Norfolk England


Salhouse Village

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A Summary of the History of Salhouse Village

Salhouse Broad
was formed through the extraction of gravel from the 9th century and became an open area of water in medieval times when flooded by the local river. The rivers and Broads thus formed were used as a commercial transport network until more recent times when road haulage took over.  Reed harvesting and Thatching has been a regular activity within Salhouse and continues to this day.

The Broad has now become an important wildlife area as part of the Norfolk Broads National Park area which play an important role in tourism as well as wildlife conservation and protection.

The early history of Salhouse village shows that it was closely associated with nearby Wroxham forming part of the Manor of Wroxham, which itself was part of the Hundred of Taverham. In the 10th century a Hundred was the division of a shire defining an area of land containing approximately 100 families.

At the time of the Domesday Survey in 1086 the Manor of Wroxham, including Salhouse, covered an area of some 33 acres and was valued at 3 shillings. Two churches were recorded and assumed to be those of Wroxham and Salhouse.

The Manor was held by the Archbishop of Canterbury at that time, however in 1167 it changed to the Carrow Priory and a vicar was appointed to serve both churches. The first record of such a vicar was a William de Cokethorpe in 1320.

The village was also known earlier by the names of Sallus, Sallowes, or Salehouse and during this period the village of Salhouse would have comprised a number of isolated homesteads that gradually came together as a community around the 14th century.

A large area of the village to the south of Lower Street was once part of the large expanse of Mousehold Heath which spread east from the city of Norwich for several miles.

Salhouse Hall
, located to the west of the church, is thought to have existed from the mid 16th century although the first recorded occupation was in 1712 when it was acquired by the Ward family which became long standing owners of the estate and village benefactors. In the mid 19th century it was transformed into a gothic style with pinnacles and castellation which made it look larger than its true size. Similarly, the out buildings of the stable yard and potting sheds were also adorned with castellated type turrets. The house was richly decorated with medieval oddments, altar rails, stained glass and plasterwork which remained up to the time of sale of the Hall and village farmland estate to the Cator family in the mid 1950’s. The Cator family remain current owners of the hall and much of the surrounding agricultural land. During its heyday the sweeping lawns at the front of Salhouse Hall were used for village fetes and the building has continued to remain of special village significance despite it being in an unoccupied condition.

The village school opened in 1844 and closed in 1976 when education transferred to the current school in Cheyney Avenue. Following an Act of Parliament in 1841 for the Conveyance and Endowment of Sites for Schools the National School was officially opened by the Bishop of Norwich. The land was given by Mr Richard Ward, the local squire of Salhouse Hall with two thirds of the funds being raised locally. By 1866 the school had closed through lack of support and was reopened following the efforts of a Rev Stewart. Around 1909 the school required further enlargement and modernising for which the funds were provided by generous local landowners. Following its closure as a school the building was subsequently used for Youth activities and a polling station until such time that it was deemed unusable and finally closed in 1991.

It has since been rejuvenated in the form of the new village hall through a village campaign that started in the 1990’s and resulted in the opening of the Jubilee Hall in October 2002. The design of the Jubilee Hall has utilised much of the original fabric of the old school building and continues to reflect its original style.

The Bell Inn Public House
is another old building of the village and goes back to the 17th century. There was also a second public house in Lower St named The Kings Head but this closed in the 1920’s.

In 1846 a vicarage was built specifically for Salhouse church and sited close by but in the 1920’s became the Lodge Hotel. Several listed properties dating back to the 17th and 18th centuries still exist within the village.

Included within the Salhouse Hall and farm estate were cattle sheds and stores situated in Lower Street and known as the ‘Street Farm Buildings’. These were leased to various farmers over the years but eventually in 1973 they were leased to Mr R Fielder of Vicarage Farm and converted into an Equestrian Centre that operated until the late 1990’s. The stable block incorporated a splendid clock, reputedly made by the makers of Big Ben, which was saved from the Army Barracks in Barrack St, Norwich. The barracks were being closed and the clock, along with a number of stable doors, a wooden dance floor and other fitments was purchased and transferred to the stables in Salhouse.

A Parish Reading Room, located in Lower St, was opened in 1897 having been donated by Squire Ward in commemoration of the Diamond Jubilee of Queen Victoria. When first opened a trust ensured that a newspaper was placed in the room regularly. Over its time this room was used for a wide variety of purposes including knitting sessions for the troops during both world wars, cookery lessons, WRVS, Women’s Institute and a men’s club. Despite more recent attempts to utilise the building for community purposes it was finally sold in 2004 and converted to a private residence.

The railway came to the village in 1874, courtesy of the East Norfolk Railway/Great Eastern Railway Companies. Initially it comprised a single track line from Norwich to North Walsham that was extended to Cromer on the north Norfolk coast in 1877. Due to the Edwardian success of Cromer as a holiday resort sections of the line were upgraded to double track during the period 1896 – 1901. At this time Salhouse became a busy railway station with a goods siding and a signal box. Unfortunately it suffered the same fate as many such rural railway lines following the ‘Beeching’ railway review. In 1968 the station became unmanned and the reduced services struggled on until it was re-branded as the Bittern Line in the mid 90’s since when the passenger traffic has increased again under the Community Rail Partnership Programme.

Village businesses flourished during the 19th century various  including a Grinding Mill which was initially built at the top of Mill Hill at the eastern end of the village. However it was later moved and re-established on the ground behind the current motor service station in Mill Rd. The new location provided better road access to Norwich and the railway. Several other businesses operated within the village from the 18th/19th centuries including a Bake House, a Blacksmiths, located by the side of the Bell public house, Bicycle Repairers, Reed Thatcher’s, Butchers, two grocery shops as well as shoe makers/repairers, bricklayers and gardeners in addition to the main agricultural activity.

The war years 1939-45 created a period of austerity but at the same time brought about a new period of change. The village witnessed glimpses of the war through the provision of soldiers, some of whom did not return, and through various incidents taking place around the village. The arrival of the US Airforce at an airbase adjoining the village gave rise to continuous air activity as well as the airmen frequenting the village and the Bell Inn. During the period of the war several aircraft came to grief around the village. A Spitfire from RAF Coltishall crashed near Salhouse Hall in 1941 and later that same year a Wellington Bomber was destroyed in fields behind the old school building. In 1944 two Liberators from the local US Airbase crashed simultaneously in fog in the northern sector of the parish.

A War Memorial is situated just outside of the church in memory of those that died in both the first and second world wars.

In commemoration to those that went to war, or never returned, the villagers created a campaign in 1946 called the ‘Victory Hall fund’ to provide a community hall for the village. This raised sufficient funds for the construction of a ‘second hand’ wood and corrugated iron building to be built in Mill Rd in 1948. This was formally opened by the vicar and local Squire and remained in use until 2002 when it was replaced by the Jubilee Hall that was converted from the old school building.

, Like many villages the 20th century brought about a dramatic period of change with the introduction of utilities to the village such as piped water to replace the village wells, drainage, electricity and finally, natural gas.

Many of the original businesses have long since disappeared although other modern businesses have taken their place and the village still retains a small  grocery shop cum post office.

The railway station remains in operation on the Bittern line running from Norwich to Cromer and the road network and bus services now provide the main transportation links with the surrounding area.

The village straddles a large area with rural land still remaining within its boundaries. Surprisingly the recorded number of village residents in 1845 was 645 as compared to only 1400 now; therefore population growth has been relatively small and the village has managed to retain its rural nature and agricultural base.

   Much of the village is now covered by a Conservation Order through which it is hoped that its rural character will be maintained.

Salhouse church
was largely rebuilt in the 14th century and is recorded as the earliest building in the village.

The isolated position of the church relative to the village is believed, by some, to be the result of the Black Death in the mid 14th century and although this may be true in some villages it does not fit with Salhouse. Here the church is located on higher ground whereas the plague tended to spread more readily in lower marshy areas closer to the river where early settlements would have normally been located. It is thought to be more likely that the church was located close by an important house that was situated away from the village. As there is no real evidence of an early settlement around the church the reason for the remote location of the church from the current village therefore remains unresolved.

A Methodist church
opened in Lower St in 1865 in a building previously built in 1775 and used by the Mechanics Institution. This was later replaced in 1968 by a more modern building on the same site which itself has recently been demolished and the site converted to housing.

A Baptist church, pictured, was formed in 1801 and a church building was constructed in 1802 which still continues to be used to this day.