Ernest R. (Ernest Richard) Suffling.

The land of the Broads : a pratical and illustrated guide to the extensive but little-known district of the broads of Norfolk and Suffolk online

. (page 1 of 22)
Online LibraryErnest R. (Ernest Richard) SufflingThe land of the Broads : a pratical and illustrated guide to the extensive but little-known district of the broads of Norfolk and Suffolk → online text (page 1 of 22)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook











, k Practical and Illustrated Guide to the
Extensive but little-known District of the Broads of
Norfolk and Suffolk,

Written for the use of alt who take an interest in one of the Quaintest and

most Old- World parts of England, either from an Archceological,

Historical, Picturesque, or Sporting point of view.









While inditing the following pages, I have borne in
mind the well-known quotation from our great poet: —

To gild refined gold, to paint the lily,
To throw a perfume on the violet, ....
Is wasteful and ridiculous excess.

— King John ;

which I consider a most appropriate motto to re-
member while writing upon the Rivers and Broads
of Norfolk. The glorious summer sun does all the
gilding, and Nature all the painting and perfuming
that is requisite, without any aid from my pen. I
have, therefore, simply shown the Broads as they
really are, without any endeavour to extol their
varied beauties, or to add charms of imagination,
when they may be discovered in reality by a brief

It has been my endeavour to take the reader over
the principal navigable portions of the " Three
Rivers " — the Bure, the Waveney. and the Yare — ■



and upon all the Broads of any extent or importance ;
and, en passant^ I have glanced at the various objects
of importance on each bank. Pains have been taken
to point out the chief ecclesiastical features, as in
this respect Norfolk is peculiarly endowed. Having
aimed solely at producing a plain, unvarnished guide,
I trust that my effort may prove successful.

Inaccuracies will occasionally creep in, despite one's
utmost care, and should my readers discover any, I
shall esteem it a favour if they will point them out
to me.


Blomjield Lodge, Portsdown Road,
London, fV.,
July, 1885.

■ ? -»" Bi '


The rapid sale of the First and Unillustrated Edition
has encouraged me to devote more time to the com-
pilation of this Second, and Illustrated, Edition of the
'* Land of the Broads." It now appears more than
trebled in size, and, I trust, in interest, as I have
aimed at keeping up its character of a practical
guide. The whole v^rork has been re-written, and a
larger tour of the district taken, embracing some
fifty miles more of rivers, and many more villages.

The Illustrations are truthful representations of
places and things seen in the Broad District, as they
were, with a few exceptions, either " sketched or
photographed on the spot. Chapters have been
added on the City of Norwich ; others describing the
Fish and their mode of capture ; the Dialect and
Characteristics of the Natives ; the Broads at various
Seasons, and a great deal more — all of a practical
nature. By letting my pen run free with anecdotes,
songs of the fens, local tales, and traditions, I might


have made the present volume a very substantial
tome, but have refrained from doing so, as these
things, although extremely interesting, are not, per-
haps, what my worthy publisher desires — ''a. practical
guide only."

The Map may be thoroughly relied upon. Small
parties who, dispensing with the aid of a man, are
desirous of themselves navigating the 300 miles of
navigable rivers in th^ district, will find it indispens-
able, every village, bridge, stream. Broad, or spot
worth mention, being clearly shown upon it.

As in the First Edition, I will ask readers who
may find any inaccuracies to be kind enough to point
them out to me, as it is only by these little blunders
being noticed that a perfectly accurate guide can be
obtained. Although a Norfolk man, and a native of
the Broad district, it is impossible to be infallible
in everything appertaining to this large tract of
country. Only one or two errors have been pointed
out in the First Edition, and these have now been


Blomjield Lodge, Portsdown Road,
London, W.,
May, 1887.




















Preparations for the Trip

Yarmouth to Lowestoft .

Lowestoft to Norwich

A Ramble through Norwich

Norwich to Yarmouth

Up the Bure to Acle Bridge


Up the Ant, to Barton and
Broads ....


The Ant, to North Walsham and Cromer

Thurne Mouth, to Hickling, Martham, &c

Commissariat Depots.

The Broad District in Spring

The Broad District in Summer

The Broad District in Autumn

The Broad District in Winter

The Characteristics and Dialect of East
Norfolk Natives











XVIII. The Fish of the Broads, and how to

Catch them 278

XIX. Table of Distances from Yarmouth Bridge 310

XX. Table of Tides, &c 314

XXI. Table of Carriers from Yarmouth . . 315



TRIANGLE, having the coast for its base
(Lowestoft at the left, and Palling at the
:^P't^ right angle), with Norwich at its apex, will
contain nearly the whole of the Broad district, with
its 5000 acres of lakes and Broads, and 200 miles of
navigable river. In these, say, 250 square miles, may
be found, during a holiday trip, delightful occupation
for seekers of "fresh scenes and pastures new." For
the angler, such sport awaits him as he cannot obtain
elsewhere, as the takes of fish, at certain times and
places, are simply extraordinary, especially of the
coarser kinds of fish, such as bream, pike, &c. He
may choose for his fishing-ground water either deep
or fleet, running or still, clear or obscured, with the
assurance that he will not go away either empty-
handed or disappointed.


For the yachtsman — Where in England can he find
greater scope for his hobby than on these splendid
stretches of water? He may take his choice from
almost every rig conceivable — cutter, yawl, lugger,
Bermudan, schooner, or lateen ; and for sailing-masters
the wherry-men cannot be excelled — so that, for those
who wish to learn to sail a boat, a capital opportunity
offers. For a study of quaintness, both in language
and ideas, and also in manners, the wherryman may
be interviewed with profit.

The artist may find anywhere, everywhere, pictures
ready for his canvas, of scenery that is peculiar to
Norfolk. There is no need to go to Holland for a
sketching-ground, for here it is within four hours of
London. Here are the flat, green plains, with the
river simply kept within bounds by its banks, and
being in many places 2ft. above the field through
which it winds. Here are the windmills and wherries,
the red and white cattle, and picturesque peasantry,
simply waiting to be transferred to canvas. Where
out of Holland can a more Flemish scene be found
than the tree-planted Quay at Yarmouth ?

To the archaeologist and searcher into things ecclesi-
astic, there are no end of churches, priories, castles,
halls, and old buildings, which will afford him a vast
fund of delightful research. The architect should not,
therefore, neglect to bring his sketch-book with him,
for he may take it back full of odd fancies and
curiosities of ages long gone by.

To the entomologist, ornithologist, and botaniet, I


would say, *' By all means take your holiday here, for
you may bring back with you specimens wherewith
to beguile many a long winter's evening with your
favourite pursuit. For butterflies, birds, and plants,
this is a perfect El Dorado.'^

To the poet, this is a land of . But there ! I

will leave him to see for himself. The beautiful,
secluded scenery will supply him with themes galore
for his fanciful imagination.

For the robust man, the Broad district is a para-
dise ; and to the weakly, here is a physician in the
balmy and pure atmosphere, by which he may become
in a short time quite strong again, and return home,
at the conclusion of his holiday, with such increased
vigour as to make his butcher and baker rejoice at
the abnormal increase in his appetite.

The general tourist, who is nothing in particular,
may while away the longest summer day in perfect
happiness, and at small cost, for very little money
can be spent by the most extravagant, as many of
the villages possess only a single shop, which, how-
ever, seems to contain everything, from a pickaxe to
a rasher of rusty bacon.

Now, after this long flight, let us descend to a
few dry, tangible facts regarding the district.

The chmate of Norfolk is exceedingly dry ; in fact,
the rainfall per annum does not exceed 24in., whereas
the average for the whole of England is about 36in.
In Cumberland and Westmoreland the annual fall
exceeds yoin. On the score of dryness overhead,

B 2


therefore, the tourist has nothing to fear ; for, although
all is water beneath, very little moisture comes from
the clouds above, in comparison to other holiday re-
sorts in Great Britain. This is, I believe, partly on
account of the flatness of the county, and partly by
reason of its extreme eastern position, many of the
rain-clouds having exhausted themselves while tra-
velling from the West of England, before reaching
Norfolk. Storms and tempests occur rather oftener
than in less level districts, and are very violent, but
usually of short duration.

The rabbit is an object of considerable importance
here, as, from their great numbers on the warrens,
there is a large trade done with the London market.
Some of these warrens are of large extent, and teeming
with these pretty but destructive little animals. The
principal warrens in the district are at Horsey and
Winterton on the coast. Among the birds, several
rare and curious species are to be found. The long-
winged owl, the most destructive of his tribe, and
that singular species of the sandpiper, Tringa pugnax,
are still to be seen ; the male birds are called ruffs,
and the females reeves.

The churches of this county are worthy of especial
attention, many of them being exceedingly old, dating
as far back as the twelfth century. To the student
of the various styles of architecture there is an ample
field for exploration, as the different churches will
take him from the twelfth, through the thirteenth,
fourteenth, and fifteenth centuries — just the period


when ecclesiastical architecture was at its best. Some
fine sculptured tombs with recumbent figures will be
found, as also many splendid examples of wood-
carving, numbers of churches still retaining their
ancient oak chancel-screens and stalls of intricate
carved work. Relics of all kinds may be met with —
curious coffins_, weapons that have been dug up, hour-
glasses, ancient books, wall paintings, keys, &c. It
is also remarkable that many of the registers, still
in a good state of preservation, date as far back as
A.D. 1500, or nearly 400 years.

I would particularly call attention to the Round
Towers to be found in several parishes, and which
are ascribed to the Saxon or Danish period : many
of them were, after the Norman Conquest, sur-
mounted by an octagonal upper storey. Most of the
Norfolk churches are constructed of flint, as very
little building stone is found in the county, except in
the western division.

Many brasses will be found in the churches, to
which access may be obtained, and a rubbing taken.
All that is required in the shape of materials is a
large sheet of rather thin white paper and a piece of
heel-ball, which may be purchased at any bootmaker^s
shop. Simply fasten the paper over the brass, with
pins, which should be stuck in the crack between
the edge of the plate and the stone surrounding ;
then rub the heel-ball gently over the surface, when
the impression will appear in black and white on
the paper. A roll of "lining paper," 12yds. long


and 22in. wide, may be purchased at any paper-
hanger's shop in town, for about eightpence, and is of
just the required thickness for taking perfect rubbings.
Persons fond of epitaph-hunting will be amply re-
paid by a stroll through some of the churchyards, and
will meet with many exceedingly queer and quaint
verses. A good plan is to inquire of the sexton
or his wife — who usually reside very close to the
churches under their care — what of note is to be
seen in the church or its burial-ground. The sexton
of Martham Church has some printed cards with the
inscription from the grave of a person buried there,
which I believe is the record of a sad event which
took place many years since through the accidental
marriage of very close relations — mother and son. It
reads as follows : —

Here Lyeth ye Body of

Christopher Burrancy
Who departed this hfe

ye 1 8 day of October

Anno Domini 1730
Aged 59 years

And thus lyes Alice

Who by her life
Was my sister, my mistress
My mother & my wife
Febr ye 12. 1729.

The son was sent to Australia when very young ;
came back to Yarmouth, and, hearing that a man
was required to work on a farm at Martham, obtained
the situation, and, after a few years, married the lady


proprietor. Years after, a birthmark was the means
of discovering the relationship. The mother died
raving mad, and was quickly followed by her son.^

Prehistoric remains are continually coming to light,
especially along the coast, and these either go to en-
rich the collections of private persons, or are added
to the already large store of them at the public mu-
seum, Norwich. Of animal remains, may be noted,
bones of those gigantic mammals, the mastodon {Ar-
vancusis), Elephas meridionalis, and Elephas anti-
quus ; as also of the rhinoceros, hippopotamus, red
and roe deer, stag, wild ox, and even of the beaver.
In nearly every part of the county, discoveries have
been made connected with the Stone Age. The
earlier portion of that age, called the Palaeolithic
period, is represented by instruments of chipped stone
of various shapes and sizes, usually of an oval or
pointed form. These implements bear no sign of
polishing, or other attempt at smoothness of surface.
Those of a later period, called the Neolithic Stone
Age, show evident signs of rubbing and polishing in
order to give them more symmetry and keenness.

A favourable time for relic-hunting is immediately
after a strong north-west gale. When the wind is in
that quarter, with a heavy sea on, masses of the cliff
are undermined, and huge pieces, falling upon the
beach, are swept away by the surf. This fall of the
face of the cliff frequently leaves relics of various

* I find the stone has been removed to the tower, and is covered by
the organ.


kinds exposed to view ; and persons of keen eyesight
and great perseverance have occasionally made very
valuable discoveries in consequence.

Barrows and tumuli are to be seen near Attle-
borough, Weeting, Sporle, Pentney, North Walsham,
and other places. A barrow at a place called
" Grimes' Graves," Weeting, was opened by Canon
Greenwell in 1870, and some ancient tools, made of
deerhorn, discovered. The Canon says : "It was a
most impressive sight, and one never to be forgotten,
to look, it may be after a lapse of 3000 years, upon
a piece of work yet unfinished, with the tools of the
workmen still lying as they had been left many
centuries before.'' Some of these implements —
picks, &c. — still retained upon their chalky incrus-
tation the exact impressions of the fingers of these
Ancient Britons.

When trawling along the coast, the fishermen fre-
quently bring up in their nets the fossilised remains
of large mammals ; of these, the late Rev. Jas. Layton
formed a very fine collection, which may be seen at
the British Museum.

The villages will be found very much scattered,
and only here and there will a fair-sized town be
found. I think that, excepting Norwich, Yarmouth,
and King's Lynn, no other town of 5000 inhabitants
is to be met with in the whole county. Indeed, the
towns containing 3000 inhabitants may be counted on
the fingers of the two hands. The county, in 1881,
contained 444,749 persons, spread over 1,356,173


acres, giving just three acres to each individual — a
very sparse population indeed. Contrast this with
Lancashire and its 1,208,154 acres and 3,454,541 in-
habitants, or three persons to each acre. On the
score of quietness the tourist may, therefore, make
his mind easy, as he will be ''far from the madding

I would like to point out to the etymologist that,
if he keeps his ears open when talking with the
country people, he will hear many pure Saxon words
used, which are quite obsolete among town folk or
educated persons. Thus, a gift is a 'Margesse,'' a house-
cloth a " dwile," to raise a thing is to " hain " it, a
lane is a " loke," an unmarried girl is a '' mawther,"
and a " dickey," although it has a melodious voice,
is not a bird — it is a donkey.

The '' natives " are a fine race, usually with the
flaxen or tawny beards, fair skin, straight noses, and
blue eyes characteristic of the Norse or Danish type.
They are noted for their hardihood and endurance,
most of them leading a life that compels them to be
in the pure, bracing air a great part of their time, as
they are mostly either agricultural or seafaring men.
A walk along the quay or fish-market in Yarmouth
will show what a number of tall, powerful men are to
be found among the East Anglian fishermen — all bone
and muscle, with shoulders as broad as those of
Hercules. The ports of Yarmouth and Lowestoft
are used by upwards of 10,000 fishermen, most of
them hardy Norfolk men, the greater proportion of


whom could be, in time of war, turned into men-o'-
war's men at very short notice. These men have,
times without number, performed such heroic and
daring deeds that, like Marshal Ney, they have
earned for themselves the distinction of being known
as " the bravest of the brave/' Not a winter passes
but some startling deed of '' derring do " is per-
formed by these men during the gales.

Having taken a brief glance at the characteristics
of the county, its climate, and its inhabitants, we will
now make a closer acquaintance with the purport of
our pilgrimage — the Broads.



A grassy mead, with leafy shade —

Our bark rocks near the brinlc.
Hampers ashore, and cloth arrayed ;
Come, sit, and feast, and drink.

Pass each platter,

'Mid much clatter,

Joke and banter,

Noise and chatter,
Singing, laughter gay and hearty :
Won't you join our Water Party ?

E will now proceed to business, which with
us is synonymous with pleasure, and see
how we are to set about enjoying our

In the first place, we will suppose we have arrived
at Yarmouth from London, Birmingham, or some other
large city, and, as our time is Hmited, wish to
commence our journey without delay. The Broads
cannot well be visited in less than a fortnight, and it
would be as well to make our holiday of that duration ;
but those who can spare a longer period will find quite
enough wherewith to occupy themselves.




Our first care will be to select a craft of suitable
size for the number of our party. If the company
is composed of four gentlemen, a sailing boat of
about 25ft. in length and 8ft. beam, with cabin
amidships, will be found most comfortable. If a
larger party, of, say, a dozen (including several
ladies), can be made up, then a wherry would

A Norfolk Wherry.
be the most suitable craft. This is a local pro-
duction, built somewhat like a sailing barge, carry-
ing one immense sail, and usually managed by a
man and a boy. The wherry took the place, early
in the century, of the old-fashioned " keel," whose
mast was stepped nearly amidships, unlike the


wherry's mast, which is placed within a few feet of
the bows. Beware of getting in the way of these
immense winged leviathans, for, as they come roar-
ing along with a good wind on the quarters, they
would annihilate any small craft that came in their
way. A wherry is divided into three compartments
— viz., bedroom, saloon, and kitchen. The bed-
room and saloon are under one roof, and occupy
nearly two-thirds of the length of the vessel. The
fore-part, or bows, is left clear as a promenade
deck ; then comes the ladies' bedroom, occupying
the whole width of the craft (some loft.), and about
I oft. of its length; next this is the saloon, 20ft. long,
nicely carpeted and painted, &c., with a large dining-
table in the centre, and, at the after end, the crowning
glory — a piano. After dark, with the lamps lighted,
and the merry party gathered around this instrument,
many a happy hour is passed away ; and, as the
Licensing Act does not hold sway here, I am afraid
that the small hours often arrive ere the saloon is
closed, and " sleep. Nature's sweet restorer," brings
silence and rest to the voyageurs '' rocked in the
cradle of the deep." I might add, that the pianoforte
is not always by Broadwood or Cramer, but is
still a very acceptable, and often very fair, instru-

Next the saloon, with a serving-door leading into
it, is the kitchen, fitted with a neat American range,
which is presided over by the skipper, who, besides
being sailing-master, is also cook and stewards


The dirty work is performed by the '' crew '' — a
lad of sixteen or seventeen years of age. All
washing-up, potato-peeling, fish-cleaning, &c., falls to
his lot.

For parties of two or three there are plenty of
smaller boats; but I would recommend at least four
to go together, as, besides being more economical,
everything is then more enjoyable than when there
are too few.

Ladies on small yachts I consider out of place.
Pardon me, fair readers, and allow me to explain.
In the first place, the sleeping accommodation is very
limited — so limited, indeed, that one cabin has to
accommodate, say, four persons ; therefore, unless the
party consists entirely of ladies, they are better
absent altogether. On the large wherries, a special
cabin is partitioned off for the use of ladies, so that
they secure both privacy and comfort, without which
the hoHday would be most unenjoyable. Again, the
amount of "roughing it" — to men a source of great
delight — would, to ladies unused to it, prove intoler-
ably uncomfortable.

The sleeping accommodation is very comfortable,
but of course the luxuries of town life must not be
looked for. A flock mattress (which in the daytime
forms a kind of locker-couch), a bolster, and two
blankets, are provided for each person, and nothing
further during summer time, is really required. Sleep
usually falls upon one directly the lamp is extin-
guished (after the first night), thanks to the fatigues



of a long, enjoyable day. The first night is usually
very strange to those unaccustomed to sleep in a
yacht — the continuous plash of the water against the
sides of the vessel, the soughing of the wind among
the reeds, the cry of different birds, the assorted
snores of friends, and other unique sounds, together
with the novelty of sleeping in a berth, tend to keep
one awake wondering for a long period.

"What is the cost?'' you ask. Well, for a boat to
accommodate two persons, without a man, the cost
would be about 30s. per week, including crockery,
cooking apparatus, and bedding. A decked cutter to
accommodate four or five, with a man, and every con-
venience for cooking and sleeping, could be procured
for about £4 per week. A wherry to carry a dozen,
with crew, &c., would cost from £^\2 to £14 per
week, or, say, from 20s. to 25s. per head per week.
This will be found much more economical than occu-
pying even ordinary apartments at a fashionable
watering-place. The following is a list of prices per
week for typical yachts and their crews. The names
are fanciful ones : —




1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22

Online LibraryErnest R. (Ernest Richard) SufflingThe land of the Broads : a pratical and illustrated guide to the extensive but little-known district of the broads of Norfolk and Suffolk → online text (page 1 of 22)