Description of Costessey in 1841.

This description relies heavily on the Tithe Apportionment map and schedules of 1839,
other historical accounts and the author's personal knowledge of his native village.


Its Position.

    The village of Costessey covering an area of 4¾ square miles lies along the southern bank of the River Wensum, as that river makes two great northward bends in its course towards the City of Norwich. The village centre lies about 5 miles  North -West of  the centre of Norwich.
    From east to west the village is 3 miles wide, from north to south 2 miles at its widest and 2/3rds of a mile at its narrowest point.
    Costessey's northern boundary is the River Wensum,  whose southern (Costessey)  bank , is 6 ¾  miles long.  On the Wensum's northern bank are the villages of Taverham, Drayton and Hellesdon.
    The western boundary is mainly  with  Easton touching on Ringland near the Beehive Lodge and appears to have no natural feature,  running arbitrarily through woodland and fields for just over 1 mile.
    The village's southern boundary is virtually the Turnpike Road to East Dereham except that the Lodge Farm of about 150 acres,  lying south of the Turnpike,  is part of Costessey. This southern boundary is shared with the villages of Bawburgh and Bowthorpe and is  nearly 3 miles long.
    The eastern boundary is about  2/3 rds of a mile long, this boundary is shared with the Norwich parish of Earlham.   It runs from the junction of the Turnpike   and Townhouse Road  in a north- east direction to join the River Wensum at its confluence with its tributary River Tud,  which runs for 4 ½ miles through Costessey

Its Geology and Topography.

    The immediate underying stratas of the Costessey landscape are the marine shelly sands and gravels of the Norwich Crag and the white Upper Chalk, with its typical flint nodules . Over these sedimentary rocks , glacial deposits of sand and gravels and  sandy brick earths were laid down.  In the two river valleys, layers of alluvium were deposited,  more so in the Wensum valley  (72 miles long) than along the lesser stream the Tud (24 miles long).  The soils in the village have been described as  Brown earth on fluvial- glacial deposits.
    From the water meadows fringing the River Wensum (the northern boundary of the village) the land rises to the south to a ridge of low  gravelly hills up  to about 150 feet.  Like nearby Ringland Hills they are steep sided and covered with woodland plantations.  This ridge runs east - west for nearly 3 miles  before dropping down to the confluence of the  R.Wensum and the R. Tud.  The arable fields are of light sandy soils with many flints on the surface.  Several of the fields  had the description 'breck' in their names.   In the western half of the village Costessey Brick- ground produced the clay made into Cossey white bricks , another field withthe name brickland is evident near Folgate Lane.  Near 'The Croft in the eastern half of the village the chalk strata near the surface was exploited in a 'Lime Kiln',  providing lime and lime mortar.  The chalk appears nearer the surface in the eastern part of Costessey which has several marl pits.
  To the south of this ridge the River Tud flows for 4.5 miles  with a narrow fringe of meadowland.      The land then rises again to the Norwich-Dereham Turnpike Road .  East of Longwater Lane are the extensive woodlands  and large sandy- gravelly  pasture/ arable fields of Costessey Park.   The Jerninghams also planted East Hills Plantation.
    In the south east of the village ( now New Costessey) large sandy arable fields bordered the Bowthorpe  and  Earlham villages.
     To the northwest of Folgate Lane and Townhouse Road in, 1841,  the arable fields still show many strips of the old  mediaeval 'open field ' system.                                                                         -

Meadows along the Wensum

    On the northern boundary of the village the water meadows which bordered the Wensum were of a considerable area.  In the stretch from Taverham bridge to the Back Moor Common they were drained by a system of ditches .
  Many houses , cottages and the Falcon and Red Lion Inns were built backing on to these meadows and must have been threatened by floods  which laid down alluvium over the meadows.
    The next stretch of the river to the Mill had only a narrow border of meadows .  The Street, the main centre of population, ran close to the river.  Near the Bush Inn the river was only 100 yards from the Street  . The Street varied from just over 20 feet above sea level near the Baptist chapel to over 60 feet a.s.l. near Folgate Lane.  Floods occasionally lapped at the back doors of some cottages on the north side of The Street.
    Beyond the Mill the meadows were up to 300 yards wide .  Apart from Mill Farm and a cottage near the  foot- bridge to Drayton there were no dwellings in a this large area of the village.
    Osier and alder carrs grew in several places along the Wensum.  Where the river ran near the Ringland lane  an osier carr stretched for  nearly ½  a mile  and there was  another big carr,  about 300 yards long,  near the Hellesdon boundary.

The Common Land

    In 1841 there were 283 acres of Common and  32 acres of road and 24 acres of river in the parish.
    The main portion of the Common, 143 acres,  adjoined the southern edge of the  meadows, extending from the river at Taverham to join the Back Moor Common,  5 acres, opposite Costessey  R.C. School
    A thin corridor of Common land extended from the Bank Moor Common for 3/4 of a mile along the Townhouse Road  to join Brister Common near the ford over the River Tud on the Townhouse Road.  Brister  Common the other major area of common land was  about 127 acres in extent.
    There was thus common land passing right through the village from Taverham to Hellesdon along which cattle could be driven and grazed,
    The other  area of Common was known as the Wash and was nearly 8 acres in extent .  This common land extended   from Costessey Mill to the footbridge over the Wensum into Drayton.

(  T.B.  Norgate in his "History Of Costessey" quotes from Bayne's "History of England" published 1873, who in reference to the enclosure of Costessey Common in 1860, said it was "not for the benefit of the poor people who formerly made use of the land "
and "The poor have been made poorer since the enclosure"

Costessey Park in the 1840's

    This ancient park  was  listed in the " Doomsday Book" was  the only one recorded for Norfolk.  In the nineteenth century it covered an area of  nearly 2 square miles in the western half of the village.
    It  was a delightful area of undulating countryside, a mixture of woodland , pasture, arable and meadowland.  Large areas of woodlands enclosed arable fields  and pastures on which groves of Beech trees were a feature. Trees  such as spanish chestnuts,  lime, holme oak, sycamore ,plane   and  copper beech  and clumps of shrubs like laurel and rhododendron to give shelter to the pheasants.
    The small River Tud ran from west to east through its centre. there were dams and sluices in the stream in two places to make it into a wide ornamental water. On its  southern bank stood Costessey Hall , seat of Lord Stafford  (Sir George William Stafford- Jerningham, 7th Baronet  & 8th Baron Stafford).  The  Hall, built in the 16th century,  in the E- shaped style of that time had been dwarfed by and surounded by a gothic style 'castle ' and mansion, erected in the 1830s .  The park owed much to his lordship's father, Sir William Jerningham (6th Baronet), who had much improved it by planting trees and improving agriculture.
    Over the river from the hall was the extensive buildings of Homestead Farm with it old and delightful Tudor  farm house "the Dower House" with E-shaped  additions..
This was the only farm actually in the boundaries of the  Park.
    Through the centre of the park a  were a line of hilly plantations  viz:- Lords Hills, Queens Plantation, Snakes Hills, and Tower Hill .  On the southern slopes of Snakes Hills were the Hall Gardens comprising nearly 5 acres of  walled garden and orchard  with hothouses.  Here delicacies of vegetables and fruits were grown for the Hall kitchens.   Tower Hill was named after a round tower  which was built on it  in 1791 by  Sir William Jerningham (6th Baronet), as a ornamental feature.  It  would have served as a good  watch tower  in case of Napoleonic invasion !
    Beside the Tud is a field called  "St. Walstans Well"  where as a boy  I saw the stones where a spring  once came out of the hillsIde - but the well had dried up.
    The boundaries of 'The Park', starting at the north-west corner near the Beehive Lodge, ran along the Ringland Road  for half a mile and then curved away to the south-east along the line of the Drive from the Beehive to the Falcon Lodge.  This drive was lined on the north with a continuous narrow plantation ( The Belt or  Lynall's Plantation)  nearly a mile long,  of mixed deciduous trees.   The extreme north-east corner of the Park was the junction of The West End Road  with Longwater Lane.   That Lane formed the eastern boundary.  A belt of woodland extended  from behind the cottages opposite The Lion Inn; Lion Plantation, Ash Grove , and Tenches' Grove to the top of Longwater Lane.  There on the Turnpike Road was the Round Well Lodge.   The Park was bounded by the Turnpike Road for nearly a mile and a half to Easton Lodge.  That boundary was of the woodlands called ' Ruins Plantation'  ( I have seen ruins there- were they genuine or a folly? )   and of The Forest,  which in total were more than 200 acres in extent.  The western edge of  The Park was the boundary with Easton parish.
                The four Lodges were at the gates of The Park, Falcon Lodge into the West End of the Street  ( John Daynes),  Round Well Lodge nearest to Norwich on the Turnpike Road ( Joseph Lawes),  Easton Lodge also on the Turnpike ( William Lawes ) and Beehive Lodge giving access to The Park from  Ringland (Charles & Ann Spauls).
    There were about 5½ miles of ' Carriage Drives' in the Park,- how enjoyable would it have been to cover them in a carriage as did Parson Woodforde in 1793 when Sir William Jerningham "behaved in the politest Manner '' showed him around the estate to see the plantations ( 400acres of trees), his new Tower and  the Gardens etc......... " We had as pleasant a ride as I ever took........the lodges at different parts very handsome".

Personal Note            As  a boy I spent most of my spare time in wandering freely in the Park which was then farmed by Mr Herbert Cannell, Butcher of Costessey.  He was very tolerant to the village boys.  It was our thousand acre natural playground .  In spring we were bird's nesting and picking wildflowers;  primroses, pussy willows kingcups and  violets.
    In May it was rhododendrons, and those delightful bunches of  lily-of-the valley which grew in the shade of the woodlands on the Easton boundary .

Lily of the Valley   
 In summer we fished the  little river Tud (the 'beck')  where we caught dace, jack pike, eels  and crawfish.  Once I carried home in triumph  a 2lb brown trout caught on a minnow beside the ruins of the old Hall.  In summer we picked large quantities of blackberries,  for which in wartime we found ready sale for jam-making.  In autumn it was chestnuts  which drew us  again into the woods on the Easton boundary, to fill our sacks for winter storage.  Chestnuts were plentiful in all the woods, enough for all. In winter we collected fallen wood for our home fires to supplement our coal ration, and toboganned down the snow- covered hills.

    Our 'adventure playground' was the ruins of the old Hall ,  many  of the ruined buildings still stood  We would climb the stone and cast-iron  spiral staircase to the 'battlements'.  From there we would gaze down in fear through the floorless ruin  to the ground  130 feet below us .  I shall never forget watching one fearless boy climb precariously out onto the fire damaged timbers of the roof,  with that awful drop beneath him .
When we had been up there long enough we would run down the steps of the spiral , cast iron at first then stone, to throw ourselves dizzily  on the ground outside the doorway. We climbed the ivy on the old belfry, the only piece still standing today, to find jackdaws nests.  We were quick to leave when darkness came for fear of the ghostly "Green Lady' who reputedly haunted the ruins. Next to the Hall was a mound with a concrete slab on top which was all that was left of St. Augustine's Chapel ; the mound was the tomb of the Stafford- Jerninghams and was the object of vandals in the 1940's . Thomas G. Barley, January 1999

The Stafford Estate outside the Park in 1841.

    Lord Stafford owned 1884 acres (62%) of the village, the Park was 1168 acres in area and other holdings were 716 acres.  Most of the  arable land between  Longwater Lane and Townhouse Road  and the meadows along the Tud were owned by his Lordship, including East Hills Plantations, the main area of woodlands .  Estate lands also extended east of Townhouse Road where Green Hills and Carrs Hills plantations, arable fields and meadows near the Wensum had been acquired for the Estate.

Land owned by other landowners in 1841.

    The next  largest landowner was John Culley, Esq. of Church and Mill Farms, farming 316 acres of his own and  66 acres of Lord Stafford's land and owning Costessey water-mill..  Most of Culley's land is north of Folgate Lane and includes a large area of arable land which was once the the open fields of the village.  An earlier enclosure had  left narrow strips of land of about 1 acre in the middle of large fields such as Dove House Close and Churchs Field. (These strips were owned by Richard Matthews of March, Cambs. who owned 20 separate strips of arable and pasture all under 2 acres each .   Matthews had  a total holding of 59 acres  farmed by tenant William Taylor).
    John Joseph Gurney Esq. of Earlham, the Quaker banker and landowner,  owned 132 acres of arable land near the Bowthorpe boundary in south east of the village.   John Cross was tenant of 125 acres.
    Thomas French Berney,Esq. owned 87 acres of meadow and pasture at the Taverham end of the village.  Around the church the Trustees of the Great Hospital  owned 70 acres of Glebe and other land.  The Glebe was farmed by John Culley a prominent Baptist.   Fifty-eight other smaller landowners owned a total of 151 acres.

Land Usage in 1841
                                     Acres                             Roods                       Perches





Pasture & Meadowland








Waste (Common)




















Landowners and Tenants in 1841




Annual Tithe Rent    £         s.         d.

Principal Tenants




188.          8        0











William SUTTON


John CULLEY Esq.


  61.          10          0



John Joseph GURNEY Esq.


  36.          10          0



William BANHAM


    4.            5          6

Thomas  French BERNEY


   15.           5          0



John & Henry  HARMAN


     7.           5          0



    12.           7         6

William TAYLOR




      2 .          4         0


Trustees of Great Hospital




Trustees of Great Hospital (Glebe)


    13.           0         0

John CULLEY Esq.


Other Small Landowners (55)


    12.           5         0











    £350           0            0



The Street , Croft & Folgate Lane


    The Street  runs from  Costessey Water Corn Mill (owned by John Culley since 1817 ) to the junction of Townhouse Road and The West End.
    North of the mill there is only one dwelling, Bridge Cottage near the footbridge over the River Wensum to Drayton. The occupier William Downing collected the bridge tolls.
     Opposite the mill is Mill House and cottages and farm buildings owned by John Culley , who farms most  of the  land in this northern end of the village.  The next  buildings on the western side of the Street are those of  Church Farm with a large farmhouse which includes the Old Vicarage. This is the residence of John Culley Esq..
    The Parish Church of St. Edmund, surrounded by its graveyard comes next.  The church stands on a knoll looking out over the meadows to  the River Wensum.
    Opposite the church is a veritable warren of  rented cottages and gardens , 14 on ¾ acre,  presumably occupied by 14 families and owned by  Adams and Cater.   In one of the cottages lived Wm. Adcock and Ann his wife (nee Barley ) and her son Theophilus Barley ,  the writer's great- great  grandmother and great grandfather.  The writer, Tom Barley,  was born in a cottage opposite the church, 90 years later.
    On the corner of Folgate Lane is a cottage with a full acre of garden !.
    Next to the church are  the house, barn and yards of John Buxton who farms the Glebe lands.
Continuing down the 'river' side of The Street the next buildings are a cluster of 5 cottages  and gardens, over the road are another 4 cottages,  all these owned by Adams. Again on the west side are the house, barn and malthouse of Hutson Cooper, opposite are the  house, garden and shop of James Banham ,Well-sinker.  Next door is The BLACK SWAN Inn owned by Steward & Patteson, landlord James Barber.   Across the road is a large house named 'Wensum Cottage' owned by John Culley and leased by  Richard Mackenzie Bacon owner and editor of the "Norwich Mercury"  The next residence of note was that of  the house, garden and 'pleasure ground' of Joseph Stannard on the corner of The Croft.  Behind this, in The Croft are the Lime-Kilns of Eldon Money.  On the other corner is the House and barn of Robert Buxton owned by Lord Stafford.  In the Croft were 5 cottages and the Lime-Kilns.
    Opposite The Croft are the barns and yards  of  William Taylor,  farming tenant of Richard Matthew's land in the village.  Wesleyan Methodist services were held at Taylor's Farmhouse
    The next stretch of The Street is the most densely populated with many cottages close together, some have barns, as the occupants farmed their smallholdings.  Here live Frances Barley (great x 3 grandmother)  and Edmund Barley her son, a Shoemaker.
    Near the bank of the river is the " BUSH" Public house, another Steward and Patteson house ( in his autobiography  artist  Alfred Munnings  called the BUSH  " an establishment of lesser fame- a haunt of harpies of the lower world, connected with the trotting fraternity of Norwich" .
    The Church School Room is near the Croft  and  further west is the Baptist Chapel and Schoolroom  (erected in 1822)  which owed much to the patronage of  John Culley.  Baptist worship services were held in costessey since 1797.
    William Banham owned the Butchers shop and farm yard near the Baptist chapel. (both of which are still in operation today, 160 years later)
    Near where  the present  WHITE HART stands is the Beer House  of John Miller ( was this also called The White Hart ?).
    The Street was a mixture of the houses and  workshops of tradesmen, like blacksmith, collar-maker, malster, well-sinker, shoemaker  etc.  along with the crowded, rented cottages and yards occupied by the farm labourers.
    John Spaul, blacksmith,  has his shop and house opposite the White Hart .  Next to his property a lane led on to the Back Moor Common. The house and Wheelwright's shop of Wm. Lovett are next to the lane. This house is known as Ivy Cottage.
    Across the road is a half acre 'Green Yard' or pound for stray animals;  to take care of those animals straying from the common.  Between that yard and the  Roman Catholic School are  the barns, stackyards, farm house and gardens of PARK HOUSE FARM occupied by Edmund Martins, a major tenant of the Stafford Estate.
  St. Augustine's Catholic School was built on the corner of Longwater lane in 1821 by Sir George  and Lady Frances Jerningham.  In 1841 it was adjoined by a house occupied by the schoolmaster Thomas Rolleston.
    Opposite the School is  "Rose Cottage" acquired by the Rev Dr F.C. Husenbeth in 1821, on his arrival in the village, to take up his position as priest to Lord Stafford and from which he moved in this year (1841)  to the Presbytery in Townhouse Road.

Townhouse Road

    Townhouse Road runs from The Street in a south east direction to the Turnpike Road near the Toll gate into Norwich.  Its length is approximately 2 miles.
    At the  beginning of the road on its south side is the Roman Catholic chapel of Our Lady & St. Walstan, which was opened in May of this year (1841).  Adjoining is the Presbytery into which the Rev Dr. F. C. Husenbeth had just moved.
    There are only a few houses in Townhouse Road.  Four cottages are on the hill opposite the Catholic chapel.   In Greenhills Plantation is Greenhills Cottage,  built in the late 18th century by Sir William Jerningham for his son and now occupied by the Rev. Thomas Watson.  Other houses in plantation are those of  Richard White and Richard Spauls both tenants of Lord Stafford.
    At the north east of the junction with Folgate Lane is the house and land of Thomas Carr with Carr's Plantation at the rear. A ¼ of a mile north, on higher ground, is a Windmill for grinding corn, with a house, owned by Edmund Martins.  Next along the road  is a house with barns owned by John Harman, occupied by Peter Howard.   South of the ' Ferry bridge' over the R. Tud is the farm of Henry Harman.  On the other side of the Tud is a cottage in the meadows  owned by John Culley and occupied by Robert Wakeham.  These are the only buildings on Townhouse Road.

West End, Long Water Lane & Ringland Road in 1841

  Longwater Lane had few buildings on it,  apart from the school near West End corner.  On the south side of the Turnpike Road (Norwich to East Dereham) was Lodge Farm occupied by William Sutton who farmed 442 acres for his Lordship.
    Longwater Lane led to the Norwich to East Dereham Turnpike through the plantations of Lord Stafford's Estate . The only dwellings on or near it were, the Roundwell Lodge occupied by John Laws,  and on the south side of the turnpike was the Roundhouse occupied by John Galley and Charles Beloe, all Estate workers.  The Round  Well was nearby marked by a brick and stone base and plinth built by French prisoners of war in about 1820.

    The West End is the western extension of The Street.  I am dealing with this in detail as it is where I grew up !
      On the south side of West End the  land is mostly owned by Lord Stafford.
First is thecottage of  Hannah Mishette's (a Hall Servant),   then the house, garden and pightle of Jonathon Wilkerson, next John Lusher 's cottage and garden . Then come  the houses and gardens of  John Finnerty and Joseph and George Grant.  The cottage of Robert Buxton is owned by John Taylor.  The Falcon Lodge to the Park is occupied by John Daynes and  its gardens are 1 acre 2 roods  in area .  Only one other house is on the south side of West End .  On the driveway  in the plantation ( The Belt) is a house of an Estate worker called Lynall.
    On the north side of the West End  next to "Rose Cottage" is the house and Carpenters shop owned and occupied by Edward  Hastings.  Next comes a terrace of 6 cottages and yards, of very small proportions,  known as 'Bird Cage Row', home to 6 families  - John Hastings, James Mortar, John Sadler, Thomas Drake, William Fryer and John Hostler.    (These are owned by Francis Hastings).  Next is the house, garden and meadow of Francis Hastings.  Behind these is the cottage and garden owned & occupied by Barnard Spauls.  The LION BEERHOUSE  with garden, orchard and meadow comprising 1 and half acres;  this is owned by John Downes and occupied by John Taylor.
    Between the LION BEERHOUSE and THE FALCON INN  are a house and Harness-makers shop , and 2 cottages owned by John Downes and occupied by himself , Arthur Downes and John Spauls
    The FALCON INN with stables, yards, gardens, orchard and meadow covering nearly 3 acres. It is owned by Lord Stafford  and the inn-keeper is James Hudson. The FALCON is a coaching Inn of the traditional sort and was used by Parson James Woodforde, of Diary fame, in the 18th century.
    Continuing westwards are cottage and gardens of Mrs Burcham, Mrs Ann Spauls, John Hostler, William Barnes, Samuel Sisson, Wm Thurston, John King and  Simon Sissons all owned by the Estate.  The large cottage and orchards of Thomas Smith  was owned by himself but  he rented Smith's pightle across the road from Lord Stafford . Behind Smith's property was the cottage and orchard of Thomas Kidd.
    The house, barns, workshop, orchard and meadow of William Hastings was rented from Lord Stafford, as was Home PIece across on the southern side of the road.

    It was on Smiths Pightle and Home Piece that 32 Council Houses were built in the 1930s. My   family were the first tenants of No.19 ( now 143) and occupied it for over 40 years . The rear of our garden led directly into Lynall's Plantation and the Park.

   In Linalls Plantation was Linalls lodge occupied by John Linall and on the southside of Tower Hill are  the  Hall Gardens & hothouses, the house  is occupied by the head gardener John Wigton
    The next buildings on the river side of the road  are West End Farm , tenant Robert Barker,  who farmed 124 acres of Estate land. Then two houses, orchards and meadow occupied by George Gunton, on an acre and a half.  Next was John Laws' house and orchard and an old cottage on the road both owned by Lord Stafford.
    Thomas French Berney Esq  owned a Farmhouse (Poplar Farm) and three acres of garden, orchard and meadow in the corner by the common.    This farm and Berney's other 84 acres, at  the Taverham end of the village, around the Common, were farmed by Henry Lovett.
    Costessey Brickworks with house,gardens and orchard was leased by George Gunton from Lord Stafford and on the southern side of  the Ringland Lane junction
    In Ringland Lane the only dwellings are a house and cottage rented by Mrs Dianna Hastings from the Estate and the Beehive Lodge ( Ann and Charles Spauls ).

Particularly if you  climbed  the  spiral staircase to the top of the ruined tower of Costessey Hall !!

Return to The Costessey Home Page by Tom Barley

Last revised  16 Aug 2009