Brundall Local
              History Group

  Brundall people

Frederick Holmes


In about 1917, cinema magnate Frederick Holmes Cooper acquired the Banks of the Yare, a 120 acre estate in Brundall.

The estate had been put on the market a few years previously by Doctor Michael Beverley, who had created the most beautiful gardens leading down to Brundall Mere and to the railway.

The Cooper family moved into The Log House, a large cabin with a thatched roof built by Dr Beverley. However, only eighteen months later The Log House caught fire and the fire brigade took twelve hours to extinguish it.

'I will not reside in a wooden house again as long as I live.  Pitch pine might be all very well for a coffin or for pews in church - my preference for the future will lie in bricks and mortar' said Mr Cooper. He was true to his word and project managed the building a magnificient three storey house on the site of The Log Cabin which he called Redclyffe House.

His cinema career went from strength to strength but in 1930 he embarked on some expensive ventures which were to misfire. He planned to convert The Theatre Royal in Great Yarmouth and the Marina Theatre in Lowestoft into cinemas with a sound system which involved borrowing a lot of money. 

He economic crisis provoked by the great Depression caused the Banks to foreclose on the loans and he was unable to repay.  He decided to rent out Redclyffe House in 1933 and move away from the area.

(Text by Caroline Seville, his grand-daughter.)

Susie Long


Susannah (Susie) Long was born in Lowestoft in 1883 and came to Brundall with her parents in 1890 to live at The Lodge, a large house (no longer there) on The Street between Barn Row and Church Cottages. 

Her father, Robert, was a draper-cum-gentlemen’s outfitter in Lowestoft. 

Susie studied art at Norwich Art College and then in World War One she was a Red Cross nurse at Brundall Auxiliary War Hospital in Brundall House.  Here she met Corporal Ernest Wood, a patient, and in 1918 Rev Charles Chamberlin married them at Brundall Church. 

Her father had a wooden bungalow built for them in Long’s Loke, (now Links Avenue), called ‘Bankside’ which is still there today. Susie and Ernest had three children, Anthea, Louis, and Colin.  

Her grandson, Chris, who still lives in Brundall, has loaned us some of Susie's paintings which we have turned into greetings cards. 

Take a look at the 'Susie Long Collection'

Rev & Mrs

Charles Marshall Chamberlin was born in 1872 and was rector of St Laurence, Brundall from 1898 to 1940. 

His father was Alexander Chamberlin of the Chamberlin’s department store in Norwich (where Tesco is now), and his mother Agnes was a Marshall, whose father co founded Marshall and Snelgrove of London. 

The Chamberlins were generous benefactors of Brundall Church. The east window is dedicated to Alexander and Agnes’s first child who died aged 10 months.

Charles married Katherine Slipper of Braydeston Hall and they had three sons and two daughters and lived in Witton Rectory. 

Charles and Katherine took part in, and organised many activities in the village, some of them taking place in the building which is now Brundall Library, but was then the Church Room.Charles died in 1958 in Devon to where he had retired, but both he and his wife are buried in Brundall Churchyard.   

For more information see ‘Houses of Brundall and Braydeston Volume 2.

Martin Broom


Martin Broom was born in 1934 in Brundall. 

His grandfather, Charles Broom, founded Broom’s Boats in 1898 and Martin took over the business from his father, Basil, at the age of 30. His father and uncle both died, one of his cousins died in WW1 and another, Barney, decided to go into the church, leaving him in charge of a boatyard employing 25 men.

He had been a boat-building apprentice with Herbert Woods of Potter Heigham and did his National Service as a boat repairer in the air-sea rescue service at Plymouth. 

It was about this time that fibreglass revolutionised boat building.  This was also the time when hiring boats for holidaying on the Broads became popular. 

Martin was a race winning sailor and involved in many organisations associated with sailing and the Broads.  He was made an MBE in 1991. His wife, Jennifer, helped in the business and when he died in 2013, three years after he had sold Broom’s Boats, he left her, and two daughters, Amanda and Emma.

For more information about Broom Boats see ‘The Book of Brundall and Braydeston’
Also see Brundall businesses.

Lord Blake


Robert Blake, academic, writer, historian, and politician, was born in Brundall at ‘The Manor House’ in 1916, and died at his home, Riverview, also in Brundall, overlooking the River Yare, in 2003. 

The private lane leading to the house is now called Blakes Lane in his memory. 

He was educated at Norwich School and Magdalen College, Oxford. During the war he was captured at Tobruk in Italy and escaped from the POW camp. 

After the war he became a Fellow of Christ Church College, Oxford, and ultimately Provost of Queen’s College. 

From 1957 to 1964 he was Conservative member for Oxford City Council. He was created a life peer in 1971.  His best known book is a biography of Disraeli.

He was a keen supporter of Braydeston Church and that is where he is buried. His wife, Patricia, was also from Norfolk, and they were both known for their convivial hospitality. They had three daughters.

Richard Huges


Richard Hughes, former chef/proprietor of The Lavender House and Cookery School in Brundall, was born in a fenland village near Downham Market.

He started cooking at the age of 15, encouraged by his mother being a good cook.  His first job, straight from school, was at The Imperial Hotel, Great Yarmouth, and from there he went to Rookery Hall Hotel, Nantwich, Cheshire.

He also worked at Fairhaven Restaurant, South Walsham Hall and with Dick Condon at the Theatre Royal and has taught at Norwich City College.  He took over the Number 24 Restaurant at Wymondham and then, in 2002, the Old Beams, Brundall, which he renamed The Lavender House.

He also co-owns The Pigs public house in Edgefield, North Norfolk, and is director of the Assembly House in Norwich.  He often features in local media championing local food and suppliers. He has written several books.The Lavender House and cookery school are now closed.

Alan Hunter


Many people will have seen Alan Hunter walking around Brundall, possibly puffing on his pipe, but few will have realised who this unassuming man was and fewer still would have known him. 

From 1974 until his death in 2005, he lived in St Laurence Avenue with wife, Adelaide, and daughter, Helen.  He was, in fact, the author of the George Gently novels.  He wrote 48 books about the detective over 40 years.  Unfortunately he didn't live to see his creations on television.

Gently is played by a Norfolk actor, Martin Shaw, but the location has been moved to the North East whereas Norfolk was very much the inspiration for much of Alan’s work.  He was born in Hoveton St John and had five older sisters.  His father was a poultry farmer and his uncle, Percy Hunter, a Ludham boatbuilder.  After helping in the family business when he left school, Alan volunteered for the Air Force at the outbreak of the war. 

He married Adelaide in 1944 and they lived with her parents at The Shrubbery in Strumpshaw Road until they moved to ‘Fairwinds’, a bungalow two doors from the Ram. They were to own bookshops in both Norwich and Cromer before finally settling in Brundall again.        

Lambert with dog


Although born in London in 1916, Dr Joyce Lambert, botanist and ecologist, was brought up in Brundall, staying at her grandparents’ house in West End Avenue. 

She went to Norwich High School for girls, studied botany at the University of Wales, and later took a doctorate at London University.  In 1961 she was appointed lecturer in botany at Southampton University. 

In the 1950s, supported by Cambridge University, she confirmed by stratigraphic sampling that the Broads were man made, the result of peat diggings. Some of her investigative borings took place at Surlingham Broad.  Her theory was at first greeted with scepticism.

In 1979 she returned to live at the bungalow, ‘Toft Monks’, in Brundall, which her grandfather had built.  She never married.  She was a lively personality, short and broad of stature, whose mental faculties were sharp to the end.  She was also a keen supporter of Norwich City!  

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Listed buildings

Brundall pubs past and present

Interesting houses

Brundall people

Brundall's businesses

About the school

A history of health in Brundall