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Dersingham Folk
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Site by Mike Strange
84 Chapel Road
Elizabeth Fiddick and Mike Strange ©
The first record I have is from the Tithe Map of 1839.  Here is part of Shernborne Road, now known as Chapel Road; Fern Hill is proceeding North in the centre. Also shown is the satellite view as it is today. Our subject in this article concerns the long building marked as Tithe number 148, today that is 84 Chapel Road which during it's history has seen a number of occupants and at least two names. 
The long cottage marked 148 is described in the 1839 Tithe Schedule as a House and Baking Office owned and occupied by William Thwaites who also owns and occupies 149, a garden and 132 , described as an arable Pightle  A Pightle is the name given to any small enclosed piece of land.

To the left of the Baking Office, on the corner of Fern Hill is 151, Rose Cottage, buildings and garden and  behind that 150, a garden, all owned and occupied by George Chadwick.

On the right hand side of the cottage, 147 are the house, buildings and yard occupied by John Platten but owned by the Trustees of Robert Elwes.  In White’s Directory of 1845 it is interesting to find in the list of farmers, Robert Hunt to J. Platten.  It would seem that although John Platten rented the land he employed someone else to run things.  This would account for the fact  that we have been unable to find a John Platten in the census of 1841 for Dersingham.

George Chadwick was a farmer who owned a substantial amount of land and property in Dersingham.  As well as considerable holdings of arable, pasture, and marsh lands he owned Oak House Farm further down Chapel Road.  The present Pottery is all that is now left of the large property that once stood there. It was known as The Oaks in the twentieth century but was largely destroyed by fire in 1965. George Chadwick also ran the Malting Office which was opposite the present day library and he leased that from Richard Stanton.

Robert Elwes 1819 – 1878 who owned the house and land 147 also owned the pasture land opposite,207 now the site of the Old Hall estate.  He owned Home Pasture, and further tracts of arable land behind that  all occupied by John  Platten.  In addition he owned further land in the village including the Dun Cow Inn and farm and the house, buildings and land of Dersingham Hall.

He was a Victorian traveller and painter and author of “A Sketcher’s Tour Round the World” which he published from  his home in Congham in 1853.  He was the second son of Henry Elwes of Colesbourne in Gloucestershire.  His mother Susan Hamond of Westacre brought as her dowry into the marriage the estate of Congham. 

Robert and his wife settled there in the 1850s and built Congham House which was largely destroyed by fire in 1939.  They had ten children five boys and five girls.

Robert travelled extensively in his 20s and 30s.  In 1848 he set out on a world tour that lasted over two years during which he recorded all he saw in his many paintings.  It was on his return from that trip that he married. His prolonged absences abroad are probably why his property in Dersingham  was administered by Trustees.  With his wife, he embarked on a second world tour in 1865; he died in 1878. Perhaps it was at this point that at least some of his Dersingham property was acquired by the Sandringham Estate.  Later records show that the property 147 was sold by King George VI in July 1938.

William Thwaites or Twaites
So in 1839 the cottage at 84 Chapel Road was owned and occupied by William Thwaites/Twaits a Baker and Flour Dealer.  It seems possible that William would have obtained at least some of his flour from James Fitt who was the Miller of Dersingham Mill at this time.

In the 1841 census we find recorded William aged 49 and his wife Mary Ann, 56.  Their son Samuel, aged 25, is working with his father as a Baker and completing the household is the daughter Hester.

By 1851 there have been significant changes.  Samuel, now married to Lydia 36,  born in Wormegay, is now the Baker and Grocer  having expanded the business.  He employs as assistant James Smith, 15 from West Newton and Maria Holmes, 19 from Gaywood, is the house servant. William, 58, meanwhile has retired and lives with his wife Mary Ann, 65 and eleven year old grandson Paul Twaites  in separate premises but nearby.

Samuel is still recorded as a Baker in the village in White’s Directory of 1854.

William’s wife Mary Ann died on October 25th 1855 aged 66.

In the census of 1861 a William Twaites is recorded as a widower aged 69 and listed as a Cake Hawker.  Such an occupation would be quite compatible with his previous occupation as a Baker.  William is listed immediately after the entry for Rose Cottage then occupied by Christopher Coe a  retired farmer. The next entry is for Enoch Beckett, Grocer and Draper followed by the entry for Emmanuel Boothby,  a farmer of 95 acres employing 2 boys.  This is the same pattern of buildings noted in 1839;  Rose Cottage, the  shop, and then the premises that are the Beck House of today. William was possibly living in one of the cottages on the opposite side of the road numbered 206 on the Tithe map.  It is described in the schedule as “cottages with gardens”.

In 1861 Samuel Twaites had moved to West Newton with wife Lydia and a nephew Paul Twaits who is aged 20 and in occupation as Miller and Baker. However, he continues to be recorded in the Dersingham electoral rolls where his qualification to vote is given as “freehold houses and land near The Dun Cow.”  Samuel continues to be a Miller and Master Baker and is still in West Newton in 1871.
By the 1881 census he had returned to Dersingham where he is described as a retired baker living with his wife Lydia  and nephew Alfred Grice.  They also have a lodger Thomas Tidy residing with them.  By 1891 Samuel is living with Lydia  in the first of the semi detached cottages on the right  as you go up Sandringham Hill.  In that census he is recorded as Retired Baker living on own means.  At the same address are James Warren servant and Bessie, his wife.  Samuel died on October 13th 1892 aged 77.  His wife Lydia died in Brighton on February 8th 1904 aged 94 but she was buried in our churchyard with Samuel.

Enoch Beckett was born in 1831 in Kelsall, Cheshire.  He came to Dersingham some time just before 1861 and took on the shop in Chapel Road from Samuel Twaits; it was then described as a Grocer and Drapery.  He arrived with his wife Sarah and one year old daughter Eveline.(Evie).  He employed Thomas Hooks as Apprentice, and Eliza Leader, 15, was a general house servant.  Eliza Woodhouse was appointed  Nursemaid to baby Evie. Tragedy struck the family in 1862 as in the church records for that year I found the burial of James William  Beckett and his twin brother Charles Enoch. The boys had only been baptised a few weeks before. Happily, in 1865 another son Hayward was born to Enoch and Sarah.

The census of 1871 records Enoch as Grocer and Draper, with his wife Sarah, daughter Eveline, now 11, Son  Hayward 6, and the newest addition to the family baby Alice just 8 months old.  Joshua Johnson lives-in as Grocer’s Assistant with Arthur Beckett an apprentice.  Susan Mindham from Snettisham is  a General Servant.

The Directory of 1874 reveals a significant change as Enoch is now recorded as the Postmaster running a Post & Money & Telegraph Office and Savings bank from the premises.  We are told that London and other letters are received through King’s Lynn by Mail Cart , arriving at 6.50 a.m. and dispatched at 6.25 p.m.  Previously the Postmasters had been Isaac Bunn and then Mr. J.L. Adcock who was also a tailor. The location of their premises at that time is unknown at the moment.

In the 1881 census Enoch’s address is given as The Post Office.  There have been further developments as the Postal business expanded.  There are now wall boxes in the village at The Feathers and the station which are cleared at 5.45 each morning.  Postal orders have been introduced and by 1883 the Parcel Post has been established.  It would seem to me that the Postal business was gradually taking over more and more of Enoch’s time.

The Ordnance Survey map of 1884 (below) shows the Post office clearly marked in the Chapel Road Shop.
At this time the road we now know as Post Office Road was called Middle Road and the only buildings in it were a row of cottages that are dated 1883.  All the land going down Middle Road opposite the cottages was then part of the Great Pasture and a large part of it had been bought by John Goggs of Dersingham Hall.  He died just before 1887 and the land was legally converted from agricultural to building land  and sold off in separate lots.  So it was then that William Potter set up his blacksmith’s shop on the corner of Centre Vale and the Chapel was built in 1890.  Enoch Beckett bought one of the plots of land to build himself a house with a small extension to the side.  He moved from the Chapel Road shop to his new house by 1891 and established the Post Office there where it still trades today.
We learn from the 1891 census that a Mr. George Dixon had taken over the shop in Chapel Road; George was 37 and came from Hindringham.  He is recorded as a Grocer and Draper (Master) His wife Emma was 34 and came from Walsingham.  Ellen Banwell 16, from Norwich was employed as Draper’s Assistant.

Next door, in Rose Cottage, lived Kathleen Coe, the widow of Christopher Coe retired farmer mentioned earlier in 1861, living on her own means and with her as companion was her niece Marion Wells.  Susannah Fitt was visiting and Florence Riches, 16, was employed as servant.

On the eastern side of the shop was, what today is known as Beck House (then 'The Sheiling') with the Red Pumps garage site, where one James Jackson, Farmer, resided with his sister acting as Housekeeper.

Sometime after 1891 but before 1896 Harry Fuller Elworthy succeeded George Dixon and took  over the shop.

Harry Fuller Elworthy was born in Ipswich in about 1865.  In 1881 he is in Shipdham, aged 15, living in as  one of three grocer’s apprentices employed by a Mr. Charles Grimmer. Mr Grimmer also employs one draper’s assistant. Ten years later, in 1891, Harry is in Diss residing with a Henry Whitton and recorded as a Draper’s Assistant.  However, in September of 1891 he marries Alice Reeve here in Dersingham.  It is likely he took over the shop soon afterwards as Kelly’s Directory of 1896 records Harry as Grocer and Draper and assistant overseer.  Harry and Alice have two children Donald George born 1894 and Ellen Victoria born 1897.

By 1901 a further change has taken place.  Harry and Alice are recorded in Shernborne Road, Dersingham but now he is listed as Collector of rates and taxes. No mention of grocer or draper but  Robert King now appears as Grocer and Draper on Chapel Road (still as Shernborne Road). Sadly Harry’s son Donald died in 1897 and by 1911 the family are living in Ingoldisthorpe.  Harry died in 1936.

Robert King is shown in the 1901 census aged 40, here as grocer and draper.  He is living with his sister Isabella 44, who is listed as a draper. Next door, in Rose Cottage, would appear to be Maria Wells from Field Dalling living on her own means.  She also lives with her sister Clara and one (Polish) Fox as boarder and Ann Softley 16, a domestic servant born here in Dersingham. On the other side in the property now occupied by Beck House is James Jackson, farmer and Dairyman  and Mary  Jackson his sister.  The Directory of 1896 records the name of the house as Blackheath Lodge.

Robert King only ran the shop for a few years as, sometime between 1901 and 1908, Alfred William Maxey takes over.  The census of 1911 finds Robert in Cambridge unmarried and living with his sister.  He was still running a business as he is listed as grocer, draper and baker.

Alfred William Maxey is listed in Kelly’s Directory of 1908 as grocer and wine and spirit dealer, draper and coal merchant.  He was a very busy man as shown by the fact he was also assistant overseer, income tax collector and clerk to the Parish Council.  The census of 1911 records him here as grocer and draper in what was by then called 'Virginia House'.  He was born in Watford but his wife Ann Mary came from King’s Lynn.  They have two daughters; the oldest May Maxey is 5 years old was born here in Dersingham.  So that means Alfred took over the shop in 1906 or just before. The younger daughter, Sarah Lucy, is just 2. Completing the household is Gertrude Ann Garner living in and employed as the cashier. Mary Ann Grapes 16, from South Walsham is employed as a domestic servant.
In the 1912 electoral roll Alfred appears first as an ownership elector with  'Virginia House' and a further dwelling house at 1 West Terrace on Lynn Road.  Then we find him in the list of occupation voters with land and tenement in Chapel Road.

Alfred is recorded in the Directories as grocer and draper until 1922 when Horace John Cobbald is recorded in the Chapel Road Shop.

Horace John Cobbald ran the shop for several years. In the Directories of 1922 and 1925 the listing is for Horace John Cobbald but in 1929,1933 and 1937 the listing changes to Horace Cobbald Junior.

1937 to present day
From contracts held by the present owners it seems Leonard Sidney Rice then took over the shop.
July 1938 The property was sold by King George VI and Sir James Ulrick Francis Canning Alexander, KCVO, CMG, Keeper of the H.M. Privy Purse and Coutts and Co. to May Barbara Joyce Isherwood of 'The Sheiling'.
1939  Leonard Sidney Rice conveyed the property to Alfred William Houchen before the 1939 Register was recorded as this is where we find Alfred with his family in 'Virginia House' as it was called then.  Meanwhile, Leonard continued in the same business but in Snettisham living in 'Suffolk House' which was near the Queen Victoria Hotel.

1945  Alfred William Houchen conveyed the shop to Norfolk Stores Ltd.

1962  Mrs. Isherwood sold the property to 'Peatling and Cawdron'.  An advert below shows it was called The Norfolk Stores.

Bernie Twite wrote in Village Voice 49, page 21, " I worked there as an errand boy  in the fifties, it had been renamed Norfolk Stores and was owned by  Cawdron’s who had a Wine and Spirit store in Fakenham .They  were taken over by Thos. Peatling another wine and spirit wholesaler and became known as Peatling and Cawdron. The manager at the time was Arthur Steward, whose parents lived at Dodds Hill.  Arthur’s father, Herbert, worked for Stanton’s at the Premises. Other names I can remember there were Derek Laws who went round the surrounding villages in a van taking and delivering orders. Ron Holder, Joy  Soanes and Betty Wright. One half of the shop sold groceries and the other half, beer, wines and spirits. After it closed it was re-opened as a launderette, eventually  going back to being a house."

1983  The property bought by David Scott.  It had been converted from the shop to residential accommodation with a Laundrette  at the back.  It is now know as 'Chapel Cottage'.

We would welcome any assistance with details of the images below as well as any additional material for us to add.  See reader comments after the images.

1. We believe that this may be when the shop was owned by Alfred William Maxey, so between 1908 and 1922
2. It is difficult to place the next images in chronological order but will be between 1922 and 1925 with Horace John Cobbald until 1929 when Horace Cobbald Junior took over.
3. This advertisement includes image 2
4. The signage has now changed and this looks as if it may be when Horace Cobbald Junior took over.
5. Bernie Twite wrote in Village Voice No 49, Page 21, "The shop was what is now the house on the corner of Chapel Road and King’s Croft. The man on the right in the photo was Peter Houchen who worked there, I think before the war, and was manager."
6. Now in the ownership of Peatling and Cawdron and known as The Norfolk Stores.

7. As 'Chapel Cottage' in recent years.

Reader Additions
Here are some of the comments received:

Leonard Rice
Mark "My Nan,Joyce Soanes/nee Macro,worked there when it was Rice’s in the haberdashery department."

Peatling and Cawdron
Deborah "I remember Mr and Mrs Baverstock ran Peatling & Cawdron in the late 60s and early 70s. My mother used to do their cleaning on a Friday morning. "

Julie "Beryl Baverstock ran the the wine shop David Shanks who had the garage next door bought it from Peatlings & turned it into a laundrette."

Penny "When Mrs Baverstock ran it I remember wanting to buy a net of wooden animals and people. They were in the window!"  Linda replied "Oh me too! I loved going in that shop as it was near to where I lived up Fern Hill. I adored the wooden animals."

Vikki "My Mum and Dad ran the wine shop from 1965 until it closed in 1971. My mum passed away in sept last year aged 92, shame because she would have stories to tell."

Wendy "It was a laundrette early eighties."

Rosalyn "I remember spending many a wet Saturday afternoon sat in the launderette whilst my Dad ran Mum’s laundry through the driers."