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History

Norfolk Archives Tour – Tuesday 23 May

Archives-tour

Bressingham and Fersfield History group enjoyed a behind-the-scenes tour of Norfolk Archives in Norwich on 23 May. In ‘the green room’, Karen Chancellor and a colleague welcomed the group to the Archives and explained how we could access documents via the online catalogue, order original documents or maps, and look at digitized documents on microfiche. Karen stressed that all the staff are more than happy to assist visitors should anyone not know how to use some of the equipment such as microfiche readers. We then moved to one of the heat and humidity controlled strong rooms and saw many rows of cabinets stacked with acid-free storage boxes containing the historical documents. Karen then escorted us to the main conservation room where frayed documents can be repaired. We were shown how wafer thin, delicate Japanese paper pasted with wheat glue to the damaged and frayed paper could prevent further decay. The group were fascinated by a large, beautiful 18th century estate map undergoing further restoration.

Bressingham primary school children look for medieval graffiti in Bressingham Church

Bressingham School Church Visit

It was a fun and informative day (25 May) for Bressingham Primary School years 5 and 6 who visited Bressingham Church for a Medieval Graffiti Worskhop led by buildings archaeologist Matthew Champion. Escorted by two school teachers, fourteen children attended the morning session, and thirteen came to the church in the afternoon.

The children were asked to be archaeologists for the day and were instructed how to interpret the building and its contents so that they could understand how the church had changed over the centuries. Matthew encouraged the children to be observant by setting them several challenges such as mapping out the nave, pulpit, chancel and other areas in the church and he then questioned them about their purpose. The children had to look closely at the features and artefacts in the church: they had to count the number of faces and angels on the magnificently carved early sixteenth century bench ends, find all the locks on the church chests, and count the windows on the 14th century font.

Matthew asked the children if they thought graffiti was a good or bad thing; most thought it bad, some cleverly said it “depended”. Matthew explained that graffiti was condoned by medieval society, and often had spiritual or superstitious purposes such as to ward off evil. Matthew shone torches on the church walls, revealing lots of graffiti – some dating from when the church was constructed which fascinated the children. Before they left, Matthew gave the children worksheets with the alphabet in medieval script so these new graffiti hunters will be able to read graffiti when visiting other churches. The children also enjoyed jaffa cakes and lemonade.

Visit to Historic Environment Records Office, Gressenhall – 6 July

Roman Brooch

Members of Bressingham and Fersfield History Group attended a fascinating one-day training workshop at the Norfolk Historic Environment Record offices in Gressenhall. (The ‘HE’ offices adjoin the popular museum, Gressenhall Farm and Workhouse.) Heather was our trainer. She started by asking us how we defined ‘archaeology’. Heather explained how it encompassed far more than artefacts dug from the ground and included the historic landscape. Evidence of cropmarks, earthworks, industrial remains, buildings and important sites in Norfolk such as historic gardens and battlefields are all collated and recorded within the Norfolk Historic Environment Record. We were shown how to use their databases, including the Norfolk Heritage Explorer which is available to the public online: www.heritage.norfolk.gov.uk. It really is worth visiting this website; you may wish to ‘Search records’ via the Maps tab as this shows sites of archeological interest across the county. The website also links to the intriguing ‘Historic Maps’ where you can search early maps such as Bressingham Tithe.

Left: Image of Roman enamel brooch found in Bressingham

Saxon brooch drawing

We thoroughly enjoyed looking at high resolution copies of 1940s aerial photographs of Bressingham and Fersfield. Photographs are key tools for identifying archaeology: Diana Burroughes was surprised to discover she has what archaeologists believe is a bronze age crop mark showing a ring ditch and enclosure on her land!

Heather emphasised how much they value contributions by volunteer amateur archaeologists and historians. Fortunately, training is available: the team have a Community Archaeologist, Claire, who teaches fieldwalking, building surveying and digging test pits. Inspired by the day, Bressingham and Fersfield History Group is now planning a training day with Claire later this year, fieldwalking and, at a later date, test pit digging. If you are interested in taking part, please contact Linda (01379) 687729. All ages are welcome.

Many thanks to the Heritage Lottery Fund for paying for this visit.

Right: Drawing of Saxon brooch found in Bressingham

The Fellinghams of Bressingham – By Marsha Bell, Aylsham, Norfolk

My grandfather, Frederick (‘Fred’) Fellingham was born in Bressingham on 7 December 1893, the fourth of six children of William Fellingham and his wife Sarah, née Kerry. Sarah came from Fersfield. The 1911 census states that there were two more children who did not survive childhood.  When he was young the family moved to  Brook Farm in Pooley Street which is just over the border in South Lopham. Fred’s eldest brother William married Phoebe Shepherd and they had four children: Alan James (Jim), Charles (Charlie), Mary and Hilda. In 1935 William Jnr purchased Three Gates Farm in Fen Street, Bressingham. The family lived there for many years, farming in the traditional way, including milking the cows by hand. The last member of the Fellingham family to live there was Hilda who passed away in 1997.

William Fellingham

My grandfather, Frederick (‘Fred’) Fellingham was born in Bressingham on 7 December 1893, the fourth of six children of William Fellingham and his wife Sarah, née Kerry. Sarah came from Fersfield. The 1911 census states that there were two more children who did not survive childhood.  When he was young the family moved to  Brook Farm in Pooley Street which is just over the border in South Lopham. Fred’s eldest brother William married Phoebe Shepherd and they had four children: Alan James (Jim), Charles (Charlie), Mary and Hilda. In 1935 William Jnr purchased Three Gates Farm in Fen Street, Bressingham. The family lived there for many years, farming in the traditional way, including milking the cows by hand. The last member of the Fellingham family to live there was Hilda who passed away in 1997.

(Left: William Fellingham (1854-19)

Fred Fellingham horse at Brook Farm
Frederick Fellingham with horse at Brook Farm, South Lopham
Fred Fellingham in Norfolk Regiment WWI Uniform

Both William Snr and his son Fred worked as carters at nearby Burroughs’ Mill. In fact when Fred enlisted in the Norfolk regiment in World War 1 he was quickly transferred to the Army Service Corps because of his experience with horses. He was posted to the supply line in Egypt and spent some time in Cairo. His medal card states that he was a driver, indicating that as the war progressed, mechanical transport in the army was increasing so he was taught how to drive. Indeed after the war he was one of the first car owners in Rickinghall where he lived.
Whilst in Egypt he was very impressed with General Allenby who had taken charge of the allied forces there. As a result of this, his brother Allen decided to name his son Allenby Fellingham, after the great commander.

(Left: Fred Fellingham in Norfolk Regiment WWI Uniform)

Sarah Fellingham née Kerry (1856-1932)

In January 1923 Fred married Rosetta Musk. The marriage took place in Bressingham church with the reception at Poultry Farm in Fen Street Redgrave, the home of Rosetta’s brother Arthur Musk. They spent the first few years of married life living in a cottage on the Low Common, South Lopham but then moved to Rickinghall where Rosetta ran a sweet and tobacconist shop. Fred used the old outhouses at the back of the shop to run a small poultry business. During World War 2 he served in the Royal Observer Corps, on the Botesdale post, having attended the inaugural meeting in the village. Interestingly the Fellinghams are distantly related to the Bloom family of Bressingham as they share a common ancestor in William Harnwell (1739-1806) who married Mary Knott in 1761.  His granddaughter Sarah Harnwell married Robert Hart and their daughter Mahala (aka Alice) Hart, born on 28th January 1825 and baptised at Roydon in 1827, was Fred’s paternal grandmother. The above William Harnwell was descended from linen weavers in Bressingham back to the 1500s.

(Left: Sarah Fellingham née Kerry (1856-1932))

The Catlings of Fersfield, Bressingham and Roydon by Don Catling

I have been researching my Catling family roots for many years now. I had the chance to travel to Roydon about 27 years ago where my Great Grandfather married Sarah (Hart) to try and retrace the steps of my ancestors William James and Mary Anne (Bailey) her parents were James and Mary (Saunders).  William was born circa 1815 in West Harling.  He married Mary Anne August 18 1839 in Fersfield,  All of their children were born in Fersfield, Emma: 16 Aug 1840, Charles Stephen: Jan 1842,  William James: 18 Mar 1844 (my great grandfather),  Mary Anne: 1847 and Peter: 1851.  The earliest census I have for them is the 1841 Census, their address was in Hall Lane and their first born Emma aged 1.  The 1851 census shows them living on Folly lane in Bressingham so I believe they must have moved after Mary Annes birth in 1847 and then they must have moved back to Fersfield prior to Peters birth in 1851.  In 1861 it shows them living on Hall Lane again.  The children married and moved on to various areas of England.  Mary Anne Catling (Bailey) died in 1870 in Guiltcross according to the register of deaths.  I cannot find any cemetery that has her burial listed.  William remarried a short time later to Clarissa Saverina who was born about 1830 in Diss.  They later moved to Bradford Yorkshire. I would love to find out where Mary Anne Catling is buried.  I know that she may be buried in either Fersfield, Bressingham or even her birthplace which would be North Lopham.  Do you know of anyone who may have connections with my family or may know of anyone who may have access to any information that would be helpful to me?  I have traced most of them through ancestry, family search and my heritage.  With what I do have now, I wish I could go back and truly trace their steps and one day I will. If anyone has any information relating to the Catlings then Don would love to hear from you. Please contact him at doncatling@hotmail.com.