Logo bar


Eleven young men from Brundall and Braydeston were to lose their lives in the First World War. (You can see pictures of some of them on our leaflet ‘Commemorating World War One’ – available from our ‘shop’).  How did they feel as they left their homes, families, and friends behind and what memories did they take with them of the place in which they’d grown up?  They may have been apprehensive of course but they may have been excited.  They didn’t know of the horrors to come and to some of them at least, the thought of travel and adventure was inviting, especially if their lives were very humdrum.
When they were going through terrible times and longing for home what pictures did the soldiers have in their minds of their home village?  Have a look at some of the photographs of Brundall at that time.

The beginning of the twentieth century was a time of change for Brundall.  At the end of the nineteenth and beginning of the twentieth century Norwich was a thriving centre of industry and some of the businessmen and professionals started looking for homes outside the city.  Some of them, like Henry ffiske of Boulton & Paul, came to Brundall for very much the same reasons as people move here today i.e. its proximity to the railway, the river, and the city.  They were what the locals called the ‘Hooray Henries’ and in the previous century there weren’t many of them.  So what of the ordinary workers?  Many of them were gardeners at the big houses or at Reads of Cucumber Lane.  Others worked on the railway or at the boatyards.

What facilities did the people of Brundall have in 1914?  There was no resident doctor and the nearest school was at Strumpshaw.  The horse being a more common means of transport than the car, there was a blacksmith where the supermarket is now.  John Long had his butcher’s shop in Sunnyside, Mrs Baxter was a grocer and draper, and Edmund Frary a drift net fisherman, although I don’t know whether he sold his fish here!  Should you need your shoes mended there was George Green of Oak Views and the aptly named Walter Bell was at the telephone exchange on the corner.  Harriet Merrison kept the Post Office on the corner of Station Road.  Should you need refreshment there were three public houses in the village, The Ram, The Yare, and The White Horse.

St Laurence Church had recently been extended.  At the beginning of the century a north aisle and vestry had been added and in 1913 a porch.  The size of the church before this (the extension at the west end was added in the 1960s) is an indication of how small and insignificant Brundall had been in the past.  The rector from 1898 to 1940 was Charles Chamberlin whose family owned the department store in Norwich and whose wife was the daughter of Thomas Slipper of Braydeston Hall.  They lived in Witton Rectory with their five children.  There wasn’t even much stained glass in the church until this time.  The window in the west end was in memory of the previous rector who died in 1898 and the window behind the altar was donated in memory of Charles Chamberlin’s parents’ first child who died aged 10 months.  Another two windows were to be added in memory of the soldiers lost in the First World War.

Chamberlins' department
                  store outside

Chamberlin's Drapery Store on St Giles Hill, Norwich

If you wanted entertainment in those days you had to provide it yourself of course and this certainly happened in Brundall Auxiliary War Hospital.  You can read about this and see delightful photographs in our publication, ‘Brundall Auxiliary War Hospital’, also available at our ‘shop’.  Concerts were put on in the Church Room, now the library, by, and for, the patients.  These were soldiers who had come to Brundall to recuperate.  Many were not so fortunate including the eleven from Brundall and Braydeston who were to lose their lives.  You can read about them in the Commemorative Leaflet and see the memorial windows in Brundall and Braydeston churches.

Theatre during WW1

The theatre at the Auxiliary War Hospital at Brundall House with the patients 'King Time and the Seasons'

Towards the end of the 19th century Brundall and Braydeston became one civil parish.  However, ecclesiastically they were still separate.  Braydeston had the same rector as Strumpshaw and Brundall was linked to Witton.  This is why some of the soldiers are remembered in Brundall Church and some in Braydeston.  The boundary between the two parishes was very tortuous and seemed to have no logic.  For instance Brundall Station is in Braydeston so William Beck who lived in Station Cottages has his name on the Braydeston window.

Commerative window WW1

Plaque of men who fell in WW1

This window and plaque commemorate those men
who came from Brundall and fell in the First World

Back to Interesting Stuff