DRAYTON, on the Fakenham road, 4 miles N.W. of Norwich, is a pleasant rural village, in the vale of the Wensum, and had in its parish 408 inhabitants in 1881, 1289 acres of land, with a rateable value of £2248 10s. It is in St. Faith's union, Norwich county court and bankruptcy district, Taverham hundred, petty sessional division and rural deanery, St. Faith's polling district of South Norfolk, and Norwich archdeaconry. The soil is light and sandy.
It is mostly in the bishop's manor of Drayton-with-Taverham, subject to fines certain; and partly in Henry Nathaniel Micklewaith [sic], Esq.'s manor of Taverham Hall, subject to fines arbitrary. Mrs. Bradshaw, Mrs. Winter, J.J. Winter, Esq., S. Bunn, Esq., Gerard J. Day, Esq., Horsford, and F.A. Magnay, Esq., have estates here. Mrs. Bradshaw resides at Drayton House, which is pleasantly situated, and in the extensive grounds of this house are some beeches of great size, one of which covers a space 125 yards in circumference and measures over 20 feet in girth 6 feet from the root.
The Lynn and Fakenham railway passes near the village, and has a station here. During the excavations thirteen skeletons were dug up. They were found close together, just below the level of the Taverham Road, on the lands of Mrs. Bradshaw, and near to a bridge which spans the Drayton and Taverham road. The railway bridge over the Wensum consists of heavy buttresses spanned by iron girders, and is 26 feet above the level of the river.
In the village are the remains of an ancient cross, which had an inscription in French, but it is now obliterated by time.
In the grounds of F.A. Magnay, Esq., a little to the left of the road leading from Norwich to Fakenham, which was formerly so much frequented by pilgrims to the shrine of 'our Lady of Walsingham,' stands the ruin of a small building, whose origin and purpose is so shrouded in mystery as to have long puzzled antiquaries. It is of an oblong shape, 22 feet 6 inches long by 16 feet 3 inches wide, with an ivy-clad round tower 22 feet in circumference at each corner, and is built of yellowish brick of rather large size. The entrance is by a depressed arch in the south front, to the left of which is a small narrow aperture, which appears to have been the only means of lighting the lower room when the door was closed. The holes where the beams were inserted in the walls, and the flues of the fireplaces remain; and the south-western tower appears to have had a staircase.
Drayton and Hellesden were held by Sir John Fastolff in the time of Henry VI., and afterwards passed to the Pastons, who had a residence at Hellesdon; to the security and comfort of which a building such as the one described, placed on the crest of a hill, whence a commanding view of the country in every direction could be obtained, and within bowshot of one of the principal roads to Norwich, was no mean addition. Allusion in the celebrated Paston Letters to 'The Lodge' seems clearly to point to this building, which must therefore have existed for more than 400 years, though many persons still regard it as a sham antique. It is now the property of Robert Fitch, Esq., F.S.A., of Norwich, who will doubtless carefully preserve it.
In a plantation near the road are traces of an entrenchment; and at a short distance is Blood's Dale, said to be the scene of a battle in the old English era.
The CHURCH (St. Margaret) which is of Early Decorated architecture, comprises nave, chancel, and a square tower with three bells, and contains a piscina and an antique font. The present rector has greatly improved it, by entirely rebuilding the chancel, decorating it, and with some assistance from the parishioners fitting the nave up with handsome new open seats, &c.
In 1849 several interesting paintings were discovered on the walls during some repairs, but have all been again hidden by the colouring. They represented a gigantic St. Christopher, St. George and the Dragon, Our Saviour appearing to St. Mary Magdalen, &c. In the year 1860 three stone coffins were found beneath the floor of the church, all containing human remains. Several sepulchral slabs were found at the same time, and one of them bore a mutilated inscription in Norman-French, and an incised Jerusalem cross. The tower fell down in 1850, and was shortly afterwards rebuilt. In the church chest, it is said, was to be seen many years ago a curious old altar-cloth, composed of fragments of ancient church vestments, embroidered with figures of some of the apostles and other holy persons, and elegantly designed flowers, worked in gold thread and coloured silk.
The living is a rectory, valued in the King's Book at £6 2s. 9d., and now at £700, with that of Hellesden annexed to it. There are 24 acres of glebe in Drayton, and 30 acres in Hellesden. The Bishop of Norwich is patron, and the Rev. Hinds Howell, M.A., Oxford, is the incumbent, and has a good and convenient residence. The tithes of Drayton were commuted in 1839 for £253 5s. 5d. per annum.
The National School is a pretty edifice, built in the year 1859, at a cost of £300 0s. 0d. [sic], and attended by about 100 children.
Here are small Baptist and Primitive Methodist Chapels.
The Fuel Allotment, 49A. 2R. 34P., was awarded to the poor at the enclosure of Drewry Common in 1813, and is let for £10 a year, which is spent in coals. Two acres of land in Taverham Field have belonged to the parish from an early period, and are now let for £3, which is applied to the repairs of the church.
Fragments of Anglo-Saxon urns have been frequently found in this parish, and in one urn a portion of an iron dagger had been placed.
POST, MONEY ORDER, and SAVINGS BANK at Mrs. C. Grief's. Letters arrive at 4.45 a.m. and at 4 p.m., and are despatched at 10.45 a.m. and at 5.45 p.m., viâ Norwich, which is the nearest Telegraph Office.
Adcock Henry farmer Andrews Charles grocer and draper Barrett Edward farmer Bone George farmer Bradshaw Mr Chas. Arthr. Drayton hs Bradshaw Mrs landowner and farmer, Drayton house Bradshaw Mr Francis Branthwaite Drayton house Bunn Samuel landowner & farmer Eke Robert blacksmith Emery Charles farmer Grief Mrs Charlotte sub-postmistress Hipper Robert shopkeeper Hipper Thomas butcher Howard Jeremiah saw miller Howard Mr William Howell Rev. Hinds, M.A. rector of Drayton and Hellesdon, Rectory Laws Robert shopkeeper Magnay Frederick Arthur, Esq. J.P. Norris Wm. Danl. painter, plmber, &c. Pyle Henry victualler, The Cock Randall Fredk. vict. The Lion Snelling John farmer, Horsford Stanley William brickmaker & stonemason; h Norwich Thompson Miss schoolmistress Winter Mrs Sarah landowner
Copyright © Pat Newby.