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    It was only recently that I learnt from an article by Derek James in the EDP that Brundall has headgear named after it.  ‘The Brundall’ is a cap by the once well known hat maker, Rumsey Wells.  Some of you may remember the shop in St Andrews Street, Norwich which closed in 1974.  Rumsey had died in 1937, aged 60, and with no fifth generation to take over the business started by his great grandfather 200 years ago, two members of staff, Edna Watling and Elsie Bugden, ran it until 1974 when they found it difficult to find craftsmen to make the caps.  They refused to go for mass production.
    Rumsey claimed that he made the most expensive caps in the world.  He invented the ‘Doggie’ which was made individually to fit and cost a guinea.  Others cost as much as £2.  He had customers all over the Empire and his hats would be recognised.  They were made of ‘the nicest English, Scotch and Irish tweeds’.  He was proud of the fact that they were made in ‘the capital of the King’s County, Norfolk’ and he gave his caps local names such as the Blofield, the Brancaster, the Brundall and the Reepham.
    He even found some experienced silk weavers left and with them produced finely woven and beautiful silks in traditional patterns.  His efforts to revive the Norwich silk industry received royal recognition.
    His caps may have been for the elite and he sported an elegant beard, wore immaculate shirts and ties, a cloak, and of course a hat, but he travelled round Norwich on a bicycle and supported local charities and cycling organisations.  The shop is no longer there but the Rumsey Wells public house stands on the spot where his shop was and there is a blue plaque beside the entrance to Rumsey Wells Place, St Andrews Street.                                                                                                                                                           Barbara Ayers

Rumsey Wells

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