of Methwold . James King her father had been the owner of the Queenshead until his death in 1813 just after his daughter In his will of 1813 James King left the Swan at Methwold to his son James and the Queenshead to his daughter Bridget . Susannah Garman the innkeeper and her husband had been the licencee some years earlier .  A hundred and fifteen years earlier in 1723 The Stamford Mercury reports , " the Queens Head is to be let , to enter at Lady Day next.    A large well accustomed Inn commonly known as the Queens head  late the house of Mrs Life, deceased  with a large garden and orchard , walled round and planted with the best of fruit trees and also a large walnut tree ground , walled round and well planted : with a barn , stables, brewhouse , and outhouses also between 20 and 30 acres of pasture land contiguous to the house . Enquiries to Mr Thomas Life , of Wisbech , or Mrs Page at the Queen`s head .
At this point Paradise Road bisects Bridge St . And beyond this point , Bridge Street becomes Bridge Road. Continuing eastwards toward the river the next two properties are owned by Charles Lemmon and tenanted by Thomas and George Wood and consist of a house , garden and malthouse, and by John Hutson and others, of cottages and gardens . The position of the property known as house , garden and malthouse was approximately where Dial House and Emmerson`s garden centre are today .
The property numbered 501 which was in the tenancy of John Hutson and others , was depicted as four single oblongs on the Tithe map John Hudson or Hutson was 40 and a blacksmith living with his wife and two grown up daughters , and a nineteen year old blacksmith`s apprentice George Hitchcock , and Jane Browne, dressmaker and her young son Henry . Not one of this group are born in Norfolk. In another of these premises was Harriot Edwards, 50 , schoolmistress , and with her are Arthur Houchen son of John Houchen of Wereham , aged 7 , and John Wooll aged 6 who may have been the son of Hugh Wooll of Upwell born 1835. Next the small new family of James Scott, draper , aged 25, son of Robert Scott , also a draper of Downham , and his wife Martha formerly Puxley . They married in 1839 and had a small son Robert aged 1.
John and Alice Wotton both 55 both described as Ind , live next door , but neither are born in Norfolk There were two uninhabited cottages between Harriot Edwards and her small school and James Scott draper , and one between the Wottons and Rebecca Gover . However , Rebecca was the wife of Robert Gover, a Wesleyan Methodist preacher who spent census night with Wm Springfield , merchant, in Stoke Ferry leaving his family in Downham. Its not clear though if the property she was living in is part of the Chapel , cottage and burial ground which is across the road from the Queenshead . Or if the Govers rented a cottage for themselves and their five children plus a young Wesleyan Methodist preacher William Blackwell
Charles Lemmon the owner of these two substantial blocks of land and premises was born in Downham in 1797 the son of William and Sarah , by 1840 Charles and his wife Hannah ( Dean) were living in Shouldham and he was a farmer of substance . She was his second wife , and his first was Mary Winearls whom he married in Shouldham in 1821 .
However the house , garden and malt office was tenanted by Thomas and George Wood . This may be the George Wood of Denver who married Mary Ann , the only child of Jonathan Flower, merchant of the High St . But neither the Woods nor the Lemmon family were living in Bridge St .
Next to Rebecca Gover and her children , was Anne widow of Charles Thurston , 60 , a nurse and her daughter Mary aged 20 . Also a tenant of Charles Lemmon in one of these tenements was Jarvis Souter. He was ” of Mattishall” on his marriage to Mary Parker at Longham in 1822 The surname Souter was spelled Souther in the Longham marriage register and is difficult to follow , except to note that Jarvis, Jervis, Gervas, Souther, Souter, Suter are variants and he died in 1854..
The next block of land , 503, toward the river is empty of buildings and not included on the Tithe Apportionment . The next building was owned by James Hacon who married Hannah Heythorpe at Lt Walsingham in 1802 . He was a schoolmaster . Hannah their first daughter died in 1806 and Hannah his wife died in 1809 aged 27. At the time of the 1841 census the family were living in Swaffham and he had remarried Mary possibly Herbert in Ipswich . But James Hacon`s tenant was William Jakes or Jex or Jacques , b 1793, a mustard manufacturer He married Elizabeth Nicholl who died in 1834 aged 46 and secondly Mary Ann Taylor in 1837 , he died in 1856 With the Jakes was Mary Palmer and her daughter Harriot who was born illegitimately in 1810 after an earlier illegitimate daughter Eliza born in 1807 .
William Jakes may have used the Tower mill to make his mustard . This was in Cowgate Street, ” adjoining Parsonage Lane from which there is a back entrance ” . What became known as Bird`s mill was not constructed until 1851 .
Next was a group of five houses owned by Daniel Phipps and tenanted by John Harper and others . Daniel Phipps was in Stow Bardolph in the 1841 census living with his wife Martha , but by the 1851 census he was described as a retired servant, 75 , a widower living with his daughter Catherine the wife of William Brown , builder . Daniel was another incomer being born in Enfield in Middlesex .
John Harper the tenant of Daniel Phipps was a 78 year old bricklayer. He has no family living with him but he may have been the John Harper who married in Stradsett in 1792 though by 1841 his wife Margaret Mann was dead . If so his married daughter Clarinda Clark was only a few doors away.. The other families in this group of five houses were farmers and ag labs . William Barker was the first beyond William Jakes and family and he was born in Wendling in 1807 the son of Martin and Ann Barker, and married Martha Harris in Wendling in 1826. She was from Swanton Morley and was nearly 20 years older than her husband . .
William Doubleday , farmer aged 40 was married to Sarah and on his death in 1848 she moved to Outwell to live with her son Henry aged 25 and his two small daughters . Despite his youth , her son was a widower , his wife Frances appeared to have died also in 1848 perhaps giving birth to their second daughter Alice . Another of Daniel Phipps tenants in this group of five tenements was William Horn , a 40 year old farmer born in Methwold, his wife Susan was born in Stow Bardolph and they had three children with a significant gap between the last Charles aged 4 and the first Elizabeth aged 17 which might mean that Susan was William`s second wife .
The last of Daniel Phipps tenants was Robert and Mary Rollison or Rallison he was a 69 year old cabinet maker and not born in Norfolk , he was buried in Downham in August 1841 . His next door neighbour who owned a house, garden and timber yard, was Henry Winter aged 40 , not born in the county though his wife Sarah was , and with them they have Joseph Scott a 25 year old cabinet maker`s apprentice who was no doubt working for Robert Rollison next door . Between 1841 and 1851 Henry Winter , timber merchant had fallen on harder times and he and his wife were living in Reading with their widowed daughter , he was described as `out of business` born Ely , Sarah was born Downham .
As the road gets closer to the river it also gets closer to the brickyards . The next six families were all either agricultural labourers or bricklayers or makers , except George Raby , a 25 year old butcher . . He and his wife Ann , both 25, were sharing a house with George`s sister Eliza who was married to Robert Gage , bricklayer , and their brother James Raby , 20 , a brickmaker . George , James and Eliza were the children of George and Elizabeth Raby , labourer of Downham.
Next to the young Rabys lived Henry and Jemima Sadler , they were both 45 and he was an ag lab . She had been Jemima Carter and they were married in Wimbotsham in 1816 ; by 1841 they have 7 children living at home including their eldest Emma Jane who was recorded as being blind . William Whenn or Wenn or Winn and his small family lived next door again to the Sadlers , despite only being 36 he is a widower , his wife Elizabeth nee Wilkinson having died recently , he had Elizabeth , William and Sarah to look after . He was a brickmaker and son of William and Ann Wenn of Denver .
Plot number 408 on the tithe map apportionment shows that this land was owned by William Bennett and tenanted by William Barrack and consisted of 4 tenements . William Barrack was the son of Ann Barrack or Barrick who in 1797 married William Poll , and William the bricklayer of Bridge Road in 1841 goes by the name of William Poll, but on the apportionment is William Barrack . William married Charlotte Adams and they had at least 6 children baptised in St Edmunds as Barrack . Charlotte died in 1869 aged 74.
The next plot down Bridge Road, belongs to Thomas Wright. His tenants of cottages and orchards , were John Shinn and his wife Lydia . He was a carter born around 1790 and married Lydia Traice at St Edmunds in 1827. It is possible that this John Shinn was one of the identified rioters of the 1816 Downham riots . He would have been born c 1792 so aged 24 in 1816. Their neighbours were William and Mary Rawson , both 70 , and living with their youngest son James who like most workers at this end of Bridge Road, is a brickmaker . William Rawson was born at Upwell around 1771 and his wife Mary was described as N for not born in county and their marriage and her birth and maiden name have not yet been found . Both died in the workhouse , she in 1844 aged 79 and he in 1854 . So from the 1844 schedule of land owners and tenants of land alongside the proposed railway line, James and Mary Rawson , son and mother, had a cottage and an orchard, Robert Laws had a cottage and John Shinn had an orchard .
Also living down by the river in these cottages and tenements is Elizabeth Watson , 35 , a widow and a schoolmistress .
Next to Elizabeth Watson were the Filbys . Henry was a carpenter and he and Elizabeth nee Gotobed Gordon ,married in 1835 in St Edmund`s, have three small children . Henry`s sister Elizabeth and his mother Mary were also living with them . Elizabeth Filby may be the young woman who died in the workhouse in 1851 aged 28. Their neighbour was Thomas Bridges aged 70 , described as Ind, which usually means that he had private means . He was living with his son Billy , 30 , a bricklayer and his wife Louisa nee Grimson . Billy and Louisa were married in 1837 in Aylsham . By 1851 Billy and his father Thomas have vanished and Louisa was back in Aylsham , widowed , with her parents . There is a death of a Thomas Bridges in the Freebridge Lynn district in the September quarter of 1844 and the death of a William Bridges also in the Freebridge Lynn distict in the September quarter of 1847.
Thomas Wright the landlord was by 1851 a bank agent living in the High Street .He married Margaret Dalton in St Margaret`s , King`s Lynn in 1810 This single property he owned at the business end of Bridge Road may well have been an investment with the railways in mind .
At this point the next four plots of Bridge Road continue down past what is now Knight`s bakery , down to the river itself . There are four large plots and all belong to Maria Juler . She was an interesting character . The daughter of John Mann , farmer, probably born Stradsett around 1786 , she married first in 1810 Richard Kemp, brickmaker , and they had six children starting with Leah in 1812 who was followed by four sisters and a brother . Maria was widowed before 1830 and she was recorded in the Land Tax Assessment as owning a house and land in her own right . In 1839 she married widower Henry Juler a bricklayer whose wife Isabella had died and left him with two sons . Henry and Maria do not appear to have had children between them , and he died in 1847 . Maria herself died in 1868 and is buried at St Edmund`s aged 82.
The last of her tenants alongside the river , after John Dyson , the engineer , her own orchard , Thomas Dyson her tenant at the brickyard , was James Haylett . The Dysons are clearly expecting the railway and are tenants of land and the brickyard down by the river where the railway will shortly be built . James and Margaret Haylett and their seven children were the final tenants right down by the river . As with so many other heads of households, James Haylett died in 1849 and Margaret his widow moved to Church Lane taking up business as a coal dealer .
John Dyson was 70 , an engineer , with his wife Elizabeth , 60, ( who was recorded as being buried in Downham in March 1842 aged 76, and her son John William buried in Dec 1843 aged 44).and their daughter Elizabeth , 35, and they live next door to the brickyard owned by Maria Juler and tenanted by their son Thomas. It would appear that William Talbot a brickmaker actually lives at the brickyard , and he was sharing this industrial area with Thomas Dyson , although the Dysons lived up in Market Place . John Dyson was not born in the county and may well be identified as the Yorkshire born father of Thomas Dyson who was on the board of the Lynn and Ely Railway Company. Thomas Dyson , son of John , described himself as a civil engineer at his marriage in 1840 , as widower, at St Edmund`s , to Dinah Wright . She was the daughter of John Wright , farmer . Thomas`s first wife Mary Ann , aged 30, and his 5 month old son Thomas died in March and April 1832 .
Oddly with the building of the railway so close , Thomas Dyson sold using Mumford and Casebow, his entire stock of bricks etc in the Michaelmas sale of 1844 . The sales particulars included ” 185,000 patent pressed white, best white, second white, mingle, drain and fire bricks ” plus huge numbers of drainage tiles , flat tiles, common floor bricks, polished floor bricks, arched tiles, a variety of sizes and shapes of pavements , pantiles etc together with various pumps and capstans and two pile engines . Mr Dyson was reported as ” declining the brick making business.”
William Talbot was from a family of watermen who earned their living transporting goods up and down the river Great Ouse . This William was a brickmaker however, the most skilled trade and he had married Ann Ollet at St Edmund`s . Their daughter Harriott , 11 in 1841, was living in the household of Mr Challis , schoolmaster, at Ten Mile Bank in 1851 as both William and Ann Talbot were dead in 1844 and 1845 respectively . Perhaps William Talbot saw the coming railway as the destroyer of the canal and river transport businesses as indeed it was , and joined the brick trade . Brickmaking in Downham was big business at this time .
” When a brickground at Downham Market, Norfolk, was offered for sale in 1821, the kiln on the premises was brick-built, was capable of containing 40,000 bricks, and sufficient clay had already been raised to make 300,000 to 400,000 bricks that season. This suggests up to ten firings in that kiln during the months of Brick-burning . ” Ref NRO .. It is not clear who bought the brickyard in 1821 if it was the Dysons or someone who later sold on to them .
Bridge Road now ends at the bridge , and the land on the opposite side of the road belonged to the Batchcroft Charity . This was the bequest of Thomas Batchcroft in the 1660s which stipulated that land must be bought with his legacy of £100 which would earn £5 a year for the poor of Downham .. Today Bird`s mill stands on the site. And today the next houses are Railway cottages , formerly known as Andrews cottages . But on the 1841 census there are a number of families living at this end of the road whose names do not correspond with the tenants of the landowners of these plots of land.
Much belatedly , the walk can now continue.
The blockage in many senses was the bridge. We have a bridge. However behind this simple fact is a whole history of fen drainage, Government reluctance to fund a new bridge and the opening and closing of the two old unsafe bridges. And the enlargement of St John`s Eau into the Relief Channel we see today .
As it is so detailed

Please contact me, Elizabeth, at My email address

Please contact me, Elizabeth, at My email address

Downham`s Bridges


copyright Eastern Daily Press : Images of Norfolk 1995.

The Great Ouse Flood Protection Scheme was a massive undertaking . The river rises in Northamptonshire and runs 165 miles out to King`s Lynn.

The first of the very bad flooding in living memory came in 1947 following the thaw of a record breakingly cold winter when snow and ice persisted for months . The second and more damaging with extensive loss of life both here and in the Netherlands was in 1953.

Authority to make the Great Ouse navigable was granted by Letters Patent in 1617 though there is evidence of the Danes paddling their warships up river to Bedford in 921AD. Alan Faulkner writing an Historical Profile in the magazine The Narrowboat, Autumn 2013, lists a very useful time line beginning with this authority. Denver Sluice was first created in 1650 so was the product of the Civil war and the Protectorate of Cromwell . Floods and high tides destroyed the original sluice in 1713 and it was not rebuilt until 1750.

The navigation of the rivers was bought and sold as a profitable business opportunity and over the centuries it has changed hands many times . It was the responsibility of the owners to make certain the rivers were navigable and to maintain them and if possible enlarge and deepen them .

Vermuyden instructed by the then Duke of Bedford , dug out the Old Bedford river in 1637 a twenty mile stretch of river from Earith to Denver . A second river was dug out in 1651 both wider and deeper called the New Bedford or Hundred Foot river which ran parallel to the Old Bedford At this point a sluice was built at Denver to prevent the tidal river surging back to Ely . However in 1713 this first Denver sluice was destroyed by spring tides and flood waters and was not rebuilt until 1750. Various other Cuts were dug out from this time to the 19th C including several to create better access to King`s Lynn . The Alexandra Docks were built in 1869 and the Bentinck Docks in 1883.

In the Cambridge Chronicle and Journal of Friday 25 July 1834  there is an advertisement for builders and engineers to quote for “Tenders for executing and performing the said Works  according to plans and specifications of such Works which …are to be seen at the office of Mr Charles Burcham in King`s Lynn , civil engineer .        The Works referred to above ……of which separate Tenders are to be delivered  are :- 1st  – For the  Erection of a New Sluice in the Bank of the River Ouze , on the east side of the said river, between Denver Sluice and Downham Bridge ; and for the Erection of a New Bridge over the Drain or Cut to be cut from Saint John`s Eau to the said New Sluice .    2nd – For Repairing the Sluice at Stow Fall , and the Bridge over St John`s Eau, in the parish of Downham Market.   3rd  – For Scouring out the Drain or Cut called St John`s Eau , Cutting the New Drain from the said St John`s Eau to the scite ( as written) of the said New Sluice and for Scouring out the other Public Drains leading from the said New Drain or Cut to the Boundaries of the parish of Wretton ….and for Taking down and rebuilding a certain Bridge over one of the said Public Drains near a Mill in the parish of Fordham , the Property of Edward Roger Pratt , esq. ; and for the Repairs of the other Bridges over the said Public Drains where necessary …..”

The 1960s saw the last major drainage scheme completed , with the 11 mile Flood Relief channel from Denver to King`s Lynn in September 1964. The Cut Off Channel swept up the waters of the rivers Lark, Wissey and Lt Ouse and delivered them back to Denver . The Flood Relief Channel runs toward King`s Lynn and rejoins the Great Ouse just south of Lynn . Originally neither the Cut Off nor the Flood Relief Channels were intended to be used for pleasure , but from 2001 they have been opened up to boats in the summer months .bridges002

The following are various articles and reports from the Eastern Daily Press concerning the far bridge, over the tidal river Gt Ouse from 1957 – 1964.

Newspaper cuttings EDP

30 May 1957 No new bridge for Downham

There is no immediate prospect of a new bridge for Downham Market Mr G Nugent, Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Transport told Mr Sidney Dye Labour M. P., for South West Norfolk in the Commons yesterday .

In 1954 the County Council had been told there were no funds for a new bridge. Mr Dye said the old bridge was condemned nearly 25 years ago and a temporary one put up . They were using the old one whilst the temporary one was being repaired.

Mr Dye said it was possible for a firm now building bridges in the area for flood protection schemes to build a bridge cheaper than at any other time . Mr Nugent said the wooden bridge which was being repaired would give useful service for many years to come . The old bridge was safe to use .

2nd Sept 1957

Fresh Downham Bridge Site Lease Approved

Because it appears unlikely that a new bridge will be built at Downham for some years , the committee approved the sealing of a fresh lease of the foreshore and bed of the Ouse for a further 10 years. The present temporary bridge was erected in 1938 . The lessors were the Board of Trade.

The great Ouse River Board has agreed to contribute £9,000 towards the £23,000 which is the estimated cost of provision of a new approach road to the bridge from the west . The Board has said that the diversion should be ready for use by April 1st to fit in with their construction along the west bank of the Ouse near the bridge .

The committee confirmed the decision of the Western Highways Sub Committee to take no action for the time being on a request from Downham RDC for repairs to Severals Road , Methwold . It was felt stated a report that a further appropriation of funds beyond the £15,000 allocated for the repair of the nearby Decoy Road would result in an undue proportion of the available money being spent in that area.


from the Mike Bullen collection.

15 Sept 1961 Concern expressed at Downham Bridge delay

Hopes for an early start to the road diversion planned by NCC at Downham bridge were expressed at a Great Ouse River Board meeting in Cambridge yesterday.

Downham and Stow Bardolph Internal Drainage Board was reported to be concerned at the delay in carrying out the strengthening and heightening of the left bank of the tidal river at this point .. This flood protection work , it was explained, could not be begun until the road diversion was completed.

The county surveyor for Norfolk, Mr CJ Macdonald told the Board that considerable delay had occurred in completing the agreements with the owner of the land.

The chairman of the Flood Protection Scheme Committee Mr AG Wright , stated that these difficulties had been overcome and the County Council expected to take possession shortly.

The MAFF had approved three revised schemes for sea defence works at Heacham and Snettisham . Gales last December followed by a severe storm with a tidal surge in March caused damage which has increased the cost.

Strengthening of a shingle bank against erosion at Heacham Dam will cost £1,350 . Emergency works and a groyne sends up the bill for Snettisham South Beach to £4,700 compared with the original £2,400 estimate . Reinstatement and other works at Heacham North Beach involves a £3,600 bill instead of £2,100..

Arrangements with the Hockwold wash right owners for the Board to enter on land required for the third part of the flood protection scheme – the excavation of a cut off channel 28 miles long from Denver to Barton Mills – has involved what were described as unusual legal circumstances.

The land not required would eventually be sold and the proceeds credited to the accounts of the was stated. It was important therefore that the Board should obtain a good title of the land which was now being purchased so that it would be acceptable to subsequent purchasers .

To ensure this it was agreed to ask for counsel`s opinion on the form of conveyance , on the powers of the wash right owners to convey land outside the scheme`s Parliamentary limits and also on the payment and distribution of the purchase money .

11 Jan 1962

County Council and Downham Bridge

At the quarterly meeting of Norfolk County Council in Norwich on Saturday the Highways ( King`s Lynn) committee reported having been advised of the unsatisfactory condition of the temporary wooden bridge at Downham Market. Letters had been sent to the M.P.s for South West Norfolk and the Isle of Ely asking them to urge the Ministry of Transport to give approvals and monetary grants so that immediate action could be taken.

Mr R R Bennett asked if, in the event of the approach to the Ministry being unsuccessful it would be possible for a deputation to go to the Ministry . Plans, he said, had been prepared for the new bridge and the last estimated cost was about £75,000 . Even if approval and grant were immediately forthcoming from the Ministry , it would be some time before the new bridge could be constructed. On grounds of urgency and safety something should be done immediately to the present temporary bridge which needed to be completely re-decked . The Chairman of the committee said re-decking of the bridge was in hand and the committee was pressing for a new bridge . If the wooden bridge fell in then the old iron bridge would have to be used.

Letter to the Editor 14 April 1962

Downham Market Bridge

Dear Sir – My attention has been drawn to a statement in Friday`s EFP . At a special meeting of the Ouse River Board in Cambridge , Mr A G Wright , the chairman , when asked for my reasons for being unwilling to sell land needed for the Downham Market Bridge Scheme , replied that I said I did not like the County Council . This statement is entirely untrue. I have not made any reference to the County Council to any of the River Board officials or anyone else.

The Norfolk County officials have always treated me with every consideration . My own objection to the proposed scheme is that I consider the bank can be adequately strengthened without taking a main road through my farm yard , causing great inconvenience and considerably reducing the value of the farm . – Yours truly , Alfred Haylett. . Trafalgar House , Downham Market.

10 July 1962 Temporary bridge request by Lord Wise.

Lord Wise asked in the House of Lords yesterday what steps were proposed to relieve the abnormal road traffic passing through King`s Lynn owing to the unsafe condition of the river bridge at Downham West.

Lord Chesham, Parliamentary Secretary , Min of Transport , answered that the existing wooden bridge at Downham Market was still usable , one way , for vehicles up to five tons.

The old iron bridge had recently been reopened with similar restrictions and this permitted the route through Downham Market to be used again as an alternative route to the East Coast holiday resorts and to reduce traffic through Lynn. It had been signposted again last week.

Lord Wise said the undertood that heavy traffic had to go out of its way to get to Wisbech and other places and he asked if a temporary bridge could not be made other than the iron bridge so as to carry heavy traffic and save time.

Lord Chesham agreed that the heavier traffic had to go the other way but he understood there was a further route which could be used through Stowbridge which meant going about five miles to the north .

Lord Chesham added ” I think what we have decided to do is a better answer rather than construct temporary bridges because the wooden bridge has deteriorated rather faster than anybody thought. “

The reconstruction of a permanent bridge which was in the programme for 1963/4 had been brought forward into the current year`s programme.


No date ? 1962 . Weaknesses in Downham west bridge.

A routine check of the Downham West bridge , which is scheduled to be replaced this year at a cost of £72,000 , has revealed the weakness in the structure which will probably need emergency repairs . Police were patrolling the bridge yesterday when heavy traffic was diverted. The authorities placed a five ton limit for vehicles using the bridge.

Traffic from the Wisbech direction has been diverted over the iron bridge which adjoins the temporary wooden structure . Vehicles going from Downham are using the downstream side of the wooden bridge only.

The authorities are awaiting instructions from the Ministry of Transport to start building the new bridge . The present temporary one has been there for nearly 30 years . It is expected that both the iron and the wooden bridges will eventually be demolished.

The iron bridge will have to be removed before work on the new bridge can start. While the building is carried out the temporary structure will have to continue to carry its present heavy burden of traffic to and from the Midlands and the North.

There have been several accidents at the bridge which is regarded as an accident black spot by both motorists and boat owners. Two vessels have collided with the bridge in the past year and one capsized .

Work on the £30,000 diversion at Downham West on the A1122 Downham Market – Wisbech road has started. This begins just beyond the Downham West bridge and will divert traffic towards Barroway Drove instead of turning immediately left to Wisbech . The diversion will be for half a mile . It is not expected that work on this will affect the Downham West bridge traffic.


from the Mike Bullen collection.

4 June 1962. West Downham Bridge `precarious` .

Downham West bridge is in a very precarious state . This frank admission came from Mr C J Macdonald , the County Surveyor, in reply to a question from Mr G P Kisby at a meeting of the County Highways committee on Saturday .

Mr Macdonald said that the bridge which was built just before the last war as a temporary structure, had deteriorated considerably over the last three years. ” We hae been pressing the Ministry just as hard as we can to rebuild it .”. When two of the piles failed last week and he had to introduce one way traffic and impose a weight limit , he immediately got in touch with the Ministry to ask of the grant for next year could be moved forward to this. He was still waiting for an answer.

Nine months ago when he became worried about the bridge he asked the Ministry to send its headquarters bridge engineer to look at it . ” He has not been yet . ” Mr Macdonald said. Mr Barnes asked if there was any danger to the public . Mr Macdonald said there was not provided vehicles kept to the right side of the bridge , did not exceed five tons in weight and there was no further deterioration . ” If it becomes really dangerous I shall have to shut it , ” Mr Macdonald said . At the moment the old iron bridge which was worn out 30 years ago has been re-opened to take one way traffic.

A very close eye was being kept on the wooden bridge and if there was any sign of deterioration , it would be shut. Police were then patrolling the bridge and heavy traffic was diverted.

9 June 1962. Downham traders with bridge delay .

Traders at Downham Market are annoyed at the delay in building the new bridge at Downham West where emergency measures , including the introduction of single line traffic , have followed the discovery of weaknesses in the structure of the ” temporary” 30 year old wooden bridge .

Shopkeepers are only partly satisfied with the Minister of Transport`s written reply to Mr A V Hilton, MP, that he will give immediate priority to the building of a new bridge to replace the wooden one .

With trade at Downham on the decline traders feel that it will be another nail in the coffin if anything happens to the bridge. A member of the Urban council , Mr Alec Clarke , described the bridge as the town`s lifeline., while another councillor Mrs I M Burbeck , said Downham would be isolated if it were closed.

Mr Cyril Stebbings who is chairman of the Chamber of Trade said that six years ago the authorities had been warned that the bridge could not continue to carry its present heavy burden of traffic. Nothing had been done and now Downham was suffering through the inactivity and lack of foresight of the County Council .

Mr Cyril Wiseman who has a cycle shop commented. ” It`s imperative that we have a new bridge and soon. That bridge is a vital link between the town and surrounding villages . It would be a tragedy if we lost it .” Mr Clifford Beckett a shoe repairer, said ” I would hate to see the bridge close down. It would not do the town any good at all and would be the cause of considerable inconvenience to many people living in that area . Wholesalers came into town via the Downham West bridge.

Of local business people possibly the worst hit by traffic restrictions at the bridge is Mrs Doris Harrod of the Anmer Transport Cafe at Bridge Road , a popular meeting place for drivers to and from the Midlands and the North. They are all being diverted.

Mrs Harrod commented ” Trade has hit rock bottom. We are going through a bad patch and this is the final straw . I have had nothing but trouble since taking over the place seven years ago .. First of all there was the dispute with the County Council over the provision of a car park and now this has happened. Honestly I don`t think I can take much more. “

Mr R N Bates a member of the RDC whose farm at Barroway Drove is on the Wisbech side of the bridge, has been one of the most forceful campaigners for a new bridge. He described the delay as scandalous . Many people in his area relied on Downham traders for their foodstuffs and other goods.

There is a limit of five tons on the weight of traffic using the wooden bridge . A small area has been railed off for pedestrians to use. Traffic from the Wisbech direction to Downham is using an old iron bridge which was declared unsafe 30 years ago .

Letters to the Editor July 1963

A Precarious Bridge

Sir – In your issue of 4th June you

In 1961 when I was a County Councillor , Mr Macdonald stated publicly that he had informed the Minister of the bad state of the bridge and said that he thought he had now rung a bell and made them realise that there was danger.

The statement by the Surveyor was made eleven years ago and nothing was done . Now traffic agriculture and the town`s business will suffer seriously for a prolonged period of improvisation and traffic diversion because of the inability of the County Council to get the Ministry to deal with the matter.

Since the temporary bridge was erected in 1926 it has been a problem and both my late father and myself as County Councillors pressed on every possible occasion for action to be taken .

The bridge started to show serious signs of depreciation in 1951 and I have a copy of an EDP report of a County Council meeting held in that year which says . ` As soon as persistent Mr Bennett mentioned Downham bridge there were outbursts of laughter and he could not refrain from smiling himself before solemnly telling the members It gets lots of laughter once more but it is a very serious matter.

As a County Councillor I got tired of trying to get anything done to the bridge and the frustration was partly responsible for my giving up County Council work.

The so called temporary bridge was erected 36 years ago and there has been much shelving and putting off but the time has now come when full priority should be given to the immediate erection of a modern permanent bridge.

I hope that before there is a serious accident or too much disturbance to the commerce of the district the new bridge will be erected.

Yours faithfully , R . R, Bennett. Bridge Farm , Downham Market.

April 1963 Start soon on Downham Bridge

Work on the new Downham Market bridge held up by the ” abnormally cold weather ” should start within a month it was stated at Saturday`s NCC meeting by Mr F H Eaton. He added that the weather had stopped nearly all work on the roads.


courtesy of Norfolk Heritage Centre Norfolk County Council MC 2194/ .

Aug 1963. Downham bridge

The Minister of Transport has at long last sanctioned the building of a new bridge for the A1122 across the Ouse at Downham Market . The 19th C iron bridge was condemned before the war as unsafe and a temporary wooden bridge was built alongside . The temporary structure has now had to serve for so long that it too has become unsafe for two lines of traffic . So the two bridges both of which have been condemned are exerting their last remaining strength in carrying each a single line of traffic.

Downham bridge is important as an alternative route for traffic between the Midlands and Norfolk. At the expense of a detour through Peterborough and Wisbech , holiday traffic in particular avoids the bottle neck on the A47 trunk road at Lynn or on the A11 at Thetford. However, Downham is only an alternative for knowledgeable drivers. To those two main approaches and by no means a substitute for either of them. . The need for a new bridge and by-pass at Lynn and a by-pass at Thetford is still clamant and the work should surely be put in hand now before the proposed closures of railways , b oth in East Anglia and the Midlands make confusion more confounded on the roads .

1963 Downham bridge design approved.

Since my remarks recently on the Downham West bridge , I have now heard from Mr Paul Hawkins , Downham`s county councillor , that the Fine Arts Commission have approved the design of the new £72,000 bridge.

Although this is good news, one must not be too optimistic that work will begin immediately . There will be a lot of preliminaries and with the winter coming it is unlikely that work can start before next spring . It looks as if we shall have to be satisfied for the present with conditions as they are at the bridge and hope that the work done in recent weeks to the temporary bridge will suffice until the new one is constructed .

Better news about other construction work in the district is that about the Downham West diversion which is being carried out not many yards away from the bridge . This new road will do away with the sharp bend from the bridge toward Wisbech .

From some time work has been progressing well and it has now reached a point where one can see the sheer beauty of the gentle natural sweep of the road as it leaves the Barroway Drove road from the bridge and curves gently to the point where it links up again with the Downham-Wisbech road , thus cutting out a very bad corner indeed.

June 1964 Ouse Bridge builders one man lifeboat

For eight months Mr Derek Powell , aged 30, has sat in a boat in the middle of the river Ouse waiting in case one of his fellow workers falls into the river . He is happy that none of them have . There are 17 of them at work on the £90,000 bridge over the Ouse at Downham Market where the river is 200 ft wide. Mr Powell of Barroway Drove is being paid £14 a week by Norfolk County Council to be their lifeboatman .

It is a safety precaution he said yesterday , I haven`t had to pull anyone out . I hope the situation doesn`t arise . Its an easy job and I like it . I spend my time watching the others at work and rowing around to keep warm . I`m a boatman and that`s my official work. I wasn`t engaged to do any work on the bridge but sometimes I do give my mates a hand. “

Mr Powell who holds a life saving certificate always has a lifebelt in his boat. Yesterday he had to be especially on the alert because workmen were fitting a temporary Bailey bridge over the 70ft gap in the middle of the new concrete bridge.

The Bailey bridge will be used when the centre concrete beams are erected on the bridge shortly . The bridge which will take road traffic between Wisbech and Downham Market will replace an obsolete wooden bridge.

24 Sept 1964 Designed to relieve Cut Bridge at Lynn

Downham gets bridge after 27 years.

After a 27 year wait Downham got its new bridge yesterday . The bridge carrying the A1122 over the Ouse at Downham West was opened by the Lord Lieutenant of Norfolk , Sir Edmund Bacon. As Sir Edmund and Lady Bacon arrived at one end of the bridge for the ceremony , a gang of workmen were putting the finishing dabs of silver paint on the parapet railings at the other end. After cutting the tape , Sir Edmund drove his black Humber car across the £75,000 structure. As the large crowd of camera carrying residents followed on foot workmen blocked off the road to the old bridge. – opened in 1937 as a temporary replacement for a Victorian iron bridge. No one was more delighted to see the new bridge than Mr R R Bennett a Downham West farmer. Mr Easton , chairman of Norfolk County Highways committee introducing Sir Edmund recalled that they had heard nothing but Downham`s iron bridge from Mr Bennett when he was on the County Council.

Mr Bennett at the opening ceremony as chairman of the Downham West parish council told an EDP reporter , it is an excellent bridge and is what we have been fighting for . He recalled that his father before him had campaigned for a new bridge and he paid tribute to the work of Mr Paul Hawkins in taking over his role as the Downham Bridge campaigner when he left the County Council . Also present was Sir Bartle Edwards, Chairman of the County Council who welcomed Sir Edmund Bacon.

The brochure for the opening said the County Council agreed to Downham UDC`s request to build a new bridge in 1937 , and from that day to this the story is the usual one of planning, designing , consultation and discussion with the various Ministries , Fine Arts Commission , River Board and other interested authorities .

Mr Easton said they had started pressing the Ministry again in 1960 and work was started 18 months ago . . He congratulated all associated with the work and commented that there had always been fewer than 20 men on the project. The new bridge will provide an alternative route to the Cut Bridge at King`s Lynn for heavy loads crossing the Ouse and it has been specially designed to conform to the Minitry of Transport`s specification for heavy and abnormal loads. It is a three span skew bridge , the total length being 223ft 6ins and the width is 41ft 6 ins.

The brochure gives some further details of the bridge , its history and the new constructed bridge. Brochure NCC Highways committee
For the opening of the bridge at Downham
24 Sept 1964.

Official opening , Wednesday 23rd Sept 1964 at 3.30 p, by Sir Edmund Bacon , bart, OBE, TD. H.Ms Lieut for Norfolk.
Norfolk County Council . Chairman Colonel Sir Bartle Edwards, CVO, MC. Chairman of the Highways Committee. Alderman F H Easton. ; Vice Chairman of the Highways Committee ; Chairman of the Western Highways Sub-Committee , Alderman J T Coe, MBE , JP.
History . The Downham Market bridge is situated one mile west of Downham Market and carries the road A 1122 over the river Ouse. For centuries there has been a bridge at this point ; at one time the bridge was a wooden one belonging to the Lord of the Manor of Stow Bardolph who in 1454 leased it to certain Bridge Reeves at a rent of 13s 4d per annum to maintain it at their own charge. From time immemorial a bridge toll was exacted by the Bridge Reeves from all who used the bridge , except the inhabitants of Downham Market .
In 1877 the old wooden bridge was replaced by one constructed of wrought iron lattice girders described at the time as being ” strong and commodious “.
In 1891 the Downham Bridge Trust was set up under the Charitable Trusts Act to maintain the bridge and the trustees consisted of the former Bridge Reeves and several gentlemen of Downham Market. The Bridge Trust continued until the Norfolk County Council took over a s successor to the Bridge Reeves under the Bridges Act of 19929.
However the iron bridge was not sufficiently strong to cope with heavy motor traffic and in 1937 a weight limit of 3 tons was imposed. A temporary wooden bridge for two way traffic was constructed with a weight limit of 12 tons and the old iron bridge was closed to all traffic other than pedestrian . In the same year Downham Market Urban District Council requested that the County Council to construct a new bridge to meet modern traffic conditions . This the County Council agreed to do and the story from that day to this is the usual one of planning, designing, consultation, and discussions with the various Ministries , Fine Art Commission , River Boards and other interested authorities.
The outbreak of the Second World War and the economic crisis that followed in the post-war period only made matters more difficult for the County Council in obtaining Ministry of Transport approval to go ahead with the new bridge/. Eventually in 1962 the Ministry of Transport approved the scheme for grant purposes.
Work on the construction of the new bridge began on 6th May 1963 alongside the old iron bridge which was demolished during the work and sold as scrap.
The new bridge has been designed for heavy and abnormal loads . It is a three span skew bridge with two side spans of 67 ft and a central span of 89ft . The total length being 223ft and width 4?, ft . It is founded on 127 14 inch diameter cased piles driven to the Kimmeridge clay stratum , and consist of steel tube driven by internal hammer until a safe bearing load of 40.5 tons was obtained. The tubes were filled with concrete and abutments of reinforced concrete. The deck is constructed of seven rows of factory made post tensioned concrete beams and a reinforced concrete deck tied to the latter by mild steel hoop shear connectors. Each beam was tested before leaving the factory with a load of 50 tons applied at the mid span and the cantilever end. The method of erection was to offload the side span beams from a transporter by using one of the largest mobile cranes in the country – a 75 ton Coles. The beams were then rolled into position across a temporary bridge . On completion of the side spans and cantilevers , a Bailey bridge was launched across the central opening to convey the beam transporters and two large cranes one on each approach span , off loaded the beams and placed them in position . These two cranes also lifted the Bailey bridge from one side of the new bridge to the other to complete the positioning of the beams.
At the present time , the Downham approach is a temporary arrangement until the tenants of the riverside cottages are rehoused next year. The cottages will then be demolished to enable the approach to be constructed as designed.
The substructure construction was hampered by the tidal conditions of the river Ouse which has a tidal range of 16 ft on the spring tides and advantage was taken of the low water conditions to construct the pier foundations.


 From Denver Sluice copyright Ben Rutterford.

For further details on the Flood Relief Channel and the Cut Off Channel , see Eddy Edwards site .


copyright Eastern Daily Press 1964Picture norfolk

Finally the perils of an unsafe bridge are highlighted by a report in the Norwich Mercury of April 1803 . courtesy of the Downham Heritage Society.

Norwich Mercury April 1803
On Friday sennight , Mr Thos Farrow, innkeeper, was standing on the bridge at Downham Market, in conversation with Mr Wales, surgeon , of that place. And incautiously leaning his back against the rail of the bridge , it suddenly gave way . And he was instantly precipitated not less than 12ft into deep water. Mr Wales immediately threw off his coat and hat and plunging in to his assistance caught him , ( after many efforts) as he was rising the last time, exhausted, spent , and yielding to his fate. In that perilous moment Mr Wales providently ( and with an almost unparalled presence of mind ) sprang at one of the piers of the bridge and clinging to the same with one arm , supported the drowning man with the other till further assistance arrived. And relieved them both from their hazardous situation.
We too often read of medals awarded and dignities conferred for deeds of little import but what honour is not due to that man who at the imminent peril of his own life nobly preserves that of a fellow creature.
Thomas Wales was born in Walberswick in 1765 and married Sarah Garneys . He died in 1835 aged 74 and she died in 1820 aged 54. They are buried under the marked pew in St Edmund`s Downham Market and a plaque records their lives on the wall opposite.

Please contact me, Elizabeth, at My email address

Please contact me, Elizabeth, at My email address

Bexwell`s Charles Dean Prangley .


This photograph is the property of Marlborough College .

Charles was born on 16th March 1897 in London , and baptised 25th July 1897 in Bebington , Cheshire . His parents were Charles Wilton Prangley and his wife Elizabeth Richardson , who were married in Hastings district in 1890 . His father was the son of an agricultural chemist and was for a time a silversmith`s clerk living in Liverpool , but between 1881 and 1890 he took Holy Orders and became curate of Holbrook in Suffolk . He was ordained priest in 1890 from Highbury Theological College and initially was curate of Brancaster .

Charles appears to have been an only child and sadly his mother Elizabeth died in 1899 aged 39. In the 1901 census his father and grandmother are living at Potter Heigham where he is curate , but 4 year old Charles was not with them .

Charles` father remarried in 1902 in the Kensington district to Elizabeth Reid and perhaps it was close to this date that Charles started school at South Lodge, Lowestoft . He entered Marlborough College on 1st Jan 1911 . He left in July 1915 having won a place to study at Jesus College Cambridge. He was commissioned into the Special Reserve of Officers on 11th Aug 1915 , and left for France on 13th July 1916 where he joined the 1st Battalion Lincolnshire Regiment on 19th July at Buire .

Ruvigny`s Roll of Honour says that he was killed by a shell splinter and that his Captain wrote of him “ he was a singularly thoughtful fellow in every way . He worked and led as an officer should , I had absolute confidence in him and knew him well enough to know that when the hour came he would not fail . He died facing the enemy and leading his men .”

His body was marked with a wooden battlefield cross which was brought back to his family at Bexwell . It is today in a niche in the church . He is buried in Les Beoufs cemetery .


War Diary , 1st Bttn Lincolnshire Regt .

24th September 1916 continued

The Transport and details remained at Fricourt Camp. Three cookers accompanied the Bttn and an issue of hot tea and rum was made at .

At 11.30pm Companies occupied trenches as follows . A & C Companies in Gap Trench , (supports) B & C c`ies , Battn Bombers, and Bttn Hqs in Switch Trench (second supports . The Bttn relieved the 9th KOYLI Casualties .

Weather showery .

A preparatory artillery bombardment of the enemy`s position was in progress all day ( from 7 am) and continued throughout the night .

25th September 1916.

The 64th Brigade with 1st Lincolnshire Regt was in position in three lines . 64th Bde Sector of the front line from right to left extended from ( map reference ) The first support line ( Gap Trench ) Brigade sector extended from ( map references) . The second support line ( Switch Trench ) Brigade sector extended from (map references)

The 110th Brigade was on the left of 64th Brigade and the Guards Division on the right . The 62nd Brigade less 1st Lincolns was in reserve at (map reference) north of Bernafay Wood.

The attack was to commence at 12.35 pm .

Our artillery of all calibres continued to bombard the enemy`s position during the morning , preparatory to the attack.

The objectives of the 64th Brigade were (1st) Gird Trench and Gird Trench support trench from ( map refernences) (Gird support trench having been almost entirely demolished by our shells .The first two waves were to dig in 150 yards beyond Grid Trench .

(2nd) N 33 central – along the track to N 27.

(3rd) The line of road from N 34 to N 27. (reference map 57c SW or special trench map of area )

The attack on the first objective was to be made by the 10th KOYLI in 64th Bde right half sector , and the 1st East Yorks Regt in the 64th Bde left half sector . These two units were in position in the first line .

The attack on the second objective was to be made by the 1st Lincolnshire Regt which would pass through the two Bttns named after they had gained the first objective .

The 10th KOYLI and 1st E Yorks regiments having reorganised were to pass through the 1st Lincoln Regt after the second objective had been gained and attack the third objective .

At 12.33. pm the Bttn stood to ready to go over the parapets . Bayonets were fixed and each man carried one extra bandolier and one Mills Bomb in addition to the complement of bombs carried by the Battn and Company Bombers.

At 12.35 pm A and C Companies under the commands of Capt J Edes, and Capt J E N P Denning respectively sprang over the parapet of Gap Trench and advanced in quick time with a frontage of two platoons each company in two lines the second line 50 yards behind the first line.

The manoeuvre was carried out with the Company`s left flank “ in the air “ . The men bayoneted and bombed their way up Gas Alley until thinned numbers by heavy casualties. It was then decided to consolidate in front of the strong point . While this was being done our left got in touch with a party of the 9th KOYLI who had advanced and succeeded in occupying a line of shell holes which they had connected together . Our line was joined up to this one and the whole consolidated .

B and D companies supported by the Battn Bombers and Bttn Headquarters left Switch Trench simultaneously with A and C Companies advance from Gap Trench . Immediately on leaving the trench a heavy barrage of great intensity was opened all along our advancing line by the enemy , mainly from guns of 5.9 c and 7.7 c . Despite the fact that the barrage was highly intense and accurately ranged , these companies led by the Commanding officer Major H M C Orr marched along as if on parade without in any way having their morale shaken , for a distance of about 1500 yards. Officers and men were falling every moment . The barrage advanced with the line and further the line advanced so the barrage became more intense .

At 1 pm the two companies , Bttn Bombers and Bttn Headquarters arrived in the original front line trench greatly depleted in numbers , and it was then ascertained that the following casualties among officers had occurred :-

A Company lost 1 officer wounded. B Company lost 1 officer killed and 2 wounded . C Company had lost the Company commander ( wounded) and 2 officers wounded. D Company lost the Company commander killed and two officers wounded . About 25% of Other Ranks had been killed or wounded .

At 1.37 pm the barrage began to lift but enemy machine gun fire continued to play our old front line trench and it was found impracticable to advance to the aid of A Company .

Our old front line trench was now garrisoned by elements of 9th and 10th KOYLI and 1st East Yorks Regt in addition to the 1st Lincolns . The Lincolns were therefore withdrawn to the sunken road in N 32. and reorganised and afterwards reoccupied the trench and men of the other units were withdrawn at about 8 pm .

A Company had held on and consolidated the new front line which was continued by the 9th KOYLI on the left of them and by 1st and 4th Grenadier Guards on their right .

Toward midnight orders were received for the Bttn to withdraw to Switch Trench .

The following casualties had been sustained during the days` fighting. Major H M C Orr, 2nd Lt G F Dring, 2nd Lt H J Marlin , slightly wounded remained on Duty . Officers killed Capt W H Rushton and 2nd Lt C D Prangley . Officers wounded Lt G P Day , ( died 26/9/16) , Capt J E N P Denning ( died 26/9/16) . 2nd Lieutenants W Brydges -Sayers , C Simmons, G R Wall , J S Carr. F W Frazier, A J Wood. Other ranks, killed 21, missing 16, wounded 127 , total 164.


 The above picture is Charles Dean Prangley`s grave at Lesboeufs cemetery.   The inscription reads. He gave thee , He took thee, He will restore thee.


DSCF3726_edited (2)


Fr James Mather at the restoration service of the memorial to Leo Pratt of Ryston and Charles Dean Prangley  2014 .

During June 1915 before his son had left Marlborough , the Rev Prangley was helping wounded soldiers here in Downham :-

IMG_20140406_0001           Following his son`s death the Rev C W Prangley occasioned a book , a Missal to be created to the memory of his son .   Externally it has a polished wooden cover which is made from a tree in the garden of Charles Dean Prangley`s childhood home .  The cross set on the cover is made from the gold of the wedding ring of his late mother , and at the back the lining is from her silk wedding dress.    The calligraphy was done by George Smith of Downham who was also the artist for St Edmund`s church war memorial .


This missal was later given by the Rev C W Prangley to St George`s Chapel, at Ypres .   He also created a booklet which he intended to be sold to raise funds for the British Legion, called Quis Separabit  which is a collection of prayers and this is held in the British Library .


September 25th , 2016.     The 100th anniversary of Charles Dean Prangleys death was marked here at Bexwell by a gathering of friends and relatives at the Stone Cross memorial at 2.30 pm and at a Compline service in the church at 6.30.   Also commemorated was 2nd Lt Leo Pratt of Ryston who died 101 years ago on 25th Sept 1915 .   Amongst the visitors were William Bridge and his daughter who sent this copy of the telegram informing the Rev C W Prangley of his son`s death .

the telegram


Please contact me, Elizabeth, at My email address

Please contact me, Elizabeth, at My email address


Summary of the will of Henry Saffrey PROB 11/583

In the name of God , Amen. I Henry Saffery of Downham Market , gent , being indisposed in body but of sound and disposing mind memory and understanding praise be God for the same . Item I give and devise to my very loving brother Richard Saffery , gent and my dear friend Roger Pratt of Riston , esq, all my dwelling houses , malthouses , stables, outhouses , yards , gardens, orchards, and appurtenances and also all my other freehold and copyhold messuages lands and tenements and hereditaments whatsoever situate lying and being in Downham Market or in any other town or towns which were my father in law`s Thomas Crick , gent , deceased, so long and until my son Thomas shall attain his full age of 24 years , to receive and take all the rents issues and profits toward payment of my debts and legacies . Item I give to my son Thomas Saffrey , when he attains the age of 24 all that dwelling house malthouses etc herein before given and devised to my brother Richard and Roger Pratt , to his heirs for ever failing such heirs then the said messuages etc to my son Henry Saffrey and the heirs of his body and failing such heirs to my dau Frances Saffrey . I give and bequeath to my brother Richard and Roger Pratt , all my messuages freehold copyhold etc in Downham Market , Wimbotsham , Stow , Bexwell , Upwell, Welney , Maney , Hilgay , Southery , not before given and devised In trust that 3 months after my decease , bargain sell and dispose of the same and all my household stuff goods linen plate bills bonds ready money chattels , cattle , and to pay and discharge all of the mortgage or mortgages etc and to put out to interest £1,000 and to apply the interest for the education maintenance and putting out apprentice my said son Henry Saffrey and to pay the capital sum of £1,000 to my said son Henry when he attain 24 years .and any overplus to the education and maintenance of my daughter Frances when she attain 21 years and pay £600 to her . Item I give to my said son Thomas £30 and forty shillings to be distributed to the poor of Downham Market by the churchwardens and overseers at their discretion . I appoint my brother Richard Saffrey and Roger Pratt , my executors of this my last will and testament and give to each of them 20 guineas for their trouble . Dated 27th Dec 1721 . In the presence of John Butler , Margaret Tiffin, Bartholomew Johnson . Proved at London 19th Feb 1721/2 by the oaths of Richard Saffrey and Roger Pratt .

Summary of the Will of Edmund Saffery. NA Prob/11/1602.

This is the last will and testament of me Edmund Saffery of Downham Market, gentleman made 13th Dec 1813 . First I appoint my son Henry Saffery sole executor. I give and bequeath unto my daughter Susanna wife of John Johnson , the sum of £3,000 to be paid within two years of my decease . I give and bequeath to my dau Elizabeth wife of John Barton, the sum of £2,000 to be paid within eighteen months after my decease. I give and bequeath unto my dau Ann wife of Woodward Mudd £1,000 to be paid within eighteen months of my decease . I give and bequeath to my son Edmund Saffery £2,000 now due to me upon certain Indenture of Mortgage between John Flatt and me assigned to my son Edmund ” at the expense of my said son Henry ” . Also I give and bequeath to my servants Nathaniel Smith and John Taylor £19 19s a piece . I give and bequeath to Richard Henry Saffery the grandson of my late brother Richard Saffery £40 provided he attain the age of 24. Also I give and bequeath to Edmund Woodward Mudd , £100 and direct the sum be paid into the hands of his mother and applied by her to the use of my said grandson . Also I give and bequeath unto my niece Anna Saffrey dau of my late brother Richard Saffery 19 guineas . Also I give and bequeath to Richard Newell my Maltster and Thomas Waters my labourer £5 a piece . Also I give and bequeath unto my niece Caroline wife of ……..another dau of my late brother Richard Saffery 19 guineas . Also I give and bequeath to my niece Ann wife of ? Burch formerly Ann Saffrey spinster an annuity or yearly sum of £30. ” not subject to the control of her present or any future husband “. And I direct that my son Henry enter into a Bond with my son Edmund to pay te annuity to the said Ann . Also I give and bequeath to my dau Harriet £200 as a token of my sensibility of her kind care and attention toward me during my long indisposition and diret the same be paid within a month of my decease. And I give and bequeath to my friends Harvey Goodwin the younger of Holme next the sea and Charles Goodwin of King`s Lynn gentleman all such part and parts as is or are freehold or charterhold of and in all that my messuage or dwelling house, Malthouse, barn , stables, outhouses , and buildings of any description Yards , gardens and nut orchard or yard with their each and every appurtenance in Downham Market in my own occupation . And also in all those several pightle or closes of ground lying thereto by the several names of Quakers pightle , the Bull close, and Mites/Miles pightle and also the small piece of land called the Elm yard and the Blacksmiths shop thereto together with the two cottages thereon standing and which are now in the several occupations of myself , ….Rose, Richard Newell, John Brighton, Stephen Poll and Robert Raby . Also in one piece of land called Brickkiln piece with the sheds and buildings thereon with a small piece of land near thereto now also in my use and which close of land was purchased by me of ……Gardiner to hold the freehold part or parts of all the said Messuages , tenements , hereditaments etc to the said Harvey and Charles Goodwin upon Trust that they make sale and dispose of the freehold part and parts either by Public Auction or Private Contract for the best price and most money . And I hereby authorise and direct the said Harvey Goodwin and Charles Goodwin to sell and dispose of the Copyhold part and parts of the said Messuages etc and the monies that arise to be paid into the hands of my son Henry Saffery . Also I give and devise all my messuage etc, not previously disposed of unto my said son Henry Saffery and instruct him with the payment of the sum of £3,000 to my daughter Harriet . Also I give and bequeath unto my dau Harriet the best bedstead and furniture thereof belonging as well as the bolster , blankets, pillows used thereunto and all the other furniture in my sleeping room except the window curtains including the set of drawers usually kept therein although now in another chamber . Also I give and bequeath all my China , table linen, sheets, pillow cases, and linen of every other description as well as my wearing apparel unto and between my four daughters to be divided between them as they shall think proper . And I do declare that I have not on the day and date of this will any debt or debts due to me from any or either of my said children or from any or either of their respective husbands of my said daughters and subject to payment of all above legacies and except the legacy of £3,000 to my said daughter Harriet charged on the real estate charged to my son Henry . I give and bequeath al the rest and remainder of my personal estate to my said son Henry to his absolute use . In witness whereof I Edmund Saffery set my hand and seal . Witnesses Joel Snasdell, , Harvey Goodwin , John Platten . Will Proved London…14 March 1818 , by the oath of Henry Saffery son and sole executor . Note in margin . On 16th May 1845 Administration with the will annexed of the goods and chattels of Edmund Saffery left unadministered by Henry Saffery the son and sole executor of the said will , (since deceased , was granted to Henry Saffery the son of the said Henry Saffery deceased , to administer.

Notes : Edmund son of Edmund and Ann Saffery ( nee Chapman) bapt St Eds , 1734.1737 and 1738 ( two earlier children died ) .


Edmund son of Edmund and Susanna bapt St Eds 1772

Henry son of Edmund and Susanna bapt St Eds 1770

Susannah dau of Edmund and Susanna bapt 1772

Elizabeth dau of Edmund and Susanna bapt 1774

John son of Edmund and Susanna bapt 1773 .

Marr ; Ann Saffery m Woodward Mudd 1813

Elizabeth Saffery m John Barton of Rougham St Eds 1800

Susanna Saffery m John Johnson of Leverington , St Eds 1797

MI: Marble slab forming part of the pathway through the churchyard ( St Eds )

” Sacred to the memory of Edmund Saffery who died 1818 in the 80th year of his age and Susan his wife day of Thory and Elizabeth Chapman , who died 1813 in the 64th year of her age and also John who died aged 36 in 1809 ) . “

(Also , low tomb beside the path , ” the body of John Creasy , upward of 50yrs a `considerable farmer of Fordham` who died Downham 1832 aged 76 and Rebecca his wife , buried 1853 aged 84yrs )

The tomb of Edmund Saffrey in St Edmund’s churchyard is oddly part of the path leading from the left of the porch into the churchyard , so that the visitor must walk on his tomb . His wife Susanna and third son John are also here .



The next will is that of Jonathan Flower , who died in 1842 . He was very much involved in town business and from owning one small plot of land in the 1810 Land Tax Assessment by 1830 he owned seven areas of land and two houses .

Summary of the will of Jonathan Flower

In the name of God Amen , This is the last will and testament of me Jonathan Flower of Downham Market , builder. I give and bequeath unto my servant Sarah Belding the sum of £100 as a mark of my regard for her long service and in case she shall be living with me at the time of my decease , then I direct that in addition to such legacy her wages shall be paid to her up to Michaelmas day then next following . I give and bequeath to my nephew Henry Carter £50 and all my working tools and ironmongery and my case or cases of instruments and all my books on Architecture and Building . Also I give to Jonathan Flower the younger of Feltwell farmer one of my executors the sum of £20 for the purchase of a piece of plate in remembrance of me and as a small acknowledgement for the trouble he may have in the trusts and execution of this my will . Also I give and bequeath unto the Treasurer of the West Norfolk Hospital the sum of £20 for the benefit of the same hospital . I give and bequeath unto each of my grandchildren that shall be living at the time of my death the sum of £200 to be paid when they attain the age of 21 years . As to the rest and residue I give and bequeath to my daughter Mary Ann wife of George Wood of Denver farmer . And I hereby nominate the said George Wood and the said Jonathan Flower my sole executors . Also I give and devise unto the said Sarah Belding all that freehold cottage with the garden and appurtenances thereto belonging and which said cottage was lately erected by me upon part of the lands now in my own possession formerly the estate of …..Saffery and which lands are hereinafter mentioned and described and are devised in trust for my grandson George Wood to hold the same property unto her the said Sarah Belding for and during her natural life . I give and devise unto my son in law George Wood and Jonathan Flower the younger my copyhold dwelling house in DM together with the yard garden workshops stables outbuildings and appurtenances now in my own occupation and also the copyhold messuage or dwelling house thereto adjoining now in the tenure or occupation of Mr Thomas Wales surgeon which said dwelling house and premises were formerly the estate of Mr Clark ….and also those several pieces of parcels of land with the barn , stables and other outbuildings therein situate in DM abutting on and adjoining the premises of Mr Hacon east and west and now in my own occupation formerly the estate of Mr Saffery ……as to for and concerning all that my freehold messuage and dwelling house with yard, garden , stables and outbuildings situate in Bexwell Road late in the occupation of Mr George Platten and afterwards of Mr Edward Hett and now of Mrs Creasy and also all that piece or parcel of land situate in a certain lane called Rabbit Lane now in my occupation and formerly of Mr Lemmon and also the piece or parcel of land situate in Long Drove now in my occupation and formerly the estate of Mr Thomas Beeston , and as for and concerning all that piece or parcel of freehold land containing two acres or thereabouts with the messuage or dwelling house and outbuildings erected thereon situate and adjoining the Howdale now in the several occupations of John Poll and John Barrett which I lately purchased of Henry Scott and as for and concerning my messuage and dwelling house now a public house together with the Brewing Office stables , yards , gardens , outbuildings situate near the Steam Engine on the road leading to the Great Bridge in DM late in the occupation of Mr Edward Meadows and now of David Johnson together with the new built house and Granary lately erected on part of the garden formerly belonging to the said public house which are now unoccupied but which are let to Mr George Ward and also one acre situate in Bartons Drove purchased by me from Gregory Wrights trustees ….and as for those several freehold messuages or cottages and plantation situate in Paradise Lane formerly the estate of Mr Creasy and afterwards of Mr Rawlings ……and as for all those several messuages or dwelling houses with the Baking office , yards , gardens situate in the Denver Road now in the occupation of Messrs Poll and the Misses Horsley and formerly the estate of Mr Munro ………

Will dated 18th October 1839 witnesses Jonathan Flower , Feltwell, farmer , Thomas Garneys Wales, surgeon , Edwd Flower, 59 Lincolns Inn , gent. Proved May 1842 by the oaths of George Wood and Jonathan Flower the executors .

Sarah Balding dau of William and Lettice , miller, bapt 1813 St Edmunds.

Jonathan Flower married Mary Hearsine at Horringer, Suffolk, in 1795 and their daughter Mary Ann was born in 1796. She appears to be the only child and married George Wood , farmer of Denver . An Obituary in the Bury and Norwich Post of Wednesday 22nd Dec 1819 , ” Last week after a few days illness , in the 50th year of her age Mrs Mary Flower, wife of Mr Jonathan Flower of Downham Market , carpenter. By her death her family have to lament the loss of an affectionate and indulgent wife and parent , her neighbours a kind and valuable friend , and the poor a liberal benefactress . “

NRO MC 188/22 , 647 x 5 1838-1840 refers to a Sale Particular of estates ” above 2,000 acres in Hockwold , Feltwell and Lakenheath , purchased by Jonathan Flower for £38,000 , memo 17th Oct 1840. “

In the 1841 census Jonathan Flower is living in the High St , with Sarah Belding , 35, and his two grandsons George and Thomas Wood .

Summary of the will of Thomas Batchcroft dated 1660 and proved in London 1662 PROB 11/310.


In the name of God Amen , I Thomas Batchcroft doctor of divinity , Master and Keeper of Gonville and Caius College in the University of Cambridge being in reasonable health of body and well disposed in mind ( all praise unto the Lord) do make this my last will and testament my former wills and testaments being cancelled . First I yield up my soul into the hands of my Creator and Redeemer and my body to be decently buried in the evening at the discretion of my executors in the church of Wangford in the county of Suffolk . Looking assuredly by a true and lively faith in Christ Jesus my alone Saviour to be found at the general resurrection amongst the number of those that shall stand a Christ Jesus right hand and hear him pronounce the last sentence come ye blessed of my father inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world for I was anhungered and ye gave me meate I was thirsty and ye gave me drinke and secondlie concerning the disposing of my temporal estate which the Lord hath given me , I order if thus . First I give one hundred pounds to purchase five pounds per annum in Land for ever for the use of the poor of Downham Market in the county of Norfolk to be distributed amongst them to buy victualls to nourish them , clothes to cover them or fireing to warm them and one of these to be done yearly for ever for the better performing of which gift I request Mr Thetford Minister of the town , William Parlett esq Counsellor and William Life the elder mercer inhabitants thereof to take the paines to perform my will in this point .and after any of their deaths and removals elsewhere I request the next minister of that town and two of the chiefest inhabitants thereof to perform that office year after year for the use and benefit of the poor …………Item I give to my three nieces Mrs Anne Wright, Mrs Elizabeth Jenney , Mrs Alice Barber and their heirs all my messuages houses and lands lying in Downham Market and thereabouts in the county of Norfolk with the ……..and fold course of four hundred sheep and all the appurtenances of … Elizabeth Jenney now Elizabeth Cobb wife of Francis Cobb of Yarmouth merchant .

Dated 1660 proved London 1662.

This following photograph was taken by and is copyright of John Salmon to whom grateful thanks .


This blackboard is in the vestry of St Edmund`s Church in Downham. And rarely seen .

And below is the first page of the copy will in the National Archives .



I William Say of Downham Market, esq .  First I appoint my brother the Rev Henry Say of Swaffham, clerk , my executor .  I bequeath all my personal and real estate to my brother ( mentions all my messuages in Crimplesham, West Dereham , Stow Bardolph , Wimbotsham ) .    .  I bequeath £200 to my niece Elizabeth Say daughter of my late brother Robert Say , and an £80 annuity to my housekeeper Ann Terrington .     Will dated 16th May 1836 , witnesses T H Say , Jas Jarvis, Ebzr Hewitt.  Proved by Henry Say 15 May 1841 .

William Say is first mentioned in the Saunders News Letter of 8th March 1786 when he is appointed Ensign in the 31st or Huntingdonshire regiment of foot .   His next appointment is in Oct 1795 when he is promoted from Captain to Major in the 69th regiment .  and further in November 1795 he is transferred as Major to the 99th regiment .   His final mention is as a half pay Major substantive Colonel still in the 99th regiment in 1826 when he retired .   During the Napoleonic wars , he was in the West Indies with his regiment .

William , Henry and Robert Say were the children of William Say and Elizabeth Bell ( of Wallington) who married at Runcton Holme in 1765 . Henry was the survivor of the three and lived to be in his mid 80s still as Rector of North Pickenham .  He appears to have been a childless widower.



The above William and Hannah Say , are lying under the table at the back of the church  . She was Hannah Ives and they were married in Watton in 1721 .    The Colonel is probably in the church somewhere . The boy William Say who died aged 13?15. is just inside the door of the church.

On the floor of the church between Mr William Say , above, is the ledger of Ann wife of Cornelius Carr, junr


Please contact me, Elizabeth, at My email address

Please contact me, Elizabeth, at My email address

Land Tax Assessments 1791, 1810 , 1830 .

Land Tax Assessment 1791 .  NRO ref .

Owners Land and Tenements Occupier Rent Gross taxes 1/4ly payment
Bridgereeves of Downham Ho.Lands & tents Wm Waller £84.0. £16.16. £4.0.
Bayfield, Benm Ho.. Self £9.10.
Ho.. Beech? 15.s 14s 3s6d
Stock 25£ £1.5s
Barrett, Edmd Ho… Self £2.0.0. 8s 2s
Bodger, Jno Ho and land E Glasscock junr £1.15. 9s 1s 9d
Bird, James Ho and Land Self £1.10.
Two Lotts for ? Self 15s.
Two lotts late Galloway 15s. 17s. 4s3d.
Stock 25£ £1.5s.
Brighton, Thoms Land in Drove Self 15s. 6s. 1s 6d.
Land Cook 15s.
Bradfield, Wm Ho Hannant 10s 2s 6d.
Bradley, Jno Ho Self 15s. 3s. 9d.
Barfoot, Geo Ho Late Tuck 10s. 2s. 6d.
Burton, Esq. Ho and Land Wm Hubbard . £1.15s. 15s. 3s 9d.
Two Lotts . J Lent £2.0.0.
Baldwin,, Wm . Ho.. Self 10s. 2s. 1s 5d.
Clark, Wm. Ho. Howes. £1.5s. 5s. 1s 3d.
Canneby, Robt. Ho. Self. 10s. 2s. 6d.
Creasy, Wm. Gent. Ho. Self. £3.0.
Ho . And land . ? £28..0.
Four lotts . Self . £1.0.
Ho. Mrs Creasy . £1.10.
Land Late Life Self . £2.0.0. £12.14. £3.3.6d
Ho. Mr Luff. £1.0.
Land Late . Hett . Esq. £1.10.
Foxborough Self. 15s.
Land Late . Rev Mr Youngs. £24.15.
Carter, Jno. Land. E Watson. 7s 6d. 1s 6d. 4 1/2d.
Creasy, Jno. Ho. Perkins. 8s 4d. 1s 8d 5d.
Chandler, Jno . Ho Late Watson. 15s. 3s. 9d.
Collns, Simon. Ho. Self. 15s. 3s. 9d.
Clements, Wm. Ho. Chandler. £1.0. 4s. 1s.
Carter , Isaac. Ho. Shinn. 10s. 2s. 6d.
Coulsher, Jno. Ho. Self. 10s. 2s. 6d.
Chapman, Wm. Tanyard and offices . Self. £7.11s. £1.11. 7s .6d.
Downham Work House And land. Simson. 15s. 3s. 9d.
Drew, Jas. Ho. G Gooding. 8s 4d. 1s. 8d. 5d.
Dashwood, Revd. Rectory Self. £20.0. £4.0. £1.0.
Dymore , Thos. Ho. G.Hovell. 8s 4d. 1s 8d. 5d.
Dering, J T Esq. Land Late . Adkin £5.15s. £1.3s. 5s 9d.
Elsey, Richd. Ho. Self. £3.0. 12s. 3s.
Elmer, Wm , Nordelph. Land Late. Grimmer. £2.0.0.
Ho. Self. £1.0. 12s. 3s.
Elmer, Jno. Ho Self. £2.0.0. 8s. 2s.
Evens, G B , Esq. Late ?12 in plans. Hutson. £5.0. £1.0. 5s.
Ho and Land . J Roberts . £1.10s.
Two lotts in fen . do. £1.0. 10s. 2s.6d.
Fisher, James. One lott ? Fen. Self. 7s 6d 1s 6d. 4 1/2d.
Fuller, Wm . Ho. Wade. £1.0.
Ho. D Gray. £1.0. 8s. 2s.
Fuller, Thos. Ho. T Juler. £1.0. 4s. 1s.
Franklin, Thoms . Ho. Self. £4.0. 16s. 4s.
Gillingham, Thoms. Ho. Self. £3.0. 12s. 3s.
Ho. K Curry. 15s. 10s. 2s 6d.
Ho. G Simons. 15s.
Ho. T Bailey. £1.0.
Green, Jno. Ho. Self. 15s. 3s. 9d.
Green , Wm and Claydon Ho. Claydon. £3.10s 14s. 3s 6d.
Green, Chris”r. Ho A Carman. £1.10s. 6s. 1s 6d.
Gillingham , Geo. Ho. Self. 15s 3s. 9d.
Garrett, Wm. Ho. Self and co. 15s. 3s. 9d.
Glover, Jno. Ho. Chamberlain. 15s. 3s. 9d.
Hovell, Jas. Ho. Self. £2.0.0.
Ho H Longman. £1.10s.
Stone pitt etc. Self. £2.0.0.
? Land ? And pightle. Self. £3.0. £4.9s. £1.2s.3d.
Land Late . Life. 10s.
Land and House. Late Youngs. £12.0.0
Land Late. Townshend. £1.5s.
Land. J Mounce. 10s.
Hett, Esq. Land. Wm Wright. 11s. 2s. 6d.
Handslip, Natl. Ho. Hoy and Co. 15s. 3s. 9d.
Hudson, Anne. Ho. Self. £1.10s.
Ho. Ryston End. 10s. 8s. 2s.
Holman, Thos. Ho. Self. £3.0.
Ho. Gooley. £1.10s. 18s. 4s 6d.
Head, Jno. Land and House late Youngs. £19.10s.
Stock at £50. £2.10s. £4.8s. £1.2s.
Hopkins, Nordelph. Ho. Wm Dixon. £1.0.0 4s. 1s.
Houston, Thos. Ho. Wright. 10s. 2s. 6d.
Herbert, Den. Ho. Robt Tuck. 10s. 2s. 6d.
Hampson, Jas. Ho. Self. £5.0. £1.0. 5s.
Harris, Lady. Land. Farrow. £3.0. 12s. 3s.
Do. Hibbert. £4.0. 4s. 1s.
Do. Wm Pyborn. £1.10s 6s. 1s 6d.
Do. J. Snasdell. £3.10s. 14s. 3s 6d.
Juler, Jno. Ho. W Hodson.. 15s. 3s. 9d.
James, Jno. Ho. Self. £3.10s.
Ho. Meadows. £1.15s.
Ho. Elless. 15s.
Stock at £10. 10s. £1.6s. 6s 6d.
King, James. Ho. Thorogood, junr. £2.15s. 11s. 2s 9d.
King, Thos. Ho.and land . Late Sadler. £1.0. 4s. 1s.
Knights and Thacher Ho. Jno. Franklin. 10s 2s. 6d.
Life, Thos. Land. J Moon. £10.0. £2.0. 10s.
Luff, Jno. Stock 10£. 10s.
Malthouse and land. Self. £1.10s 8s. 2s.
Luff, Thoms. Six Lotts late. Noaks. £2.5s. 9s. 2s 3d.
Morrel, Jno, senr. Ho. Self. £1.0.0.
Ho. T Hall. £1.10. 10s. 2s 6d.
Morriss, J, Lynn Ho Rising . £1.10. 6s. 1s 6d.
? Mrs Birch . Ho. Self . £1.10s. 6s. 1s 6d.
? How Bell . Ho. Self. £5.0.0 £1.0.0 5s.
Morris, Matw. Ho. Self. 15s. 3s. 9d.
Morrel, Jno. Jnr. Ho Self. £2.10s . 10s. 2s 6d.
Moon, Jas. Ho and Lott ?. Wm Moon. £3.0.0
Ho. Self. £2.7s.6d. £1.1s.6d. 5s 4 1/2d.
Moon, Wm. Land. Self. £1.10s. 6s. 1s. 6d.
Noak , Miss. Old Queenshead. Wright and Co. £3.0.0
Ho. Shop Chapman. £1.13s . 19s. 4s 9d.
Osborn, Thoms. Ho Self. £1.10s.
Ho. Scarnell and Co. £1.0.0
Ho. Mary Garnett. £1.0.0 14s. 3s 6d.
Do New H Carter ?. Ho. Late Morel. £1.10. 6s. 1s 6d.
Osborn, Fincham . Meeting House. T Gay. 10s. 2s. 6d.
Plummer, Robt. Ho. Palgrave and Co. 13s 3s. 9d.
Pidgeon, Martn . Ho. Self. £2.0.0
Land in ? Self. £1.2s.6d.
Two Lotts . Self . 15s. 15s 6d. 3s 10 1/2.d.
Pratt, Revd Wm. Ho. Mrs Stanforth . £3.0.0
Ho. J Gay. 7s .6d. 13s 6d. 3s 4 1/2d .
Perowne, Wm . Ho. Self. £2.0.0
Stock 25£. £1.15s. 13s. 3s 3d.
Portler, Anne. Ho. Self. £2.0.0
Claypit close. Moon. £2.0.0
Land. Negus . £3.10s.
Seven Lotts for C? Dawson. £2.12s.6d.
Kings Arms. Negus. £2.0.0
Ho. Patmore 15s.
Two Lotts. Ab Carter. 15s. £2.14s.6d. 13s 7 1/2d/
Quaker Meeting House. Abm. Carter. £3.0.0 12s. 3s.
Reeve, Josp. Ho. Leefever. 10s.
Ho. H Stevens. £1.0.0 6s. 1s 6d.
Robinson, Mary. Ho. Self. £1.5s
Stock 10£. 10s. 7s. 1s 9d.
Rosher, Thoms Ho. Self. £2.5s.
One Lott far com. Self. 15s.
Land late . Walker. £1.0.0. 16s. 4s.
Raven, Hannh Ho and Land . Self. £1.0.0 4s. 1s.
Robinson, Mrs. Ho. Self and co. £1.10s. 6s. 1s. 6d.
Ramsey, Thos. Ho. Harrold. 15s. 3s. 9d.
Shinn, wid. Ho. Howes. 15s. 3s. 9d.
Saffrey, Henry . Stock 50£. £2.10s. 10s. 2s 6d.
Saffrey, Edmd , gent. Hat and Feather Brighton. £2.0.0
One lott late Taylor. Self. 7s 6d.
One lott. Self. 15s.
Homestall Self. £5.0.0
Queenshead. S Smith. £2.0.0
Stock Close . Self . £2.0.0.
Bell Ho. Parlett and Co. £2.0.0.
Dolmans. Self. £3.15s.
Bull Close. Self. £3.10s.
Brickyard. Self. £1.0.0.
Dickerson. 10s.
Howard. 15s.
Stock pightle. Self. £1.0.0
Old brickyard. Self. £1.0.0
Hangmans Close. £1.15s.
Three lotts in plains. £1.2s 6d.
Life`s seven lotts four Gordle three own £5.15s. £20.3s.6d. £5.0.10 1/2d,
Three lotts next close. 15s.
Ho. Rev Mr. Saffrey. £1. 7s. 6d.
Three lotts Fisher and Burgess. £1.2s 6d.
Four lotts late Dunbar. £1.10s.
Stock 50£. £2 10s.
Partridge , esq. Farm. £19 10s .
Late Ransoms. Farm. £16. 2s 6d.
Wilkinson. £1.0.0.
Six Lotts. £2.5s.
O Zessefen ? S Smith. £8.0.0
One Lott in plain. Self. 7s 6d.
Six lotts farr comn £2.5s.
Lenhooks. £1.0.0
Dunbars and arable £3.0.0
Late Wm Youngs Farm £5.17s.6d
Ho. Self. £2.0.0.
Howdle Close . Saffery. £6.0.0.
Land in Snap Lane. £2.10s.0.
Two lotts in far common. 15s.
Stone Pitt close. £1.0.0.
Land W Scott. £1.5s.
Land. J Bird. 15s.
Land next church. £1.0.0.
Land. Gilt. Simons. £2.0.0. £5. 19s. 6d. £1.9s 10 1/2d.
Land Stow. Road. Pigeon £2.5s.
Ho. Gordon. 10s.
Ho. Mrs Warnes. £1.0.0.
Ho. H. Saffery. £3.0.0.
Ho. Thorogood. £2.0.0.
Halfway land. Wiles. £3.0.0.
One lott. Pidgeon. 7s.6d.
Smith, Mrs . Bashm?. Ho. Mrs Edgar. £1.10s 6s. 1s. 6d.
Stanford. Ho and Land. Pleasance. £5.0.0. £1.0.0. 5s.
Suttleby, Jno. Ho. Self. 10s. 2s. 6d.
Shelton, Alexr. Mill. Self. £2.0.0. 8s. 2s.
Swanborough , Wm. Ho. Self. £1.10s 6s. 1s 6d.
Saffery , esquire. £40.0.0. £8.0.0. £2.0.0.
Terrington, Robt. Ho. Self. £1.10s 6s. 1s. 6d.
Thorp and Wright. Ho. Shelton and Co. 15s. 3s. 9d.
Tyers, Thoms. Ho. Self. £1.0.0.
Ho. G Colsher. 10s. 8s. 2s.
Ho. Hood. 10s.
Thompson, Edmd. Ho and Land. Self. £2.0.0. 8s. 2s.
Tyre, Wm. Ho Self. Ho.Self. 10s. 2s. 6d.
Tiffen, Rogr. Ho and Land. Self. £9.10s
Ho. Coote. £1.0.0. £2.4s. 11s.
Ho. Kipping. 10s .
Taylor, Jno. Ho. Self. £3.0.0. 16s. 4s.
Ho. Simson. 10s.
True, Miss ? Ho. Wiseman and Co £2.0.0. 8s. 2s.
Tilbrook, Jno. Ho. Reeve and Co. £1.0.0. 4s. 1s.
Thorp, Mrs. Ho. Eastoll. £1.0.0. 4s. 1s.
Underwood . Ho. G. Plumb. 10s. 2s. 6d.
Ward, Robinson. Ho. Self. 10s. 2s. 6d.
Williamson, Henry. Ho. Self and co. £1.10s 6s. 1s 6d.
Wollenall? , Thos. Ho. Overton. £2.0.0.
Land in plains. Self. 7s 6d. 9s. 6d. 2s 4 1/2d.
Watson, Edwd Ho. Self. £2.0.0.
Ho Pike and Co. £1.10s 14s. 3s 6d.
Wright, Thos. Ho. Self. £2.0.0.
Ladydrove way . Houses. £1.0.0.
Stock 25£ £1.0.0. £1.7s. 6s. 9d.
Part winter? Late Adkins. £2.10s .
Wright, Wm. Ho and Land. Mr Towneshend. £3.0.0. 12s. 3s.
Wiles. Wm . Ho. Self. £2.2s 2d.
Land late Carter. 7s 6d.
Do Do £2.0.0. £1.2s. 6d.
Land late Adkin. £1 2s 6d.
Weston, Jonah . Ho. Self. £2.0.0.
Ho. Casebone. 15s.
One lott low commn Self. 7s 6d. £1 0.6d 5s 1/2d.
Ho. T Stevens. 15s .
Ho. Ashman . £1 .5s .
Williamson, Jno. Ho. Galoway 10s.
Wrangle, Jno. Ho. Gathurst ? £1.10s 6s. 1s 6d.
Wills, Robt. Ho. Self. £2.0.0.
Ho. Hall. £1.0.0. 12s. 3s.
Youngs, Wm . A Mill . Overton. £2.0.0. 8s. 2s.
Youngs, Jno. Ho. Self. 10s. 2s. 6d.
Total £32.13. 10 1/2d
Note the Day of Appeal Will be on Monday The 13th June Next at the Queens Head Inn
In Downham by ten o` Clock in the forenoon.
Thos Gillingham
Wright Scott. Overseers. June 13th 1791.
Jos (*) Forby.. Philip (*) Bell. Robert (*) Forby.


Land Tax Assessment 1810.

NRO C/SCD2/2/28.
Proprietors. Occupiers. Sums Ass,Exon. Sums Ass NE. Sums Ass PP. ditto Pens&Pl. Yearly Payments.
Bacon, John. Thompson & Others. 10s.0. 10s.0.
ditto. self.
Balding, John. self.. 2s.0.
Baldwin, Wm self. 14s.0. 14s.0.
ditto. Late Holman. ditto.
Bambridge. Thomas Reeve. 4s.0. 4s.0.
Barr, Robt. self. 2s.0. 2s.0.
Beeston, Thomas. ditto. 9s.0. 9s.0.
ditto. ditto.
Bell, Henry , esq. Ditto , Clark. £1.5s.6d. £1.5s.6d.
Ditto . J Flower .
Bell, Isaac. self £1.0.0.
Bird, Benjamin. self 8s.0. 8s.0.
Birks(Bicks) Jacob. Abraham Wicks £5.5s.0.
Bridgereeves. Stanley, widow. £16.16s.0. £16.16s.0.
Brighton, Thos. Self .
ditto.(late Townsend) ditto.
Ditto. ditto.
ditto (late Bradley) John Piggott . £1.9s.0. £1.9s.0.
ditto. (late Parsley) self.
Burch, Joseph. self. 6s.0. 6s.0.
Brighton, Wm . self.
Ditto. ( late T Brighton) Self .
Ditto. ( late Watts) Self . 16s.0. 16s 0.
Ditto ( late Barfoot) Wm Mark.
Bolton , Saml . Robert Raby.
ditto (late Wright) self. 16s.0. 16s.0.
Baker, John ( late Carman) self. 6s.0. 6s.0.
Bullock, William. self. 5s.0. 5s.0.
Carter, Abraham. self. 5s.0. 5s.0.
ditto.(late Bw Carter) John Shinn.
Clark, B. late Samuels J Crabb Ady . 6s.0. 6s.0.
Chamberlain,& Bolton. Samuel Bolton .
ditto. ditto. 9s.0. 9s.0.
Chapman exors. Youd , Robt. £1.10s 0. £1.10s.0.
Chapman, Wm . Self . 4s.0. 4s.0.
Clark, widow. John Johnson . 3s.0. 3s.0.
Coates, Mary . self. 6s.0. 6s.0.
Coles , heirs. Thos Norman. 2s.0. 2s.0.
Colcher, John. self. 2s.0. 2s.0.
Cullington, John. George Hovell. 2s.0. 2s.0.
Carter, Isaac, (late Miles) Self . 3s. 6d. 3s .6d.
Dering, J T esq. Benj Bird. £1.13s 0.
Ditto ( late Creasy) Self .
Ditto. ( late Brighton) Self . 16s.0. 16s.0.
Dixon, John. self. 12s 0. 12s 0.
Ditto ( late Osborne ) self.
Downham Workhouse. Robt Simpson. 3s.0. 3s.0.
Drew, James. Edward Jackson. 1s. 8d. 1s.8d.
Dugmore, Thos. George Goodwin. 1s.8d. 1s.8d.
Dobson, Wm . Self .
ditto, late Creasy self. £2. 1s.0. £2.1s. 0.
ditto late Osborne. sefl
Edwards, Richard. William Lemmon. 3s.0.
Evans, T B esq. Wm Hutson.
Ditto,. Mary Roberts . £1.10s.0. £1.10s.0.
Ellis, Edward. self. 4s.0. 4s.0.
Elsey, Richard. Self .
Ditto. John Thistleton.
ditto late Hine. self.
ditto. Late Howes, self £1.4s.0. £1.4s.0.
Excise Office . Fogg,. £8.0.0. 8.0.0.
Fellowes, Robt, esq. James Drew. 2s.0. 2s.0.
Fisher, Mary . Wm Smith. 1s 6d. 1s.6d.
Franklin, Thos. self. 16s.0. 16s 0.
Flower, Jonathan . Wm Foulger. 2s.0. 2s.0.
Gillingham , Thos. Robt .Gray. 12s.0. 12s.0.
Glasscock, George. Self .
Ditto . late Wiseman. 7s.3d. 7s.3d.
Glover, John . self. 3s.0.
Goodchild, widow. Eastall and Shinn. 2s.0. 2s.0.
Goodrick, Matthew, self. 4s.0. 4s.0.
Green, Robert. Robert Drew.
ditto. Long and others. 9s.0. 9s.0.
Gunthorpe , widow. self. 1s.0. 1s.0.
Heading, Sarah . self. 3s.0. 3s.0.
Hacon, James. Self . 12s.0. ` 12s.0.
Hacon, Thos. Self and others 7s.0. 7s.0.
Hall, Thos. Thomas Chambers £1.0.0. £1.0.0.
Hampson, Exors. self and others. 8s.0. 8s.0.
Harris, John. Self .
ditto late Edwards. Lavender and others. 13s.6d. 13s.6d.
ditto late Ashman . Wm Palgrave.
Hawey , Thos ( late Carter) Mrs Watson. 1s.6d.
Hitch, John, Self . 4s.0. 4s.0.
Hooton, James, Self . 2s.0. 2s.0.
Hare, Thos. Esq . Thos Farrow . 17s.0. 17s.0.
ditto Richd Garnham .
Herbert, C P . Saml Edwin.
ditto. Thos Youngs. 18s.0.
ditto. Mary Tuck.
Holman, Thos. self.
ditto. Spewer& others. 15s.0. 15s.0.
Hopkin, Wm exors. Richd Hopkin. 4s.0. 4s.0.
Home, Elizth . Wm Rose. 15s.0. 15s.0.
Houston, Thos. self,
ditto. Wm Perkins. 8s.0. 8s.0.
Howells, exors . Thos Franklin.
ditto. (stone pit close) ditto.
ditto. Thomas Hall . £1. 8s.0. £1.8d.0.
ditto. Wm Casebow.
Flower, Suckling . Self . 5s.0. 5s.0.
Howes, Wm . John Piggott. 1s.6d. 1s.6d.
Juler, James. Edwd Wright. 3s.0. 3s.0.
King, James. Hewett & others. 11s.0. 11s.0.
Lack, Thos. self.
ditto late Osborne. Self . 9s.0. 9s.0.
ditto. self.
Lemmon, Wm late Creasy . Self .
ditto. Late Hampson. Wright and Lock .
ditto late Rowling . Self . £3.14s.0. £3.14s.0.
ditto late Wardell . self.
ditto late Saffrey . self.
Lemon, G, Wm.late Richmond. Self . 10s.0. 12s.0.
Ditto . Stock . 2s.0.
Lucas, Sarah. Pratt. 1s.3d. 1s.3d.
Mawle, J L . self. 2s.0. 2s.0.
Martin, Henry . Wm Martin. 6s.0. 6s.0.
Merrington, Th Self . 8s.0. 8s.0.
Miller, widow . self. 6s.0. 6s.0.
Moore , Susanna , F. Edm`d Saffery, junr.
ditto late Clements. Christ`r Fuller. 10s.8d. 10s.8d.
Ditto . widow Goodchild.
ditto late Watson. E Saffery
Moor, Ellen. John Miller
ditto. R A Moor
Ditto. J Miller. £1.11s.6d. £1.11s.6d.
ditto Bane etc. Ditto .
ditto. Beeston, & others.
Noble , John. self 2s.0. 2s.0.
Parke, Revd Gilbert. Self , £6.0.0. £6.0.0.
ditto late Raven`s exors. Self ,
Parker, James. Self . 6s.0. 6s.0.
ditto. son.
Parkinson, J . late Woodward. 6s.0. 6s.0.
Patfield, Mary . Self ,
ditto late Mr Creasy . late Remington . 12s.0. 12s.0.
Pearson, Edmund . Daniel Gray. 4s.0. 4s.0.
Pidgeon, widow. Self .
Ditto . Self .
Ditto 2 lots in plains. Self . 13s 0. 13s.0.
Pooley , John. Wm Elmer. 12s.0.
Proprietors of Meeting House. Joihn Jeffries. 2s.0. 2s.0.
Paine T L Henry Coote. 4s.0. 4s.0.
Poll, John. Self . 8s.0. 8s.0.
Patman , John . Self . 1s.6d. 1s.6d.
Quakers Meeting House. J Ady Crabb. 9s.0. 9s.0.
Raven, Henry ,exors. Gilbert Symonds. 6s.0. 6s.0.
Reeve, Edwd self.
ditto. Self .
Ditto . self £2.2s.0. £2.2s.0.
Ditto . stock. 5s.0.
Reeve, William . Francis Stevens. 6s.0. 6s.0.
Ditto . self.
Rosher, Thos , exors. Wm Burman.
Ditto . Robt Drew.
ditto. Ditto .
ditto late Saffreys . ditto. £2.1s.0. £2.1s.0.
Ditto . Ditto .
ditto. Barker .
Ditto . self.
Robinson, John. John Watson . 6s.0. 6s.0.
Rosher, Thos, junr self 4s.0. 4s.0.
Rudd, William. Bird. 3s.0. 3s.0.
Rowling , Wm. Self . £2.2a.0. £2.2s.0.
Roper, Thos, ( late Pidgeons) Self . 2s.6d. 2s.6d.
Saffrey , Edmd junr . self. 1s.0. 1s.0.
Saffrey, Henry . stock. 10s.0.
Ditto . Late Tiffins. Self . 15s.0. £1.15s.0.
ditto T M Bailey . 4s.0.
Seppings, John, self and others. 7s.0. 7s.0.
Shinn, Elizth F Egleton. 3s.0. 3s.0.
Smith , Nathl Drew and others. 3s.0. 3s.0.
Saffrey, Edmund. Self ,
Ditto , late Youngs. Self ,
Ditto . Do late ———- ditto
ditto He: and Homestall. ditto. £9.12s.0.
ditto Dolmans ditto.
ditto Bull Close . ditto.
ditto Pallen ? Land . Joihn Franklin
ditto late Partridge Self ,
ditto Dunbars arable . ditto.
ditto John Franklin
Ditto. stock 10s.0.
ditto For Common. Self . £14.18s.0.
ditto. self
ditto Clay Pit close . Self ,
ditto Queens Head. Saml Johnson
ditto Steeler Closes ditto
ditto late Porters Saml Bolton.
ditto Hangman`s Close . self.
ditto late Creasys ditto.
ditto late Dunbars ditto.
Ditto . Pinnock . £4.16s.0.
Ditto 3 sole in plains ?. Self .
ditto Brickyard. ditto.
ditto old brickyard ditto.
ditto Mile pightle ditto.
ditto Risdales. ditto.
ditto late Patches . ditto.
ditto late Hare. ditto.
Ditto. ditto. 4s.0.
Smith Wm James. self 6s.0.
ditto stock. 2s.0. 10s.0.
Stevens, John, self. 2s.0. 2s.0.
Stevens, Thos . Self . 7s.6d. 7s.6d.
ditto late Saffrey. self.
Scott Wright . Farrow and others.
Ditto . Gamble and others. 6s.0. 6s.0.
Say, William , esq. self.
ditto late Henry Saffrey .
ditto. self.
ditto. John Seppings.
ditto. late Martin Pidgeon.
ditto. Self .
Ditto . late Simonds.
ditto. Wright Scott. £5.9s.6d. £5.9s.6d.
ditto. Self ,
ditto. Ditto .
ditto. late Pidgeon. .
ditto. Thos Franklin .
ditto. James Wragg.
ditto. late T M Bailey .
ditto. Martin Pidgeon .
Sanders, Charles. J Sinclair , 2s.0. 2s.0.
Snelling Matthew . Self . 10s.6d. 10s.6d.
Taylor , John. self.
ditto self.
Ditto . self.
Ditto . Self , 6s.0. 6s.0.
ditto late Creasys, self.
Ditto. . Robt Simpson.
Terrington , Robt. self. 6s.0. 6s.0.
Thompson, Edmund. Self,. 8s.0. 8s.0.
Thorogood, Robt . self and others. 8s.0. 8s.0.
Tiffin , Mary . Joseph Watson . 19s.0. 19s.0.
Tims, Thos. Self .
ditto. late Malt and others. 6s.0. 6s.0.
Tims, William . Self . 2s.0. 2s.0.
Wright , Martha . T Wright . 4s.0. 4s.0.
Wales, Thos. Self . 14s.0
Ditto , Stock . 5s.0. 19s.0.
Watson , widow. self.
Ditto. ditto.
ditto. ditto, £1.2s.0., £1.2s.0.
Watson , Joseph , esq, self,
ditto. self.
Ditto. self. 8s.0. 8s.0.
ditto, self,
Weston, Jonah . self and others, 8s.0. 8s.0.
Weston, William Self ,
ditto. Ditto . 8s.0. 8s.0.
ditto late Osborn. ditto.
Wignall, John, self.
ditto, late Saffrey, ditto, 3s.0. 3s.0.
Williamson. James Galloway . 2s.0. 2s.0.
Wright, John . Tuck and others. 3s.0. 3s.0.
Wiles, William , self,
ditto ditto, £2.0.0.
ditto. ditto.
Wright, Thomas, self,
Ditto. Thos Brighton. 18s.0.
ditto, stock. 5s.0. £1.12s.0.
ditto. late T Gay,
Ditto. Benjn Bray. 9s.0. .
Ditto. Widow Baker.
Wright William. Mrs Miller, 5s.0. 5s.0.
Wyer, John George. self.
ditto. John Juler. £1.8s.0. £1.8s.0.
Willimott, John . self. 1s.0. 1s.0.
Wright Gregory. Scott.
ditto. Linhooks. ditto.
Ditto . Far common. ditto. 14s.6d. 14s.6d.
ditto. Plains. Robt. Thompson.
Wardle,John, late Lemmon. Robt Rawling. 7s.0.
Watson, Wm, esq. John Naylor. £1.9s.0. £1.9s.0.
Wingfield, Joseph. self. 1s.0. 1s.0.
Youd, Robt. self. 6s.0. 6s.0.
Will: Casebow
& Assessors &
Wm Ellis Collectors.
9th July 1818 Allowed by me.
Thos Hare.
J Thurlow Dering. Commissioners.
John Royle .


Land Tax Assessment 1830.

LAND TAX ASSESSMENT 1830 C/SCD 2/2/48 1830.
Rentals Names of Proprietors Names of Occupiers Description of Property Sums exon`d Sums ass`d.
6s.3d Archer Wm?Mr (late Setch club) house 1s 3d
£1.10s Beck, Wm Thos Harris land 6s.0
10s0. Beck , Wm John Roberts barn 2s.0
10s.0. Beck Wm house etc 2s.0
10s.0. Balding, John himself ditto and garden 2s.0
£2.0.0 Baldwin, Wm, exec of Stephen Baldwin ditto etc 8s0.
£1.15s ditto Barke Bunkhall ditto etc 7s.0
£1.10s ditto Chas Sargent ditto etc 6s.0
£2.0.0 Beeston, Thos Pearson Newell ditto and garden 8s.0.
5s.0. ditto Whitehead ditto etc 1s.0
£2.5s. Bell, Isaac himself land 9s.0.
8s.4d. Bowers , John himself house etc 1s 8d.
10s.0 Benton, William Ambrose and others ditto etc 2s.0.
7s.6d. Bennett, Thos Himself ( late Bird) ditto and garden 1s.6d.
£84.0.0. Bridgereeves William Vessey Bridgehouse etc £16.16s
£2 10s. Brighton, Thomas himself house etc 10s.0.
10s.0. Burch, John Himself (late Burch) land 2s.0.
10s 0. Burch, Thos Himself ( late Burch) house and land 2s.0.
10s.0, Burch , Jacob Charles Merrington House etc 6s.0.
15s.0. Brighton, Ann Herself ditto etc 3s.0.
15s.0. ditto Ditto ( late T Watts) ditto etc 3s.0.
10s.0. ditto Ditto ( late Barfoot) ditto etc 2s.0.
10s.0. Baker, John Himself ( late Burch) ditto etc 6s.0.
10s.0. Birbeck, Hy, esq Himself ( late Sharp) land 2s.0.
12s.0. Bell, Revd P. Wm Chapman ditto etc 3s.0.
17s.6d. Brown , George himself. ditto. 3s.6d.
£3.4s.0. Bolton, Samuel himself. house etc. 14s.0.
10s.0. ditto Thos Lancaster. ditto. 2s.0.
7s.6d. Bond, John, himself. land. 1s.6d.
15s.0. Baker, Patrick . himself. house. 3s.0,
£1.0.0. Bensted, Richard. Zach Stebbings. land. 4s.0.
£1.7s.6d. Blackborn, Jas Chas Poll. house. 5s.6d.
£1.7s.6d. ditto. John Roberts. ditto. 5s.6d.
£2.0.0. ditto. Geo Garman Queenshead . 8s.0..
10s.0. Bennett, Wm . Wm Poll, (&others late Saffrey) house. 2s.0.
7s.6d. Bolton, Samuel. himself (late Saffrey) land. 1s.6d.
15s.0. Checques, Richard Susan Tompson & others house. 2s.0.
£3.7s.6d. Clark, Sarah, Herself . house etc. 13s6d.
£3.0.0. ditto. Jas Weston and others. ditto. 12s.0.
12s.0d. ditto. Herself (late Robin Wright ). ditto. 3s.0.
£1.0.0. Cooper, Joseph Sutton Harrold & others. House.. 4s.0.
£1.10s.0d. Cowlcher, Martin Himself ( late Martin) House, etc. 6s.0.
10s.0. ditto. Took. ditto. 2s.0.
10s.0. Cullington, John, himself. Land, 2s.0.
£2.2.6d Carter, Isaac. himself. house etc. 8s.6d.
£1.5s.0. Crisp, Robert, George Green. ditto. 5s.0.
5s.0. Chapman, Wm. himself. land. 1s.0.
£1.12.0. ditto. Ditto ( late Thos Brighton) house etc. 7s.0.
17s.6d. ditto. Ditto ( late Hy Saffrey) land. 3s.6d.
10s.0. Creek, Wm , George Mumford. ditto. 2s.0.
£2.5s.0 ditto. Wm Long and others. House. 9s.0.
10s.0. Chapman, Wm, Himself ( late Wm Benton) Barn. 2s.0.
£3.0.0 Custance, Wm esq himself. House, etc. 12s.0.
7s.6d. Chapman, Wm , Himself ( late Patman) ditto. 1s.6d.
15s.0. Downham Workhouse. Robert Simpson. house etc. 3s.0.
2s.4d. Daymore, Thos. George Goodwin. House. 1s.8d.
10s.0. Dobson, Wm. himself. Foundery (sic) 2s.0.
2s.6d. Drake, Thos. himself. land. 6d.
£2.10.0. Dering, J T , esq. land. £1.3s.
£26.0.0 ditto. Jas Betts. Farm. £5.5s.
£1.10s. ditto. Geo Wood. land. 10s.0.
ditto. ditto. ditto. 16s.0.
£1.10s ditto. ditto. ditto. 6s.0.
£3.0.0. Danbury, Revd S. George Wood. ditto. 12s.0.
£2.0.0. Dixson, John. Henry Bolton. House,etc. 8s.0.
£1.0.0. ditto. ditto. garden. 4s.0.
15s.0. Ditto.` Henry Bolton. house etc. 3s.0.
£1.0.0. ditto. James Ollitt. house etc. 4s.0.,
£1.10s ditto. Himself ( late Rawling) land. 6s.0.
£4.5s.0. ditto. Himself ( late Hy Saffrey) Land . 17s.0.
£2.0.0. ditto. Himself ( late ditto) ditto. 8s.0.
10s.0. Dawson, Luke . Himself ( late Saffrey) ditto. 2s.0.
2s.6d. Darwood, John. Himself ( late Grounds) ditto. 6d.
£1.10s. Elmer, Wm . himself (late John Griggs) ditto. 6s.0.
£1.0.0. Ellis, Edwd Himself ( late Grounds) house etc, 4s.0.
15s.0. Edward, Richard Wm Lemmon land 3s.0.
£1.0.0. Elsey, Mary Thos Norburn. house etc. 4s.0.
10s.0. Fellows, Robert, esq Robert Musket . land. 2s.0.
£1.0.0. Flatt, John. Himself . ditto. 4s.0.
10s.0. Flower, Jonathan. himself. house etc. 2s.0.
10s.0. ditto. himself. ditto. 2s.0.
£1.0.0. ditto. Ditto ( late Youd) Land . 4s.0.
10s.0. ditto. Ditto ( late Rowling) ditto. 2s.0.
10s.0. ditto. Ditto ( late Robt Taylor) ditto. 2s.0,.
£1.0.0. ditto ditto (late Wm Lemmon) ditto. 4s.0.
£9.12.6. ditto. Ditto ( late Henry Saffrey) ditto. £1.16.6.
£4.0.0. Franklin, Sarah. Saml Archer. Castle Inn. 16s.0.
£6.0.0. ditto. Jon`n Flower. land. £1.4.0.
5s.0. Fitch, Adam, Carr. House. 1s.0.
£1.0.0. Flanagan, Patrick. Edward Stannard & Others, ditto. 4s.0.
15s.0. ditto. Robert Fuller & others. ditto. 3s.0.
£10.0.0. Frankes. Wm Chapman. land. 4.0.0.
£1.10s.0. Glasscock, Geo. Himself . house. 6s.0.
5s.0. ditto. Ditto ( late Dobson) ditto. 1s.0.
6s.3d. ditto. Edmd Long, & another . ditto. 1s.3d.
£1.0.0. Glover, Margt. Herself ( late Bacon) ditto. 4s.0.
15s.0. ditto. Hall. ditto. 3s.0.
£1.0.0. Goodrick, Edwd. Wm Allday. house. 4s.0.
15s.0. Greenacre, Martin. himself. ditto. 3s.0.
£2.17.6. Gilbert, Geo. himself, land. 11s 6d.
15s.0. Griggs, Wm . himself. ditto. 3s.0.
£2.0.0. Griffin, John. himself. house. 8s.0.
£1.0.0. Goodale, Martin. Abm Frost. ditto. 4s.0.
10s.0. Hare, Sir Thos, bart. Gooding ( late Saunders) house. 2s.0.
£2.0.0 Hall, Geo. Wm Weston. Swan Inn. £1.0.0.
£3.0.0. Hacon , James, gent. T Dyson. house. 12s.0.
£1.15s.0. ditto. John Long and others. ditto. 7s.0.
£1.5s 0. Howes, Benjamin. Late ( Suckling Howes ) ditto. 5s.0.
10s.0. Harris, John, Himself . ditto. 2s.0.
£1.0.0. ditto. Raby and others. ditto. 4s.0.
15s.0. ditto. Mrs Gamble . ditto. 3s.0.
£1.12.6. ditto. Lockwood and others. ditto. 6s.6d.
7s.6d. Harvey , Thos, esq. Geo. Scarnell . Land, 1s.6d.
£1.10.0. Harvey, George,. Himself ( late Harvey) house etc 6s.0.
£1.0.0. Hitch, John, himself and others. ditto. 4s.0.
£2.5.0. Hare, Sir Thos, bart. Mary Farrow. Red Hart etc. 11s.0.
£1.10.0. ditto. Richard Garnham . land. 6s.0.
£3.10.0. Hogg and Allen. Samuel Edison. Coffee pot. 14s.0.
10s.0. ditto. Mrs Young. Chequer. 2s.0.
10s.0. ditto. Ruben Tuck. Swann. 2s.0.
£4.0.0. ditto. John Balding. Chequer. 16s.0.
10s.0. ditto. Hy Glasscock ( late Bird) House. 2s.0.
7s.6d. Howes. Samuel Edison . land. 1s6d.
£2.0.0. Hourston Brown. Thos Hourston. house. 8s.0.
£3.15.0. Horne, Elizabeth . Josp Wingfield. house. 15s.0.
£1.15s.0. Hunt, Robert. James Betts. land. 7s.0.
10s.0 . ditto. Spinks , ( late Saffrey) ditto. 2s.0.
5s 0. Hunt, Francis. himself. ditto. 1s.0.
£1.15s 0. Hill Mrs. herself. house etc. 7s.0.
£1.0.0. ditto. John Palmer. ditto. 4s.0.
10s.0. Harpley, Wm . himself. house. 2s.0.
£1.0.0. ditto. Vessey ( late Saffrey) house etc. 4s.0.
£2.0.0. Hopkins, Wm . Thos Harris. Rampant horse. 8s.0.
£2.5s 0. Houchen, John. George Wood. land. 4s.6d.
£2.0.0. ditto. T B Bell , esq. house. 8s.0.
£3.10.0. Hebgin, John. Garneys Wales. ditto. 14s.0.
10s. 0. Harris, Thos. himself. barn etc. 2s.0.
£1.0.0. Hovell, Jas, esq, execs J H Mallett land. 4s.0.
£1.0.0. ditto. Thos, Harris. ditto. 4s.0.
£2.0.0. ditto. ditto. ditto. 8s.0.
£1.10.0. ditto. Ann Hall. house. 6s.0.
10s.0. ditto. ditto. ditto. 2s.0.
£1.0.0. ditto. John Powell. land. 4s.0.
15s.0. Harpley, Josp. Himself, ( late Thos Stevens) shop etc. 3s.0.
£3.15s.0. Hooten, James. Himself ( late Hy Saffrey) Land . 15.0.
£2.0.0. Howard. Wyer (late Wyer Jno & others) 8s.0.
£1.7s.6d. Johnson, Mrs. house. 5s.6d.
10s.0. ditto. late Hy Saffrey . land. 2s.0.
£1.0.0. Juler, Henry . himself. house. 4s.0
£1.0.0. Jarvis , Henry . Saml Edison. land. 4s.0.
£1.10.0. Johnson, John Baker. himself. house etc. 6s.0.
£1.0.0. Johnson , John Bouk`n himself. ditto. 4s.0,
£1.5s 0. King, Henry. John Poll. Land,. 5s.0.
10s.0.` Kemp, Maria. James Lyall . house. 2s.0.
£2.0.0. ditto. Geo Ward (late Hy Saffrey) Land . 8s.0.
7s.6d. Lenton , John, himself. land. 1s.6d.
15s.0. Lock Excetr ) Warns house. 3s.0.
15s.0. Lock , George. himself. ditto. 3s.0.
£2.10.0. Lee, Geo Wm . himself. ditto. 10s.0.
5s.0. Lister, John. Talbot. ditto. 1s.0.
£1.7s.6f. Lemmon, William. Wm Townley. ditto. 5s.6d.
£1.0.0. ditto. Himself ( late Griffin) ditto. 4s.0.
£1.0.0. Lawrence, William . Thos Hinds. ditto. 4s.0.
£3.5s 0d. Lancaster, Thos. himself. land. 13s.0.
£2.12.6d Lallam, Michal. Himself ( late Hy Saffrey) Farm. 10s.6d.
17s.6d. Mallett, J H . Himself ( late Hy Saffrey) House. 3s.6d.
£2.0.0. Mann, Revd Chas. Thos .Spinks. land. 8s.0.
£1.10.0. ditto. Ditto ( late Rawling ) ditto. 6s.0.
£1.10.0. ditto himself and Shinn ditto ditto. 6s.0.
15s.0. ditto. Thos Spinks ditto. ditto. 3s.0.
£5.0.0. ditto. Mr Wignell ( late W Lemmon) ditto. £1.0.0.
£2.0.0. Merrington, Chas. Chas Cambridge. house etc. 8s.0.
10s.0. Marsh, Isaac. Bolton & others. ditto. 2s.0.
£1.0.0. Miller, Elizth. John Dyson. Land . 4s.0.
10s.0. ditto. House. 2s.0.
£4.15s.0. ditto. F B Bell, esq, land. 19s.0,
£1.10.0 Miller Mrs. Edmd Beeston. house. 6s.0.
10s.0. Melton , Robert. himself and others. ditto. 2s.0.
£1.0.0. Munro. S Francis. E C Johnson . ditto. 4s.0.
£1.0.0. ditto. Edward Welsh. ditto. 4s.0.
8s 4d. ditto. Thos Snelling . ditto. 1s.8d.
£5.0.0. Morse, John . Thos Smith . White Hart. £1.0.0.
£3.0.0. Miller, John. himself. house. 12s.0.
£1.0.0. ditto. ditto late Rawling . Land . 4s.0.
2s.6d. Morley, John . Himself . ditto. 6d.
£1.0.0. Merrington, Barns. John Towler. ditto. 4s.0.
15s.0. ditto. Francis Hunt. house. 5s.0.
£9.0.0. Mumford, Geo. himself. Tan Office. £1.16s.0.
10s.0. Moody, Charles . Himself ( late Bird) house. 2s.0.
5s.0. Merrick, Mrs. Caseby ( late Robertts) 1s.0.
10s.0. Noble, Mrs. Thos Young. Farm. 2s.0.
£1.0.0. Newton, Thos. himself and others. house. 4s.0.
£1.10.0. Parkerson, John. Osborn Savage & others. house. 6s.0.
15s.0. Parker , Wm . himself. ditto. 3s.0.
£2..0.0. Patfield , Mary. R P Garritt. house. 6s.0.
£1.0.0. ditto. Geo. Gilbert . ditto. 4s.0.
£1.0.0 Pearson, Edmd . Wm Chapman. ditto. 4s.0.
12s.0. proprietor Meeting house John Jeffries. 2s.0.
£2.0.0. Poll , John. himself. Mill. 8s.0.
5s.0. Parker, James. himself and others. house. 1s.0.
2s.6d. Pickerill, Thos. Himself . land. 6d.
£6.0.0. Powell, John . Himself . Crown Inn. £1.4s.0.
£6.10s.0. ditto. ditto. land. £1.6s.0.
10s.0. Pike , John. John Curson. house. 2s.0.
10s.0. Phipps, Daniel. Harper & others ( late Hy Saffrey) house. 2s.0.
£1.0.0. John Pike. Isaac Goodrick . house. 4s.0.
£1.0.0. ditto. John Smart ( late Bird) house. 4s.0.
£1.10s.0. Pitchford, Mr. Sainty Weston ( late Hy Raven) house etc. 6s.0.
£2.5s.0. Quaker Meeting House. Medwell , Rose?Robt. 9s.0.
£2 10s.0. Roberts Wm . himself. Farm. 10s.0.
£5.17s 6d. ditto. J Hall ( late Hy Saffrey) Land . £1.3s.6d.
15s.0. Reeve, Wm , himself. house. 3s.0.
15s.0. ditto. Mrs Scott. ditto. 3s.0.
12s.6d. Roper, Thos. Geo Gilbert. land. 2s.6d.
10s.0. Raby , Geo . Laws and others. house. 2s.0.
£2.5s.0. Rosher, Thos. himself and others. ditto. 9s.0.
£2.5s.0. ditto. John Brown. land. 9s.0.
£1.10s 0. ditto. Ditto . ditto. 6s.0.
£2.10s.0. ditto. Matthew Snelling . ditto. 10s.0.
£1.0.0. ditto. Neal . ditto. 4s.0.
£1.15s.0. ditto. Himself . ditto. 7s.0.
£1.0.0. ditto. James Hall . ditto. 4s.0.
£1.0.0. ditto. himself. ditto. 4s.0.
£1.0.0. ditto. John Long, (late Hy Saffrey) ditto. 4s.0.
5s.0. Rolf , Thos. Himself . ditto. 1s.0.
£1.0.0. Saffrey, Henry . T M Bailey . house. 4s.0.
£3.15s.0. Ditto . Himself . ditto. 15s.0.
£5.0.0. ditto. Mortlock and self . £1.0.0.
£3.10s.0. ditto. Himself . land 14s.0.
£1.0.0. ditto. Wm Allcock. house. 4s.0.
£1.15s.0. ditto. Jonah Weston and others. Ditto . 7s.0.
10s.0. ditto. late Carter and others. ditto. 2s.0.
15s.0. Smith, Nathl. himself and others. house. 3s.0.
5s.0. ditto. Wm Palgrave and others. ditto. 1s.0.
5s.0. Stevens , Frans J himself and others. ditto. 1s.0.
£1.10s.0. Stevens, Thos. himself and others. ditto. 6s.0.
10s.0. Scott, Wright. Thos Beets and others. ditto. 2s.0.
5s.0. Smith, Thos. Himself . ditto. 1s.0.
£1.0.0. Scott, Mrs. Herself . Retreat . 4s.0.
15s.0. ditto. Ditto ( late Thos Brighton ) land. 3s.0.
£1.0.0. Smith, John. W Giscard. house. 4s.0.
10s.0. Scarnell, Geo. himself. land. 2s,0,
£3.0.0. Snasdell, Joel. Himself ( late Elsey) house. 12s.0.
10s.0.` Smith, Revd T Himself ( late Harris ) Land . 2s.0.
10s.0. ditto. White (late White) ditto. 2s.0.
£6.0.0. Say, Wm , esq. himself. house etc. £1.4s.0.
£3.0.0. Ditto . ditto. land. 12s.0.
£3.10s.0. ditto. Wm Oakes. house etc. 14s.0.
£2.10s.0. ditto. Geo Lemmon. land. 10s.0.
£2.5s.0. ditto. Wm Casebow and others. land. 9s.0.
£2.0.0. ditto. Himself . Land . 8s.0.
£1.15s.0. ditto. Himself . Land . 7s.0.
£1.0.0. ditto. ditto. ditto. 4s.0.
£1.0.0. ditto. ditto. ditto. 4s.0.
15s.0. ditto. ditto. ditto. 3s.0.
15s.0. ditto. ditto. ditto. 3s.0.
15s.0. Ditto Hy Juler. ditto. 3s.0.
10s.0. ditto. James Wragg. house. 2s.0.
7s.6d. ditto. Suckling Howes. land 1s 6d.
2s 6d. Simpson, Thos. Wm Carter. house. 6d.
£1.0.0. Scott, John, Himself & others ( late Cooper) house. 4s.0.
£21.0.0. Thackeray, Rev J R. Revd E Bellamy . Rectory etc. £4.0.0.
£3.0.0. Taylor, Robert. R Meadows and others. house. 12s 0.
£3.10s.0. ditto. Chas Moody . land 14s.0.
£2.0.0. ditto. ditto. ditto. 8s.0.
£1.4s 0. Terrington, Mrs. Herself . house. 6s.0.
£2.0.0. Tompson , John. Mrs Fuller. farm etc. 8s.0.
10s.0. Tyers, Thos . (heirs) Green Laws and others. house. 2s.0.
£1.0.0. Ditto . Wm Chapman. ditto. 4s.0.
7s.6d. Taylor,Westwood,jonathan himself. land. 1s.6d.
£1.10s.0. Tuck, Ruben. Himself ( late John Griggs) Farm . 6s.0.
£2.7s.6. Visson, Benj. Robert Hunt. Red Bull. 9s.6d.
15s.0. Vince, Robert. himself. house etc. 3s.0.
£1.10s.0. Vissen, Joseph. John Dixson ( late John Wright) land. 6s.0.
£1.0.0. Watson, Joseph, esq . Lyall and co. Steam Engine. 4s.0.
£2.0.0. Wright, Thos . Himself . house etc. 8s.0.
£1.0.0. ditto. Thos Morley . ditto. 4s.0.
£2.10s.0. ditto. Robert Gamble and others. ditto. 10s.0.
15s.0. ditto. Jas Wright and others. ditto. 3s.0.
10s.0. ditto. late Foulger. ditto. 2s.0.
£8.0.0. ditto. Christ. Newton. ditto. £1.12s.0.
£1.0.0. ditto. T D Paine. ditto. 4s.0.
10s.0. ditto. Himself ( late Wm Lemmon( Land . 2s.0.
10s.0. ditto. Himself ( late Hy Saffrey) ditto. 2s.0.
£1.10s.0. Wright, John. Mrs Pinnock. house. 6s.0.
15s.0. Weston , Wm . Henry Bolton. ditto. 3s.0.
£2.0.0. ditto. himself. land. 8s.0.
15s.0. Ditto himself. ditto. 3s.0.
10s.0. ditto. ditto. Late Wm Lemmon. ditto. 2s.0.
5s.0. ditto. ditto late Harris. ditto. 1s.0.
15s.0. Wignall, John . Himself . ditto. 3s.0.
£1.10s.0. ditto. ditto late E Saffery. ditto. 6s.0.
5s.0. Willimott , John. himself. house. 1s.0.
10s.0. ditto. James Pain. ditto. 2s.0.
10s.0. ditto. himself late Hy Saffery. ditto. 2s.0.
10s.0. Waudby, Hugh . John Brown. ditto. 2s.0.
10s.0. Wright, Gregory . Wright Scott. ditto. 2s.0.
£1.0.0. Ditto . John Powell . land. 4s.0.
10s.0. ditto. John Long. ditto. 2s.0.
£1.2s 6d. ditto. Isaac Carter. ditto. 4s.6d.
10s.0. Wallis, Ambrose. Himself . house. 2s.0.
£1.0.0. ditto. ditto late Pidgeon. Land . 4s.0.
£1.10s.0. Watson, Elizth. herself and others. house. 6s.0.
10s.0. Wake, Stoney. himself. ditto. 2s.0.
£1.10s.0. Watson, Mrs R. Thos Harris. land. 8s.0.
£1.5s 0. Wright, Mrs. Wm Casebow. house etc. 6s.0.
£16.0.0. Ward , Robert. Geo Ward. Farm. £2.0.0.
Norfolk – 24th May 1830. J Thurlow Dering Commissioners.
Allowed by us John Royle .


Please contact me, Elizabeth, at My email address

Please contact me, Elizabeth, at My email address

Downham Cavalry 1818

(W Wayman , 1890. Mr Howes , no 23 . First Sergant and Line Marker ) .

“Copy of the Articles of Enrolment, and the Rules and Regulations of the Downham Cavalry, composed of Gentlemen and Yeomen in the Hundred and Half of Clackclose, in the county of Norfolk .
Downham , Printed by Robert Thorogood, jun.

Articles of Enrolment .

We whose Names are subscribed unto the Enrolment , in pursuance of an Act of Parliament for the encouragement and disciplining of such Corps or Companies of Men as shall voluntarily enrol themselves for the defence of their Town and Coasts, or for the general defence of the Kingdom , to form a Corps or Cavalry , to be called the Downham Cavalry , do voluntarily enrol ourselves for the internal defence and Security of the Kingdom, on the following conditions :-

To attend mounted on a serviceable Mare or Gelding, to be approved by the Commanding Officer of the Troop.

To be liable to be called upon by order from His Majesty , or by the Lord Lieutenant , or by three Deputy Lieutenants commissioned to act in his absence , or by the Sheriff of the County , for the suppression of Riots, and Tumults within this or the adjoining Counties .

In all cases when embodied and called out as above , to receive pay as Light Dragoons , and to be subject to Military Discipline as the rest of his Majesty`s Regular and Militia Troops .

At a meeting of the Downham Cavalry , held at the Crown Inn , in Downham Market, On Wednesday , the 17th day of June , 1818, the following Rules and Regulations , in Support of the Credit , Honor , and due discipline of the Corps , where agreed to , viz –

To appear on each Day of Muster or Exercise , with Uniform, Arms, Accoutrements and Horse , neat and properly appointed to the satisfaction of the Commanding Officer , and in default , to be subject to such Forfeiture as one Officer and four Privates of the Corps , chosen by lot , shall adjudge .

To appear on each Day of Muster or Exercise on the Ground, and at the time appointed by the Commanding Officer , and in default to forfeit for each Day`s total non-attendance , the sum of Ten Shillings and Sixpence : and for each Hour , or portion of an Hour of tardy appearance , to be computed from the time of roll-call , the sum of Two Shillings and Sixpence.

That the Uniform, Arms, Accoutrements , etc, shall only be used or worn when on Duty , or when directed by the Commanding Officer , under the forfeit of Ten Shillings and Sixpence for every such offence .

That anyone not attending Service , pursuant to the second Article of Enrolment, shall forfeit the sum of Fifty Pounds ,and if anyone persists in non-attendance , he shall also be subject to such sentence of public disapprobation as five of the Corps , appointed as aforesaid , shall adjudge .

That Sickness or Infirmity , attested by the Medical Attendant , shall be a sufficient excuse for non-attendance . Sickness or lameness or Horse be no excuse , unless certified by the Farrier .

That anyone attending Duty in a state of Intoxication , shall be liable to a forfeiture of Ten Shillings and Sixpence for each offence.

All Arms , Accoutrements , etc, to be delivered up to the Captain of the Troop, or such Person or Persons as shall, under his Majesty`s authority , be commissioned to receive them .

Persons desirous of furnishing a Substitute to make up the complement of any Troop , may do so on condition that he be a Man of good character , and be approved of by a majority of those Persons who compose the Troop in which he is to serve .

The Substitutes to be equipped and mounted in the same manner as those who serve for themselves .

Whereas several Gentlemen who offer their personal services may be desirous of rendering further assistance towards the formation of the Corps , by furnishing Men and Horses to make up the complement of any Troop ; Persons so brought forward and furnished with Horses , may be accepted on the same condition as the Substitutes above-mentioned .

That any offence against order , good behaviour and decorum when in uniform , not particularly specified in the foregoing Rules , shall be submitted to the decision of five of the Corps , appointed as aforesaid , who shall adjudge the forfeiture or other sentence .

In order to secure a better attendance on which the Dicipline and Credit of the Corps so essentially depends, it is agreed , that in every case where Business shall be the excuse , ( as far as delicacy will admit ) the Member shall disclose the nature of it , in order that a discovery may be made as to its particular urgency – And visits of Pleasure shall in every case be inadmissible to excuse any Person . As a preliminary to taking into consideration the case of every Member who shall be reported to have been absent on any particular Day , an enquiry shall first be instituted to ascertain whether the Person has complied with the Ruled before-mentioned : in the case of neglect the Persons shall be finable , and pay on proof of it for each Day`s non-attendance Ten Shillings and Sixpence , without any appeal to the Corps ; and if it appears that the Person has complied with them , then the case shall be submitted to the Corps , and a majority of the Members present shall determine whether the Person is fineable or not .

That all forfeitures shall be immediately paid into the hands of the Quarter-Master , for the use and general expenses of the Corps .
That the Articles and Agreements to be Printed , and a Copy thereof delivered to every Member of the Corps .


Thorogood , Printer.

( Annotated Wm Say , esq , Captain Lieutenant John Barsham , esq, Cornet John Long , Team?town? Hazard Aungier , Sergant Major Ten in the band .

Please contact me, Elizabeth, at My email address

Please contact me, Elizabeth, at My email address

Captain Woodget of the Cutty Sark & Bexwell Road.



Burnham Norton church. June 2015.

Richard Woodget was born on 21st November 1845 at Burnham Norton in Norfolk. His parents were Richard and Celia Woodget ; he had seven siblings at least three of whom died in infancy ; his brother William died aged 21 and his uncle Henry died in Docking workhouse in 1842 aged 51 . His mother Celia was Celia Gage and his father`s second wife. They married in King`s Lynn in 1831 . His father`s first wife had been Lydia Bensley who he married in Burnham Norton in 1823 . Although Basil Lubbock and other sources say his father was a farmer, implying a land owning or tenanting family , in fact all the records show Richard senior was a labourer. By 1861 on census night , Richard was living aged 16, with his older brother Charles who was 26 and a bricklayer . Charles and Emily ( Thirtle) were recently married and had a baby daughter Emma . Richard was still described as an ag lab. Richard senior had been born in Burnham Norton in 1797 the youngest child of eight children of William and Susanna . In places in the Bishop`s Transcripts and the registers it says William Woodgatt aka Woodgate aka Woodgett . The name seems to have morphed from Woodgate to Woodget between 1780 and 1810 . He was bapt as Richard Burcham Woodgett his mother Susanna`s maiden name being Burcham . She and William were married at Burnham Norton in 1779. After her death aged 52 in 1807 he remarried to another Susan (Brown) a widow in 1810. William was buried in Burnham Norton in 1812 aged 62, a married man .

In 1861 also on census night at Burnham Overy Staithe , living one door away from the young Woodgetts , was the family of John Raven, head, marr, 48, ag lab and his wife Maria . They had a daughter Maria aged 18 , who was born in Brancaster and was a dressmaker. And with them was a young grandson Frederick G. aged 7 months born Downham . (Frederick George Harper) . Ten years later in the 1871 census, John Raven is now a widower , his daughter Maria now Smith and now a widow aged 27 and with them is Frederick George aged 10 . From a descendant of Frederick George , his mother was Mary Ann Raven , the older sister by 2 years of Maria , who went on to marry Frederick Charles Harper , a journeyman carpenter born and living in Downham Market. In the 1871 census Mary Ann and Frederick are living in Howdale Lane with their two sons .

In 1866 Maria Raven married James Smith at Burnham Overy Staithe ; by 1871 she is a widow, and there is a death registered of a James Smith aged 23 in freebmd in the same March ¼ 1866 as the marriage. Without getting the certificates it is only guesswork that this James is Maria`s husband.

Richard Woodget during this time has been apprenticed to various ships of Bullard , King and Co, firstly on the billiboy Johns 80 tons in 1861 , the Johns was a river barge and traded along the coast from Seaton Sluice to London with small cargoes . In 1862 he was still an apprentice , this time on the Peace , a schooner which also plied a coastal trade. He finished his apprenticeship in 1865 aboard the brig British Ensign 196 tons and sailing from Bristol to London via Egypt and Ireland and then on to Trinidad and back to Greenock , with cargoes of sugar . It seems likely that once he was qualified he worked for various masters and owners including Jock Willis , known as Old White Hat, who named his ships after his Scottish heritage and the novels of Sir Walter Scott . In the year of his marriage 1871 Captain Woodget was Mate in the brig Nina to the West Coast of Africa and back . Although slavery was abolished by this date , the Nina a mahogany built brig of 183 tons had been a notorious slaver in her day . She had been over worked and was held together by strengthening bands , and as Basil Lubbock says “ though she leaked like a bucket , she sailed like a a witch .”

The final ship in which he was Mate , was the Copenhagen , 876 tons, which in the years 1874-1880 sailed to India during the famine and was in the coolie trade to Mauritius. The coolie trade succeeded the slave trade . The shortage of labour caused by the abolition of the slave trade created a very similar trade transporting , often in dreadful conditions, a new Asian workforce . Basil Lubbock says that Capt Woodget took the Coldstream , 756 tons, out , as Captain , in March 1881 and brought it back in January 1885 after a most successful voyage financially . This again was to Africa and included three coolie passages to South Africa and Mauritius.

The success of this voyage in the years 1881-1885 landed Captain Woodget his most famous command , the Cutty Sark Between 1885 – 1895 , he and Cutty Sark made ten voyages to Australia in the wool trade , several of which were record breaking and all of which were faster than any other ship on the Australia route . He was also noted for breeding collie dogs and latterly took one or more on board on his Australian voyages . Their descendants made headlines in the Australian show rings.


80 Bexwell Road , Downham Market.

Whilst he commanded Cutty Sark , the Woodgets , Capt Woodget and his wife Maria and their sons, lived in Downham Market . The 1891 census shows the family being Capt Woodget, his wife, his mother Cecily, aged 81, his niece Edith , 22, and sons Richard, Harold and Albert , his daughter Celia Maria Finis was born and died in 1882. At this point he is living in Mount Pleasant, 80 Bexwell Road, having previously lived in Howdale Lane and Bridge St , according to the electoral register . It is possible that the family lodged with Mary Ann Harper ( nee Raven and Maria Woodget`s sister ) in Howdale Lane when they first arrived in Downham , between 1888 and 1889. In 1890 they moved to Bridge Street, again possibly with the Harpers .

Of his four sons , the three with him in Bexwell Road , all qualified as Master mariners, Richard John in 1897 aged 23, Harold Groom at 22 , and Albert Sydney also aged 22 in 1901 . The last of his sons Edgar Raven became a watchmaker . In the 1911 census Edgar and his wife and 3 sons are living at Burnham Overy and he is a watch and clock “seller” and she is a shopkeeper.


This photo of Cutty Sark was taken by Capt Woodget in 1888 from two boats with a plank lashed between them holding his plate camera .

Unaccountably Jock Willis sold Cutty Sark to the Portugese in 1895. Maybe she was getting too old , needing too many repairs. He gave Capt Woodget the Coldinghame a 1,059 ton ship also in the Australian trade , but it cannot have been to his liking and he chose this year 1895/6 to retire .

In retirement he is said to have bought a farm in Burnham Overy Staithe. The 1901 census shows Capt Woodget and his wife living “ near the Quay” and this may well be Flagstaff house , also known as East View . Basil Lubbock says “ he filled his farmyard with pigs, chickens, ducks, geese, turkeys and rabbits , and it was a sight to see the old man ( in 1901 only in his mid 50s ) his snow white hair and bear flowing in the wind, as he marched sturdily across a field followed by a trail of quacking ducks and clucking hens, and perhaps a foal and a calf and a pig or two .” At the age of 75 he was thrown from a colt and sustained no more than a black eye. Basil Lubbock paints a bucolic portrait of this most skilled mariner.

Maria Woodget died in December 1914 aged 72 . All four of their sons were settled to life at home and at sea and at the time of her death Richard her eldest son was married , as was her watchmaker son Edgar. Harold married in 1918 and Albert in 1921 . Also in 1921 Captain Richard Woodget married again to Winifred Basham Parker the dau of the Rev Richard Parker of Dorset. She had been an Infant school teacher and was born in 1891 and was one of 9 surviving children . Their marriage lasted until his death in 1928 at Burnham Overy Staithe .


The grave of Capt Richard Woodget .

Two of his sons are buried alongside him at Burnham Norton churchyard .


Burnham Overy Staithe church

Please contact me, Elizabeth, at My email address

Please contact me, Elizabeth, at My email address

Downham`s Railway.



As early as 1824 , the dawn of the railway era, a prospectus of the Norfolk and Suffolk Rail Road company was being circulated in the newspapers of the day , in themselves a new form of communication . The railway would take the line from London to Norwich and then divide east to Yarmouth and west to King`s Lynn.

From the very beginning these were speculative enterprises . The basic premise was that Parliament would pass an Act to enable the railway to be built , they would set a cost on the whole project and this was to be raised by the sale of shares . There were to be Boards of Directors and shareholders . Land was to be purchased along the proposed line of the railway . It was open to abuse , corruption and failure from the first day .

But the die was cast and speculators saw any number of opportunities to make money . There was a sudden boom in land sales and the value of ordinary agricultural land rose sharply where it was thought the railways might be built ; shares were sold in tiny segments each £25 share might be divided between 10 or 20 people , and profit was expected on every levelMasterpieces+Art+Paintings+Hd+Wallpapers+(Vol.03+)+Fine+Art+Painting+Turner,+Joseph+Mallord+William+Rain,+Speed+And+Steam,+1844+,+London,+National+Gallery+Of+Art

Rain steam speed , JMWTurner, 1844. Nat. Gallery London.

The advertisement for the sale of these shares in 1844 read cautiously ” No subscriber liable beyond the amount of subscription .. ” and then more positively ” The object of this undertaking is to construct the most direct and perfect Railway from the important sea port of King`s Lynn to the city of Ely meeting there the Eastern Counties Railway Company`s lines to London, Norwich and Peterborough and thus connecting King`s Lynn and West Norfolk generally with all the North, South , East, West and South West parts of England . The project is brought forward with the full sanction and concurrence of the Eastern Counties Railway Company .”

” The proposed line will commence at the town of King`s Lynn, proceed direct to Downham Market and Littleport , and thence to the city of Ely to meet the Northern and Eastern Railway . The precise points of terminus at King`s Lynn and Ely being such as shall upon full consideration be deemed the most desirable.

There will be a branch from the main line to the Harbour of King`s Lynn in order to afford to the extensive shipping interest at that port, the greatest possible facility for lading and unlading .

The main line and branch will together be about 26 miles in length.

This line has been examined and approved by Mr Rastrick whose character and experience will be sufficient guarantee that it is judiciously selected and will be efficiently constructed . The country through which it passes being almost a perfect level is singularly favourable for the construction of a railway and presents no engineering difficulties whatever.

The line does not interfere with a single private residence or park , nor with ornamental grounds of any kind , and there are no buildings except a few cottages to be taken .

The projectors have every reason to believe that the landowners on the line are without exception favourable to the undertaking .

The railway when completed may be worked at a very moderate cost the general nature of the country being most favourable for the transit to and from each terminus , and fuel at the port of King`s Lynn being cheap .

The expense of the earthwork, bridges, masonry , for a double line and a single line of road laid , with stations and all other conveniences has been carefully estimated by Mr Rastrick who is satisfied that the outlay including the purchase of land, costs of the surveys , and Act of Parliament and every other expense need not exceed £200,000 and that responsible contractors can be found to do all the works and deliver the railway in a complete state to the company at that sum .

The plans and sections will be deposited and all necessary notices given in compliance with the standing orders of the House of Commons so as to ensure an application to Parliament in the next session and it is believed that as the line is evidently of great public advantage and free from competition no difficulty will be experienced in obtaining the Act .

Little train

A confident opinion has been expressed by Mr Rastrick that the whole line may be finished within nine months after the works are fairly commenced .

It remains only to observe upon the amount of return which may be fairly expected upon the capital invested , and in so doing the promoters have most carefully guarded against all exaggeration .

The traffic on this line will also be much assisted by the extensive trade in timber , wines, coals , oil-cake, tar, flagstones, slates, pantiles and other general merchandise carried on between the port of King`s Lynn and the towns of Brandon, Thetford, etc, by the large mass of agricultural produce comprising corn, flour , wool, fruit , vegetables brought from those districts to the port of King`s Lynn …..and by the large number of beasts, sheep and pigs, and the quantity of dead meat and poultry which are annually sent from West Norfolk to the London Market .”

“Summary of Traffic: Passengers by coaches and other public conveyances at 2d per mile , ( plus ) local passengers by gigs etc , £9,779. Plus £13,000 worth of goods live, dead and manufactured currently carried by coach and carrier . Add 100% increase in passenger traffic , less 40% for maintenance , management etc. Net annual profit £20,148 . “

The Lynn and Ely Railway company was advertised in the London Times , and in the Cambridge Independent Press of 4th May 1844 . “Lynn and Ely Railway via Downham Market ; Capital £200,000 in 8,000 shares of £25 each deposit £1. 5s per share .” The local solicitor who was clerk to the Board of Guardians of the Union workhouse earned £100 a year . So a £25 share was worth a quarter of a professional man`s annual salary . Lynn to Ely is a distance of about 29 miles which works out at £6,900 per mile construction costs . These are staggeringly large sums of money for a small rural area largely dependent on agriculture .

As to the return on the shares , “A calculation of traffic, showing a net return of upwards of £10 per cent on the capital after deducting £40 per cent for working expenses , has been made by a large Committee of merchants, tradesmen and agriculturalists , conversant with the various departments of business in Lynn and the neighbouring districts .”

The Provisional Committee of the Lynn and Ely Railway were Sir William Folkes, bart, as Chairman , The Earl of Leicester maybe hoping the railways would extend to the Holkham estate , Lord George Bentinck , MP for Lynn, Viscount Jocelyn, also MP for Lynn, Lord William Powlett of Downham Hall, Brandon, the line would surely pass through his land on the way from Ely to Lynn , Lord Sondes , Sir Charles Clarke, bart, Dunham Lodge , maybe on the proposed Lynn to Dereham line, W Bagge , esq, MP for West Norfolk, and a local landowner , W Chote, MP for West Norfolk , J Bowker , Lynn, C Burcham , Lynn , T Carter , Lynn , Francis Cresswell, Lynn , Richard Dewing, Ashwicken , W Everard , Lynn, J Elsden Everard, Congham Hall, Martin Folkes, Hillington Hall , Anthony Hamond , Westacre High House , F Keppel , Lexham Hall, John Hudson , Castleacre , Colonel Mason , Necton Hall, E R Pratt , Ryston , C Neville Rolfe, Sedgeford Hall, J Beachamp St John, Gayton Hall, W Seppings, Lynn, Henry Villebois , Marham Hall, T Wythe, Middleton Hall, T M Wythe, Bilney Lodge ; with power to add to their number “.

There are some notable names missing from this list through whose land the railway would almost certainly pass , the Bells of Wallington, the Plestows of Watlington, and the Hares of Stow Bardolph . Were they not invited by the railway company to join the committee or were they all opposed to the introduction of the railway ? It is also interesting to note that the railway shares could only be bought in London, Liverpool, Hull, Leeds and Manchester .

In 1841 the population of Downham was 2,900 , of Ely, 6,800 and of King`s Lynn , 16,000 . What number of these local people could have afforded a £25 share was probably very few, which is why the railway company advertised and sold the shares in London and the rich railway successful North .

In addition to their remuneration as directors , the Committee would all make money on their shares, and they would make even more on the sale of some of their land as the railways spread across West Norfolk . Their enthusiasm for success before the railway was even enacted by Parliament and built , was contagious and small towns like Downham became the focus for Yorkshire men and other incomers seeing an opportunity to become involved in the latest technology . They also guessed that Downham would grow and skills and trades of all sorts would be needed to support the railway builders and the growing population .

In Bridge St. , Downham , in 1841 there are a number of heads of households , professional people , merchants, and skilled tradesmen , who are enumerated as N indicating that they were not born in the county. And a number of previously unknown names to Downham, John and Thomas Dyson for instance had bought land by the river and houses in the centre of the town . These are civil engineers who have insider knowledge that the railway was coming to Downham and more importantly where .

Thomas Dyson, esq. , a Committee member of the Lynn and Ely Railway , was of Carlton, Pontefract , ( and by 1845 of The Retreat , Lynn Road , Downham ) Joseph Gee, was of Cottingham , Hull, H. C. Lacy , was of Kenyon House, Manchester, Sir William Lowthrop , also Hull . The Yorkshire influence was because of the Stockton to Darlington railway , the great engineer Stephenson and the success of the first public railways around York . Yorkshiremen were regarded as the experts and had all the right contacts . Thomas Dyson may well be the Civil Engineer who was admitted to the Institute of Civil Engineers in 1832 , his successful application being signed by none other than Thomas Telford, the founder of the Institute and maker of many bridges etc, such as the Menai Suspension bridge , and Wm Cubitt a Norfolk born Civil Engineer of great reknown .

Thomas Dyson wrote a restrained letter of correction to the Norfolk Chronicle in July 1845 in which he says that the accident at Brandon Creek Bridge was not his fault . He had been requested to superintend the foundations and abutments and to set out the work for the superstructure of the bridge ” and having done this much I left the contractor to finish the work and it was solely in consequence of this man`s interference with my plans by cutting away the skue back or springing stones in order to fit his work with less trouble that the superstructure gave way ; the original foundations and abutments are still firmly standing and the fact that the superstructure alone having been repaired after its giving way , disproves, at once, that any fault rested with me in this construction .” ” The Contractor of the Brandon Creek Bridge . that person confided the works entirely to his foreman and not above five or six times did he come near nor appear to take the least interest in the proceedings . “


Locally the great mover in the eastern counties was J. C. Cobbold , landowner, shipowner, lawyer and brewer. Born in Ipswich in 1797 he was a director of the Eastern Union Railway and seemed determined to control the whole of the eastern counties railways . The early 1840s plans were rightly named Railway mania , and at one moment in early 1846 Sir Robert Peel told Parliament that there were no fewer than 519 Railway bills before Parliament . Obviously not all could succeed, nor could Parliament agree to more than one railway company building a railway between two particular places . Cobbold`s E.U.R had tried to promote the Norwich to Dereham line until one of his directors defected to the Norwich and West Norfolk line . There was even talk of a second terminus in Norwich for this second line , but it too failed before Parliament . The speculators were running around like headless chickens proposing lines from this village to that , from here to there and somewhere else regardless of cost and profitability .

If Cobbold`s E.U.R did not succeed , the company simply bought out or leased the rival railway company or their lines . It was going to live up to its name the Eastern Union Railway . In the end the Eastern Counties Railway continued to control the western section to and from Cambridge , and the Eastern Union Railway in Cobbold country from Colchester via Ipswich to Norwich . The short lived Lynn and Ely , Lynn and Dereham and Ely and Huntingdon railways merged into the East Anglian railway in the same year of 1846.

Little train

So who built the railway that we use today . The overarching engineer was John Urpeth Rastrick 1780-1856 , born in Northumberland and a pioneer steam locomotive engineer . He was one of the judges at the Rainhill trials in 1829 which proved that Stephenson`s Rocket steam locomotive was the superior means of transport over rope haulage . He later developed ,in partnership, all forms of engineering to do with railways . He retired in 1847 and many other engineers having learned their new trade from him and Stephenson and Brunel , spread across the country to develop the railways .

In the case of the Lynn and Ely railway , the engineer was John Sutherland Valentine , born in 1813 in Derbyshire and the son of an organist also called John Sutherland Valentine . In 1841 John Valentine was in Brighton and living in a household with James Potter , engineer, though the head of the household appeared to be Mary Penfold . He married in Kent in 1845 Clara Tristram and in 1851 they were living in Goodwin`s fields South Lynn , with their new born son . His inclusion as a member of the Institute of Civil Engineers did not occur until 1848 but it was a document worth waiting for with the signatures of JW Bazalgette and John U Rastrick attached . The men who actually dug and laid the railway line were within the time of building it , protected by a recent and urgently needed piece of legislation . In July 1846 the Report of the Select Committee on the Railway labourers was published with almost 250 pages of evidence of truly cruel working practices and treatment of the navvies . But Parliament had for the most part put a stop to the most killing of these practices and the railway owners and the contractors would from now on have to take a little more care of their men.


The system was that the navvy , or navigator , was part of a gang, the leader was called a ganger, he in turn contracted his gang to the best paying contractor or subcontractor , because the contracts given by the railway companies to the engineering firms were cut down again into component parts , and the actual labourers were at the bottom of this pile .

The evidence given to the Select Committee was detailed and was given by the navvies themselves as well as clergymen, engineers and contractors . Samuel Morton Peto a railway builder said he had 9,000 men under his direct control including 3,700 working on the Ely to Peterborough railway .

” Chairman ( to Samuel Morton Peto, esq ) You are a Contractor .-. I am . Do you know what number of men you have in your employment ? – . About 9,000 at the present time . How are they disposed ? – I will mention the works : the line from Ely to Peterborough , from Wymondham to Dereham , from Reedham to Lowestoft , the construction of Lowestoft Harbour …… Do you employ those men yourself ? – Not in all instances ; I have now in my employment 3,700 directly from Ely to Peterborough and the rest indirectly .”

If the population of Downham was 2,900 and Ely 6,800 , this army of navvies must have been very intimidating . 3,700 men , of no fixed abode to all intents, camped in your parish , in your town , building a railway . And at times when not paid this army was angry to a point of riot .

Chairman (to the Rev Robert Wilson ): You are a clergyman and magistrate in Norfolk I believe ? – I am . Is there any railway constructing in your neighbourhood ? – The Swaffham and Dereham line is now constructing . Do you know at all what number of men are employed in that district ? – A great many . Have you had many complaints brought before you as a magistrate from the railway ? – I have had a great many complaints both on the Swaffham and Dereham line and the Norwich and Brandon which has lately been constructed . What is the nature of those complaints ? – Generally a difficulty in obtaining their wages .

Complaints from the men against their employers ? – Yes. Their complaint is against the gangers if I understand rightly ? – The chief complaint is against the gangers . What is the specific complaint ? – Non-payment of wages.

The Select Committee reported, ” The rapid growth of the railway system of communication will be necessarily accompanied , for several years to come, by a vast expenditure of capital in mere construction , giving employment probably to not much less than 200,000 of the effective labouring population of the country . The great amount of outlay already thus made, its suddenness , and its temporary concentration at particular localities , often spots before but thinly inhabited, have created or developed evils . It does not seem altogether unreasonable to expect , that the steady employment , and the high wages obtained by the men engaged on Railway works ….should serve in effecting a valuable and permanent improvement of their state . Good wages , or at least such wages as secure those dependent thereon from constantly balancing on the verge of destitution , seem to be one element essential to the improvement of the labouring classes .

(The men ) are brought hastily together in large bodies ; no time is given for the gradual growth of accommodation which would naturally accompany the growth of numbers ; they are therefore crowded into unwholesome dwellings , while scarcely any provision is made for their comfort or decency of living ; they are hard worked ; they are exposed to great risk of life and limb ; they are too often hardly treated ; and many inducements are presented to them to be thoughtless, thriftless and improvident ….and they cannot wonder at the feelings of dislike and dismay with which the permanent inhabitants of a neighbourhood often view the arrival of these strangers among them .

The evils seem mainly to consist in the mode and time of payment of the men, and their consequent discontent , disorder and irregularity ; in the want of proper lodging for them ; in their careless exposure to risk ; in the defective provision for maintaining peace and good order among them ; and in the imperfections or absence of provision for their religious instruction and the education of their children . “scan train

And the Select Committee offered the first of many remedies the most important of which was that the men were paid regularly , once a month at least, and in cash . The previous system was to pay them by ticket and by receipt for loans from their employers . These were to enable the men to obtain goods usually from a ` tommy shop` operated by the contractor which sold cheap goods at high prices in exchange for a ticket or token.. At the end of the month the men could find themselves still in debt to the contractor so at times were effectively working for nothing .

Samuel Morton Peto the contractor was already paying his men once a week on Saturday afternoon in cash .and he had ” found during the last 18 years I have always paid the sum in money and have found the good effect of it in the moral character of the men , in their steady attention to the work . “

The Select Committee report is dated July 1846 and later in the same year , flying in the face of the purple prose of the Share Prospectus, was a small entry in the London Gazette of 14th November , “Eastern Counties Railway (Lynn and Ely Railway : Ely and Huntingdon Railway : Lynn and Dereham Railway ). Purchase or Lease . Notice is hereby given that application is intended to be made to Parliament in the next session for an Act to authorise the sale or lease by the Lynn and Ely Railway Company, upon such terms and conditions as have been or may be agreed upon , to the Eastern Counties Railway Company of the Lynn and Ely Railway , and also the Ely and Huntingdon Railway and the Lynn and Dereham Railway Company . “

The small railway`s sale of shares had been much less than anticpated and the giant ECRC was ready to swallow them up but on condition that the railway between Lynn and Ely was completed.

Henry J Hillen`s book , History of the Borough of King`s Lynn, vol 2 , confirms this ” at a public meeting on 6th Oct 1845 , additional capital was needed of £151,000 as the appeal only brought in less than half ( of the money needed ) . The company applied to Parliament for power to take over several other lines ( but had still ) to construct the docks adjoining the Harbour . The Lynn and Ely Railway augmented their indebtedness by constructing a line to Wisbech via Watlington , opened in February 1848 ( Contractors Simpson Walker & Bennett ) . A through journey to Lynn was provided by the Eastern Counties Railway from Ely. The affairs of the company drifted and it was absorbed into the Great Eastern Railway system . The shareholders of the Lynn and Ely , the Lynn and Dereham , the Ely and Huntingdon railways met at the London Tavern in Bishopsgate and agreed to accept an offer by the ECRC to lease the line for 999 years on condition that the lines were completed . Parliament refused but passed a portion of the bill which amalgamated the small companies under the East Anglian Company in June 1847 . The directors unable to pay the dividend applied for an increase in capital of £375,562 which again was refused . “

The Lynn Advertiser and West Norfolk Herald , itself only in its 5th year of publication , published this good news .

Feb 26th , 1846 . ” The Secretary laid before the full meeting ( at the London Tavern , a report from Mr Valentine , that ) the iron rails, chairs and sleepers for the whole line and branches have been purchased and are in the course of delivery to Lynn. The consequent outlay has entailed upon the directors the necessity of making a second call of £5 per share on the proprietors ….. In consequence of the extreme demand during autumn last year for engineering draughtsmen and assistants , I was unable until after 30th November to form a sufficient staff for properly commencing operations . Since that time however I have been more successful . The whole of the main line and the branch to the harbour are staked out . The contract for the portion of the line from Lynn to Denver being a distance of 12 ½ miles and for the harbour branch is let to Mr William Smith Simpson for a sum under my estimate”.

“Oct 17th , 1846 . On Saturday the Eagle and on Tuesday the Vulture arrived at the Downham Station house via Brandon for the Lynn and Ely Railway ( No picture has been found of either of these steam engines ). This looks like business. On Wednesday , two navvies of the names of James Gooderham and John James ( as written) were brought before John Richardson Fryer esq., charged with stealing £9 the property of John Morley of Outwell . Jones ( as written) was discharged but Gooderham was remanded until Monday . “

And on a truly bright note the paper also reports, “Oct 24th , 1846. On Friday 2 troops of the 6th Dragoon Guards passed through the town on their way to Dublin and on Saturday one troop arrived with the staff officers, band, etc, and stayed until Sunday .”

Little train

Although the actual opening of the railway was announced in various newspapers , it was just as a small paragraph of rural news . The Lynn Advertiser of 31st October 1846 however went to town and really sold the railway to its readers .

Opening of the East Anglian Railways from Lynn to Downham and from Lynn to Narborough .

“An addition has this week been made in “the iron net work of England ” – another link has been added to the great chain of railway communication which is now fast intersecting every part of Great Britain . That these railways will be of great benefit to our good old borough , we have great reason both to hope and believe , but , at the same time , injuries of a minor character must necessarily arise from their introduction . The shrill whistle of the locomotive on Monday last might be considered as the death knell of the various coaches and vehicles which have for so long a period conveyed the visitor and the man of business to the town of Lynn . We should think that a profitable speculation might now be made by transferring the “thorough breds ” , which have horsed them to some other quiet and secluded spot where no steam competition exists . How little did our Unions- Rising Suns – Hopes – Victorias and other vehicles of a like description when moving along some years ago at the rate of six or seven miles an hour, imagine that their course would so soon be run , and that in October 1846 in their place a monster train would whisk along with its hundreds of passengers , steaming , puffing and roaring out the announcement of its approach.

Monday last was the day appointed for a formal opening of the line by the directors , on which occasion invitations were issued for an excursion trip to Downham and Narbro` to about 160 ladies and gentlemen of the town and neighbourhood . Amongst the company present we observed , Sir W B Folkes, Bart. and Lady Folkes, and Miss Folkes, W Everard, esq and the Misses Everard – W Seppings, esq and the Misses Seppings – C Goodwin esq, , Mrs and Miss Goodwin – F Partridge, esq, Mrs Partridge and Miss Rippinghall – J C Williams, esq and Mrs Williams – F Ingle , esq – J S Valentine, esq Mrs Valentine and Miss Valentine – W W Williams, esq – A Bowker , esq – L Self , esq – E Eyre , esq , and the Misses Eyre – Miss Parrot – Mrs Wilson and the Misses Wilson – Miss Self – J B Whiting esq – The Rev J F Francklin – The Rev J Bransby – R Pitcher, esq – Dr de Mierre – W Shipp,esq – G Sayle esq – E Self esq – J Marsters esq – F B Wilson , esq – C Burcham esq – J E Jeffrey esq – W Blencowe esq – A Swatman esq – W W Jeffery esq – J Kendle esq etc etc etc

scan train

Flags were hoisted on the terminus in honor of the event and with a display of which also the engine selected to draw the train was decorated . There were nine carriages of first, second and third class , the whole of which were filled . Eleven o`clock in the forenoon was the hour appointed for starting and a more favourable day could not have occurred for the morning opened with a thick fog , which continued throughout the day , so that it was not possible to see more than a few hundred yards in advance . . Fortunately we had been up the lines on the previous Friday with an excursion party , when the atmostphere was most propitious , so that we are able to describe the course , and the different objects that arrest the attention . We may here state that on the occasion of the opening the arrangements on the lines were under the able superintendence of Mr Carrington the station master , and Mr Platt the inspector of locomotives , acted as engine driver , both gentlemen being well versed in the detail of locomotion . We commend the company in having selected two such experienced men for their service – a circumstance truly congratulatory and of the utmost importance for the safety and comfort of those who travel on the East Anglian lines of railway. We now proceed at once to lay before our readers a description of the line. To begin at the beginning , we must start from the station at Lynn which though only intended as a temporary building is nevertheless substantial and ornamental in the appearance . The terminus is situate about the centre of the High Hills , or which , perhaps is better know to some as the Echo Road, having ingress into the town by way of Norfolk street North Clough lane , and St James street. It consists of a ladies and gentlemans waiting room – booking offices – clerks room and a spacious platform extending 200 ft on each side , the whole occupying an area of 170ft x 73 ft , which is enclosed by 1000 ft of fencing . The whole of these buildings together with a spacious engine house 100ft x 27ft , hard by , with tanks etc., have all been erected in the last two months by Mr Sagars, builder , of this town and we must say they are creditable to his perseverance and workman like ability . The whole appearance on entering the station yard shews repleteness in comfort and convenience , and both from one end to the other of the East Anglian Railways there is a character in the shape of finish that is rarely to be met with on any other line .

Having taken our seats in the train , the whistle sounds and we are off . The Lynn and Ely line which we traversed for about a mile, brought us up on the handsome bridge on the Hardwick road , and from its great extent this may be considered a work of no ordinary magnitude and was erected by the company at a great cost and labour . Proceeding onwards the first thing that arrests the attention is the beautiful view on the left …of excellent grass lands…, in between which are seen the busy mill of Mr Fayers , and the tower of the church at West Winch .

We next crossed the bridge over the river Nar which is a sound piece of work . Passing on we arrive at the Station house at St Germans which is a small but neatly erected building . The station is about a mile from the village which may be clearly distinguished from its great extent whilst above the other objects stands the parish church .

The whole of the route along this part of the line is flat , and wheeling along at a brisk pace , we pass the Polver Drain over which the company have thrown a well constructed bridge . Just before reaching the Watlington Station , the land on the extreme right , is low and marshy , but this is beautifully constrasted by the fine woods in the locality of Watlington . We now arrive at the Watlington Station , which is both commodious and extensive , and is built on the same sound and ornamental style which characterises the other works of the company . Steaming it along the village of Magdalen is very distinctly seen , surrounded by fertile lands , abounding with stock of various descriptions cropping the herbage .

In a few minutes you are at the station at Stow , which is pleasantly situated and on the extreme left of which stands the church . A short distance from Stow , is seen peeping through the trees , the little village of Wimbotsham . Steaming and puffing along , a few minutes brought us to the Downham Station , and a neat and beautiful station it is . The landing stage here ( as well as at all the other stations ) is level with the doors of the carriages – a very great convenience and one which we hope will soon be imitated at Ely . The station is commodious and well adapted for the purposes to which it is to be applied , The front is extremely handsome – indeed it is altogether a chaste erection . These station houses along the line have been erected by Messrs Candler and Whitby ( who were in these instances jointly concerned ) , builders , of Lynn and we must say the execution of the work reflects on them considerable credit – nor can we withhold our mead of praise to Messrs Dobson and Tribe , the architects on the line , whose professional skill and ability must be apparent to everyone who enters carefully into the detail of their labours – indeed the whole staff of engineers including Messrs Harrison , F.Cruso and their co-adjutors , are entitled to our commendations for the indefatigability and arduous exertions manifested in their several departments . We cannot here refrain from remarking on the onerous duties which must have devolved on the secretary Mr W W Williams , esq, and his staff , for although their labours have not been so apparent to the public eye , yet they must have had their full share in bringing the lines to so favourable a termination . To Mr W.W.Williams then we would offer our tribute of praise – also to Messres Neame and Snell , and the junior members of the staff acting with them , all of whom have so laudably distinguished themselves in these great works .

We have now traversed the whole distance , 11 miles ( in 35 minutes) . A gentleman of the party has kindly handed to us the following note of arrivals which he took at the time . Left Lynn, 11.13, Arrived at first Lodge, 11.15 , Arrived Viaduct , 11.18, Arrived Junction Branch line , 11.19, Arrived Nar Bridge , 11. 25, Arrived St Germans, 11.26, Arrived Watlington , 11.32 ½ , Left Watlington 11.34 , Arrived at Magdalen , 11.37, Arrived at Stow , 11.40. Arrived at Downham, 11.48.

The party alighted at the station and after perambulating the locality of the railway for about 20 minutes – the whistle sounded and we were all once again snugly ensconced in the carriages on the return expedition. The whole distance as again run over in about 32 minutes , and we must say that on a more comfortable easy line we never travelled . It is alike creditable to the company – the engineer – the contractor Mr Simpson. We have on former occasions given our mead of praise to J S Valentine, esq , the engineer but we cannot at this period lose the opportunity of again paying a passing tribute of commendation to that gentleman for his labour and skill , as well as to Mr Symonds , the resident engineer , acting under him for the share he bore in this extensive and well approved undertaking . Arriving at the terminus at Lynn , a brass band in attendance played that beautiful air ” See the conquering hero comes “. The company once more emerged from their carriages and proceeded to the waiting room and to the upper end of the platform , where tables had been erected , containing a choice , delicate and abundant supply of refreshments , together with wines of superior quality , provided by Mr M`Pherson of the Globe Hotel , the whole repast being got up in that excellent style for which that house is celebrated . The company seemed to enjoy this little interval of mingled society .

Sir W B Folkes , the chairman of the Lynn and Ely Railway spoke as follows . He said this was a most important day for the town of Lynn . The works which had been completed were executed in a most satisfactory manner , and would he trusted be beneficial to the borough . He would beg leave to confine his observations simply to the toast which he was about to give them which was – Success and Prosperity to the East Anglian Railways (Three times three , loud long cheers followed this announcement ) Three cheers were also given for Sir Wm Folkes , the Directors, and three cheers for Lady Folkes , when the whistle shrieked aloud and the party were once more in their carriages , and proceeding onwards along the Lynn and Dereham rail to Narbro` which is the extreme point to which the line is at present opened .”

Longer train

The Ipswich Journal reported on 16th Oct 1846 , “Lynn and Ely Railway . Last week some of the directors made an experimental excursion on this line from Lynn to Ely to which place the line will be open to the public in about a fortnight , thus opening a communication by railway from Swaffham by way of Lynn to London . “

Later that same month the London Daily News, 26th Oct 1846, ” Opening of the Lynn and Ely Railway . This line was opened yesterday and 29 first and second class carriages started from the Lynn Station at ½ past 10 o`clock filled with ladies and gentlemen comprising many of the principal inhabitants to pay a visit to Ely . The carriages which are painted chocolate certainly present a gay and handsome appearance ( there was ) a profusion of union jacks and a band of music . At ½ past 12 the train reached Ely . The visitors proceeded to the Bell Inn where the directors had ordered a substantial luncheon . At ½ past 3 the train started from Ely and at a little after 6 a sumptuous entertainment was given at the Town Hall . “

The Standard of the next day , 27th October 1846 , ” The remaining portion of the Lynn and Ely Railway viz, that from Downham to Lynn was opened on Monday . The completion of the East Anglian system of railways of which that from Lynn to Ely forms the most important section , will bring a very valuable district of the eastern part of the country into railway communication not only with the metropolis but with the northern and western parts of the kingdom which will add most materially to the value of the low lands traversed by the various lines . It is unnecessary to point out the advantages which must be derived by the proprietors of land lying within the drainage jurisdiction of the Bedford Level , the Middle Level and the drainage corporations , from the construction of the railroads through the district . Within the memory of man the large tracts of land alluded to have , by drainage , been increased by five fold in value . The locality is in many parts impassable for heavy vehicles in winter and the materials for road making can be obtained only from a great distance and consequently at a very heavy cost.

And yet …the East Anglian Company have met with a most annoying , most expensive and it is believed most absurd opposition from the drainage corporations and have had to submit to almost extortionate exactions from the very landowners , the value of whose estates will be materially enhanced by this system of railways .

The length of the Lynn to Ely line is 26 ½ miles and runs through a perfectly level country . At Watlington station about six miles from Lynn, a branch to Wisbeach, ten miles long , is in the course of construction . This branch is expected to be opened in November . Of the Lynn and Dereham line 17 miles have been opened to the public for some time past . The remaining 8 miles are under construct and will in all probability be ready for traffic in the spring of next year .

The Lynn and Ely line and Wisbeach branch were according to the prospectus to be cheaply and expeditiously constructed ; and but for the opposition of the drainage corporations there is no doubt the lines would have been economically made , and long since completed The bridges proposed to be built by the railway company offered much better ” way ” for navigation and drainage than those that have been recently erected by corporations themselves. There is not , we believe, a single bridge between Ely and the sea with a wider opening than 40ft yet the drainage people compelled the company to build one 121ft 6ins over the Ouse with side openings to the extent of 30 yards on either side with spans of 30 ft each .

Over the new drain made by the ” Middle Level ” corporation , Mr James Walker erected for the convenience of the public and the private occupation roads, 14 bridges of three spans each , the centre span not exceeding 40 ft ; yet this corporation obliged the railway company to consent to erect within 100 yards of one of these 40ft span bridges , a bridge of 110 ft on the square with 132 ft on the skew . The parliamentary estimate for building two bridges on the Wisbeach line was £10,000. The corporation objected to the bridges and as a consequence a temporary bridge was constructed for £7,000 and a permanent one at £30,000 .

The landowners have driven very hard bargains with the railway company The estimated cost of the Lynn and Ely railway with the Wisbeach branch was £300,000 but the corporations opposition and requirements have added £100,000 . As an illustration of the griping character of the men , a proprietor near the Ouse Bridge made a claim of £1,900 for damage done to his property , a windmill which was 150 yards from the railway . It went to arbitration and he was awarded £1,000 for ” loss of wind “.

When Captain Wynne the railway inspector inspected the railway between Ely and Denver the Ouse bridge was tested by placing on it four engines and four tenders laden with coke and water and five waggons laden with six tons of iron each . The weight may fairly be taken as follows . Four engines and tenders at 26 tons each , 104 tons, five loaded waggons , 9 tons each , 45 tons, men and other things, say , one ton . Total 150 tons .

With this weight the bridge sank 5/16ths of an inch only ; and it is more than probable , that when this bridge has come to its proper bearing it will not sink more than one eighth of an inch under all the weight the bridge can hold .

The excursion train taken from Ely to Lynn in the afternoon consisted of 31 carriages . Two engines were attached . The train was taken at a moderate rate of speed over the new portion of the line which appears to have been formed with very great care by Mr Valentine The dinner in celebration of the event took place in the Town Hall with the Mayor Mr Carter presiding . About 150 gentlemen sat down to a very substantial repast but to very execrable wines .

Mr Armes proposed the toast to Mr Lacy , MP , and the Directors of the East Anglian Railways . Mr Lacy replied by saying that the spirit of railway speculation against which so much was now charged , had not been fostered by the old companies , but had been encouraged by a certain great man ( Sir Robert Peel) who one day took a spade in his hand and declared that direct lines were the thing . All the world were immediately up in arms for direct lines ; bubbles swarmed and he believed that direct as the Lynn and Ely Railway was , that if a ” direct” Lynn to Ely line had been brought forward in 1845 the very name of it would have secured patronage and support .

Mr Armes now proposed the health of Mr J C Williams, the solicitor of the company . That gentleman was, he said, the originator of the Lynn and Ely line and it was mainly owing to his talent and perseverance that the Bill for it had been obtained and the undertaking carried to a successful issue . The health of Mr Valentine the engineer of the railway was next proposed and returned with thanks , Several other toasts were drunk , and the company separated shortly before 12 o`clock . ” This London newspaper did its best to be pleased about the opening but this was one of many railways , and so it gave a rather more muted and resentful report on the railway , perhaps the writer was a disappointed shareholder .

Thus despite all the difficulties , financial and physical the line was opened and is still open today . The Sharp Bros of Manchester , 2-2-2 engine and its carriages steamed into the future. The woodcut illustration in the newspapers of the engine and carriages in motion , is not a cartoon or simple cutesy image, it was to advertise to the paying passengers and business men just what a cutting edge, white heat of technology means of transport this was . It was not then as now, a faultless service and alongside the article on the opening of the railway line, are three small paragraphs which describe delays on the line from Chelmsford, a fatality on the line from Cambridge and vandalism of the line . Worse was to come , the following year , 1847, the railway company put up the fares .

So next time you travel between Downham and Lynn or Ely , imagine the crowds of excited people lining the route of the inaugural journey on that cool misty autumn day in 1846..


House of Commons : Report of the Select Committee on Railway Labourers, 1846

British Newspaper archives
The Railway Navvies by Terry Coleman
East Anglia`s First Railways by Hugh Moffat .
Norfolk Record Office.( for permission to reproduce the map of the proposed line C/scf 1/250) .
King`s Lynn Library .

Map of the proposed line of railway at Downham 1844


Schedule of owners and occupiers of land within the proposed railway line and lines of deviation .

Book of Reference to the Plan of the Lynn and Ely Railway With a branch to the Harbour of Lynn and a branch from the Main line to Wisbeach . ( see the Map of the proposed railway line).

Deposited in my office at 9 ½ at night on 30th November 1844. Parmeter.

Lot Number Land Owner Occupier
    1 Land & Drains William Wilson, Lee Warnes  George Wood
2 Field William Wilson, Lee Warnes  George Wood
3 Field William Wilson, Lee Warnes  George Wood
4 Field William Wilson, Lee Warnes  George Wood
5 Drove William Wilson, Lee Warnes, Edmund Beeton, Mary Barton George Wood
6 Field & Drains Edmund Beeton John Garner
7 Field & Drains George Wood In hand
8 Field & Drains Edmund Beeton In hand
9 Sewers & Drains Dikereeves of the parish Dikereeves
10 Field & Drains Mary Barton William Barton
11 Field & Drains Mary Barton William Barton
12 Cottages, sheds, gardens and premises Samuel Rawligs, Henry Walker, Matthew Atkins, Thos Atkins Samuel Rawligs, Henry Walker, Matthew Atkins, Thos Atkins
13 Field Mary Wenn
14 Field Edmund Beeton Thomas Page
15 Brickyard, shed, garden, premises Samuel Rawlings In hand
16 Field Barnes Merrington George Mann
17 Cottages, barn, yard, premises Barnes Merrington Francis Hunt, Harry Newman
18 Field Robert Andrews Thomas Rose
19 House, shed, garden, premises Robert Andrews Maurice Crawley
20 House, shed, garden, premises Robert Andrews Daniel Benstead
21 House, shed, garden, premises Robert Andrews Robert Dodd
22 House, shed, garden, premises Robert Andrews William Lang
23 House, shed, garden, premises Robert Andrews Thomas Killingworth
24 House, shed, garden, premises Robert Andrews Francis Green
25 House, shed, garden, premises Robert Andrews Jonah Weston
26 House, shed, garden, premises Robert Andrews Sauel Rawlings
27 House, shed, garden, premises Robert Andrews William Webster
28 House, shed, garden, premises Robert Andrews Samuel Lavender
29 House, shed, garden, premises Robert Andrews John Eagleton
30 House, shed, garden, premises Robert Andrews Elizabeth Palgrave
31 House, shed, yard Robert Andrews Mary Barton
32 House, shed, yard, garden Robert Andrews Thomas Rose
33 Turnpike Road Trustees of the Turnpike
34 Cottage, sheds, garden and premises William Bennett Wm Walker, Wm Barrack
35 Cottage, yard Thomas Wright Robert Laws
36 Orchard Thomas Wright John Shin
37 Cottages, gardens, sheds, premises Thomas Wright Mary Rawson, John Shin
38 Orchard Thomas Wright James Rawson
39 Cottages, sheds, garden John Johnson Elizabeth Watts, Henry Filby
40 Field Henry Winter John Watts
41 Field Henry Winter William Brown
42 Field John Dixon In hand
43 Field John Dixon In hand
44 Field George Scarnell In hand
45 Field James King Thomas Page
46 Field James King Thomas Page
47 Field Rev. Charles Mann William Allcock
48 Sewers, Drains Dikereeves of the parish Dikereeves
49 Brickyard, sheds, premises William Bennett In hand
50 Field Rev. Sam Colby Smith William Horne
51  Field  Rev. Charles Mann  William Allcock
52 Field John Vipon Dyson Savage
53 Private Road Thomas Wright, James King, William Weston, John Dixon, William Bennett, John Vipon, Rev. Sam Colby Smith, Rev. Charles Mann, William Chapman, George Brown, Robert Taylor, Henry Winter, George Weston, Henry Juler, Thomas Page, George Scarnell
54 Field Rev. Sam Colby Smith William Horne
55 Field Rev. Sam Colby Smith William Horne
56 Field George Weston William Weston
57 Field George Weston William Weston
58 Field Henry Juler In hand
59 Field William Weston William Brown
60 Field George Brown William Chapman
61 Field John Dixon In hand
62 Field Henry Winter Bennett Brown
63 Field Robert Taylor Thomas Harris
64 Field Robert Taylor Thomas Harris
65 Field William Chapman In hand
66 Field William Chapman In hand
67 Fields, Drains George Brown In hand
68 Fields, Drains George Brown In hand
69 Fields, Drains George Brown In hand
70 Sewers, Drains Dikereeves of the parish Dikereeves

NRO ref C /Scf 1 /85 .

scan train

Finally …it seemed important to try to follow the careers /lives of some of the main players involved in the building of the railway and so I have finished off the railway blog with a postscript.

Our breathless guide who reported on the first 11 mile journey of the train from Lynn to Downham for the Lynn Advertiser , rightly mentioned the names of some of the workforce behind the making of the railway .

The ” originator of the Lynn and Ely line ” ,Mr J.C. Williams was a solicitor born in London but who had been in partnership with Goodwin ( Partridge) of Lynn attorneys, when Thomas Greenfield was articled to a solicitor in London in 1840 . J.C. , John Charles later married a Mary Sarah Greenfield . Mr W.W. Williams the railway company secretary may well have been a brother to John Charles Williams .

John Sutherland Valentine the engineer has already been mentioned. The builders Candler and Whitby of Lynn were both Lynn born and middle aged by the time the railway came . William Candler was a master carpenter born in 1790 and Thomas Whitby was a builder born a few years earlier in 1787 and lived in Whitby Yard off the High Street in Lynn with his son James .. The contractor William Smith Simpson was born in 1803 and lived in Park Farm ,Little Downham , Cambs , and also had a London address in Islington . A month before the opening of the Lynn and Ely railway he dissolved his partnership with Chas Briggs of “Ferry ” both being described as railway contractors . He later dissolved his partnerships with James Walker the Middle Level builder of 14 bridges , and Chas. Bennett in 1847 and 1849 . In 1851 he is living in Lt. Downham with his wife Julia and his daughter Eliza who was born in Wisbech. He died in 1868.

One of the subcontractors was James Bailey . In the 1851 census he was living in Railway Road, Lynn , aged 43 described as subcontractor to public works , and born Westminster . His wife Elizabeth is 29 and born Ashford , Kent , for certain not his first wife as his son, another James, is aged 21 and an assistant to his father , and born in the railway central town of Stockton in Durham . If anything gives James Bailey his credentials as a railway builder it is the birthplace of his son in 1830 at the pinnacle of the Stephenson era of very early railway building .

In the same house but not as the enumerator is clear to mention, are 8 navvies , ” these persons do not occupy separate apartments “. But it is rare to find the names of the navvies. John Ibbinson, 22, b Yorks, Jonas Rolfe, 35, b Lowestoft, he later became a coal porter , James Bollowes, 26 , b Kirby Prior, John Corsey, 26, b Norfolk , William Pearman , 18, b Suffolk, William King, 25 , b Warwickshire , William Simpson , 22, b Lincs, and Charles Osborne, 29, b Boston . The last Charles became a labourer in a fish office in Lowestoft . Although by1851 the Lynn to Ely railway was fully opened , it is possible that James Bailey and his gang of navvies were needed at the development of Lynn Harbour, on the doomed Watlington to Wisbech branch line or to complete the Lynn to Dereham line.

Also in the 1851 census in Railway Road, Lynn is Richard Collar, described as unmarried, 21, stationmaster E.A.Railway, Lynn , born Chippenham , Wilts, so maybe a young man with Great Western Railway experience . Later he is found as a coal merchant in Norwich . Also with him is William Belshar Stanley , unmarried, 25, stationmaster in Downham , born in Margate , Kent . He was born in 1824 on the Isle of Thanet , and in later census becomes a mercantile clerk .

Of the others mentioned by name Dobson , Tribe, Neame and Snell all seem to have moved away from the Lynn area but Frederic Cruso in 1851 is a 27 year old civil engineer and son of Robinson Cruso the auctioneer and it is name known today in Lynn.


Please contact me, Elizabeth, at My email address

Please contact me, Elizabeth, at My email address

Crime & Punishment

No doubt in the depths of the National Archives and in sources in the Norfolk Record Office like the Quarter Sessions , as yet un indexed, there would be more about crime and punishment in Downham and district . These are just a few of the problems which beset the authorities in the first half of the 19th C.

First is an increasingly acrimonious exchange of letters between the first Chief Constable of Norfolk Colonel Oakes, and the ever vigilant Rev E Howman of Bexwell .


Photo in the Collection of the Downham Heritage Society


It seems an odd thing to think nowadays that there was once a time when there might not be a need for police force . However in 1836 the Board of Guardians of the Downham Union informed by the new Constabulary Act , minuted on 7th Dec 1836 ” Moved by Mr Milnes that it is the opinion of this meeting that a rural police should be established . Carried unanimously .”

After much debate and deliberation eventually Norfolk had its own County Constabulary in 1839 funded by the county rates . The first Chief Constable was Colonel Richard Montague Oakes formerly of the Life Guards who lived at the time of his appointment at Little Dunham with his family. He was born in Yorkshire according to the 1851 and 61 census , but other records have him born in Madras, India . He was educated at the East India College, Haileybury from 1806 and his first appointment in the Army was by purchase into the 22nd Light Dragoons in 1812 . By 1817 he had become Captain in the Life Guards , which at the time were known as the Piccadilly Butchers because of an incident which involved the deaths of innocent people during an arrest in Piccadilly ordered by the then Speaker . Col Oakes was further involved in a dramatic and fatal shooting by his troopers into the crowd , killing two , at the funeral procession of the late Queen Caroline in 1821 . After a spell of Army service in India he returned and married a very young Sophia Charlotte Fletcher in 1828 she was a minor and married with the permission of her father , he was 38 , and they retired to Norfolk where they had 7 or 8 children .

Norfolk Annals has a report from the Norwich Quarter Sessions that the Constabulary Act should be adopted throughout the county and on 3rd Jan 1840 Col R M Oakes was appointed Chief Constable at a salary of £500 per annum Further there should be 12 Superintendents at a salary of £100 per annum and 120 petty constables at a pound each per week . Each Superintendent was allocated an area of 12 square miles . And presumably 10 to police this area.

Downham Market would probably have had a superintendent based here with his constables dispersed around the villages . Whether or not the parish constable was drafted in to the new force or remained a separate law officer for each village , is not known.

By 1848 the Constabulary were well established but in Bexwell Rectory , the Rev E J Howman was busy writing to the Chief Constable ….

Bexwell Rectory

Nr Downham

Aug 12th 1848

Dear Sir,

A communication from the Poor Law Board on the subject of Vagrancy has been submitted to the different Boards of Guardians and among the various suggestions contained in it , is one, with reference to the appointment of Local Police Officer as Assistant Relieving Officer, for the purpose of Vagrancy alone – now it appears to me that for the purposes of enquiry into the cases of the Tramps , the Police Officer , if a careful intelligent fellow is better adapted and qualified than one Relieving Officer and then seeing that in future , Tramps are to become in fact a public charge the Policeman`s whole time being the property of the County , there would be no unfairness in putting this matter under his charge and further as either before they go in , or after they come out , of the Union Houses, by far the largest proportion of the Tramps , either actually do , or ought to , pass through the hands of the Police it does not appear to me that it would to any very great intent , at least increase their labours – May I therefore request your opinion whether you see any difficulty or objection to the Police Officer being employed , for the purpose of enquiring into the cases of destitute Tramps , with a view to them being admitted for relief or not as the case may be – Something should be done and that without delay – as the Irish reapers I see are arriving who uniformly if unable to obtain work beg all day and are a terror to the country and manage to land themselves at a Union House for the night where they are a nuisance .

Yours faithfully , E J Howman . To Col . Oakes .

The Rev Howman never used one word where twenty would sound better . This was the start of a long acrimonious correspondence between the two men which was bounded by the most exquisite good manners and wholly hypocritical expressions of humility, obedience and faithfulness ….

The Chief Constable responded:


Nr Swaffham

13th Aug`t 1848

To the Rev E J Howman.

Dear Sir,

I have been favored with your letter of the 12th Inst , in reply to which I beg to assure you that I am most desirous to meet your wishes in regard to the subject of it , as far as it may be in my power to do so .—

I do not however think that it would be in strict conformity with the object of the Constablulary Act, that a Police Constable should hold the Appointment of an Assistant Relieving Officer , although his duties were confined to cases of Vagrancy alone; but I do not see any difficulty nor objection to a Police Officer being employed , pro tem pore , to enquire into the cases of destitute Tramps with a view to their being admitted into the Union for relief or not .

I should have much pleasure in attending your Bench at any of its sittings for the purpose of taking the sense of the Magistrates upon this point if it is your wish that I should do so – In the meantime I have desired the Superintendent to wait upon you , and to take away any instructions which you may be disposed to give , in furtherance of your project , until the subject shall have been more generally considered .

Believe me, Dear Sir, Yours very faithfully , R M Oakes .

Mention of the Magistrates and the attendance of the Chief Constable in person , prompts a next day reply from the Rev Howman . He assures Col Oakes that this is not a matter for the Magistrates but for the Board of Guardians , and repeats that he cannot see any incompatibility with the duties of a police officer and an assistant Relieving Officer .

Col Oakes replies the next day 15th Aug , ” The observation that the Wind bloweth where it listeth and that no one knows whence it cometh or whither it goeth ” appears to me to be almost equally applicable to the Vagrant . What evidence then , can be obtained of their claim to a public asylum beyond their own declaration of destitution or suffering And this one would imagine could be taken as well by the Master of the Union at which they present themselves or even by the Porter , as by the Police Officer . “

At this point the correspondence ceases and it is clear that neither man has moved his point of view . However just before Christmas in 1848 , there is a minute in the Board of Guardians minute book which resolves to appoint ” Thomas Loney Eades as Assistant Relieving Officer ….and all applications from Tramps and Wayfarers ( should be directed ) to Mr Eades at the Police Station , Downham Market ” . And ” The Overseers of the parishes in the Union are not to give orders for the admission of such persons into the workhouse except in case of real emergency and distress . “

The winter over , and Col Oakes writes to the Rev Howman on 10th March 1849 to say that trials of the system of using Police Officers as Assistant Relieving Officers had , in his opinion , not been of sufficient benefit to the public . He writes further that he hopes that the Downham Union will revert to the usual routine ” and thereby relieve the police force from a responsibility which I think you will see does not altogether belong to them . “

Underneath his signature Col Oakes puts a very irate PS ” The Board of Guardians I find have now permanently appointed PC Eades as their Asst Relieving Officer and if such were to be the case with other Unions that it would so much encroach upon the time and duties of the officers as would be seriously detrimental to the Service . ” He adds to show what a thoroughly modern and busy man he is , ” Pray pardon my haste as I am on the point of starting by train for Norwich . “

The King`s Lynn-Dereham-Norwich trains could have been caught by the Chief Constable living at Dunham at either Swaffham or Dereham . From Dereham the line would have been direct to Norwich . .King`s Lynn and Norwich both had stations opened in late 1846 so train travel is a new adventure .

And the innocent Police Officer in the middle of this , Thomas Loney Eades was born in 1818 in Portsea, the son of a shipwright at the Dockyard . He was at the time of this discussion married to Sarah who had been born in Barningham and they had five children plus his younger brother George , a grocer, living with them by the time of the 1851 census. . By 1861 the Eades family are back in Portsea and Thomas is a convict warder and later Principal Gate Keeper at the Prison .

Of course the Rev Howman is not pleased by the tone of Col Oakes letter asking for the usual routine to be restored . He writes ” I am I must confess much disappointed and vexed by the communication I have received from you this morning because ( setting aside what I believe is one of the main duties of the Police when the establishment of the Force was under discussion was put forward as one of its principal uses viz the prevention of Vagrancy ) . I shall should you continue to feel that you must deprive the Rate payers of this Union of the Assistance of the Police in this matter undoubtedly not shrink from the duty of submitting the matter to the Sessions and also the Secretary of State . “

The gloves are off and its now a fight to the death . Col Oakes responds …….

” It has been my duty and I assure you a most painful one to remonstrate against the system which you wish to introduce – should you consider me to be in error and continue to think it expedient to refer to the point at issue to the Secretary of State , I have no doubt that I shall receive a communication from that Quarter . In like manner whenever you may think it necessary to bring the Question before the Court of Quarter Sessions in all probability I shall be present . “

A fortnight later the Chief Constable wrote to Sir George Grey , bart, ” 25 March 1849 , I have the honor to lay before you my Returns for the last Quarter together with my Report to the Magistrates assembled in Quarter Sessions on 16th inst . I have been given to understand that an application will be made by that Board for Authority to enforce these duties upon the Police . In the event of such a resolution being carried I shall beg most respectfully to be permitted to state the Grounds upon which I consider it impossible that such duties could be performed with credit to the Police and with benefit to the Public .”

The final letter in the series leaves the matter at a bit of a cliff hanger ending .

From the Chief Constable to Sir George Grey, bart, Secretary of State for the Home Department , on the 29th May 1849, Col Oakes gives a clear and concise report of his objections to the use of a police officer as assistant Relieving Officer . He goes further and says that the Board of Guardians of the Downham Union have sent returns showing that the appointment of PC Eades has shown a diminution of the applications for relief , whereas his own returns obtained from the Downham Union workhouse Porter`s Poor Book , shows a completely different result .

In the event , the Police constable was restored to his routine duties in the Union alongside his 9 other colleagues and the Porter and Master of the Union Workhouse with the official Relieving Officer for Downham , continued to admit every person who had need of the workhouse.

This was another of the Rev Howman`s brushes with authority from which he came off the worst . He is not , in modern parlance, without form … It was he who made the national newspapers in 1841 under the unfortunate headline , “Amateur Surgery in a Union Workhouse ” ( Northern Star and Leeds Advertiser ) and the Bury and Norwich Post carried a copy of the letter from the Poor Law Commissioners to the Board of Guardians in Downham , plus extracts from Mr Howman`s very interesting statement .

The upshot of Rev Howman`s routinely attending medical and surgical procedures in the Workhouse , in particular attending the case of a young woman who was receiving treatment for venereal disease from Mr Ward, assistant to Dr Garneys Wales , was for the Rev Howman to be banned forthwith . His defence that he felt it was of immense comfort to his parishioners that he was there with them ” I have always thought such knowledge highly important to a parochial Clergyman ” and that it ” might enable me to be more useful to my fellow creatures .” , was given the benefit of the doubt by the Commissioners but they did not want a repetition of the incident.

” For the future guidance of the Officers of the Workhouse , the Commissioners add that , in their opinion , no person , not being a Medical man or his assistant , should be allowed to attend at Surgical Operations in a workhouse . …..all Surgical Operations on female paupers in the workhouse, the Matron, or a Nurse or some other female belonging to the establishment , out to be present . “

The Rev Howman continued to be Rector of Bexwell until his death in 1874 almost a decade after the death of the first Chief Constable , Col Oakes ..2012_12270004_edited

Photo in the Collection of the Downham Heritage Society : 1906 the officers of the Downham, Swaffham and Dereham division .

The next cases seem very casually disposed of , there does not seem to be a sense of urgency or need to find the culprits , and the idea of the King`s pardon being an inducement to bring others to justice seems very strange to us today.


On Monday 27th December 1830, Thurlow Dering of Crow Hall was moved to write to The Secretary of State for the Home Dept .

” My Lord,

Considering it my duty to report a lamentable circumstance that has occur`d in the division in which I have the honor to act as a Magistrate , I shall endeavour to occupy as little as possible of your Lordship`s valuable time in the representation of the facts .

On Thursday evening ( 23rd Dec ) ten persons armed with guns and other weapons entered a wood belonging to Sir Thomas Hare , baronet, in the parish of Stow in pursuance of Game . The report of their first gun drew to the spot the Gamekeepers with such assistance as they could collect upon the occasion . Amongst others was James Weston an active young man , who was also one of the Constables of Downham a neighbouring parish . Upon Weston going up to the Plantation with two assistants where several of the Poachers were seen and recommending to the latter to behave like men , Two Guns were discharged at him from the effects of which he died in a short time . Another gun was presented and the Trigger pulled but it did not go off . On the next day a Coroners Inquest was held on the Body and a Verdict of Wiful Murder returned against Persons Unknown .

Seven of the Poachers have since been committed by me to Swaffham Gaol for their examination . But I have reason to fear that neither of the persons who fired the Guns are apprehended nor does there exist any hope of obtaining any Information to convict them unless from the Poachers who were near them at the time . Under these circumstances I would beg to submit to your Lordship`s consideration whether this would not be a case of due Importance to be laid before his Majesty in the hope that His Most Gracious Pardon might be Granted to any one with the exception of those who fired the Guns who would afford such Information as might lead to the Conviction of the Guilty Persons .

In the Hope of Forgiveness for this intrusion I beg to subscribe myself My Lord, With the greatest Respect , Your Lordship`s Most Obedient Humble Servant , J Thurlow Dering . “

( Annotated on reverse ” Crow Hall , Downham , Norfolk . J Dering Esq . Ap 28 . James Weston killed by a gunshot by Poachers . Applies for HM Pardon for the detection of Person who fired the guns . Offer of Pardon approved on Terms …..information of …… ” )(HO64/1/117)

Downham Market , 5th January 1837

My Lord ,

In answer to your letter ( unfound ) of the 4th Inst , I have to inform you that the Jury returned the Verdict of Wilful Murder against some person or persons unknown on the body of Hannah Manfield – the case seems involved in mystery and we have no clue to find out the offenders .

I remain , My Lord, Yours very obediently , Edward Hett .

To the Right Honourable the Secretary of State for the Home Department . “

(Annotated on reverse Downham Market , 5th Jany 1837 . Edw Hett, esq , A/6th. Murder in the Neighbourhood of Downham . Lettr Recvd & Presen` ? )(.HO64/1/7).

Please contact me, Elizabeth, at My email address

Please contact me, Elizabeth, at My email address

Downham Riots 1816

At the end , on that hot August Saturday , on Norwich Castle hill , there was a delay. A rumour of a reprieve ” and the execution not taking place until half past one , gave strength to that rumour . ” But no urgent galloping horse, no urgent running man brought a reprieve . The due process of the law continued inexorably . A cynic might believe that a public hanging as late as half past one on a summer Saturday afternoon would guarantee to attract a bigger public audience , the better to educate them in the ways of the law versus the law breaker . Castle Hill was crowded with the curious and the ghoulish and the thrill seekers .

Daniel Harwood faced the hangman and ” suffered with firmness the dreadful sentence of the law “.The Cambridge Chronicle went on to say that Harwood aged 22, ” had been lead away by bad example and in a moment of intoxication . ” Harwood ” was to have been shortly married , and that the unhappy object of his choice is now pregnant by him . ” Thomas Thody the second of the Downham rioters held in Norwich Castle ” when brought out , evinced great fear , which he expressed by convulsive shrieks and was obliged to be supported by several men. “. He left a wife and two children .

There had been at least two attempts to halt the executions. Thos. Wm. Coke of Holkham had written to Chief Justice Vicary Gibbs suggesting that the men , Thody and Harwood had been of previous good character and would certainly regret their actions and return to a quiet life . Pathetically Daniel Harwood`s father Thomas had written to suggest that this was a tragic case of mistaken identity , his boy had been christened Dan , as the parish register of Gooderstone would show , not Daniel . He would get the parish register to the Chief Justice to prove it . And there was a long 70+ signature petition from the townspeople of Downham asking for clemency . Privately , Chief Justice Vicary Gibbs reported to Coke of Holkham that these two had to hang , but the other rioters would be reprieved . It was reasonable . It was exemplary. No blood had been shed, but the townspeople had been terrified and their property had been stolen and severely damaged . The two would act as a deterrent to others who might consider rioting and smashing up and stealing the property of law abiding citizens. The acquitted would go home and feel lucky to be alive.

The magistrates had faced the rioters and attempted to calm them with offers of an increase in wages and a decrease in the price of bread .In fact the magistrates , Pratt, Hare and Dering had just escaped with their lives . They had been at their usual Monday meeting in the Crown Inn when the mob fell on the town . They got out and hid in Dr Wales house in the High Street and in other neighbours houses and gardens But crucially, they had managed to alert Captain William Lee`s Upwell Yeomanry Cavalry who arrived at around 5 in the afternoon of the first day of the riot . The Upwell Yeomanry Cavalry though heavily armed had also behaved in a disciplined way and no lives had been lost . Finally the rioters had dispersed loaded with free beer and free bread, and other food . There were no winners and no losers .

The Downham riot was not unique . Various seemingly unrelated events culminated in two years of terrible weather , freezing winters , cold wet summers , and Europe recovering from the Napoleonic wars faced extreme food shortages. Add to that the extraordinary eruption of Mt Tambora a ” super-colossal event ” the ash of which reduced the earth`s temperature by 1degree . 1810-1819 were reckoned to be the coldest since the 1690s . May and June 1815 suffered heavy rainfall which in turn had the effect of ruining the harvest. Because of or despite the ruined harvests, it was also in 1815 that the Government of the day passed the Corn Laws. These were designed to protect the cereal growing landowners from the effects of imports of cheap foreign cereals . The riots started in London in the same year .

But it was not just the Food riots, in Suffolk in 1815 farm machinery was broken , in October there were disturbances in Hull when the seamen went on strike, and in November the Bilston Collieries also went on strike . More machine breaking went on in Huddersfield in 1816, there were food riots in Suffolk, Essex, Cambridgeshire and Norfolk in the first half of 1816 and more riots from Frome in Somerset to Birmingham in the north ; in October it was the turn of South Wales, December saw the Spa Fields riots and finally in 1819 , the horrific Peterloo massacre took place .

The Times of 30th May 1816 collects reports from Cambridge, Bury,and Norwich . The article writer seems to imply that the same rioters moved up the country from Bury toward Ely and Littleport and on to Southery and finally to Downham. He speaks of ” a most desperate body of insurgent fen-men.” as if they were a different species .

The fenmen assembled at Littleport and made a bee line for the home of the Rev Mr Vachel a magistrate , ” who stood at his door armed with a pistol , threatening to shoot anyone who should attempt to enter , when three men rushed upon him and disarmed him . He immediately ran upstairs to relieve his wife and two daughters who with very slight covering , made their escape with him, running nearly all the way to Ely , where they arrived safe after midnight .” A group of rioters then marched a miller and his wife to the bank and demanded £50 . Further damage was done before the group was split into the Ely and the Littleport “banditti” The Royston volunteer cavalry broke up this disturbance but not before shots were fired on both sides, the rioter who shot a soldier wounding him , was himself shot dead, and a second rioter was shot in the face , from which wound he subsequently died . This fatal gunfight resulted in the rioters splitting up and disappearing .

The Upwell troop of yeomanry cavalry was sent to Southery ” the magistrates and inhabitants expecting another visit from the insurgents of Southery and its neighbourhood , in consequence of their demands not being complied with . They insisted on 2/- per day for their labour, and to be paid for Monday and Tuesday ( the days they were rioting at Downham) ; also fixing their price for bread , flour etc . When the troop arrived, ( about seven in the evening ) the special constables were on the alert and several were immediately taken into custody .”

” On Saturday morning seven persons were fully committed for trial ; and on Sunday and Monday last many more prisoners were brought in , what have not been examined . The Upwell troop were ordered to Wisbech on Saturday morning to meet the March and Whittlesey troops , the magistrates and inhabitants being fearful of outrages ; but all is at present quiet there . “

The local papers were having a field day . On 24th August 1816 , you could buy ” This day is published A REPORT on The Trials of the Rioters at Downham and Feltwell . At the late Norfolk Assizes . To be had of the Printers of this Newspaper and all their Agents. “


“Gibbs’s unpleasant voice, disagreeable temper, and jejeune pedigree presented formidable handicaps at the start of his career. He initially employed himself as a special pleader, in which capacity he developed a good professional reputation, and was called to the bar in 1783. He proved successful, if acidulous, as an advocate, and powerful in marshaling evidence”. Born in Exeter son of an apothecary 1751, educated Eton , Cambridge . Retired 1818 , died 1820 . Wikipedia ; DNB
Many column inches were devoted to the trial before Lord Chief Justice Gibbs . ” William Bell, Amelia Lightharness and Hannah Jarvis were indicted for having on the 20th inst. together with various other persons riotously and tumultuously assembled at the parish of Southery from whence they proceeded to acts of theft and violence in the town of Downham …….Frances Wiseman stated that she kept a pork and sausage shop : that in the afternoon of the 20th a mob assembled in front of her house : that she observed the prisoner Amelia Lightharness , looking in at the shop window , and that immediately afterward the same prisoner opened the latch of the door and brought in several of the mob , telling them `this was the shop for good pork `. The witness further stated that her shop formed part of her dwelling house : that Amelia Lightharness was the first that entered and at her instigation the mob ransacked the shop of the witness taking away forcibly a quantity of pork and sausages . The shop window was broken by the violence of the people.”

“Maria Palmer, Wm.Buxton and Zachariah Stebbing severally corroborated the first witness and the latter proved that all the above named prisoners entered the shop of Mrs Wiseman and concurred with the acts of violence there committed . Bell and Jarvis severally produced evidence of good character . Verdict – All Guilty .”

” Thomas Thody , Charles Nelson , Daniel Harwood, the same Hannah Jarvis, Elizabeth King, Margaret Jerry and Elizabeth Watson . These prisoners were indicted as forming part of the same unlawful riotous assembly at Southery as before mentioned and for proceeding to assault William Spinks , at Downham aforesaid , and stealing from his person a certain quantity of meal and flour . William Spinks stated that he was an apprentice to Mr Baldwin , a miller at Downham and at the time of the riot had charge of his mill. That on 20th May at about two in the afternoon , he saw a large number of persons approach the mill whilst he was on the road alone about a furlong off ; that upon his coming up to them , they demanded of him the key of the mill , which he delivered to them through the impulse of fear ; that the persons so assembled had sticks and cudgels ; that upon him delivering the key , they proceeded to lay violent hands on the meal , flour and sacks found therein , some part of which they threw about and destroyed and the other part they carried away with them . This witness together with George Gillingham , Susan Stebbing, Pleasance Laws, and William Baldwin or some of them identified the persons of all the prisoners , and proved that Charles Nelson was the first who entered the mill . Verdict – All Guilty .”

“The same Thomas Thody , the same Daniel Harwood, the said Amelia Lightharness , William Youngs, Edward Mellon, and William Galley were indicted as part of the same unlawful and riotous assembly at Southery and having proceeded to Downham , for breaking open the dwelling house and shop of Samuel Bolton , a butcher there, and stealing therein and carrying away a certain quantity of pork the property of the said Samuel Bolton, the said Samuel Bolton and another being in the house and being put in fear . Samuel Bolton stated that on the said 20th May he had given the mob some meat , in the hope of pacifying them ; that about five o`clock in the afternoon of the same day , they came in a large body to his house and demanded more which he said he was unable to give them . Upon this occasion Thody , Harwood and a man named Fendyke who is still at large, appeared to be the ringleaders . Harwood said if witness did not give them more they would have all there was in the shop . To this menace uttered by Harwood the witness replied , ` he would be damned if they should `, and immediately closed and bolted the door , and went toward the kitchen for the purpose of finding two guns , with which he meant to defend his property . Before he had reached his guns however , the mob forced open the door and stripped the shop of all meat to the value of £5 or £6.”

“These prisoners were all identified as taking an active part on this occasion by the concurrent testimony of the last named witness and Thomas Bolton , Zachariah Stebbing, and Ann Springfield . Verdict – All Guilty .”

” The same Thomas Thody, the same Daniel Harwood, Frances Porter , John Bell and John Blogg were indicted as parties to the same unlawful and riotous assembly , and for breaking open the dwelling house of John Parkinson in Downham aforesaid, no person being therein , and felonioussly stealing and carrying away a quantity of flour and various articles of wearing apparel found therein . Hannah wife of the said John Parkinson who is a tailor and baker and keeps a general shop at Downham , stated that being terrified at the appearance of the mob , they had, on the said 20th May last , shut their shop , and retreated to the house of a neighbour . The mob did proceed to Mr Parkinson`s house and shop as was expected and after they were gone away , the witness with her family returned , upon which they found the house had been broken open and they missed from the shop there, waistcoats , shawls , shoes, flour and other articles .”

” The evidence of the last witness corroborated by her daughter Charlotte Parkinson , Richard Gamble , Thomas Mallett Bailey , Wm . Gamble , Charles Smith , and James Weston, was sufficiently clear to establish the charge against all the prisoners except John Bell who had not been seen in the house but had been afterwards met with a ham under his arm . The latter prisoner was therefore acquitted and the others found – all Guilty .”

” John Stearne was indicted for larceny only , he having on the said 20th May , demanded cheese of William Oakes of Downham .Wm Oakes stated that the prisoner came with a mob and demanded cheese , which he delivered to him through fear , observing at the same time that he himself wanted it as much as they did . Samuel Johnson , landlord at the Crown Inn, at Downham stated, that on the same day the prisoner Stearne brought a cheese to his house and divided it amongst the mob . Verdict – Guilty.

“The same John Stearne , the same Thomas Thody , and John Pearson , were indicted for breaking open the Crown Inn, in Downham , with other persons, for assaulting the said Samuel Johnson , the landlord , and for stealing from his person , meat, flour and other provisions . Mr Johnson identified the persons of the prisoners Thody and Pearson as having been the foremost of the party who first broke in by force , but the prisoner Stearne was not observed by him until he ( Stearne) produced the cheese , which was sometime after the forcible entry . Stearne was therefore acquitted. The other prisoners were both found Guilty .”

“In addressing the Jury upon the several indictments for riot , the Chief Justice very clearly explained the law to them , that in tumultuous assemblies of this nature , not only the parties which commit any acts of violence are answerable to the law, but likewise all persons who by joining a mob give sanction to their unlawful proceedings were in the eye of the law equally guilty of any outrage which was committed by any of such mob . …In allusion to the good characters which most of the prisoners adduced in their favour, with respect to the honesty and peaceable habits of their lives, the Judge emphatically observed, that nothing could more clearly show the necessity of suppressing such disorderly and mischievous proceedings as were subject of these trials . Persons who had heretofore acted honestly and had been good members of society , had now by deluding one another in the vain hope of redressing those grievances which their proceedings only tended to aggravate , evinced their peaceable dispositions by unlawfully assembling to the terror of well disposed persons , and their honesty by forcibly seizing the property of others .

” Having convicted the ringleaders at Downham , sufficient had been done to answer the purposes of the prosecution on the part of the Crown., which could only be to show persons who were disposed to join in such tumultuous proceedings , that these transactions cannot take place with impunity , for a day of reckoning must come sooner or later . “

The Chief Justice now proceeded to pass sentence of transportation for seven years on John Stearne who had been indicted and convicted of larceny only . …the charge against him not having been laid capitally .

This being done the following prisoners , who had been capitally convicted of rioting , 16 in number ( viz, William Bell, Amelia Lightharness, Hannah Jarvis, Thomas Thody , Charles Nelson , Daniel Harwood , Elizabeth King, Margaret Jerry , Elizabeth Watson , Lucy Rumbelow, William Youngs, Edward Mellon, William Galley , Frances Porter , John Blogg and John Pearson ), were called before his Lordship to show cause why sentence of Death should not pass against them to die according to Law . The Chief Justice, then , in a very impressive manner passed that solemn sentence against them . His Lordship stated that on account of the good characters which some of them had borne , it would afford him high satisfaction if circumstances should appear to justify him in recommending their cases for a relaxation in the severity of their punishment . Nevertheless he wished them not to be deluded into any ill founded security . There were among them some who had excelled their fellows , and had stood foremost in the execution of their misguided and wicked actions . To these he could hold out no hope . His Lordship concluded by exhorting them all to use well the short time which might remain to them in this world , and to make their peace with Him before whom they must soon appear in the next .”

“Of the above 16 prisoners who received sentence of death , only two were left for execution, viz. Thody and Harwood “. All the others were reprieved . Reprieved is not the same as acquitted or discharged . ” After the ringleaders had been tried and convicted the following minor offenders were discharged on giving security for their good behaviour , viz. .John Jerry, Harrison Bone, and John Bowers .. “

Apart from these minor offenders, the remaining 14 sentenced to death and reprieved , were dealt with quickly and harshly. Of the Hilgay rioters William Young got one year`s hard labour . The Southery two Stearne and Bell got 7 and 14 years transportation . Of the Downham rioters Lucy Rumbelow got 6 months hard labour, Elizabeth Watson , at the age of 49 , got a year`s hard labour as did Margaret Jerry and Elizabeth King . The harshest sentences were given to Amelia Lightharness aged 23 , Hannah Jarvis, aged 36 , widow , and Charles Nelson , all of whom got Transportation for life .

The transportation of convicts to Australia was big business and many shipowners contracted their vessels to the Government . Ships of the Royal Navy used as transports tended to be in the final seaworthy years of their lives . Charles Nelson sailed out on the Shipley with John Pearson He was fortunate and sailed from Woolwich on 20th November 1816 just a matter of months after the August sentencing in Norwich . They may well have been held in a prison hulk on the river Thames during that 3 month waiting period . For the women Amelia and Hannah , they had to wait almost a further year before they were embarked on the ludicrously named ship Friendship . They are reported removed from Norwich Castle in June 1817 and put on board the Friendship” now at Deptford awaiting orders to sail to the Bay.” .

The convict ship Friendship was not the First Fleet ship of 1788 of the same name , that had been beached for want of healthy crew to operate her , on Batavia . This second Friendship was built in the Thames in 1793 of 430 tons burthen.

The Shipley had a very smart crew and master and for Charles Nelson and John Pearson , a good ship`s surgeon in George Clayton . Clayton managed to get all convicts to Australia in reasonable health and without too many punishments . In fact he writes in his journal that he was able to release most of the convicts during the journey of one and then both leg irons . Nevertheless 176 days with or without leg irons was a daunting prospect for convicts and guards alike . Charles Nelson and the Shipley arrived at Sydney on 20th August 1817 and the last sight of him is in 1844 when he finally got his pardon . Twenty eight years after his conviction and sentencing in Norwich , he was finally a free man again .

Bad luck followed Amelia and Hannah all the way to Australia . They arrived in Sydney on 14th Jan 1818. Governor Macquarie wrote in his journal that Friendship ” arrived 7th Jan re-quarantine on suspicion of contagious diseases . ” and more ” re-arrival with female convicts with reports of prostitution on board . ” and further ” 26th Feb charges were brought against Capt Armet and Peter Cosgreave the surgeon . ” By 20th Feb Amelia and Hannah were embarked on the Duke of Wellington for yet another voyage into the unknown , this time and finally to Tasmania .




(The middle paragraph of the above cutting , reads ” Yesterday morning, 28 of the female prisoners arrived in the Friendship were landed ; 16 of whom having husbands in the colony were allowed to join them , and the remaining 12 went as servants into various families . Thirteen others who were afflicted with scorbutic diseases were sent to the General Hospital ; and 56 were transhipped from the Friendship to the Duke of Wellington to be conveyed to Hobart Town together with 28 artificers and mechanics , sent from this settlement to be employed on the Government works there “.)

There are four further sightings of Amelia Lightharness . Firstly she married in 1820 a Samuel Cash in Hobart . Female convicts in the female Factories were offered to the men of the colony who could drop a handkerchief or similar at the feet of the female convict they had chosen . But then her ticket of leave was taken from her in 1823 because of ” immoral conduct and living in a disorderly house .” Clearly her marriage to Samuel Best was not long lasting nor a success . Her ticket of leave was finally restored in 1832 and she died in 1834 . She would have been about 40 years old . Hannah Jarvis did a little better . Internet posted family histories in Australia indicate that her two children born circa 1801 and 1804 in Norfolk finally joined her in Tasmania . She died in the newly named New Norfolk , in 1853.

For the women who rioted , the punishment was vastly disproportionate to the crime . They never again achieved their freedom and had to endure one of the longest , hardest voyages of any having to call in at St Helena for desperately needed water and supplies before sailing on to Sydney . And as if that was not the worst, their captain and surgeon were capable of acts of abuse against a captive group of women . Is it any wonder that Jane Brown “threw herself overboard and was drowned . ” Despair was the most likely reason not as given in the Ship News, ” from a sudden irritability of temper .” If Chief Justice Gibbs and the law of the land believed that hanging was the worst punishment , they should have researched the lives of those transported , for women for the most part it was a far worse punishment than death .

And of the rest ? John Pearson who travelled with Charles Nelson on the Shipley to Australia ,does not appear again in any record . The two , John Stearne and William Bell both from Southery, who were sentenced to 7 and 14 years transportation seem not to have made it onto a ship . Australia`s wonderful convict database has no sighting of either of them . Perhaps their sentences were commuted to imprisonment here . Of the other names, Lucy Rumbelow seems to have survived to 1861 still living locally ; Elizabeth King, Elizabeth Watson and Margaret Jerry are glimpsed in the first census living locally quiet poor lives . Of the men , John Shinn appears in the 1841 census living in Downham. Harrison Bone is a shepherd living in Brancaster, Spencer Rayner, William Galley , and William Youngs live in the villages around Downham , heads down , unremarked and unremarkable. .
The riots had unsettled the Government and over the next twenty years , a gradual humanising of the law and ideas of welfare for the poor started to emerge . By 1834 the Poor Law Amendment Act had been passed. The destitute poor were to be housed in Union workhouses , but they were also to be fed, sheltered, clothed , to have a rudimentary education for children , some medical care, and protection and work . By the mid 1840s the dreadful Corn laws had been repealed , but not before nearly one third of the population of Ireland had died of starvation or been lost to emigration ; in fact parishes all over the country had forcibly emigrated their largest and poorest families.
Downham survived the mob of the “insurgent fenmen” and , in modern parlance, maybe lessons had been learned , maybe a distant memory of the sudden terror of an armed mob in the town inclined the magistrates and property and landowners to be a little more understanding in the future . And in a small way the tradesmen could hold their heads up in pride for having created a petition signed by 70+ of them asking the Chief Justice for clemency . . Perhaps the ordinary man in the street knew not only about being hungry , but about the terrors of transportation and the loss of freedom , the inescapable exile .

Sources: National Archives , Kew
Britishnewspaperarchive : AJPeacock , Bread or Blood , 1965: National Portrait Gallery , London : National Archives of Australia : TROVE .

Please contact me, Elizabeth, at My email address