A Norfolk Diary
Passages from the diary of the Rev. Benjamin John Armstrong M.A. (Cantab) Vicar of Dereham.
1850 - 88
Edited by his grandson Herbert B.J. Armstrong. Vicar of St. Margaret with St. Nicholas, Kings Lynn. 1937 - 48
Published in 1949 by George G. Harrap and Co. Ltd. London
July 14, 1856. Visited poor old John FLOWERS - the beau ideal of a peasant churchman, likely to die from mortification in his foot.
Jan 22 1857. This has been by far the gayest winter I have known in Norfolk. I look forward pleasurably to Lent, when all gaiety will cease.
Feb 24, 1857. Mr. CARTHEW gave a lecture and Mr JEKYL, architect, read a fragment, exceeding rare (for which he had given £2.10s, though only 4 sheets of mouldy black-letter), entitled 'the lamentable burning of East Dereham' which occurred in Elizabeth's reign.
May 12, 1857. My curate pointed out that we had fewer deaths during the last year than for many previous years. With a population of 4500, 14 deaths is a small number. The average is 26 or 28.
June 24, 1857. The heat and drought so excessive that the hay cut yesterday is carried today.
Dec.23 1858.Geraniums and fuchsias still in bloom, strawberries have been gathered, and the birds sing in the woods. I do not remember anything like it.
Feb.13, 1858. Anonymous rings at doorbell all the evening. On answering them our man found parcels on the doorstep. They were Valentines for our children, causing much speculation and merriment.
Feb. 17 1858. Today another cross was set up in the churchyard, the inscription under which will speak for itself. 'In memory of Jean de Narde, son of a Notary Public of St. Malo. A French prisoner of war, who, having escaped from the Bell tower of this church, was pursued and shot by a soldier. October 6th, 1799, aged 28 years.
June 2, 1858. The bells were ringing a merry peal on account of the fact that the Corn Hall is not to come down. Not wishing the bells to be used in this way, I stopped them, making the ringers very angry and rebellious.
Aug 18, 1858. To Cromer to get some see air and to visit the PLUMERS. The wretched little place was quite full.
Aug. 16. 1859. Lunched with the ADLINGTONS and joined in the new French game of croquet. It is a sort of lawn billiards played with a long handles mallet. The GURDONS called and joined in it.
Oct. 17, 1859. Visited Reephan, where we lunched with the BIRCHAMS, who afterwards kindly sent us on in their carriage to Heydon. Heydon Hall, the seat of Mr. BULWER, the father of my parishioner, is quite a mansion of the olden time.
Feb15. 1860. Drove my curate, Mr. DOVE, to Necton to dine with Col. MASON, and lecture afterwards at Swaffham. Col. BLOOMFIELD and The Rev. Mr. MILNE were also at the dinner. Conversation turned on poor STONES (Vicar of West Bradenham) want of judgement in taking a pair of scissors to the school and cutting the children’s hair 'nolens volens'. The wrath of the British matrons is kindled to the uppermost, and the next day a placard was fixed near the Vicarage. "Hair cutting gratis, in the Irish fashion, by G. Stone "
April 22, 1860. Some idea of the extreme cold may be inferred from the fact that when our enormous congregation came out from evening service, the ground was covered, 2 inches thick, with snow. We have thus seen snow for 6 consecutive months.
May 18, 1860. Miss HALES diamond ring, which had been lost, has been found in a cupboard where it was not usually kept. What makes the case more singular, a 'wise man' living at Shipham (whom her maids had consulted) predicted that it would be found 'before Saturday'
May 28, 1860. Wind amounted to a hurricane. The splendid copper beech outside our dining room window is completely destroyed.
June 1, 1860. Sixty lives were lost at Yarmouth during the gale on Monday, and unfortunately while they were squabbling as to who should man the lifeboat.
Sept. 21, 1860. Took my eldest daughter to hear the Messiah at the |Norwich Festival. St. Andrew's Hall was crowded from one end to the other. The Bishop declined to have anything to do with the Festival, on the grounds of the questionable character of some of the singers engaged.
Dec. 21, 1860. To Quebec to be introduced to Mrs CALDWELL, wife of Capt. Caldwell of H.M.S. Mersey in which my nephew and godson is a midshipman.
Dec. 25, 1860. Without doubt the most intensely cold day I can remember. A ray of sunshine, coming out as the communicants came to the rail, melted the congealed damp in the open roof, and down came heavy drops of water, which, however, became ice immediately upon reaching the floor or seats.
Dec. 28, 1860. The paper says that the frost on Christmas Day exceeded in severity anything that has been thought possible in this country, being but 3 degrees above zero. Thus, in this memorable year, we have had the most violent winds, the most incessant rains and the sharpest frosts ever known, yet is has been a healthy year.
March 9, 1861. A beautiful Aurora Borealis, which so alarmed the servants that they all came into the dining room to know what it could mean.
21April, 1861. Some Sundays are certainly more bright and joyous than others. Today, owing perhaps to the east winds so long prevailing, people were cranky. The senior members of the choir would not attend church because they had quarrelled with the deputy organist; the needlework teacher would not attend Sunday school because she had quarrelled with the master's wife. The church was very cold and the congregation looked nipped.
April 24, 1861. Mr. HILLYARD, my late curate at Hoe, called to say that he had obtained the living of St. Lawrence, Norwich, but that it was worth only £80 a year.
April 30, 1861. The census has just been taken. To the astonishment of everybody there is a diminution of 17 since 1851. This is accounted for by the fact that the census was taken when the schools, numbering some hundred souls, were at home for the holidays. The present population (exclusive of schools) is 4368, including 33 at Dillington.
Sept. 19, 1861. Married MARIA MOORE to ELVIN the
coach maker. Sketched out a Scotch tour - I cannot say for the young people, as the bridegroom is 70 and the lady 45.
Nov. 2 1861. I find cleanliness on the increase in the parish, but no diminution of illegitimacy. The girls see nothing sinful in it, and their mothers, apparently, connive.
Dec. 13, 1861. Attended the Dereham Assembly. There were 120 present. As for toilettes, they were of every imaginable hue and kind.
Dec. 22, 1861. A solemn day on account of the recent Royal Death (Prince Consort). The congregation was in the deepest mourning. There was no chanting. The choristers wore black neckties. The pulpit frontal was of black velvet edged with white and the organist played the Dead March and the National Anthem.
Feb 24. 1862. Rode to call on the curate of Mattishall - Mr DURST. He is the tallest man I ever saw.
March 4, 1862. The pancake bell was rung out from the steeple, as it has been from time immemorial on this day, an announcement, I presume, that Lent was about to begin, and that shriving should not be neglected. I do not suppose that ten people in the parish know that it means anything in particular.
May 30, 1862. On account of the breaking of a sluice gate in the Fens near Lynn, the sea has reasserted its sway over 50,000 acres, and steamers are plying over farms, roads, and luxuriant crops. This is a sad disaster.
July 8, 1862. This is a gay week for Dereham, owing to the Agricultural Show. The principal exhibit today was the steam plough at work. It is a most wonderful machine, laying over four furrows at a time, and going at the speed of about four miles an hour.
Aug. 21, 1862. Staying at Yarmouth, we visited Caister. On a cottage was the unusual announcement " A pall to let ", an arrangement which the owner of the house described as ' a profit to himself and a convenience to his neighbours'.
Sept. 25, 1862. My wife and I called on Mr. LOMBE at Bylaugh to inquire for him. He had been much hurt by his horses dashing through a shop front in Dereham and completely destroying it, and irreparably damaging themselves.
Dec. 25, 1862. A hard day, as I was single handed. There were weddings, services morning (100 communicants), afternoon and evening, and finally a funeral.
Jan 1. 1863. The second post (a new thing) brought me a letter stamped " saved from the wreck of the Colombo". It had evidently been long under water, for the paper had been reduced to pulp and required very delicate unpeeling.
Jan 30, 1863. To Cranworth Rectory to see some tableaux vivants. They were very beautiful, and the dresses splendid, but the whole very tedious and dull. At much less trouble and expense, private theatricals, or acted charades, would have been infinitely more amusing.
Feb. 28, 1863. Being still single handed, I went to Norwich to procure help for tomorrow. Everybody was engaged except one, and I took such a dislike to his appearance that I would undertake any amount of work rather than employ him.
March 10, 1863. The wedding day of the Prince of Wales. At Dereham the Volunteers fired a 'feu de joie' in the Market Place, and 2080 poor people were fed with roast beef and plum pudding. Fortunately the morning was fine, but in the afternoon down came the snow and put an effectual stop to certain rustic sports which were announced to take place. The public houses became filled, and the more respectable families wended their way home as soon as possible.
April 30, 1863. Married Miss WATERS at Hoe Church to Mr. JAY. There was a very large and gay party and a splendid breakfast.
May 25. 1863. Intelligence arrived that Whinboro' Rectory was on fire. Drove over with a view to affording an asylum for the homeless. Found the house burnt entirely to the ground. The fire was supposed to have been caused by sparks falling on the thatched roof. The dry weather and a gale blowing favoured the devouring element, and so complete was its sway that the roof fell in and the wall fell out in about 40 minutes. I fear they are but inadequately insured.
May 27, 1863. Met an unconscionable 'guy' in knickerbockers en suite, and beard, and moustache. It turned out to be Miss JENNERS brother. It is wonderful how men do disfigure their appearance nowadays.
July 1, 1863. The first exhibition of our new Horticultural Society was held at the Corn Hall, which was literally crowded all day. Lord SONDES sent 3 van loads of flowers, and showed some exquisite peaches and melons.
Sept. 5, 1863. LAURA LONGS wedding to Mr. EVERINGTON. A splendid breakfast was given in the Assembly room. The church was crammed.
Sept. 6, 1863. Our gardener, while digging up potatoes, turned up a gold coin, very thin, but larger than a shilling. It's pronounced to be a noble of Edward 111's reign, and is in excellent preservation. The gardener says that he has heard that there is a great deal of money in the vicarage garden, but, if so, I only wish that he would find it, as it a somewhat scarce article with the vicar.
Sept. 16, 1863. My curate leaves me tomorrow, and I shall be alone. His reason for going is that he cannot live, he says, on £100 a year. I have never felt safe with him, and his ministrations are worth but little. He may not be able to live on £100 a year, but he is not worth that as a matter of value.
Sept 20, 1863.Great excitement over Hubbard’s premises being burned down by an incendiary for the third time. They were burned this summer and have been rebuilt, but seem to be the object of a determined attack.
Jan 1, 1864. Administered Holy Communion to four members of one family whose united ages amounted to 335 years.
Feb 6, 1864. Walked to Etling Green to visit a young woman who was dying - a victim of 'field work', a disgrace to the county.
April 1, 1864. A poor woman whose child is about to be baptized will call her Withburga, after our local saint - a name probably never given in Dereham since the days of the Saint herself. I have been with two parishioners this week who are really and truly persuaded that they are bewitched, a notion that is far from being extirpated yet in these country parts.
July 21, 1864. Enormous excitement owing to the East of England Bank stopping payment. Unfortunately the contributions of the poor for the Clothing Club (about £90) and the National School account are there.
Sept. 1 1864. Drove my wife and father to Cromer. Cromer, always about 50 years behind other places, was at deadlock - few lodgings (all full), no gas, no pavements
April 16. 1865. (Easter Day). Exactly 200 at Holy Communion. This number has only been exceeded one during my ministry.
June 21, 1865. A gay day with us - The Flower Show and a Bazaar in the grounds of the Guildhall School - the success of which is proved by £90 being taken. I am no friend to bazaars, which are a polite kind of extortion, and which are absolutely pernicious if frequenters think they are doing a charitable act.
April 25, 1866. Accompanied Captain and Mrs Bulwer on a two days' visit to Mr. W.E.Bulwer, the Captains father, at Heydon Hall. Heydon came into the possession of the Bulwers through marriage with a member of the Earle family. Cromwell visited Heydon, and a tree is shown in the park which he climbed when pursued by a bull. The bullock herd is entirely destroyed by rinderpest, and the sheds at the farm present a woeful appearance in consequence.
October 31, 1866. Marched as Chaplain of our Volunteers to the railway station, where they formed a guard of honour to receive the Prince and Princess of Wales and the Queen of Denmark on their way to Cossey Hall. They are to stay there during the Norwich Festival. The Duke of Edinburgh and Lords Leicester, Stafford and Newry were there and a very numerous suite. The Princess looked very thin, but very pretty. The Queen of Denmark is a fine woman, but much rouged.
Dec. 25. 1866. Married a young parishioner of the name of Mahershallalashbaz Tuck. He accounted for the possession of so extraordinary a name thus: his father wished to call him by the shortest name in the Bible, and for that purpose selected Uz. But, the clergyman making some demur, the father said in pique, " Well, if he cannot have the shortest he shall have the longest ".
March 26. 1867. As our Penny Readings were to be closed this evening for the present season, we met in the Corn Hall instead of the assembly Room, and added, as an extra treat, the Rifle band, the church choir and some amateur singing. I was astonished, on taking the chair, to find 600 people in front of me, and they not of the reading class. There were some 'roughs', and when their cat-calls and noises began I went to the front and said that if they did not put a stop to their discord we should stop our music. This had the desired effect. I feel convinced that it will not do to let music in, unless it is kept in entire subservience to the readings, which have been a grand success.
May 15, 1867. The opening of the Rifle Butts for the season. The wind was piercingly cold. I old Mr Collison had not gone about with a bottle of punch, offering it right and left, some of us would have suffered severely.
Oct. 2, 1867. At Yarmouth for a few days. The weather was very indifferent during our visit. There was a storm in which a vessel was driven ashore, and four out of the crew of eight perished. One poor fellow was picked up two days afterwards, seventeen miles out to sea, in the ship's boat, quite alone.
Nov. 22, 1867. In our Volunteer Corps we now have a Frenchman, a journeyman leather-dresser. He fought against the Austrians at Solferino and Magenta, when he was taken prisoner and detained for two years. He can speak English, German, Italian and some Hebrew.
Dec. 17. 1867. A Penny Reading was held on behalf of funds for a new lifeboat for the East Coast, on which one out of every three wrecks on the English coast occurs. We collected £8. 10s.
Jan 1, 1868. I have often observed how little out of the common one comes across even in a parish of 4300 inhabitants. But today I met with an old gentleman of 74 who last week married a lady of 84. He seems well off and had travelled and had a 'particular mind to see the land of Goshen'. He was related to the celebrated Sir B. Wrench, for many years a great M.D. of Norwich. He cannot tell how he came to marry and supposed it was due to Providence. But it is said that the old lady has £800 a year.
Jan. 17. 1868. My brother-in-law, William DUNCOMBE, has taken a house near Watton called' Rokeles'. It has the date 1662 worked in the bricks, fine chimneys and old yews in the garden, and ancient oaks in the park-like meadow around it. My horse escaped from the stables
and, going into the moat at the back of the house to drink, got into a deep hole, and got out with difficulty.
Jan. 19, 1868. Took the service at Elmham in the afternoon. Lord and Lady SONDES and their family were present. Though he is a very unassuming person, it was curious to see the deference paid to him by all, e.g. no one presumes to leave the church at the conclusion of the service till ' the family' have departed in state.
Jan. 28, 1868. Miss Octavia JARY, daughter of a county gentleman – a J.P. - being infected with a mania for preaching, had a 'revival' in the Corn Hall last evening. She is infatuated, and far less acquainted with her bible than I expected. She seemed sorry when I told her that I knew of two cases where her teaching had rendered dying persons very unhappy.
Feb. 28. 1868. Preached at Whissonsett. During my sermon I was so often interrupted by a member of the congregation that I began to think he must be one of those wretched beings sent out by the Church Association to interrupt the service in 'Ritualist' churches. Indeed, I had to expostulate with him from the pulpit, but it soon became evident that he was drunk, and was prudently conducted out of the church by his friends.
June 26, 1868. At a garden party at Mr. ANDERSON'S, the Rector of Hockering, I met Mrs GLYNNE, a bride, who had been Miss JERMY. She was the infant who was in her mother's arms when the ruffian RUSH fired again and again at the mother, so as to necessitate the
amputation of the mother's arm.
FOOTNOTE. The Rush murder caused a tremendous sensation in Norfolk in 1848. Rush, a violent and vindictive man, had a dispute with his landlord, one Mr. Jermy of Stanfield Hall, near Wymondham. Rush shot Mr. Jermy and fired at Mrs Jermy and a female servant, both of whom
were wounded. By means of a forged document he tried to divert suspicion from himself. He was convicted, however, and was hanged outside Norwich Castle in the presence of a great crown of people.
July 1, 1868. The grand day when ladies might mess at luncheon, and when the grand review took place. Thousands of spectators were present. Colonel BOILEAU inspected, and, his regular uniform having failed to arrive, he was rigged out in regimentals belonging to the
Theatrical Amateurs, but only a few were privy to this.
July 19, 1868. A certain street in this parish has been unfortunate of late. The owner of No.1., a lawyer, died miserably. At No.2. was the sudden death of a woman with a large family and whose husband was a reprobate and separated from her. At No.5 a young man, a painter, died wretchedly from drink. At No.6 a baker went to bed in good health and in the morning his wife discovered that he was a corpse. Within the last few days the man at No.8 fell down dead opposite the vicarage gate. At No. 10 the man took to drink and made attempts on the lives of his relatives, so that they were obliged to send him away. To my horror I found him in the Reading Room, where he swore that he would see his wife and child, or kill them and himself too. I promised to see them. Their alarm was fearful. After hours of talk he promised to go away if only he might see the child !. I went to the house and brought the child in my arms. The poor wretched father and the child wept as if their hearts would break. At last I got the little girl away, and the man went off in a gig that I had provided.
Aug. 30, 1868. Our Harvest Thanksgiving. Although hay, clover, barley, turnips and swedes are total failures, on account of the drought, nothing like which has been known since1813, yet we have a beautiful yield of wheat.
Nov. 22, 1868. Returned a book called ' The Life of St. Wulstan' to a Mrs SKERRITT, one of my five Roman Catholic parishioners. It is written by Dr. Husenbeth, an aged priest and chaplain to Lord Stafford. I was much interested in the book, but was surprised that the Doctor vouched for the reality of some of the miraculous cures which had been effected by some moss growing in St. Wulstan's well. Mrs Skerritt said she had been herself miraculously cured by this means. On applying some moss to a bad sore overnight she found it completely healed in the morning, leaving a scar, as from an old wound.
Nov. 24, 1869. The election for South Norfolk. On account of the extension of the suffrage the Liberals have a majority of more that 100 seats over the Conservatives.
March 19. 1869. Preached at Swaffham. Mr. EVERARD is the same gentle, high principled man as ever, but I do not think that things have progressed so well at Swaffham as they have in the sister town of Dereham. The curate read the lessons in that wretched "yah yah" sort of manner seldom heard out of London. e.g., the way in which he enunciated the cry of “The sword of the Lord and of Gideon" would not only have failed to rouse a single soldier, but would have sent a
depressing chill throughout the host!
June 26, 1869. Went by rail to join the camp at Hunstanton.
June 27, 1869. The Sunday in camp and everything connected with it exactly resembled last year. Five Volunteers were hurt by the upset of a wagonette, one having his leg broken. The hospital tents were thus used for the first time. Another man was put under arrest and expelled from the camp for deserting his post while on guard.
July 20, 1869. Took my daughter to Bradenham on the occasion of Ella HAGGARD'S marriage with the Rev. M. GREEN, which had been performed that morning by the Bishop of Worcester. The whole neighbourhood, for many miles around, was there. The entire poor of the parish were
feasted, and there was a grand supper for the guests.
Aug. 26, 1869. Drove my wife to Cromer to visit friends. En route visited Weybourne Bay, which I have long wished to see, as being the place where the invasion under Napoleon 1 was to have taken place. The beach is so shelving that great ships can come to the shore. There is only one other place where this can be done - somewhere in Wales. Weybourne has a dreary, desolate shore, with a desert of round pebbles. Weybourne is a pretty village with an extensive Abbey in
ruins ; and Kelling a sweet village in a deep hollow, through which we passed, displayed fuchsias in open gardens like those seen in the Isle of Wight.
Sept.14, 1869. To Gressenhall Church for the marriage of Miss STAMMERS. Although this is the next parish, I had never seen the interior of this church on account of its isolation and the difficulty of obtaining entrance. It is in a miserable condition. The Rector - Parson HILL - is in truth the great curiosity connected with this church. He is between 80 and 90 years old; enjoys his gun and his game of bowls, and drinks his daily bottle of port, of which he has a famous cellar. His surplice was a sight to see, with huge collar erect around his ears. The whole affair was very irreverent and ludicrous - an example of the "beautiful simplicity of village worship". Had breakfast afterwards a the 'Mill' with the usual champagne, tears, speeches, and the old slipper at parting.
Sept. 15. 1869. Took my wife and my elder daughter to dine with the GURDONS at Letton. Considering the deaths of both daughters and daughter-in-law and the political defeats of father and son, it seems wonderful to dine here again as it nothing had happened.
Oct. 3. 1869. My neighbour, the Rev. J. THOMPSON, has sold all his property and the goodwill of his school. He has been very antagonistic. I paid a call on the Thompsons, and made my wife
subscribe to a little testimonial got up by the Low Church people for Mrs Thompson.
Oct. 5. 1869. Took my wife and some of the family to Lowestoft for a week. The weather is delightful, flowers in full bloom, and windows open till bedtime. Lowestoft is undoubtedly the best East Anglian watering-place, and is now very animated with the fishing industry
Jan 4, 1870. Dined at Mr. LANES, Whissonsett Rectory. The Lanes bear the Royal Arms impaled with the motto ' Garde le Roy', from Charles 11 having ridden in disguise with one of their ancestors on a pillion, and so escaped the Roundheads.
Jan. 18 1870. Went to a friendly dinner with the PILLINGS who have taken the THOMPSONS' house. Met some of Pilling's old friends from the north of the county (Pilling was for some years incumbent of Wells). The young people danced and the elder ones had a pipe in the study. There was Mr. TILLARD, the Rector of Blakeney, Mr. PLATTEN, Vicar of Barsham, Mr. BELL, and Curate of Snoring. On my giving them a description of the surplice worn by Mr. HILL of Gressenhall, with huge flap collar etc. and expressing a doubt whether another like it were in existence, they allowed me to come to an end, and then said that their surplices were all like that ! I have long since found out that the clergy of N. Norfolk are about 50 years behind those of W.
Feb. 15, 1870. Mrs GOOCH died at the age of 98. She never had a days illness or knew what pain was !. In Norfolk nonagenarians are common. Widow MAYES , now living, is 90, Mr. T. HARVEY is 91, Widow COCKER, recently deceased, was 98, and I have conversed with a person in Dereham 110 years old.
Feb. 26. 1870. Mr. T. HARVEY (aged 91) died rather suddenly the other day. About 10 years ago he lighted the church at his own expense, and, being minded to warm it also, was about to carry it out. But, alas! not having given any definite order, I fear that the scheme will fall to the ground. If so, it is very unfortunate, as our church is terribly cold in winter.
May 19, 1870. the Bishop of Norwich held a Confirmation at Dereham. Out of 140 confirmed, 120 were from Dereham. The Bishop was very friendly in tone and manner, but his address to the candidates was very pointless and vague.
June 18, 1870. EVERINGTON drove me to Norwich to buy a horse. He introduced me to the farmers' dinner at the Norfolk Hotel. I was surprised at the expensiveness of the viands and the intelligence of the men. They seemed pleased to get a parson among them. On our return we took tea with Mr. C,.S. READE, who showed us over his farm.
June 23. 1870. Baptised Captain and Mrs BATHURST'S child by the name of Lancelot Villebois, and afterwards had early dinner with them. Mr. ONSLOW, Rector of Sandringham was there. It seems that the Princess of Wales saves her husband from much unpopularity.
July 16, 1870. A day of panic in our town ! A Radical and political dissenter is returned for Norwich; Sir S. BIGNOLD, the patriarch of the Conservative party, has been found dead; Sir R. HARVEY has been found shot in his garden and is supposed to have perished by his own hand;
the Bank has stopped payment. To complete all, war has been declared between France and Prussia about a Prussian prince having been nominated to the throne of Spain.
Dec. 26, 1870. A remarkable eclipse of the sun, and clearly visible. No more, they say, for thirty years.
Jan. 12. 1871. Hard frost and deep snow. The sufferings of the besiegers and besieged at Paris must be awful. Six thousand of the German army are suffering from frostbite, and the Parisians are eating
horses, dogs, cats and mice. This for Paris !
Feb. 14. 1871. As an instance of the practical and sensible idea of valentines prevailing in Norfolk, the following were sent to different members of our family this year: to my wife a pair of fine fowls ready for cooking; to myself a book and a leather purse; to my elder daughter two pairs of kid gloves; to one of my sons a meerschaum pipe; to my younger daughter two pairs of kid gloves, a valuable opal ring, a satchel and a box of cambric handkerchiefs.
April 14. 1871. The day of the election of a Member for South Norfolk, in consequence of the death of Mr. Howes, our late Member. The candidates were Sir R. Buxton (C) and our old friend, Robert
Gurdon of Letton (L). As I told Mr. Gurdon senior, it was a great struggle between personal regard and public duty to vote against his son, but in these days, when the Liberals are doing so much to
undermine the Church, there is no help for it. Both candidates are unimpeachable in character, but such is the power of personal influence that at Dereham the Liberals got a majority on account of
Letton being in the vicinity. An immense pressure was exerted, but the Conservatives won by 370 votes.
May 21. 1871. Preached at St. John de Sepulchre, Norwich, for S.P.G. There were forty people waiting for the dole of bread - the intention good but of doubtful expediency.
Oct. 5. 1871. Dined at Letton Hall. It was the more kind of the Gurdons to ask us after my voting against their son at the last election.
Oct. 23. 1871. Drove to West Tofts to se the lovely church restored and decorated by Sir. R. Sutton and family. The reredos of alabaster, with statues, tinted and under canopies, was designed by Pugin and carried out by Italian artists. Everything is in the most perfect taste imaginable.
Oct. 27. 1871. At Yarmouth. Saw the new Fish Wharf where lay some hundreds of herring-smacks from Holland, Scotland, France etc. The Wharf is 780 feet in length and under cover, with offices etc. This year the 'catch' is so prodigious that there is not enough salt for the fish or casks in which to pack them, and dealers complain as much as if the supply was scanty.
Nov. 11.1871. To Norwich to visit the Bishop. Slept in a curious oak-panelled room in the old portion of the Palace.
Dec.1. 1871. The Prince of Wales is lying between life and death of gastric fever at Sandringham, and the Queen has been to him from London. It is just this time of year ten years ago that the Prince
Consort died of the same complaint.
Dec. 11. 1871. A prayer, only written at a Privy Council meeting in London at 2 a.m., arrived by telegraph at 9.30. It was for the Prince of Wales, whose decease is hourly expected. I had, of course, to transcribe it, in order to use it in church. But, either through hurry of composition or mistakes on the part of the telegraph clerks, it had, here and there, no sense at all, so I had to put it into shape
as best I could. The ground covered with snow - a cold and dreary day.
Dec.17. 1871. The Prince has a favourable turn. The Queen and Royal Family are at Sandringham. No crowned head has visited the county since Henry V111 made his famous pilgrimage to the shrine at Walsingham.
Jan 17. 1872. Met a Mr. Hanford at Pilling's. He said that Marengo, Napoleon's Arab charger at Waterloo, died in Norfolk, having been purchased by a General Angerstein of Weeting Park. Marengo had been shown in London by some Barnum of those days, and afterwards made the
tour of the provinces, and had, no doubt, realized vast sums for the proprietor. He asked the General £150 for him, but on the General saying "Stuff - he is worth nothing; I will give you £30" the horse
was obtained for that sum. When Marengo died the General sent one of his hoofs, mounted, to Napoleon 111, another to Queen Hortense and kept a third. Mr. Hanford did not know what had become of the fourth hoof.
Feb. 11. 1872. The small pox has, unfortunately, been introduced here from Norwich. We have fourteen cases and there have been two deaths. One of these deaths occurred this morning, and at nine this evening I committed the poor fellow to the grave. This is the first time I have taken a funeral by torchlight.
May 23. 1872. Meeting of the Union of Church helpers. Not encouraging, Churchwarden Carthew being very obstructive about warming the church.
May 24. 1872. Drove some of the family to see the effects of the fire at the Church at Beeston, which was struck by lightning a few days back. The tower is roofless, and gutted from top to bottom, the bells are smashed, and the huge rafters, blackened to charcoal, are lying on the ground.
Aug. 13. 1872. Baptized the daughter of our stationmaster, Mr PLAYFORD. Mrs Playford was of the French family of de Guiton, who came to Norwich at the revocation of the Edict. She says that her family occupied a high position at Court, and quarter the arms of the Bourbons with their own. They made shawls at Norwich.
Aug. 27. 1872. To Walsingham for a meeting of the Dereham and Fakenham Archery Club. The founder of the Lee Warner family was Bishop Warner who (with Juxon) accompanied Charles I to the scaffold, and there is in the Hall a magnificent portrait of the monarch by Vandyke given to the Bishop and handed down as an heirloom in the Lee Warner family.
Oct. 1. 1872. Mr. Wollaston, the Sinecure Rector of Dereham, died today. He is the last of the anomalous sinecure rectors of this place, and his tithe goes to the Ecclesiastical Commissioners. There sinecure rectors date from Henry 111's time, and among them were two Chancellors of the Exchequer, four Bishops, two Archdeacons, besides plenty of Prebendaries, Canons and Royal Chaplains. The office was one of considerable importance and held by several who must have
exerted a powerful influence in their day.
Oct 6. 1872. Preached a funeral sermon on the death of the Sinecure Rector - rather a difficult and delicate task, as he had not resided here for 20 years and was always unpopular. So the thirty-seventh and last of the sinecure rectors has passed away.
Oct. 27. 1872. A day of preaching in Norwich. In the afternoon at St. James's, Pockthorpe - a vile neighbourhood full of factories and low dwellings and a poor church. Tried to persuade some of the idle fellows to enter the church, without effect, however. They gave me a good natured laugh and a wink, as much as to say, "Not so green as that .".
Dec. 3. 1872. The Princess of Wales was driven through our town en route to Gunton by Lord Suffield in a 'drag'. My curate and the doctor peered into the interior, and complained that they saw nothing; Her Royal Highness was on the box with Lord Suffield, where they never thought of looking.
Feb. 19. 1873. A meeting of the ratepayers to consider the demands of the Education Department for the building of a school at Toftwood Common, to hold eighty, and another at Etling Green for seventy children. I fear that a School Board is inevitable, but I shall, if possible, maintain the independent position of the Church Schools.
April 14. 1873. In consequence of the Prince and Princess of Wales coming to Elmham to lay the foundation of a county school, the Vestry was held at the early hour of 9 a.m. There being two candidates for the people's warden, viz., EVERINGTON and GIDNEY, and the latter being the favourite by one hand, a poll was demanded for the former, and the most excited Vestry over which I ever presided was the result. Afterwards all Dereham went to Elmham, and we had a good view of the Royal party. The Princess looked terribly pale and thin, and the Prince just as much too fat. (JANET'S NOTE. The county school referred to here became Watts Naval Training School, which has been discussed on the list recently.)
April 15. 1873. One of those days when all goes wrong, and like the case of the messengers of Job, bad tidings follow rapidly on each other. Much feeling has already been exhibited about the
churchwardenship, and the chances of Everington are not too good. Then my curate, on receiving his stipend, resigned, and the difficulty of replacing him will be great. Of course the beer and the coals were 'out'. Then, at a concert, our neighbour Mrs P. was so rude to a young friend whom we took with us that an immediate rupture is the result, which is very unpleasant with near neighbours, the cause being jealousy of her singing. Then, at midnight, Everington gallops up to say that his supporters will not allow him to retire from the contest, which I had advised, so I suppose we must go in for it tooth and nail soon.
April 21. 1873. A good chapter might be written in our 'Chronicles of Carlingford' about the poll for the parish churchwarden this day. This affair, which began rather gloomily on April 15th, ended in the greatest triumph of Church principles that I have known since living in Dereham. This being the point of the contest, every effort was made by the clever resident Baptist minister to return the candidate who should 'thwart the Vicar.' He wrote letters on the "rampant ritualism" at Dereham in the county papers, and issued a bill announcing his intention of preaching on the subject of the election. As chairman I was at my post at 8 a.m., and Gidney seemed likely to win in a canter during the first two hours. But, after that, Everington crept up and soon passed him, and won by a large majority, the numbers being Everington 592 and Gidney 280 - majority 312. It was curious to see how the countenances of certain people gradually fell; how the Baptist minister came hectoring into the room, and above all how a certain draper paid up the rates of a voter at the booth,
feeling sure that he would vote for Gidney, but when I asked how he wished to vote he exclaimed "Everington for ever ". Squibs were being sent about, a band played, and our little town showed far more excitement than it did over the county election. I forbade the bells being rung beforehand. The ci-devant warden (H), the lawyer (C) and the doctor (V) who have always worked against me, more or less openly, have now received a defeat which they richly merit. It is nearly forty years since a contest of this kind happened in the parish, and then, singularly enough, over the owner of the same house, Dillington Hall. May it be long before we have another.
June 15. 1873. My second curate, the Rev. George DEANS DUNDAS WATT, who was ordained last Sunday, officiated for the first time. He seems likely to turn out a valuable helper.
Aug. 16. 1873. The heaviest rain I ever saw, in the midst of which came a flash of lightning, instantly followed by a terrific roll of thunder. A violent ring at our doorbell: Mr. PILLING's son had come to announce that the church tower had been struck and was on fire. On going into the churchyard we soon found, however, that the church was safe, but that the detached clock tower had been struck, the electric fluid having passed from top to bottom, shivering the clock wire and
preventing its striking, though the clock was still going. Large portions of the string course were displaced and the windows were blown out. the 'clouds of smoke' were doubtless the dust which had
collected in the tower, or the steam generated by the heavy rain coming in contact with the hot leaded roof. A woman living in Church Cottages close to the tower was rendered insensible.
Aug.26.1873. Took my wife and younger daughter to the meeting of the Dereham and Fakenham Archery Club at Rainham. Our chief object was to see Rainham Hall. It is a mansion by Inigo Jones, of far greater importance than I had imagined, second only to Houghton among the palatial residences of Norfolk. It belongs to the Marquis Townsend, who seems somewhat peculiar, his chief hobby being to bring all mendicants before the magistrates and get them punished. His wife ran away about three months ago with a man old enough to be her father, but has returned. She went to church arm-in-arm with the Marquis last Sunday to show that the reconciliation was complete.
Sept.28.1873. In the afternoon I took the duty at St. James's, Pockthorpe - a terribly low and squalid place - shops open, groups of men, idle, dirty and smoking. There were very few at church, except aged people (probably attracted by some dole). Conversed with one of these groups and invited them in. One man, who had a huge basket of water cresses, said that if I gave him the price of them he would come, otherwise he would sell all of them during the time that he would have to lose by being in church. Took a stroll about the part of the city beyond the river - all very wretched and miserable, but yet clean.
Nov. 20. 1873 DU PORT of Mattishall said that he had reason to know that the Dean and Chapter would be glad if I could take the vicarage at Yarmouth! The people would not tolerate my 'line of things' and I am getting too old to begin afresh in so large a post, and so I told him that I should decline the honour at once.
18 March 1874. Last night I attended the most 'rowdy' and uproarious meeting ever assembled in Dereham. the case was this: a tract of land called "Rush Meadow" is open to the poor as a fuel allotment, on which they may cut sedge-grass and turf. But as it is almost always under water and the sedge valueless, the poor do not think it worthwhile to go for it. A London man has offered the Vicar and churchwardens, who are the trustees, no less than £40 a year for this swamp, to grow water-cresses to be sent to London- the only purpose for which it is worth anything, except for snipe and occasional wild duck. there is also a considerable and larger portion which is not to be parted with, and which has fair pasture. The £40 we proposed to spend annually in coals for the poor, thus converting the useless sedge into fuel worth having. It seems, however, that a number of horse-dealers, 'dicky' buyers, fish-cart people and hucksters are not only in the habit of turning their own animals on to this tract, but of receiving payment for turning on the cattle of people who do not even belong to this parish. Some of these men are well off, and one of them we know to be worth £1000, whereas, legally, people are ineligible for the pasturage who have £15 a year. The whole thing, in short, is a gross abuse. A meeting was called by these gentry to protest against the action of the trustees, and churchwarden CARTHEW and myself attended. We found the room full of roughs' and the chair was taken by W., who was perfectly incapable of keeping order. I endeavoured to address the meeting to explain the case, but they only gave a partial hearing, interrupting by groans, cheers, counter-groans and cheers. But though I 'said my say', it was of no avail; they had made up their minds to 'no enclosure,' and the meeting ended in disorder. Fortunately about half a dozen young fellows came with a view to protect me from the mob, who, as we left St. Nicholas's Hall, hooted and yelled there from the Market Place, where the churchwarden and I took refuge in the Reading Room, and afterwards go safely home. But this is not all: EVERINGTON, the other churchwarden and trustee (who was not at the meeting, and was most unpopular because they thought he wanted the land), happened to drive through the Market Place at 9 p.m., just as the mob had let me go. He was driving tandem, and his wife was with him. The mob got round him and so alarmed the horses that they took fright, though happily without accident. Although I went as the real friend of the poor, and do not regret explaining matters, this is the first time I have found myself 'molested' as the Norfolk paper describes me to have been; and certainly unpopular. The respectable portion of the inhabitants are very angry at our treatment.
March 22. 1874. In the afternoon took a stroll in Norwich, and entered a church of such unmitigated ugliness and deadness (St. Michael at Plea) that I soon came out again.
April 6. 1874. Murmurs have been heard of reprisals at the Vestry, and of the reversal of Everington's election last year - even of disputing my right as Vicar to nominate my own churchwarden. But lo!, when the time came all was quiet. There was no questioning my right, and Everington was the only candidate proposed. the dinner was at the King's Arms and very friendly spirit prevailed.
April 28. 1874. A new painted window by Lavers and Baraud has this day been put up in the chancel in memory of the late Mr. Wollaston, the Sinecure Rector.
May 15. 1874. Visited Skipper's leather factory near the station. It is a vast place, employing 100 men who dress leather in every form, colour, and stage. the work is chiefly done by steam. This is quite a new feature in Dereham, and alien to all its former proclivities as a purely agricultural town. there is also a shoe-making factory which I have not yet seen.
July 15. 1874. Athletic sports by Pilling's boys on the cricket ground drew a large concourse of spectators and were really interesting. the contest of leaping the bar with a pole was very spirited between and boy called RODWELL and a smaller boy called CLOUTING. The latter won by clearing 6 feet 11 inches without touching the bar.
July 20. 1874. Went to New Hunstanton, which , in consequence of the Camp and some excursions from the Midlands, was a complete Fair, almost equal to that on the sands at Yarmouth in the height of the season. Some sailors had caught a tiger seal, a huge thing with a most pensive and meek face, and unlike a tiger as can be. The whole place was replete with life, and every available place of refreshment was crowded.
July 21. 1874. Mr. WALLER, the Vicar here, drove me to Sandringham. the church is the tiniest thing possible, but in good order, with Cross, flowers and candlesticks on the altar. The Royal family occupies the chancel.
Aug.6. 1874. Buried a Mrs C. WRIGHT, wife of a solicitor of Dereham. She was a woman of enormous size, and it took twelve men to carry the coffin from the Cemetery Chapel to the grave, which they did with great difficulty, stopping every 10 yards to take breath
Aug. 7 .1874. Our good parishioner, Mrs TANN, brought her niece, Miss ELLETT, to tea. Miss Ellett had just come from the Norwich Assizes, where a man had been tried for stopping a car which she was driving, seizing the horse's rein and presenting a pistol at her head. She seems to have behaved with great courage and presence of mind. The man did not demand money, and so got off with 6 months' imprisonment.
Sept.11. 1874. A railway accident of the most fearful character took place at Thorpe by Norwich last night, which has thrown the whole neighbourhood into consternation. The London express and the Yarmouth train dashed into each other a full speed, and twenty-four were killed and about sixty fearfully injured. The Norwich official forgot the Yarmouth train was due when he allowed the express to start. It is a single line !.
Sept.15.1874. Miss Edith PILLING's wedding - a very smart affair, followed by a breakfast and ball in the evening.
Sept. 16, 1874.. My wife accompanied me to the public opening of the new County School at Elmham. It is a fine mass of building, with spacious entrance hall and two tiers of galleries round it. Some 200 people sat down to luncheon. there was much speaking, but it was indifferent in character.
Sept. 18. 1874. HILL, the Vicar of St. Peter's, Thetford, took me an interesting walk about the town, which is full of the ruins of ecclesiastical buildings. The Castle Hill is the most interesting relic of the past. It is supposed to have been thrown up by the Saxons as one of the frontier fortresses of East Anglia.
Oct. 5. 1874. HOUCHEN (who had returned to Swaffham last evening) took me over the gaol, of which he has for many years been chaplain as well as being vicar of Newton. Visited several of the cells where the prisoners are kept in solitary confinement, and also the dark cell, the very idea of a man being kept in which filled me with horror. Here, e.g., was a man who was going through a year for the crime of stealing a watch !!! It is but justice, however, to add that he had been in gaol before.
Dec. 25. 1874. The thermometer being fifteen degrees below freezing-point, many were kept away from church through the cold. Several sudden deaths owing to the severity of the weather. The bell tolls every day in the fog.
March 15. 1875. Saw an immense shark which was caught off the Norfolk coast a few days ago - a hideous beast fifteen feet long. A whale was washed ashore near Cromer at about the same time, seventy-five feet in length. Thousands went to see it.
April 6.1875. After Evensong dropped in to the Corn Hall to hear the famous Mr. ARCH, who was urging a vast concourse of labouring men to join the Union. Arch was a farmer's labourer himself and is now pais delegate for the Union all over England. He is thickset, about 40, of the Spurgeon type with a tremendously powerful but perfectly distinct utterance. His address was decidedly revolutionary. He let the Church off much better than I expected. There was less enthusiasm that I anticipated, and, indeed, I doubt whether the vast majority had any conception of the meaning of the subject - "Tenant Right", e.g., and the "Law of Primogeniture". The heat was intolerable.
April 7. 1875. Took tea with Mr. HIPPERSON of Hoe. The whole thing was done rather as a joke, and the old lady provided hot cockles, which our party had never tasted before, and which we are in no hurry to taste again.
May 8, 1875, TILLETT, the Radical M.P. for Norwich, was unseated for bribery the second time. Attended a meeting to fix the names of the different streets of our town. My object in getting myself put on the committee was to try to get a street named after St. Withburga and another after St. Nicholas, our patron saint. Succeeded in both cases. So matters improve.
June 9. 1875. Mrs Bulwer took me to lunch with the REAVELYS of West Lexham, and to see the gardens of the KEPPEL family. they are said to be the largest piece of 'kept ground' in Norfolk, and you can take a very long walk in them.
July 1. 1875. Called out to take a private baptism at 'Gorgate' at the extreme end of the parish. The child was an infant who had been deserted in London, and which Mrs WILLINS, of Gorgate, having no children of her own, has brought into Norfolk and adopted, though she is entirely ignorant of its parentage. The child was baptized George William Simpson Willins and was literally cradled in luxury. This good-hearted woman is a very queer one - dresses almost like a man; commits assaults on her grooms; keeps a racer or two, and is well known at Newmarket, Ascot, and Epsom as "Croppy" by reason of her hair being cut quite close to the head.
July 21.1875. In France many millions' worth of property and many hundreds of lives have been lost by reason of the floods. In England the rivers in some parts have overflowed and the surrounding countryside, and hay crops have been almost everywhere destroyed. A Bazaar which the Scarning people were going to hold in Dereham had to be abandoned. It is many years since such copious rains have fallen.
Sept.1. 1875. After a month's holiday on the Continent arrived home. We return having enjoyed ourselves, but with the conviction that there is no country, after all, like England, and no county in it better than Norfolk, and no place in Norfolk better than East Dereham.
Nov.18.1875. So great are the inundations all over the country that thousands of acres are under water in the Fens. A railway-bank has been washed away, and people are now compelled to go to London via Lynn and Peterborough.
Dec. 27. 1875. On my way back from accompanying Mr. and Miss HILL to Gressenhall, I encountered in the dark, and in the churchyard, a man and a woman having a high dispute. Before I could prevent him, such a move being unsuspected by me, he struck the woman with a thick stick
at the back of the neck, which made her reel and stagger. The brute was about to repeat it, when I parried further blows with my stick and directed the attack to myself. Fortunately he was drunk and presently lowered his weapon. During the conflict the woman escaped.
Jan 23. 1876. A Miss HAMOND of Fakenham, who has been holding revival meetings at the Corn Hall all the week, with Moody and Sankey's hymns, attended church. She is a very charming looking and ladylike person but errs through want of information about Church principles.
Jan 24.1876. Young BRUNTON got me to sign a paper to get him the benefit of Tancred's Charity. He is the son of a painter in Dereham who sent him to Holt Grammar School. There he won all the prizes and obtained an Exhibition to Cambridge. He is now a Sizar at St. John's and wishes for the Charity (£100 a year) to enable him to eke out his finances. On the other hand, there are two youths in this vicinity, born to wealth and position, who cannot achieve the ordinary pass examination for the Army !!. An instance of the great and all-pervading law of compensation.
Feb. 16. 1876. Attended a "Spelling Bee" - a new American importation. Mr. PILLING was the questioner and HYDE and myself the referees, sitting at a separate table with folios of 'Johnson', 'Walker' and the Imperial Dictionary. There were twenty-five competitors for the prizes. The novelty of the occasion attracted a large body of people, and music at intervals made the thing pleasant enough.
March 14, 1876, A chemist here is selling bottles of scent, each of which is warranted to contain a sum of money from a farthing upwards, and one bottle in a thousand contains £5. Most of the coins are farthings, of course, but several have found sovereigns and half-sovereigns, and a poor woman yesterday actually bought the bottle which contained £5. She is half mad with joy !.
April 8. 1876. visited Diss, a very nice town with excellent shops, a fine church, a beautiful mere in the centre, bordered by a recreation ground. This is a striking and very unusual feature in an English
April 19. 1876. Some idea of the increase of Dereham may be gleaned from the fact that, whereas in 1873 there were 7000 letters per week sent to our Post Office, in 1876 the amount to 25,000!.
July 28. 1876. The Carabineers rode into Dereham a few days ago en route from Norwich to York. Called on the Commanding Officer as to my making arrangements for the men to come to church on the Sunday. He said they would be too busy. I found out afterwards that the Regiment was raised in Ireland and that almost all the privates are Roman Catholics, which was, no doubt, the real reason.
Aug. 2. 1876. An old parishioner, upwards of ninety years of age, told us that he stood behind Lord Nelson's chair when the messenger came to summon him for Trafalgar. He described how he came down the stairs with Lady Hamilton, the ladies and gentlemen in the hall forming a line for them to pass. It was then and there they parted, and none of them saw the hero more.
Aug.8. 1876. To Thursford Hall, the seat of Mr. Scott Chad, for an archery meeting. The hall is in the Elizabethan style, and though it is for the most part modern, yet the new is so well blended with the old part that is impossible to distinguish the one from the other. All is in perfect harmony. There is a beautiful private chapel. What a salutary and humanizing influence does a man of this sort give to a remote part of a remote county. Certainly there is no character in the world like that of an English country gentleman with adequate means, refined tastes, and, better still, endowed with religious instincts and principles.
Aug. 20. 1876. Visited the sick while the others went to the match at cricket between Norfolk and Marylebone.
(Note. At this time the Norfolk County Cricket ground was at Dereham)
Oct. 16. 1876. Went to Downham Market via Lynn to preach a Harvest Festival sermon, with collection for Lynn Hospital. I was entertained by Captain and Mrs Read at Crow Hall, the property of Mrs Bulwer, and the scene of her early childhood. Crow Hall derives its name from the fact of its having been an inn in former days, with the crow for its sign. If so, it is the more singular because Quebec, Mrs Bulwer's present residence, was originally a public house called Quebec Castle.
Downham is a clean town on the edge of a sandy hill overlooking the Fens, and Ely Cathedral may be seen from it. The church is restored, but hardly adequate for the population. Captain Read told me that in the fen beneath, which looks like the sea, there is a place called Southery where there are but three names in the parish. This betokens a bad state of affairs, isolation, intermarriage, scrofula and many very serious evils indeed.
Dec. 9. 1876. Miss F. has been paying us a long visit, during which Mr. Watt has been more frequently than ever at the Vicarage. We had not observed the slightest indications of 'the tender passion' on the part of the young people, but it seems to have been smouldering. Anyhow, Watt proposed this evening in due form and was accepted. Then, of course, followed mysterious disappearances on the part of the females, slamming of bedroom doors, brandies and water, and all the usual concomitants of 'declarations'.
Jan 3. 1877. Treated my elder son and his wife and my married daughter and her husband, who is staying with us, to the grand morning performance of the Norwich circus, now causing much interest in the county. It was not so good, however, as some which I have seen, even in the provinces. Among other things a dwarf Chinese, dressed as a clown, sang Chinese songs. The Dean of Norwich, who was present, seemed to enjoy it all.
Jan. 9 1877. Married my organist, aged sixty-six to a Miss Smith aged twenty-eight. I was present at the breakfast and proposed the health of the newly married ones in very excellent champagne !
Jan 10. 1877. Went to North Tuddenham to see some beautiful windows which Barry, the Rector, had recently put into the church.
NOTE. The glass in the tracery of most of these windows is ancient. Mr. Barry found it lying about in a stone-mason's yard at Dereham. It had been removed from another church during a so-called 'restoration'. It is extremely beautiful, and its preservation is a matter for thankfulness. It was removed from the windows for safety during the war of 1939-45
Jan 27. 1877. Somehow I do not think that our Vicarage is a very successful field for courtship, remembering as I do two instances there (our own family not concerned) of breaking off engagements. This has now taken place with regard to Mr. Watt and Miss F., the eyes of both being opened to the fact that they are entirely unsuited to each other. She is said to be cold, apathetic, capricious and exacting, all of which came out at Mrs Hyde's ball on January 24th, and which turned out to be the last straw to break the camel's back. Mr. Watt seems like a man who is relieved of a burden !!
Feb. 8. 1877. Mrs Bulwer and I made up a party to visit the Art Loan Exhibition at Lynn, to provide funds for the restoration of the Parish Church of St. Margaret. It was well worth seeing, and, as is usual in these exhibitions, people exhibited things which were well worth looking at, whose owners would hardly have been credited with their possession. The pictures were remarkably good - Vandykes, P. Lely's, Sir Joshua Reynolds, and so forth. The Norwich School was well represented with its Cromes, Cotmans, etc. The following is an interesting episode in connection with this exhibition: the Dowager Lady Buxton sent two watercolours by Cox, with the intimation that she
would let the Committee have them for £1200, but if they could make more they might retain the surplus. Mr. McLean of the Haymarket, London, actually gave £1700 for them, thus securing to the exhibitors a profit of £500.
April 4 1877. The annual Vestry. Unusual excitement has prevailed upon the subject of Vestries generally, especially in the Eastern Counties, on account of the Labourers' Movement, and the attempt on the part of the Union, through its agents, to get one of its men into office. All passed off happily in the end, though the atmosphere was very threatening in the beginning. One BRETT had go about 20 roughs, one of whom was not sober, to back up his resolution that the Vestry be adjourned until 7 p.m. for the convenience of the labouring men. I at once said that the consent of the chairman was necessary for this, and that consent I would not give. I stated that I was glad to
see the labourers taking an interest in these matters (I suspect they were all paid their day's wages by the Union), and that they would be treated with the same courtesy and consideration as other people. But I could not, for their convenience, put another section of the ratepayers to great inconvenience; besides, the great number of labourers present showed that the others could have been present if they had wished. Business being now begun, I named Mr. CARTHEW for the nineteenth time as Vicar's Warden, and, by a previous arrangement with the church people, Mr. C. ELVIN was proposed as the People's Warden. No other candidate being brought forward, I declared him elected. Thus a poll (which we had all anticipated) was averted. Mr. Elvin was specially pugnacious to me when the Church Association was down upon us. Still, he described himself as a High Churchman, and anyhow, is better than the person with whom we had been threatened. We
all dined at the King's Head, the dinner being one of the most cordial
and friendly I have ever attended. Very glad when the day was over.
April 8. 1877. Preached on behalf of the 50 widows and 115 children of the poor fishermen of Yarmouth (118 in number, men and boys) who perished with all their craft in the North Sea in the terrible gale of January 30th. Not one survived, and, although the Government sent out steamers in search, not a vestige was found. Only a board with 'Martins - Yarmouth' washed up on Heligoland remains of the little fleet. The collection reached £19.13s.
July 2. 1877 Had a garden party. 'Lawn Tennis' , which has entirely superseded croquet, was the order of the day.
July 26. 1877. Travelled back to Dereham with Mr. STOUGHTON of Bawdeswell Hall. He told me of a certain Peter STOUGHTON, who had lived at Dereham, and who made it his custom to go into the church at 10p.m. for private prayer. Leaving his lighted candle at the west end, he went to the altar for that purpose. He was terribly alarmed one night by seeing a light gradually advance up the church to where he was. It turned out to be a rat which had made a prize of the candle and was carrying it in its mouth still alight. The rat dropped it on seeing the man and left him in the dark.
Aug. 11. 1877. To Norwich, where I saw a specimen, dead, of the Colorado or potato beetle, whose ravages in Canada are almost as destructive as those of the locusts in Scripture. These beetles have
appeared in Germany, and great consternation is felt about their getting into this country. The Government has put out precautions against them.
Aug. 28. 1877. Miss MAYHEW, of Dereham, was married today to Mr. MILLISON, second Wrangler this year! The bridegroom was very young, boyish-looking, short, and giving no indication whatever of mental superiority. And yet this youth has already got a Fellowship and
earns £800 besides by taking pupils.
Sept. 14. 1877. The Norfolk women have a slovenly habit of throwing refuse water into the streets regardless of who is coming, so that sometimes one narrowly escapes being covered with it. In this
instance, the splash coming under the nose of a horse which Mr. FULCHER was driving into Dereham for the market, his son being with him, the animal took fright. It dashed into a post, upset the gig, and flung them so violently to the ground that the old gentleman fractured his skull and died the next morning. He was eighty years of age.
Jan. 17. 1879. North Norfolk is in great electioneering excitement regarding filling up the place of Colonel Duff. The candidates are Sir Foxwell Buxton, the brewer-Liberal, and Mr. E. Birkbeck,
Conservative. Captain Bulwer proposed the former, but said on the hustings that, though a Liberal, he disapproved of the foreign policy of his party. Now, as the election turns on this very pivot, it is a curious illustration of how men, for party ends, will go on against their own convictions. The contest is likely to be a severe one.
Jan. 25. 1879. In the election Mr. E. Birkbeck beat Sir Foxwell Buxton by 490 votes. Was lent a printed sermon 'Preached at East Dereham, in Norfolk, May 29th, 1661, being the day of the Coronation of our most gracious Sovereign Lord King Charles the second, by John Winter, Curate'. It says, as regards Charles II that he is 'A King whose transcendent virtues can be expressed by none but himself in the constant tenure of his Royall and Heavenly conversation’
Feb. 21 1879. Payson, the American who is walking all round England, passed through Dereham, having walked 27 miles from Lynn. He gave a lecture at the Corn Hall. He got to Lowestoft the same night via Norwich and Yarmouth, lecturing at both places. It seems incredible.
March 6 1879. The notorious convict, housebreaker and murderer, Pearce, was executed a few days ago. A fellow about here has taken it into his head to imitate Pearce and has committed burglaries night after night at Shipham, Attleborough and Foulsham. Tracked through Dereham, a mounted policeman took him, but not before the man had fired six shots and wounded the policeman's horse.
April 9 1879. Buried Mr. Cooper, aged ninety-one. He was the old gentleman to whom I have alluded on these pages as having waited on Lord Nelson and Lady Hamilton on the evening when Nelson was summoned to join the Fleet for Trafalgar. He also remembered well the funeral of the poet Cowper in Dereham Church at midnight.
April 11 (Good Friday). The day admirably kept. The shops were closed, and there were no street bands or great tea-drinkings. The church was well attended. Took afternoon service at Hoe, not
forgetting a plentiful supply of 'Cross buns' and explaining in my surplice from the altar step the meaning of the symbol.
April 14, 1879. In consequence of my forbidding the bells to be rung in Lent, even on the occasion of a Royal Marriage, and a threatened strike of ringers, it seemed for a long time that there would be no joyful peal this Easter. The uneasy and jerky motion of a single bell or so intimated that there was a commotion among the ringers. However, at 9.30 - long after their usual time - out they went. This is well, because of an obnoxious publication called 'Daylight', managed by a ci-devant dissenting minister here, would have seized upon this as another proof of that 'Jesuit tyranny and influence by which the people of Dereham are led, and, alas! they love to have it so'!
April 16 1879. Easter Vestry. Happily the same parish warden was chosen, and I chose Mr. Carthew for the twenty-third time. Rather a disagreeable discussion arose as to why it was that the church bells did not ring at the late Royal Marriage. I replied that it was our rule that the bells were not rung in Lent. I fear the reason was not appreciated by the meeting, and I was glad to pass on to the next business.
May 1. 1879. Mr. Henry Vincent kindly got up a concert, the proceeds of which are to go towards the proposed new church. It was patronized and attended by most of the leading people in the neighbourhood. Mr. and Mrs Alois of East Winch were among the performers, as were the Lane family of Dereham, and the 'Amphion Society ' of Norwich. I heard, subsequently, that I made the ladies rather jealous because of the praise that I bestowed, in my speech of thanks, on Mrs Bullard's
singing. Happy thought: have as little to do with singing people, as such, as you can.
July 21, 1879. A deluge all night and my tenant’s hayricks literally standing in water, a sight that I have never before seen, except in the Fens, though not uncommon in the Shires. His hay is being washed away by the swollen stream, which has completely overflowed the footway at Wash Bridge adjoining the glebe. At Yarmouth it seems that the Volunteer Camp is deluged and no church parade could take place.
Called on the Lombes of Belaugh with my wife. We were taken all over the Hall. There are a few good pictures and a beautiful collection of Old Crome's etchings. There is a set of three Dresden vases, the most splendid I ever saw. But the charm of the house consists in the decorations of the walls, pillars and ceilings, which are beautiful.
July 27 1879. Our congregations having been considerably diminished by the continual bad weather (worse than 1860), it is satisfactory to record that the evening one today was enormous.
Aug. 2. 1879. We had a deluge all last night, and continuous thunder and lightning for six hours. Wells Church was struck and completely burned down.
Aug. 21. 1879. In view of the destruction of Wells Church by fire, I am inducing the churchwardens to raise the insurance of our church to £5000, and the organ to £500, and I have increased the insurance of the Vicarage to £2000.
Sept. 10 1879. The annual Temperance Tea and concert in the evening, 150 sitting down to the former, and the latter being very well attended. It nearly, however, proved fatal to my good old churchwarden, who on his retune from it was run into by a dog-cart being driven very fast, a shaft grazing his cheek, and completely penetrating the leather hood of his little donkey-carriage. It was a miraculous escape.
Sept 24. 1879. Visited Hoxne, being taken there by my son, who is curate in a neighbouring village. The village is celebrated for the martyrdom of St. Edmund, who was found concealed under a bridge (which we crossed) by a wedding couple who were crossing it. He was conducted to a tree in a neighbouring field, to which he was bound. He was then killed. Singularly enough, the tree was only removed about a year ago, and an arrow head was found embedded in it at about a man's height. No wedding couple will now cross that bridge.
Oct. 5. 1879. Harvest Festival. The crops in many parts have been such an utter failure that it is questioned by many whether these Festivals should be held at all this year. In Norfolk, however, with its light, gravelly soil, we are not so badly off, and farmers have even told me that they have known worse years.
January 13 1880. When dining with the Andersons of Hockering the conversation turned upon a ghost seen by Dr. Jessop, late headmaster of Norwich Grammar School and now Rector of Scarning. The account was published by the Doctor in the Athenaeum and has got into the Norfolk
papers. On a visit to Lord Orford at Mannington Hall to search some rare books, the Doctor was allowed to remain in the library until the small hours. On looking up from his writing (he was making extracts) he found an ecclesiastic sitting by his side with his hand on the table. He presently vanished, but appeared a second time, only to vanish again! The Doctor said that he was not frightened - nay, that his anxiety was lest that his visitant should go. The writer of an article in the Eastern Daily Press confesses that his own anxiety would have been the other way, and that every hair of his head would have stood on end.
March 19 1880. A political day. Dereham being the junction of South and West Norfolk, the candidates for both divisions addressed the farmers at market - viz., Amherst and Bentinck (both Conservative) for the West, and Sir R. Buxton and C.S. Reade (both Conservative) for the South. An hour afterwards Robert Gurdon (Liberal), for South, and Mr Anthony Hamond (Liberal) for West, had their meeting. There seems to be an idea that Gurdon will get in, especially as the farmers, being in despair at the bad times, are not satisfied with Mr. Reade.
April 7 1880. The result of the South Norfolk election was made known, and was the more interesting from one's personal knowledge of all the candidates, and from the closeness of the contest. Sir R. Buxton was second by one !! thus C.S. Reade, the once popular tenant farmer M.P., who worked so well, and who actually gave up an appointment worth £1000 a year because he differs from his Ministry on a point which he thought harmful to agriculture, is ousted. The
charge against him is that he was gradually aiding the landlords rather than the tenants. But the truth is that the farmers have suffered so severely of late years that they think any change better than none,
August 6 1880. The talk is just now about the Baroness Burdett Coutts at sixty-six marrying Mr. Bartlett, a rising young man of thirty, who manages her affairs. By this act she forgoes the enormous sum of £100,000 per annum, he being of American extraction.
August 7 1880. Called at Gressenhall and saw the dear old Squire for the last time. He is a good liberal man and religious in his way, but with a great dread of Popery and Puseyism, and a great distrust of the High Church generally. Nevertheless we have been excellent friends for thirty years. The estate now will have to be sold.
August 13 1880. Attended the funeral of Squire Hill at Gressenhall. All the family were present except one daughter, who is in Canada with her husband. The tenants were all there, and a few villagers, but not so many of the latter as I expected to see, considering how very liberal and kind the deceased was. The estate has been in possession of the Hills for 100 years, as it was of the L'Estrange family before them.
August 19. 1880. The Architectural Association visited Dereham Church in large numbers. A Mr. Penrose, the president for the day, spoke very favourably of the fabric in his opening address, which, however, did not convey any information of which we were not already aware. The address over, out came the camp stools and sketching material of the young architects. There was also a photographer with the party. It was explained that, whereas the Archaeologists meant play in the shape of luncheons and dinners etc., the Architecturals meant work.
September 17 1880. A Norwich weekly paper, of a scandalous nature, and having correspondents in each town, has of late been attacking me and my son for 'Romish' proceedings. Today, having to go to Norwich, I determined to call on the Editor of this paper - Daylight – and demand the name of the contributor. I called and told him that an action would be brought if the thing was repeated. The Editor said that his only justification was the belief that the charge was true, but, on my describing the nature of our services and pointing out that the Bishop had joined in them, that I was on good terms with the parishioners, including many dissenters, he confessed that he had been labouring under a mistake, and that more caution would be observed by him for the future. It is clear that I have an enemy, and also, judging by internal evidence, that his is a regular attendant at Church!.
September 30 1880. Another case of a belief in sorcery. An old woman has said the Lord's Prayer backwards to get rid of an infliction which had been 'put' upon her. She promised me to say it forwards three times a day, but added ' unless the trouble comes back, and then I shall say it backwards again'
November 26 1880. Baptized a child by the name of John Capel Marjoribanks Courtney Locke. His father is a lieutenant in the United States Army. The surname is Hurstlyn.
November 30 1880. Dined at Belaugh Hall - real turtle soup, swan and French cookery. On our way a hawk which had captured a pigeon was scared by our carriage lamp, and let the pigeon fall on the roof of the brougham.
December 25 1880. Carols were introduced into the church for the first time.
December 31 1880. To the superstitious it might appear portentous that a fortnight ago we had an eclipse of the moon and today of the sun - both plainly visible.
January 14 1881. Dined with some of my family at 'Quebec' to meet Dr. and Mrs Jessop. We ate swan. The Doctor told us a story of Mr. Jex Blake, a Norfolk squire with a wooden leg, and whom we met at dinner at Belaugh in the autumn, who had his leg smashed by a cannon shot at Waterloo. He was humanely treated by a staff officer on the field. He never knew who his benefactor was till he met him accidentally at a dinner party a year ago. The story of 'the poor boy with the smashed
leg' was told by the benefactor himself. "And I", said Mr Jex Blake "was the boy". They are both now very old men, but neither of them had forgotten.
January 17 1881. Intense cold - snow on the ground for the last week - sleighing everywhere, and skaters rejoicing. Perhaps it may cure the foot-and-mouth disease among the cattle and the smallpox, which is said to be very bad in London. there have been 26 degrees of frost.
January 18 1881. The flock of sheep (300) belonging to Mr. Waters of Hoe - all suffering from foot-and-mouth disease - are cured by the intense cold. The train is embedded in the snow between Hardingham and Kimberley, and the traffic between us and Norwich and London suspended in consequence. No posts come in !!
January 23 1881. Driving in a sleigh to Hoe for the afternoon service, I found a snowdrift above the hedges nearly the whole way. The Times says that no day like January 18th has befallen the country within living memory. At Yarmouth fifty lives were lost by shipwreck. There is a snowdrift from 10 to 12 feet deep all the way from Millfield to Quebec.
April 20 1881. The Easter Vestry was unusually well attended on account of the churchwardens putting a notice on the paper respecting the negligence of the organist, and the expediency of electing another. Now, though the whole parish has been complaining of the organist, yet no sooner was it know that another was trying to supplant him than they all rushed to the rescue. I was glad of this, because I distrust the new man altogether. It will do good, as Martin will be more careful in future, and the complaints of the parishioners will be silenced by their permitting him to continue in office.
April 28 1881. The result of the census came out, and showed, I am glad to say, a smaller increase than I had feared, viz., 456 In 1871 the numbers were 5107, and in 1881, 5563. From this, however, must be deducted a large number of navvies now employed on the sewage works, but who will leave Dereham when they are completed.
June 1 1881. Wrote to the Bishop of Norwich to condole with him on the loss of his son, the Reverend Herbert Pelham, who lost his life by an alpine accident in Switzerland, where he is to be buried.
July 3 1881. The heat is excessive - 82 degrees in the shade, and the gardens rapidly going black.
July 16 1881. The Archery Club came to the Vicarage. Thermometer 98 in the shade. The papers say that no record of a higher temperature has ever been obtained in England. The heat exceeded last year's maximum at Bombay and Calcutta.
August 18 1881. Attended the funeral of the Rev. Mr. Collinson of Bilney, aged ninety. A large number of his tenants, parishioners and neighbouring clergy were present. The vault within the church was 12 feet deep. He owned valuable vineyards in South Africa, and was more of a merchant than a priest, going up to business every Monday morning till Saturday. He did not marry until he was sixty, but has lived to see all his children grown up. He was greatly 'given to hospitality'.
October 16 1881. England was visited on Friday last with a violent hurricane, which did much damage both on land and at sea.
November 9 1881. Drove to Norwich yesterday with my new horse. Though it is many years since I have driven along the road, there is no alteration - not a cottage more or less (except close to Norwich, where a new town is springing up).
November 13 1881. At a wedding, both the bridegroom and his best man were so drunk that I would not take the service and turned them out of church. I never met with such a case before. Baptized a child privately yesterday, whose screams, while in its cradle, caused the mother to undress it: a rat had been feeding on its little arm.
January 25 1882. We have been weeks without rain, and the weather has been beautifully warm and fine - violet, crocus, primrose etc., in bloom.
February 15. 1882. Lovely weather continues. Busy in administering the endowed charities, for which we had 700 applicants whose claims had to be examined.
March 12 1882. Two or three days ago an elephant broke out of a travelling menagerie at Dereham, and, proceeding to a neighbouring house, demolished the windows, and, inserting his trunk, ate up the contents of the larder.
April 9 1882 (Easter) Brilliant weather, and first rate congregations. The early celebration was choral, and there were eighty two communicants at this service, and eighty three at midday.
April 23 1882. A troupe of undoubted Japanese who have been performing in Dereham attended church this morning and evening, and behaved in a most exemplary manner, having Bibles, prayer and hymn books and turning East at the Creed.
May 10 1882. Attended a public dinner at the King's Arms on the first anniversary of the founding of the Dereham Fire Brigade.
May 27 1882. Returned to Dereham for the Sunday duty. Travelled by the new route via Ipswich, Forncett, and Wymondham. On the whole the advantages are not apparent.
June 29 1882. Meeting of Sunday School Teachers at Hingham. I missed the train at Dereham. Another train was starting in half an hour, but, alas! did not stop at Hardingham, which is the station for Hingham. There is nothing like being well known in a place and on good terms with its people, to which I attributed an order from our stationmaster to the driver to stop at Hardingham to let me out. Getting a lift into Higham in a butcher’s cart, I arrived in the middle of the service to the great surprise of my friends.
July 20 1882. To a garden party at Bradenham Hall at which the guests numbered nearly 100. The Squire showed us a cage which had been dug up on a neighbouring moor, and which had contained the body of a man who had been hanged on that spot just 100 years ago. The iron was constructed to be a fitting framework to the corpse, and part of the skull was still remaining.
September 27 1882. Preached the Harvest Sermon at Wells-next-the Sea, whose church was burned down three years ago. The rebuilt church is quite a cathedral.
October 14 1882. Staying at Hunstanton. Undertook the daily service at St. Edmund's for two days. the place is much improved and the tone of Church feeling excellent - a wonderful contrast to another Norfolk watering-place, Cromer. In the Prince's garden at Sandringham there is a huge bronze idol which was shipped to Lynn and placed where it is as a curiosity. The prince, thinking that it would improve the appearance, ordered a kind of canopy or pagoda to be erected over it,
but in making the foundation for it the workmen found that the rabbits had completely undermined the image, which had to be laid flat for a time. During this operation a great jingling was heard inside the image, which turned out to be caused by a number of native coins which had been offerings to the idol. They are now arranged in glass cases and are hung up in the Entrance Hall.
October 21 1882. My old friend Carthew died. He passed away in his sleep. He had been my churchwarden for nearly a quarter of a century. When I first came he was the only intelligent churchman in the place, and, though my position was a very difficult one, he always supported
me. He was a great archaeologist and a man of considerable taste.
October 25 1882. Conducted Mr.Carthew's funeral at Redenhall, where the family vault is. Redenhall church has a splendid tower and looks very conspicuous from the Rectory garden.
November 14 1882. Dined with our old friends, the Haggards and met the Rev. B. Edwards, aged ninety-four. He is active, and in good health and spirits and enjoying himself. Being a munificent patron of the S.P.G., and dining with other patrons at the Archbishop's, he was warned from the chair that he always occupies next to the Archbishop, the footman telling him that that was reserved for a very old gentleman from Norfolk. The footman could not believe that Mr. Edwards answered to the description of 'a very old gentleman'.
January 20 1883. Meeting at Norwich about the proposed alteration of the Marriage Law to enable a man to marry the sister of his deceased wife. The Bishop, who occupied the chair, and the Dean made such lengthy openings as to almost exhaust the subject, thus leaving the others little more to say. the proposal was rejected unanimously with one exception - a layman. This layman is spiteful to the clergy for abstaining from voting for him at the last election because he voted for the P.W.R.A. I always took an interest in this layman as being a rising man. But, after these performances, I cannot vote for him again.
January 22 1883. An excellent magic lantern exhibited on the events of the Egyptian War.
January 25 1883. My elder son and myself started for Elmham to attend service on the occasion of the completion of the restoration of the parish church. The snow, however, having so recently fallen, there were no road tracks and we could not get the horse beyond a walking pace. This would have made us so late that we reluctantly turned back.
March 9 1883. Weather extremely dull and depressing - snow, fog, and no sunshine. At Lynn and Yarmouth there have been the highest tides within living memory. At Lynn water flooded the church, and ladies were carried out on chairs. (Note. A mark on the west front of St. Margaret’s, Kings Lynn, shows the height that the water reached)
March 28 1883. The annual Vestry. I chose Charles Norgate (Colonel Bulwer having declined owing to lack of time) as my Warden. Norgate has well deserved this on many accounts - e.g. he works the Toftwood Mission on Sunday afternoons and he is secretary to our Union of Church Helpers. I do not know of anyone so fitting. In the vestry all was good nature and satisfaction.
April 23 1883. Being in Norwich, I saw the triumphal entry of General Booth. He drove in a carriage and pair and stood on the seat, waving a handkerchief. There was a brass band, of course.
June 12 1883. It seems that the bill for legalizing marriage with a deceased wife's sister was carried in the Lords by seven votes, among them two of the Royal Princes, while another 'paired'. This will
bring Church and State into conflict, and is predicted by many, in consequence, to be the forerunner of Disestablishment.
June 27 1883. To the District Union of E.C.U. at a place in the heart of the Fens called Nordelph, where a priest called Coverley has been working wonders among the uncouth and Dutch-looking population. After a creditable luncheon at a bargee public-house by the side of a dyke, the annual meeting took place, and a most interesting one it was. The Ritual at the service in the morning, and also the after-luncheon discussion, seemed a remarkable phenomenon in such a truly outlandish
spot, and a proof of the wonderful growth of Church principles in every place.
July 7 1883. Mr. Bailey, the Rector of Shipham, died yesterday. We came to Norfolk the same year, and he remembered me from my pre-Dereham days. It is curious that we should have lived in adjacent parishes in Middlesex, and them come to live in adjacent parishes in Norfolk.
July 11 1883. Went to Mr. Bailey's funeral. There were thirteen clergy in surplices, exhibiting that wonderful want of uniformity in headgear which is always observable in Anglican processions: pot hats, college caps, wideawakes, birettas, zucchettos, black velvet nightcaps, and some with no covering whatever.
August 7 1883. Trial - a breach of promise of marriage. The plaintiff was a Miss Blenkinsop, and she only got £30 damages. The High Sheriff gave an excellent luncheon in the Court House and a grand dinner at 8 - turtle soup, venison etc.- to some of the Grand Jury. In fact, eating and drinking and driving the Judges about were the chief features of the week.
August 8 1883. Long trial of a man charges with causing the death of his wife by not giving her proper nourishment. A heavy sentence. The most curious part of it was the very ingenious defence set up for the rascal by his counsel, Mr. Sims Reeve, who endeavoured to turn the most ridiculous admissions to the prisoner's advantage.
August 31 1883. Garden parties are in vogue throughout the neighbourhood. Today we went to one at Elmham Hall, which has been taken by some exceedingly nice Scotch people called McMicking.
October 11 1883. To Shipham to induct the new Rector, Watt, into the Rectory, which he has inherited from his uncle, Mr. Bailey. The living came into Mr. Bailey's possession under peculiar circumstances. He was curate of the parish, and the then Rector was 'in extremis', so that half an hour afterwards the advowson might not be saleable. The relations compelled the curate to be the purchaser, and his remark that he had no money was met with the statement that he must deal with
that question afterwards. Mr. Bailey entertained no company and lived in the plainest way for thirty years afterwards, thus enabling him to pay all off.
October 17 1883. A dinner party, some of the guests being from the town as distinct from the county. Consequently they did not amalgamate so well as we could wish. This absurd distinction, having no definite basis, renders it difficult for a town parson to give a party.
October 24 1883. To Norwich with the High Sheriff for the Assizes. Accompanied him in the state coach with trumpeters to Thorpe Station to meet the Judge (Lord Justice Fry), who had only left Lincoln at nine this morning!
October 26 1883. A very sad trial for child murder at Ipswich. The prisoner, evidently a hard and desperate villain, expressed no sign of feeling or compunction whatever. He was condemned to death.
November 7 1883. To Bilney to attend the annual dinner to the Trustees of some almshouses there. Early dinners are horrible: they cut up the day, and I am not ready for them. Most of the neighbouring clergy were there.
December 25 1883. Notwithstanding the fog, there was an excellent attendance at the services. There were about 120 communicants, and the well-known music went admirably.
January 19 1884. Our respected Sergeant Connor of the Volunteers was buried at the cemetery with military honours. the funeral attracted a large concourse of people. The attendance of the Volunteers was very large. The three volleys over the grave were admirably given, accompanied by the rolling of the drum by little Coleby, who is also a chorister.
February 7 1884. To Norwich for the Assizes, being the third and last during Colonel Bulwer's shrievalty. The Judges were Grove and North. They hardly said a word during our state drive to attend the Cathedral service, but seemed amused at workboxes and suchlike things being displayed in the shop-windows as 'valentines'.
February 10 1884. A wonderful instance of the State Ritual at the Cathedral! The Bishop was at the west door waiting for the Judges. the procession reached from the west door to the organ loft. In it
were the Bishop, Canons, Mayor, and Corporation (with regalia), City Sheriff, High Sheriff and Chaplain, Town Councillors, and others. The presence of a cavalry regiment added to what was really a grand scene.
April 3 1884. To Yarmouth. The flags of the shipping and at public buildings were all half-mast high for the Queen's son, who is to be buried at Frogmore on the 5th. Among these flags was a Pontifical one of yellow and white, the Pope's colours, with the tiara and cross keys. It was on the tower of the Roman Catholic chapel in Regent Road. I have never seen it in England before.
April 23 1884. This morning's paper contains a long account of the effects of an earthquake! It took place yesterday morning about nine, and seems to have been limited to East Anglia, though we knew nothing about it at Dereham. Suffolk and Essex seem to have felt it indeed, and Colchester seems to have been the centre of the disturbance. The shocks were described as being 'more violent than any that have occurred in this country since the Midlands were alarmed by a similar cause in 1863'. There was a loud rumbling, with sudden gusts of wind. At Colchester all the buildings were shaken and the spire of a Congregationalist place of worship - 150 feet high – was brought to the ground. The piers of churches shook; the floors heaved and windows rattled. The oscillations lasted from 3 to 5 seconds.
April 29 1884. Drove to Saham Toney for the annual meeting of E.C.U. There was a fair attendance, but it was agreed on all hands that Saham was too remote, and so it was decided to return to Dereham in the future. Heard the cuckoo for the first time this season, and saw the first swallow and Scoulton gull.
May 1 1884. Dined with the Barry's of Tuddenham. Met among others Mr. and Mrs Blake. He is the new Rector of Easton. They sang duets beautifully. Mr. Blake could also whistle an accompaniment like a nightingale, but all rather theatrical.
May 19 1884. Baptized the infant son of our organist, the father being seventy-seven years of age!.
June 21 1884. Dr. Sidney Linton, the first Bishop consecrated for Riverina, New South Wales, came on a visit in order to preach tomorrow to advocate the claims of his diocese.
June 22 1884. A somewhat uncomfortable Sunday. I was summoned to the bedside of a dying woman just before morning service. This was not calming to begin with. Then I find that the adult members of the choir actually mutinied just before the service because they had to vest in a side chapel in order to allow of more space for the Bishop. They, however, came back in the evening. They will hear of this again.
July 3 1884. The heat is excessive - no rain for nearly three months and no appearance of any change.
July 7 1884. My late curate Watt, now Rector of Shipham, is said to be going to resign. He gives as his reason that he has nothing but worry and annoyance. I have reason to believe, however, that there is a far deeper reason than that. It was said at the time, I recollect, when Watt's uncle, Mr. Bailey, was presented to the living, it was when the patron was 'in articulo mortis' and unconscious of his own doings. Now Watt, being a conscientious man, has resolved to purge himself from any benefit to be derived from so questionable a transaction. One cannot mention it, but this is, I believe, the true cause of his resignation.
August 4 1884. There were the usual athletic and other sports. The prizes were considerable in number and value as may be judged from the fact that athletes competed from Northampton, Liverpool, Hull, London and Sheffield.
August 6 1884. The Sunday School Treat. It was a brilliant day. The proceedings were the same as usual, except that the parishioners sent such a number of presents for the children that I had difficulty in disposing of them. Several balloons were sent up - we had an excellent band and fireworks, and, the moon being at the full, the amusements were protracted to an unusually late hour.
September 30 1884. The Church Restoration Committee has already got together £1000, though I cannot believe that it will ever raise the £3000 required.
November 1 1884. The Church Restoration Committee met a day or so back. The amount now promised is £1200. I do not think we shall get much more. Some of the tradesmen have behaved in a niggardly way, although all their money was made in Dereham. Letters appeared in the papers from people who have ripe strawberries and raspberries in their gardens. Horse chestnuts are in full leaf.
November 13 1884. Vestry meeting to empower the churchwardens to apply for a faculty for the proposed restoration. It was rumoured that a very strong protest was to be made with regard to the removal of the galleries. But, on entering the Assembly Room, I saw at a glance that we should carry their removal.
November 17 1884. Met Dr. Jessop at a dinner party at Miss Girling's of Scarning. He is a clever man and has lately written some articles in the Reviews called 'Archadie'. I induced a builder who is erecting a batch of small houses in Scarning to call his clump of building 'Arcadie' instead of Stebbings Terrace as he intended.
November 30 1884.(St. Andrew's Day). Hoe Church being dedicated to this saint, I presented a brass Cross for the Altar. There were already vases and candlesticks. Who would have thought, thirty years ago, that such things could be done in poor little Hoe? For many years it had a Church Association squire, as ignorant as could be. This is the beginning of real winter, for the snow came down plentifully all the rest of the day.
January 4 1885. Notice was fixed on the church door to objectors, if any, to appeal against the faculty granted by the Bishop to recast and replace the lead of the roof, remove galleries and clerestory windows and insert new ones, to remove certain monumental slabs, to have new doors to the south porch, and to set up a warming apparatus. I never thought this would come in my time.
January 7 1885. This week Prince Edward, the eldest son of the Prince of Wales, came of age, and there were grand doings at Sandringham in consequence. Among other things, Sanger's Circus was engaged from Norwich with its performing elephants.
May 31 1885. Church restoration going on well. The transept and the chancel are boarded off and the area seated with chairs. The weather is very hot.
July 4 1885. The Poovahs of Necton and the Quintins of Shipham took luncheon (i.e. early dinner) with us. These early dinners are a great mistake and are unsatisfactory.
August 1 1885. Attended the funeral of my old friend, Rev. A. Longton, Rector of Little Fransham. The church is in a wretched condition, the poor having only narrow forms without backs on which to sit, while the well-to-do farmers have high pews in the chancel.
August 6 1885. It sometimes happens that very clever and learned people are very devoid of common sense. My friend Coker Adams, Rector of Saham Toney, has been indiscreet enough formally to excommunicate a parishioner in his church just before the Communion service, beginning "In the name of God, Amen". The papers are, of course, taking the matter up, and someone has reported it to the Bishop. Singularly enough, it does not appear what the culprit has done, except that he persistently refuses to attend Church! But if all who were living in
the same neglect were similarly treated, the roll would indeed be a long one. I dare say there is more in it than has come before the public at present. The Bishop of Norwich has given £30 towards the
restoration of our church, which is going on very satisfactorily. The newly cast lead on the roof looks well.
August 12 1885. Mrs Tann, sister to the excommunicated farmer at Saham, told me that the Bishop had induced the Rector to call upon him and apologise for what he had done. Thus Mr. Adams has made himself ludicrous in the eyes of the county and disliked by the body of his parishioners, between whom and himself there was never much sympathy. The affair will do the Church, and especially the High Church section, no good.
August 31 1885. A sad thing in the papers relating to my quondam curate Vaughan. A harvest-man passed as he was holding his pony at a cottage door, who fell from the wagon on which he was riding with his pitchfork in his hand. The pitchfork entered Vaughan's heart and killed him instantly.
October 1 1885. Yesterday performed the marriage ceremony between Mr. Alexander's daughter and a good Churchman called Bradley. Mr Alexander is a very staunch dissenter, though charitably inclined. But it was made a 'sine qua non' that they should be married in church and that the Vicar should marry them.
December 9 1885. Reopening of the nave of our Parish Church. The removal of the galleries and the substitution of a handsome wagon roof for the old ceiling makes it look like a different building, especially as the windows are now exposed. Those on the north side are filled with elegant tracery. Services at 8, 11 and 8 p.m. In the afternoon Dr. Bunnett, of Norwich, gave a recital on the organ. Mr. Garnier, our Rural Dean, preached a beautiful sermon at eleven, when the congregation was large, notwithstanding the fact that snow had fallen in the night and covered the ground. I should like to add that the church was warmed for the first time, which was a great comfort. After morning service there was a public luncheon at the King's Arms at which forty sat down. The newspapers gave the fullest account of everything, including the speeches at the luncheon, and a brief history of the church and parish. Everything went off admirably. The election is now over, and most important it was, as it included the new electorate for the first time. To judge by the specimen exhibited at Dereham, however, it seems a perilous thing to entrust the franchise into the hands of people who can neither read nor write - many of them at least. The towns have chiefly returned Conservatives and the counties Liberals, which is just the reverse of what I should have expected. I voted for Mr. R. Fellowes as being averseto disestablishment. Mr. Arch, the demagogue and agitator, has gone; the papers style it, straight from the plough to the Senate!
December 25 1885. A little clouded. One of my curates had such a frightful cold that he could do very little in the way of duty. Then our unamiable organist played atrociously at service, and would have played the Easter anthem had he not been corrected by one of the senior members of the choir. Then the attenuated choir had very little voice from singing carols in the cold night air. On the other
hand, there were excellent congregations and more Communicants than last year.
December 31 1885. Mr. and Mrs Hyde gave a ball and asked us to it. But I have a great objection to dancing the old year out and the new year in, and so none of us went.
January 7 1886. No letters - snow on the ground and an accident on the line, which seems a usual occurrence at this time of year.
January 19 1886. Had a dinner party of newly married and other young people, to whom, for their parents sake, one felt that attention should be shown. As for the elders, dinner parties seem to be at an end, on account of hard times, and also of garden parties taking their place.
February 19 1886. Another death of an old friend - viz., Rev. J.R. Pilling, formerly of Dereham, and my opposite neighbour. He became Vicar of Wells-next-the Sea - a very clever man, of broad views, knowing something about everything, and a most entertaining companion.
February 23 1886. Dr. Jessop gave a very good lecture on 'East Dereham'. Although the subject has been thoroughly threshed out, the lecture did contain a new idea or two. One of these was that St.
Withburga's Well, in the churchyard, was the basin of a conduit with which conventional buildings were almost always provided. I had never heard this theory before. It is a natural stream, rising on Neathered Moor and running under the market place and the church itself till it finds vent in the churchyard.
March 1 1886. A very cold, lingering winter, remarkable for a terrible snowstorm at this date which prevailed over the whole country. Snow drifted on various lines of railway, and traffic has been suspended. It lay five feet deep on the roads and from eight to twelve feet on the moors. Houses and cottages were covered up to the roofs. Of course there have been many shipping disasters and great
suffering by travellers from exposure to the cold.
March 4 1886. The annual 'Great Gift', which becomes more and more tedious. I sat from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m., with an hour for luncheon, distributing the money.
April 28 1886. The Easter Vestry. It was expected to pass off as quietly as these meeting have done since the celebrated day of the poll between Everington and Gidney about fourteen years back. But no one can foresee what may turn up at a Vestry, composed as it is of dissenters as well as of churchmen - all who pay rates. I nominated Mr. Norgate, and Mr. Elvin was proposed, seconded, and carried by a majority, when a cantankerous person proposed Mr. Mayes as the opponent of Mr. Elvin, and, to my regret, demanded a poll. I decided that the poll should take place on Monday next, though I cannot, in my state of health, take the chair. This proceeding took everybody by surprise. I do not think that Mayes will be elected, though there is no knowing what will turn up in these days.
April 30 1886. To my great delight, Mr. Mayes came in at 10 p.m. and withdrew his demand for a poll, accompanied by a condition that the churchwardens should publish a balance-sheet of all the charities. To this I replied that I could not accept any such condition, seeing that the affair was theirs and not mine, but that I would mention the matter to them. So I concluded that this stopped the necessity for a adjournment till Monday. But it turned out that several of the young lawyers were disposed to fight it out and 'put down Mayes'. I adhered to my resolution of not attending the Vestry, as I had previously declared Mr. Elvin elected and the demand of Mayes had been withdrawn.
May 5 1886. Some ladies interested in the reduction of the debt for the church restoration have got up some 'living waxworks'. The 'get up' was really excellent, and all dullness was obviated by the
descriptive powers of 'Mrs Jarley', the show-woman, a solicitor from Norwich, who enacted his part in a most praiseworthy manner. Two evenings were devoted to the entertainment, and the Corn Hall was crowded. The profits, they say, amount to £40.
May 23 1886. Staying at Yarmouth. Witnessed an alarming accident from our windows. four foolhardy youths had started from the beach in a boat while the breakers were very high in consequence of the late gales. They breasted the first, second, and third, but the fourth was
too much for them, capsizing the boat and sweeping the poor fellows into the boiling surf. Fortunately they could all swim, and it was a great relief to see them rescued, though in a very exhausted condition.
May 31 1886. Returned to Dereham, and all delighted to do so. We had continual wet weather, a most noisy house, and abominable cooking. The one good point was the splendid sea view in front.
September 10 1886. Mr. Charles Wright, solicitor of this town, was buried yesterday. A very clever and entirely self-made man with whom I always managed to keep on good terms, notwithstanding the attitude of a niece who looked after him, and his own vanity and egotism.
Note: Charles Wright was a famous cricketer in his day and played for Norfolk as far back as 1834. He was specially celebrated as a bowler, and a story is told that he once bowled King Edward V11, when Prince of Wales, first ball. The incident was severely criticized at the time, and it was said that he should have given H.R.H. a chance by sending up an easy one
December 12 1886. Have reason to be thankful to Almighty God for signal preservation. Just as I and the curates were leaving the altar after a midday celebration a large and heavy door leading from the upper arches of the lantern tower to the chancel roof came down to the floor with a tremendous crash. It lighted on the choir stalls, and certainly must have killed some of the choristers had they not just vacated them. A thanksgiving Te Deum for our preservation was sung after the evening service.
December 25 1886. It left nothing to be desired - weather fine, and the number of communicants and the general congregations considerably enlarged.
January 6 1887. Weather set in with intense severity. Fogs, storms, shipwrecks, snow on the ground, and icicles half a yard long from the bedroom windows.
February 9 1887. Annual choir supper at the King's Arms. The whole choir attended and demolished the finest turkey I ever saw.
May 12 1887. It is a long time since I made an entry - partly from failing health and partly from the absence of anything to record.
Note. The Diary here terminates. My grandfather became very feeble in mind and body about this time. He remained Vicar of East Dereham till the next year (1888) when he resigned. He remained at the Vicarage for some time through the kindness of the new incumbent, and then removed with his only surviving daughter to a small house in the town. He lived here until 1890, in which year he died, passing away a few days before Christmas at the age of seventy-three. He is buried, with
his wife and two daughters, who predeceased him, in the churchyard at Dereham, just inside the eastern gates. A lofty cross marks their resting place. H.B.J.A.