More memories of Ollands House

Hopefully, we are slowly easing out of this dreadful pandemic, but I would like to thank Reepham Life for all their work throughout this time. It has been comforting for me to regularly be in touch and to read all about the news.

I would also like to reply to Marion Stiefel’s letter of 18 March 2020 and relate to her my memories of Ollands House, which I knew as Reepham House in the 1950-1960s.

My earliest memory would be in the 1950s when Mr and Mrs Irwin lived there with their daughter, Margaret. I remember them coming to church, always well dressed (as most people did in those days, as one wore their Sunday best) and they always sat in the same pew.

They didn’t come regularly, so perhaps they spent time away (perhaps travelling?) and I do not think that Margaret worked. I do not know what Mr. Irwin’s occupation was either. In my youth I likened them a little to the Royal Family as they did seem to have an air of royalty about them. Sadly, I do not know the first names of Mr and Mrs Irwin.

I do have an interesting anecdote from my mother, who told me that Mrs Irwin had told her that she had witnessed Howard Carter discovering the Tutankhamun tomb in 1922.

People will remember that the house was quite impressive with its red bricks and those marvellous chimneys, not forgetting the gardens largely laid down to lawns and big trees, some of which can be seen today, and I liked the sweeping drive from the Norwich Road.

Although I only went there on a few occasions with my sister, we both remember dancing there from Reepham school and there was a film made of the occasion. I do remember seeing it later, probably in the band hall.

The other occasions was a garden fête (or gala day) when again we danced and this time we had been rehearsed by Margaret Irwin. The event held many attractions, such as fancy dress, decorated bicycles and a tombola, and ladies were judged for best ankles and best hairstyles. Sadly, I have no photos to offer, but perhaps somebody else might be able to come forward with their memories.

It was a big house indeed and sad that it had to be demolished. There is a lot more I would like to know about its origins, but now when I enjoy a walk with my sisters through what was (to us) Reepham House and gardens, I see many delightful houses have been built and all is well. Sweet memories.

Tessa Copley, Hertford