North Walsham & District Community Archive

Swafield 1875 - 1975

"North East Norfolk Country Churchman Centenery Magazine 1875-1975"

SWAFIELD 1875-1975

Swafield today is a village where people live - but go elsewhere for work, shops, schools and recreation. But in 1875 things were very different. As well as several farms, large and small, there was the watermill beside the river, owned by Robert Page; at the Staithe on the canal, Cubitt and Walker operated as coal merchants, and there was also corn and flour, and linseed cakes for the cattle, ready for collection in carts from round the area. The wherries came up from Yarmouth and unloaded here, and also went on their way up to Antingham. James Cork carried on his trade as wheelwright, and John Page was the shoemaker, no doubt doing repairs and also working for Loads boot and shoe factory in North Walsham. It was the custom to exhibit a sample boot in the local pubs, and one stood in the "Duke's Head", where Daniel Denvey was publican. Like most places round about, there was a brickyard where the 91b. bricks became 71b. in weight when they had been fired. We have mentioned the "Duke's Head" in The Street, which closed down some years ago and is now a guest-house - nearby was the village shop and Post Office where Mrs. Elizabeth Hewitt was in charge. The shop has now been closed and is "Barbers Cottage" named after Mrs. Hewitt's son-in-law - they sold liquorice allsorts and other delights for a farthing. The present Village Hall was originally a Church of England school opened in 1852. There were probably about 60 children there, but like many such schools was closed in 1930. Like many another Norfolk church, St. Nicholas' is well out of the village, at the top of a rise surrounded by a stone wall. The Rev. John Layard was Rector in those far off days, and he set up the Layard Trust fund to be administered for the benefit of older people in the village. The church probably looked much the same but we do know that there was an ancient harmonium before the present organ was built. One of the sights to be seen on a Sunday was a herd of bullocks being driven through the street on their way from the cattle market in Norwich - no doubt the drovers were the subject of a few scathing remarks from the parson up the hill. There were no other places of worship in the village, but the Friends Meeting House stood just outside in North Walsham on Quaker's Hill, and there was also a windmill next to it.