Walter Rye.

Cromer, past and present: or, An attempt to describe the parishes of Shipden ... online

. (page 12 of 22)
Online LibraryWalter RyeCromer, past and present: or, An attempt to describe the parishes of Shipden ... → online text (page 12 of 22)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

west of Tunbridge Wells). Has no hopes of amendment, " but I
doe now drink dayly 120 ounces, which is above a gallon, &c."

I should imagine the spring must be where " Pump Close " is
shown on the map at page 4 ; but there was also a mineral spring
at Mundesley, which was discovered in 1823 (Norf. Tour, p. 1333).

Many have tried to describe the quiet beauties of Cromer, and
most have failed, especially the old guide books, Walter White, in
his " Eastern England," speaks well of it, and another well-known
writer, Jean Ingelow, hits off the lighthouse hills and a sunset
here wonderfully well in her poem, " Requiescat in pace."

" It was three months and over since the dear lad had started ;
On the green downs at Cromer I sat to see the view ;
On an open space of herbage, where the ling and fern had parted,
Betwixt the tall white lighthouse towers, the old and the new.

** Below me lay the wide sea, the scarlet sun was stooping,
And he dyed the waste of water as with a scarlet dye ;
And he dyed the lighthouse towers, every bird with white wing swooping
Took his colours, and the cliff dyed, and the yawning sky.

" Over grass came that strange flush, and over ling and heather,
Over flocks of sheep and lambs and over Cromer town ;
And each fllmy cloudlet crossing, drifted like a scarlet feather,
Tom from the folded wrap of clouds, while he settled down."

♦ Vol. viiL, 1307. t lb., 1325. t lb., 1334- D lb., 1312.

Digitized by



Swinburne, too, has written of our village in his '' Midsummer
Holiday" (1884), thus:—

** East and north a waste of waters, south and west
Lonelier lands than dreams in sleep would feign to be ;
When the soul goes forth on travel, and is prest
Round and compassed in with clouds that flash and flee.
Dells without a streamlet, downs without a tree,
Cinques of hollow cliff that crumble, give their guest
Little hope, till hard at hand he pause, to see
Where the small town smiles, a warm still sea-side nest.

*' Many a lone long mile, by many a headland's crest,
Down by many a garden dear to bird and bee ;
Up by many a sea-down's bare and breezy breast.
Winds the sandy strait of road where flowers run free.
Here along the deep steep lanes, by field and lea,
Knights have carolled, pilgrims chanted, on their quest ;
Haply, ere a roof rose toward the bleak strand*s lee.
Where the small town smiles, a warm still sea-side nest.

*' Are the wild lands cursed perchance of time, or blest,
Sad with fear or glad with comfort of the sea ?
Are the ruinous towers of churches fallen on rest
Watched of wanderers woful now, glad once as we,
When the night has all men's eyes and hearts in fee,
When the soul bows down dethroned and dispossest ?
Yet must peace keep guard, by day's and night's decree,
Where the small town smiles, a warm still sea-side nest.

" Friend, the lonely land is bright for you and me.
All its wild way's through ; but this methinks is best,
Here to watch how kindly time and change agree.
Where the small town smiles, a warm still sea-side nest.*'

Now that Tennyson's kinsman has built him a stately pleasure
house between the railway and the police stations, I hope we may
one day wake and find the village celebrated by the old man
eloquent having also sung on it

The latest description is by Clement Scott, who fell in love with
the place, and refers to it in his "Poppy Land," one paragraph
which gives a better idea of the watering-place than I can give : —

*< It was on one of the most beautiful days of the lovely month of
August, a sunmier morning, with a cloudless blue sky overhead, and a
sea without a ripple washing on the yellow sands* that I turned my

Digitized by



back on perhaps the prettiest watering-place of the east coast, and
walked along the cliffs to get a blow and a look at the harvest that had
just begun. It was the old story. At a mile removed from the sea-
side town I had left, I did not find a human being. Below me, as I
rested among the fern on the lighthouse cliff, there they all were, dig-
ging on the sands, playing lawn tennis, working, reading, flirting, and
donkey-riding, in a circle that seemed to me ridiculously small as I
looked at it from the height. In that red-roofed village, the centre of
all that was fashionable and select, there was not a bed to be had for
love or money ; all home comforts, all conveniences to which well-bred
people were accustomed, were deliberately sacrificed for the sake of a
lodging amongst a little society that loved its band, its pier, its shingle,
and its sea. A mile away there were farmhouses empty, cottages to
let, houses to be hired for a song ; a mile to the right there were sands
with no human being on them, deserted cliffs, empty caves, unfre-
quented rocks ; a mile to the left there was not a footprint on the
beach, not a foot-fall on the grassy cliff. Custom had established a
certain fashion at this pretty little watering-place, and it was re-
ligiously obeyed ; it was the rule to go on the sands in the morning,
to walk on one cliff for a mile in the afternoon, to take another mile in
the opposite direction at sunset, and to crowd upon the little pier at
night. But the limit was a mile either way. No one thought of going
beyond the lighthouse; that was the boundary of all investigation.
Outside that mark the country, the farms, and the villages were as
lonely as in the Highlands.*'

Perhaps the wealth of wild flowers is the feature which strikes
people on their first summer visit, the sea-banks being blazes of
brilliant colour, especially attractive to insects of all sorts, which
renders the place a happy hunting ground alike for the botanist
and entomologist* But it is to the geologist especially that
Cromer most commends itself— with its forest bed with its hazel

• Walter White refers to the wild flowers thus : — *' Alike surprising and delightful was
the sight of the prodigious numbers of wild flowers among which we were presently
walking. The ground seemed almost dazzling with the bright variety of colours, rival-
ling the charm of an Alpine pasture. On no other part of the English coast have I seen
so many. According to Professor Babbington there are one thousand seven hundred
and sixty-seven species of flowering plants in Britain ; and of these one thousand and
sixty-seven are found in Norfolk. In other counties the number is not more than half.
This floral luxuriance is doubtless appreciated by sojourners at Cromer. Perhaps the
presence of chalk and marl in the difib may have something to do with it; for Dr.
Daubeny tells us that ' angiospermous plants appear to have come in with the chalk, as if
intended to embellish the mansion in preparation for man to occupy, and thus to minister
to the special enjoyment of the only creature endowed with £u:nlties capable of deriving
pleasure from their contemplation.'"


Digitized by



leaves and nuts in sitUy so celebrated by Lyell — its jet, its great
mastodon bones still shaking out of its clifT sides.

On all these subjects I have been lucky enough to obtain short
essays, which will be found printed in the appendix, from experts
who have very kindly and liberally responded to my plea for help
on their special subjects.

The guide books say that the place first began to be frequented
by visitors about 1785, and this seems about correct No doubt
the great charm that the conversation of William Windham, the
friend of Johnson and Burke, who from his diary must have been
one of the most delightful and well-read companions imaginable,
drew many well-known families to Felbrigg and so to Cromer.
There are many entries about Cromer in this diary, e,g, —

October 23rd, 1786. Dined at Cromer. Had G. Wyndham and P. Johnson*
to dine with me. Sat late, talking of nothing but hunting : part of the
time not unpleasant, as I found my mind detained with images of
happiness, such as they were.

January 19th, 1787. It was long a doubt whether I should go to Bath : the
inducement of taking in my way a battle that was to be between Ward
and Johnson determined me to go.

July 19th, 1790. The evening of our going to Cromer was very fine, and the
party altogether very pleasant. We went, for the first time for me, to
the ^ New Inn,"t which promises to be a great accession to our com-
fort. Poor Alsop has spared me all difficulty and delicacy with respect
to him, by finding it necessary to abscond. Such a reduction at the
close of life is very melancholy.

The scene on the beach was enlivened by an object, quite new to
me, and new, perhaps, to the place — the unloading of a foreign vessel.
She was a Norway brig from Christiansand. The captain spoke
tolerable English, and was a well-behaved man, more so probably than
the average of such men with us.

July loth, 1793. The captain's name was Hall, an old smuggler, who had
lived in that capacity at Cromer, where, as he stated, he had often
seen me.

In 1793, so Mrs. Herbert Jones kindly tells me, she finds in the
Gumey correspondence, the family of John Gumey, of Earlham,
were at " Jerry's lodgings." His sister had married Robert Barclay,

* Rev. Paul Johnson of Ronton.

t Yet Bartell, who wrote his guide in 1800, talks of the want of a large and weU
conducted inn, and it has always been said Tucker built the '* New Inn."

Digitized by



who had bought North Repps Hall, in 1790, and this, no doubt,
originated their visits to Cromer.

Between the two— John Gumey and Robert Barclay — Mrs.
Jones tells me there were twenty-two children, who used to stand
in a row on the shore. Bartlett Gumey built North Repps cottage
in 1793, and Joseph Gurney, in 1795, owned "The Grove" at
Cromer (now Mr. Henry Birkbeck's), and in the same year,
Richard Gumey bought North Repps Hall of his brother-in-law,
R. Barclay.

By 1800 the place was well enough known to warrant a guide
book, and one was published by Edmund Bartlett, jun., with a
mezzotint view prefixed, showing a trading ship beached, ready to
discharge cargo, and a great stretch of cliff still between the light-
house and the sea. The book is poor stuff, giving little or no real
information, the account in the "Norfolk Tour" being much

In 1806 was published a delightful little book of some fifty-
seven pages, by an anonymous writer,* entitled "Cromer: a
Descriptive Poem,*' and consisting of some 700 lines of the blankest
verse I have ever had the luck to come across. Its dedication to
Mrs. Wyndham, of Cromer Hall, is, however, neat : —

" Of Cromer it has often been doubted whether the spectator derives
a greater pleasure from the sublimity of its sea views or the beauty of
its landscapes ; and of you, madam, it is difficult to determine whether
you are more to be admired for the dazzling attractions of your person
or esteemed for the amiable qualities of your heart.'*

After this one turns mechanically to the list of subscriptions to
see how many copies taken by the dedicatee rewarded the dedi-
cator, but unluckily there is no subscription list in my copy. In
such copy, however, there is the following interesting MS. fly-leaf
inscription : — " May a slight defect in the organs of speech prove
no impediment to the successful love of an amiable and lovely

Poor stuttering lover 1 Could the book have been written with
one eye on the prosaic, and another on the poetic side of the
Wyndham estates ?

* J. S. Mannings.

Digitized by



Of his originality, two specimens will suffice :—

" No foot is heard upon the jetty's base ;
I am alone, and leaning o*er its side
I gaze in silence, thinking on the deep,
Its dangers and its wonders and its paths,
Dark, trackless, and unsearchable by all,
Save by His eye Who," etc., etc.

But this IS good : —

" Quiet the steady sociable proceeds.
No danger in its course, and in the rear
The humbler vehicle, that bears displayed,
In letters legible to every eye.
The stamp of fiscal avarice.**

He means a taxed cart

A great attraction to many were the two opposition coaches,
that in pre-railway days ran daily from Norwich through the
beautiful Stratton Strawless woods and Aylsham. It is true they
were slow, owing to the inordinate quantity of luggage they had
to take ; but they were dangerous enough to please the adventu-
rous, and I must own that as far as I was concerned, I was always
delighted when the heavy load which had been pressing the
wheelers' haunches all the way down the final hill home, was
landed safely outside Tucker's. For a long while the poor fellow
known to fame as "Mad Wyndham" — though found not so by
inquisitions-drove one of them, and about the same time there is a
tradition that one of them went over Ingworth Bridge, passengers
and all into the shallow stream below. The departure and arrival
of the coaches were the events of the day, and " Church Square "
was always in a bustle then. Some of us used (we were young
then) to walk out to Runton and run the coach in ; but whether
this gave the idea of the only Athletic Sports I believe ever took
place at Cromer, and which were duly chronicled, as in the foot-
note in the " Bell's Life "* of the period, I know not I was lucky

♦ ^'Cromxr Athletic Sports.
" Thursday, Sept 5, 1867.— These sports were held at the Cohic House Field, by the
kind permissioii of Lady Buxton, and notwithstanding the rain in the morning, a fine
afternoon caused a fashionable attendance, and some excellent competition. The follow-

Digitized by



enough to win the steeplechase from better men, partly because I
was very "fit" (having just won a L.A.C. challenge cup), and
partly because Mr. Sandford, my most dangerous opponent, was
put hors de combat at the first obstacle by an accidental kick in the
stomach. Since then tennis has come in, on and off the sands, ad
nauseam^ and quite recently golf seems to have taken firm root, the
Prince of Wales having presented a challenge cup.

I will say nothing of the railways. No doubt they are conve-
nient to certain people, and since the coaches have ceased to run,
even those who hate have to use them. Some day, perhaps, now
that there is a revival of coaching, we old stagers may once more
have a chance of reaching Cromer by coach from Norwich* The
Great Eastern station has one redeeming point, it certainly has the
finest view from it of any station I have ever seen. The line ceases
on the crest of a hill, and the station stands like a fort command-
ing the village and sea below.

ing is a brief return of the sport :— 100 Yards Race— E. A. Hoare I, R. Tillardl 2.
Time \q\ sec. High Jump— J. G. Hoare of Cambridge (5 ft. 4) in.) i, E. A. Hoare
(5 ft.) 2. Quarter of a Mile Race — E. A. Hoare of Cambridge, wcm easily in 59 sec
from R. Tillard of Cambridge, who was second. Broad Jump— R. Tillard of Cambridge
(18 ft. 4 in.) I, J. G. Hoare (i8 ft.) 2. Hurdle Race, 100 yards— T. Mack i, F.
Pelham 2 (both of Cambridge). Throwing the Cricket Ball— R. Tillard of Cambridge
(99} yards) ly C. Tillard of Cambridge (97) yards) 2. Steeplechase, about three-quarters
of a mile. For this race Messrs. K A. Hoare, H. Pelham, W. Rye (L.A.C.), L.
Buxton, R. Tillard, F. Buxton, Sandford, and others started. After jumping a wall and
crossing a hedge, the competitors got into a stubble field, but nearing a gate at the end,
were rather straggly. Rye cleared the gate third, and then took the lead over the next
jump, but shortly afterwards was passed by L. Buxton, who, however, shut up directly
Rye spurted alongside him, and the others being beaten off. Rye ran home an easy
winner. Half-mile Handicap — E. A. Hoare, scr., I ; F. Buxton, 50 yards start, 2 ; J.
Hoare, 100, 3. Hoare won a quick race in 2 min. 8 sec Consolation Stakes— C.
TiUard i, C. L. Buxton 2. Boys* Race— F. Boileck i, F. Pattesson 2. Great thanks
are due to J. Hoare, Esq., who acted as judge, and performed the duties to the satis&c*
tion of all concerned."— iff^//'j L^e,

Digitized by



When I projected this book I thought that this would be the
easiest chapter of it to write, but on setting down to it, it seems
exactly the reverse ; for when I come to look round the place and
over my notes, it is almost impossible for me, as a conscientious
genealogist, to say, as I had hoped to be able to do, that certain
fishermen-families have certainly been here plying their trade for
many centuries, undisturbed by what has been taking place in the
outside world. The outcome of my investigation really comes to
this, that though many of our local names are very old in North
Erpingham Hundred, they are by no means old in the parish. A
striking example of this, and also of the danger of jumping at
conclusions, is that the name of Rust is now one of the best known
and respectable in the place. Until I went carefully into the
matter I, knowing as I did that the name of William Rust occurred
in the Subsidy Roll here for 1333, naturally concluded that the
family had been here for over 500 years. So I thought, too, about
the Clarks, for were not Hugh le Clerk and Stephen le Clerk here
in 1327 and 1333? But investigation shows this is not so, and
that both families came to Cromer quite recently.

Again, Mr. John Arnold is, or recently was, auditor at Cromer
Hall ; but his family (whether or not descended from the Arnolds,
former lords of the manor, I cannot say) have certainly not been
at Cromer for many generations.

The Macks may spring from Thomas Makke, whose will was
proved 1495 — 15 15 (p. Ixxv. of Appendix), but I don't think so;
and, joking apart, I believe that by a jingling coincidence, the
Pyes and the Ryes are the only people who still have anything to
do with Cromer, who were here 300 years aga

Digitized by



We were here in 1588, and "John Pye alias Shipden's" will, was
proved in 1591 (Appendix IxxvL).

I don't think there are any Ransoms left in Cromer just now,
but if so, they take priority of us ; for Robert Ransome was here
in 1545, and they have stuck to the place till quite recently.
Possibly Mr. Ranson, the present Mayor of Norwich, is of this
family. His predecessor, Mr. F. W. Harmer, better known as a
geologist than as a Norwich merchant and mayor, also traces his
descent from a family very long settled in these parts. It would
seem as if it might be, that Cromer failing to make more mayors
of London, had recently made them at Norwich instead.

Of the old landed families once here there are no traces left
Mr. Blofeld, the Norwich barrister, I believe is a descendant of
the old Cromer family of his name, but has now no connection
with the place. The Wyndhams and the Windhams are dead and
gone, their very names hardly remembered, and their monuments
" run over with cement " by men, who had they been alive, would
have grovelled before them, as they do nowadays to their succes-
sors ; and the Harbords are the only oldish family connected with
the place, who hold the land their ancestors got by judicious
marriages. It is singular to note how history repeats itself, and
how twice Cromer squires have owed most of their land to the
proceeds of the pharmacopoeia.

The allied families of Gumey-Hoare-Buxton, though landowners,
can hardly be considered as being territorial proprietors in the
ordinary acceptance of the words; for they bought from the best of
motives — a desire to live on and enjoy their own land. Like most
new families raised from the ranks by undoubted abilities and
talents, their first few generations are of great interest to the

Who can read Borrows' vivid word-painting description of the
good Quaker Gumey of Earlham, without liking the man instinc-
tively. Too much goodness and intellect is, however, likely to pall
on one, and the quasi-aristocracy created by ancestors of intellect
and charitable works grows a little tedious after awhile, and as I
have said elsewhere, the unregenerate mind longs to find a bad

To the philosophic outsider the study of the combination, or as
it were the " close corporation," formed by these families is most

Digitized by



interesting. Judicious intermarriages would seem to be the key-
stone of the edifice, and as an ethnological curiosity the pedigree
sheet opposite is worthy of notice.

Another pedigree,* the curiosity of which must be my excuse for
inserting it, is my own, showing the way my own people have
adhered to three christian names (Edward, James, and Elizabeth).
I may say it generally omits such persons as do not bear such
christian names.

1. Thomas RVEf of North Walsham, married Alice Spilman of

Cromer, a match which brought us to this place. Besides
{i.a,) a son, Edward Rye (No. i), and a daughter Elizabeth
(No. i), they had a son

2. William Rye, who was baptised at North Walsham 26th

May, 1560, and like his father married a Cromer girl,

Springall. He bought land held of Cromer Gunnor's manor
in 1588, got into trouble (as did his father) in 1589 for
exporting grain without a license, and is mentioned as
•* William Rye of Cromer," in the will of his uncle, William
Rye of North Walsham, in the same year. In his will,
dated 1603 (Norf Arch., 1602—3, p. 316), he mentions a
large family, including James Rye (No. i) and Elizabeth
(No. 2), and

3. Edward Rye (No. 2) of Cromer, who must have been born

after 1582, for he was a minor in 1603, and was probably
father of

4. Edward Rye (No. 3), senior, of Cromer, who was alive in

• From this pedigree— as extended in my " Account of the Family of Rye," — could be
demonstrated how easily, by applying the Gumey process mentioned in the forgoing
note, I could make out a plausible descent for my ancestors from the Derbyshire visita-
tion family of Rye of Whitwell, just as the Gumeys did from the Essex visitation family
of Gumey.

Edward Rye of Whitwell, sold the manor in 1583, and disappears. His mother's
name was Jane^ and he had brothers Roger and/oAHf and a grand aunt EH%abe(h, In
1603, we find at Cromer, not only an Edward Rye, who had sbters Jaw and Elisabeth^
and a brother /^^if, but later on a Roger Rye. What, therefore, would have been more
plauable than to have assumed the identity of the frunilies ? But we know that these
were accidental coincidences only.

t For earlier pedigree see Norf. Anti. Misc., Tol. iii.» p. 350.

Digitized by












Robert e


Robert s






Bartlett Martha - John

Gtimey Gumey Birkbeck



{F. Louisa -• Samuel
In Gumey Hoare


Grizell s William
Hoare Birkbeck


Prisdlla ^




. Albert

aboil ing

Fran^ Joseph
ooid o'^
i ileal

The John Oumey, with
was undoubtedly bom
of the House of Ooumay (
moners of a descent from a
John, son and heir of
hi Z655. Beyond Ae
There is no need to go so
rery parish of St Grpgory*J
mentionhiff an ^/i^/vur O*
Gumey was apprenticed to
i66a Again, we have an
married 4 December, 1649*
PoU Book of 1734— S, wbid
as worstead weavers, also i
weaver in St. George Cok

in x68c, could not have been that John of the same place, bom in 1655,

that bis brother Thomas, who took out administration in 168 r, could not

e Thomas, son of Francis (bom 1661), as he was then a minor. But ihis was

' it was not unusual to grant administration to males over 18. To add prob-

Ghiraey (son of the debateable John) was of the real stock, the author

mentions (p. 5^6) that his marriage in 17 13 was attended by Henry

Bcanthwaite, " both connections of the W. Barsham Gurocys." ** There

on the Dover road— let him answer tkat if he can." The author was for-

if his story were trae, the connection of the Maiden Guraeys with those of

was of the remotest character.

, however, as a literary curiosity, the subject is hardly worth the space I have
there cannot be any moral doubt that the Keswick Camily are, one way or the
descended from the knightly and once powerful family of Gumey of Norfolk,
;:areful hivestigation, would I think, show their real descent

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 12 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22

Online LibraryWalter RyeCromer, past and present: or, An attempt to describe the parishes of Shipden ... → online text (page 12 of 22)