Post date: Tuesday, September 14, 2021 - 09:18

By Janet Archer

Above the shop door in the Reepham Life 2021 Calendar photograph for October (probably from the mid-1920s) can be seen the name of E. Jewell, chemist and druggist and stockist of photographic materials.

Edward Jewell had grown up in Reepham where his father George was a veterinary surgeon.

Edward joined the Royal Marines at the Portsmouth Depot in February 1871. Born in December 1853, he is listed as underage until December 1871 (18 must have been the qualifying age at that time).

By 1881 Edward had been promoted to colour sergeant and had served on several ships including the Hecla.

This ship was involved in the bombardment of Alexandria in 1882, an early action of the Anglo-Egyptian War, and Edward was awarded the Egypt Medal with the Alexandria Clasp and the Khedive’s Star.

After a career in the Royal Marines, which had ended in 1893, Edward finally became a farmer in Derbyshire, marrying a local girl, Sarah Redfearn, in 1904 at the Friends Meeting House in Manchester.

How long Edward had been a Quaker is not known, but this may have been where he met Sarah since he was resident in Manchester in the 1901 census.

Edward and Sarah first appear in the Hackford-next-Reepham electoral rolls in 1924.

Edward died in 1934 and Sarah and their daughter Elizabeth continued running the shop and in the 1939 register still seem to be in the same premises.

The photo below from the Reepham Archive is a postcard where Sarah has written on the back, “I am sending you a photo of our shop, & I was so angry I got snapped just as I was going in!”

The business later moved across the Market Place to Ivy House, next to the Sun Inn.

Reepham residents may remember Elizabeth Grace Jewell still maintaining the shop after her mother’s death in 1959.

Ivy House had previously been the site of Reepham’s telephone exchange manned by Hester Wilton.

By 1939 Hester had retired and the exchange was being managed by her daughter Gladys. A newspaper report from December 1944, after Hester’s death, placed her as a “Woman in the News”.

(Evening Express, April 24, 1944.)

When the Jewells moved out of the “Bank Building” the telephone exchange was moved across the Market Place to the house next to Gibbs’s premises and continued to be run by Hester’s daughter Gladys and her husband Robert Claxton. A small plaque exists today just by the front door saying, “The Old Telephone Exchange”.

Census information (inc. 1939 register) from ancestry.co.uk; newspaper report from findmypast.co.uk

The Reepham Archive is open to the public on the first Wednesday and Saturday of the month from 10 am – 12 noon (or by appointment), upstairs in the Bircham Centre, Market Place, Reepham. For more information about opening times and current services, please email

Post date: Monday, August 16, 2021 - 20:23

By Janet Archer

Bertie Alfred Woods was born in 1894 to Samuel Woods and Lydia Elizabeth Seaman. The family lived in Barn Cottage and there were at least 14 children, most of whom went to Salle School.

Bertie first attended school in 1899: “Admitted Bertie Woods this week. He is over five years old and can do nothing.”

In January 1900, Bertie and two of his sisters, Kate and Ethel, are reported as absent with whooping cough but they apparently had not been to school since the previous August. March 23rd brings the comment that Bertie and Ethel are away again.

At the end of 1891 Mary Jane Lomax had taken over the position of mistress at Salle School. Her first tasks recorded in the logbook were ruling two dozen slates and drawing up a new timetable.

She lived in the school house and stayed at Salle School until the end of 1903, so it is probably Mary Lomax who appears in this school photograph (below) from 1900, and she will have written the above comment about Bertie.

Most entries in the Salle and Reepham logbooks are mundane: daily records of attendance, closures due to sickness or seaside treats, and visits from school managers and inspectors. So, the following incident is unusual.

From 1903 the schoolmistress was Minnie Elizabeth Druitt, and she recorded the following in the logbook in 1906. (By this time Bertie is now about 12 years old and probably keen to leave school and some of his absences may have been to earn extra money for his family.)

“Am sorry to say that Bertie Woods who is the most indolent boy in the school is also very spiteful (going home) to young children and girls. Wrote a note to his parents but only received a rude answer.”

When he next came to school the mistress asked him to write an apology on his slate.

His mother came the following day and said he should sooner leave than write it. Accordingly, she took him out of school and the mistress marked him left.

Both Bertie and his brother Jesse left Salle School and instead went to Reepham School (St Mary’s on Norwich Road) where Richard Cornall was the master.

When the First World War began Bertie enlisted in the 5th Norfolks at Dereham. Later he served with the Worcestershire Regiment.

He is recorded as having died of wounds, age 23, in August 1917 and was buried in Mendinghem Military Cemetery, Belgium.

His name is remembered on the memorial inside Salle Church, and he has a memorial with his mother and father in Salle churchyard.

Information from National School Admission Registers & Log-Books, 1870-1914, @findmypast.co.uk; military Information from ancestry.co.uk

The Reepham Archive is open to the public on the first Wednesday and Saturday of the month from 10 am – 12 noon (or by appointment), upstairs in the Bircham Centre, Market Place, Reepham. For more information about opening times and current services, please email

Post date: Monday, August 16, 2021 - 20:21

The Reepham Archive has in its collection this intriguing photo of seven girls, a boy and a young female adult having a picnic on a lawn, probably in the 1950s, with some of the children possibly eating scones or cake.

Does anyone have any information about who they are, where they might be and when the photo was taken? Please send an email

Post date: Wednesday, August 11, 2021 - 17:00

The Reepham Archive had a long-awaited visit today from Robin Sampson, community archivist at the Norfolk Record Office.

Photo: Charles Butcher

Earlier this year the Archive engaged in a series of online training sessions as part of a three-year project for town and village archives and local history groups from across the county, supported by a grant from the National Lottery Heritage Fund.

The Reepham Archive is one of around 30 groups in Norfolk receiving support from this project, which is providing local communities with the skills and assistance they need to create sustainable community archives.

As well as training, the project is providing materials for use by the archive groups, including the loan of digitisation equipment.

During the January–March period, Robin provided extensive training and advice and shared his expertise on the collection and storage of historical archives.

Volunteers at the Reepham Archive were delighted to welcome him in person at last after months of online meetings.

The Reepham Archive is open to the public on the first Wednesday and Saturday of the month from 10 am – 12 noon (or by appointment), upstairs in the Bircham Centre, Market Place, Reepham. For more information about opening times and current services, please email

Post date: Friday, July 23, 2021 - 09:36

Weston Longville: In furtherance of the cause of vaccination now so loudly and universally called for by the threatened visitation of smallpox, on Monday night, April 14th there was a somewhat novel entertainment at the Rectory, viz. “A Vaccination Tea”.

Those who wished to be “done” had been invited to meet Mr Williams of Mattishall, the Government Medical Officer for that purpose.

Twenty-six candidates presented themselves, and with the help of Miss Thompson from Guys Hospital, London, the whole operation was successfully accomplished in about an hour and a half, after which they all had tea on the lawn.

Published in the Sparham Deanery & District Magazine, 1902. (From typed notes made in the 1980s by Tony Ivins.)

Post date: Saturday, July 17, 2021 - 15:52

By Janet Archer

During the Second World War, when many male and female adults were serving in the armed forces, the Reepham Band was dependent on its younger players.

As the Reepham Junior Band the players performed more than 70 concerts to members of the forces in the space of three years.

In recognition of this effort, Queen Mary (widow of George V and grandmother of the present Queen), made a special visit to Reepham with two of her ladies-in-waiting in the summer of 1945 (as pictured in the August photo, above, in the Reepham Life 2021 Calendar).

The Junior Band gave a concert in the Band Hall, conducted by Tommy Ruffles and were joined by the Primary Band (pictured below) conducted by Gordon Frankland.

There were solos by Pam Barsted on cornet and Derek Woods on euphonium, and Queen Mary received a bouquet of carnations presented by the youngest band member, Pamela Reeder.

The Band Hall was originally erected as a new home for the Band of Hope, a temperance movement, which was launched in 1916, but by 1922 had expanded so much that it outgrew its original base in the United Methodist Chapel in Fisher’s Alley.

With funding and support from Jesse Bircham, the chemist on Norwich Road, and John Walker, who ran a household furnishing business, a large hall was built where the flats called The Maltings now stand.

When it was first built it was known as the Methodist Hall and mainly used for Band of Hope activities and meetings, which included a brass band, a string orchestra and a choir.

The movement began to decline in the 1930s and after the Methodist Union the hall was eventually put up for sale.

The Band of Hope brass band was still thriving and raised money to buy the hall, renamed it as the Band Hall and, under the leadership of Tommy Ruffles, became Reepham Town Temperance Band.

Following the concert Lady Cynthia Colville, one of the ladies-in-waiting, wrote that Queen Mary had been “greatly impressed by the performance, by the intelligence & enthusiasm of the young performers – including the very young! –, by the delightful surroundings (such a very pleasant hall & so beautifully decorated with flags & those lovely dahlias!)......”. One wonders if they noticed the chairs at the back!

Information from the Reepham Archive, My Town by Wesley Piercy and The Reepham Town Band by Joyce Cox.

The Reepham Archive is open to the public on the first Wednesday and Saturday of the month from 10 am – 12 noon (or by appointment), upstairs in the Bircham Centre, Market Place, Reepham. For more information about opening times and current services, please email

Post date: Thursday, July 1, 2021 - 12:39

By Janet Archer

The Reepham Life 2021 Calendar for July features a photograph of Church Hill. It shows the thatched house, Magpie House, covered in greenery and a view of the cottages on the lower part of Church Hill.

Magpie House was for a long time a butcher’s premises and the thatched house has been occupied in the past by officers of the Salvation Army and, in the 1980s, the offices of M-Tec Computer Services. It was also the first home of Diane’s Pantry (now in the Market Place).

The second view of Church Hill (above), taken from a slightly different angle, shows a blind over the butcher’s shop window, and past Magpie House can be seen a building with noticeboards attached: this was once the Farriers Arms (or the Horseshoes) beer house.

As well as the agricultural machinery business in Malthouse Yard, Sidney Eglington also ran an undertaking concern, and the noticeboards may have been used to announce news and arrangements for forthcoming funerals.

He also owned the building opposite, now an outbuilding belonging to Magpie House, and at one time he let it to the Salvation Army for their services.

The first cottage further down was a baker’s premises for many years, well into the 1920s.

It has more recently been occupied by the Green Room clothing boutique, No. 21 pop-up art gallery and currently Koti Store, which sells refill household and bathroom products, including sourced vintage and locally made pieces.

In the 1980s, the building housed the Wavy Line shop and later the first site of a small Spar shop. More well-known (in the early 2000s) it was Echo Antiques.

Its use as a baker’s shop dates back at least to the 1830s, when it was run by Lydia Scurll, a younger sister of Brettingham Scurll, Parson Woodforde’s manservant.

After the parson’s death in 1803, Brettingham, who would then have been about 40 years old, did not return to Reepham, but seems to have acquired freehold properties in Bergh Apton, where he was buried in 1842, aged 81.

He came from a very large family and some of his Scurll relatives, including Lydia, are buried in Reepham churchyard.

Lydia left the business and property in Church Street to a nephew named Brettingham Potter Scurll, and this Brettingham continued as a baker until he died in 1854.

The Reepham Archive is open to the public on the first Wednesday and Saturday of the month from 10 am – 12 noon (or by appointment), upstairs in the Bircham Centre, Market Place, Reepham. For more information about opening times and current services, please The Reepham Archive is normally open to the public on the first Wednesday and Saturday of the month from 10 am – 12 noon (or by appointment), upstairs in the Bircham Centre, Market Place, Reepham. For more information about opening times and current services, please email

Post date: Wednesday, June 9, 2021 - 09:01

It is planned to reopen the Reepham Archive to the public on the first Saturday (3rd) and first Wednesday (7th) of July, depending on coronavirus restrictions.

The Archive is located on the first floor of the Bircham Centre, Market Place, Reepham.

Email: admin@reephamarchive.co.uk

Post date: Thursday, May 27, 2021 - 18:32

By Janet Archer

The June photo in the Reepham Life 2021 Calendar shows two farriers at the blacksmiths on the corner of Ollands Road and Malthouse Lane, Reepham. It is thought the two men are Walter Rudd and his brother, and that the photograph was taken in the 1930s.

Reepham, like most towns and villages in the 18th and 19th century, had its share of blacksmiths’ workshops and yards, where horses could be shod, and wagons and carriages repaired.

Larger workshops, like Eglington & Gooch, which existed on the site of the current Spar shop in Ollands Road, would employ a variety of skilled workmen, the blacksmith and his forge, carpenters and wheelwrights and, of course, a farrier for the specialised skill of shoeing horses.

Above: Employees of Eglington & Gooch, c.1910.

Working closely with horses being shod means that a farrier needs knowledge of the anatomy of a horse and to be able to spot signs of infection or damage in the hoof or leg.

Consequently, specialist farriers were often veterinary surgeons, and their work also involved the welfare of cattle and sheep.

A horse also needs to be shod appropriately according to its size and role, such as hauling a cart on roads, pulling a plough across a field or being ridden for leisure.

It is not surprising to find a public house next door to, or included within, a smithy, and in Reepham there are records, dating back to White’s Directory of 1832, showing the existence of a public house or beer house called the Farriers Arms, also known as the Horse Shoes.

Above: Eglington & Gooch’s yard with houses in foreground, once the home of Robert Parker Gooch and, nearest the foreground, the Farriers Arms, both now demolished.

Thomas Grand had the licence from the 1830s until Robert Parker Gooch took it over in the 1850s. A sale advertisement from the Norfolk Chronicle in 1835 indicates that a blacksmith’s and farrier’s trade had been in existence for some time before that.

From the reports of a licensing meeting in 1906, Sidney Eglington, representing his grandfather, said that Robert had had a licence for 55 years and would find it hard to give it up. If the magistrates granted a licence a wholesale trade would continue to be carried on, as it was formerly.

Superintendent Palmer was asked for a report and replied that he had measured the distance between all the various public houses in the town. He said that there was more trade done in the market now than when the witness was stationed there 13 years ago, and it was not uncommon for there to be 50 carts at the King’s Arms on a Wednesday.

To the best of his knowledge no excise licence had been taken out for 19 years. The licence renewal was refused in June 1906.

Information from Fifteen Locals by Joyce Cox; Norfolk News, 3 March 1906; norfolkpubs.co.uk

The Reepham Archive is normally open to the public on the first Wednesday and Saturday of the month from 10 am – 12 noon (or by appointment), upstairs in the Bircham Centre, Market Place, Reepham. For more information about opening times and current services, please email

Post date: Wednesday, April 7, 2021 - 12:20

By Janet Archer

In the May photograph of the Oddfellows in the Reepham Life 2021 Calendar, we can see the huge banner declaring the fundamental principles of the association: friendship, love and truth.

Officers of the society are displaying their sashes, and we can see one with “NG” indicating that he is the Noble Grand, or current president of a lodge, and another with the initials “PG” representing a Past Grand Master.

The Eynsford Lodge was part of the East Dereham District group of lodges, and in 1907 Reepham was chosen to host the next district meeting since it was that lodge’s 50th anniversary. The photograph may have been taken to celebrate that occasion.

Signs of a marquee can be seen in the background. More than 200 members and visitors, including Sir William Brampton Gurdon MP, dined in a marquee erected in Brownsell’s Pasture (Rookery Farm).

By 1850, the Independent Order of Oddfellows Manchester Unity Friendly Society had become the largest and richest friendly society in Britain.

It was established in 1810 having become dissatisfied with the way the Grand United Order was being run.

The Industrial Revolution, the lack of trade unions, and the lack of personal or public insurance caused the growth of friendly and benevolent societies.

Only by joining mutual friendly societies such as the Oddfellows could ordinary people protect themselves and their families against illness, injury or death.

Public houses were often used as the base for regular society business. When members met, they often “took something for the good of the house”.

The Loyal Eynsford Lodge made use of the King’s Arms in Reepham and, after being formed in 1857, celebrated their anniversary each Whitsun by parading through the town, paying calls on their supporters at Whitwell Hall, Hackford Hall, The Limes and The Ollands before attendance at a church service.

In 1875 more than 100 guests filled a marquee erected in the Market Place with dinner provided by host Berriman of the King’s Arms.

Besides the annual Whit Sunday parade and church service, afternoons of sports and fun races were often arranged, followed by dancing in the evening.

In the 1880s the fun races included a sack race, a three-legged race and climbing a greasy pole for a leg of mutton. The prizes were sums of money, e.g., 7s. 6d. for the winner of the sack race.

Other events such as smoking concerts were also arranged to raise funds. The poster (below) shows such an event that took place in 1933.

The Eynsford Lodge was still in existence in the 1970s, advertising itself in several Reepham Carnival programmes, but more recently the lodge has been superseded by the Heart of Norfolk branch based in Dereham.

The Reepham Archive is normally open to the public on the first Wednesday and Saturday of the month from 10 am – 12 noon (or by appointment), upstairs in the Bircham Centre, Market Place, Reepham. For more information about current services during the coronavirus pandemic, please email

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