DERSINGHAM HISTORY
Copyright © 2017
Dersingham Folk
All Rights reserved
Site by Mike Strange
People of Dersingham
This page will deal with historical records of people who live or have lived within the village and stories they have to tell

Census
1851 -  Summary of Dersingham Residents

1968 - Not so much a census but certainly a comprehensive listing of Dersingham residents in 1968/9

Directories
Directories of Private Residents and those in a commerce are an excellent resource when researching people and can be related to census for the early ones. These links go to all the transcriptions we have undertaken from available material; if you have additional years we would appreciate a copy so that we can transcribe and add them here. As you will appreciate the task has not been small and the possibility of errors in typing is high; if you have spotted a mistake we would like to hear from you so we can correct it.

1831    1836    1839    1845    1854    1856    1864    1869    1874    1877    1883    1890    1892    1896   

1900    1904    1908    1912    1916    1922    1925    1929    1933    1937

Note that telephone numbers appear by 1912 and are shown as TN.

Interviews with Dersingham Folk
This page contains audio recordings and transcripts of interviews of personal experiences in the village that were recorded as the Dersingham villagers for the Dersingham 2000 History Project. An additional recording relates to experiences and memories of the two World Wars.

Monumental Inscriptions
St Nicholas Church Monumental Inscriptions with burial plot numbers are available here. We believe that these were recorded by members of the Women's Institute. You will be required to register a free account to access these records. The site is run by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints and is perfectly safe; registration is to try to prevent automated download from the site.

Notable People and Families

Nathan Coward - A Dersingham Character

Alfred Richard Firth - The Schoolmaster's Son

Samuel, Barbara and Thomas Kerrich - A portrait of an 18th century Dersingham family

Thomas Kerrich - Dersingham 18th and 19th century

The Pell family of Dersingham in 1643 - Conflict, Conspiracy and Espionage - The strange affair at Appleton Hall

George Skelton - Builder of Duck Decoys

Arthur Harry Cross - Professor of Music, organist ad choirmaster at Sandringham Church

Ralph - a family of photographers

Poll Taxes
1692

Surnames Research
NEAVE - Information from Ken Parker
SOFTLEY - If you are studying the surname of SOFTLEY in Dersingham from 1853 this is a good resource.
THWAITE, TWAITE & TWITE - A short item from Bernard Twite

Comments from Dersingham Folk
Dick Melton - Frequent contributor to Dersingham Village Voice magazine. Here follows verbatim transcriptions of letters from Dick to Elizabeth Fiddick concerning this web site content and other historical notes about Dersingham:
Dick Melton Letter 1
The concrete road that runs from the by-pass near the old station as far as the last big drain was not laid down for to extract shingle from the pits, it was laid down in 1941/42 so as farmers could get down and plough up the marshes to grow crops due to the war and the shortage of food, it was laid down by W.A.R.G. which was a department formed by parliament to look after farmers and agriculture as a whole.

The shingle pits have been there for 150 years or more, the shingle was either taken away by barge from the old Snettisham jetty or by lorry along the Snettisham beach road, my great uncle tom drew ran lorry's during the war taking shingle from the pits to make runways on airfields through out East Anglia as did a Mr Hodge who kept lorries at Ingoldisthorpe.

Decoy Farm was renamed in the 1960s, up till then it was Station Road Farm and it was farmed by the Lincoln brothers. The decoy was right down the marsh in some trees on land that was used by a farmer from Ringstead to graze his sheep on. In the 1950s and 60s there was a bird trap in the decoy called a Helgoland Trap not unlike the old traps of years ago with a large mouth supported by iron hoops set in the water with a narrow end. It was used by the RSPB to trap and ring any sort of birds not just water fowl so that they could keep records of where they flew to and from

Over on Dersingham fen was another decoy that was made out of a bomb crater that was made when a Zeppelin dropped a bomb there during the first world war. This decoy was used a lot by King George the sixth to shoot flighing duck at dawn and dusk as far as I know it is still there but not used.

The Methodist Chapel in Manor Road opposite the bottom school was hired out to the school in 1951 so as it could be used as a dinning hall for the children to eat their lunch in so as they did not have to walk home to dinner like myself and Bernie had to. The dinner's were cooked at the top school (St George's) and brought down to the bottom school in containers and dished out by the dinner ladies. The Chapel was not sold to the Feathers until after the school was closed down.

When I was a lad a Mr Walter Senter still lived at number 2 Manor Road he had been a carpenter on the Sandringham estate. In his garden he had a shop that had been a boot makers, about six of us lads who live in that area would go round there two nights a week give him one sixpence a night towards the wood for him to teach us carpentry.

Hurry home drift, I have never heard it called that before, it was always just the drift, there was a young man called Billy Hurry who lived at number 33 Lynn Road so it might have been named after him, before the second world war it was the only way to get down the marshes and Dun-Cow Lane ran from Dun-Cow corner (now the Cooperative store ) as far as Pleasant Place. Then it was Lynn Road past Sandpit Cottages then on to King's Lynn, next to Pleasant Place was an area of open land next to the common where us lads played football in the far corner in a hovel lived and old man called Hoddy, another old man lived over the Shut Up Common in the old water works shed, both of these men done odd jobs around the village. Also at one time another man lived in Goggs Winn (the little wood ) down the Drift but I did not know much about him.

You mention the three windmills in the village one of these stood on high ground to the east of the station, when the second world war broke out pill boxes were erected all over the place and one was erected near the site of the old windmill. This pill box is still there today just off Mountbatten Road.

When the bungalows were built on Manorside just off Manor Road there used to be a lot of fires on the common along there southern boundary so the residents paid to have a twelve foot wide fire break made to stop the fires from spreading.

One thing that might be of interest is that in the late 1960s or early 70s the Weetabix company ran a competition the top prize was to have a house built on any plot of land of your choice any where in the British Isles and the winner chose a plot of land in Heath Road Dersingham where the house was also built (Brackendale).

You say that Dodd's Hill or previously Dodd Hill has been named as such for 500 years, yet if you look in Bryants map of Norfolk for 1826 it is called High Crof's.

When Mr Stratford took the old hall over after the second world war the hall itself was turned into flats , there were barns and out buildings a small wood and a meadow, one of the out buildings was turned into a club run by Joe Jary; one of the barns was turned into a small dance hall with a stage. A Mr Jacobs kept chickens on the meadow and at one time Peter Oliver Leech (the man in the red waistcoat ) ran an auction centre in some buildings out the back of the hall. A friend of mine lived in an old caravan in the grounds with his mother and brother and sister. Also the old scout hut was in the grounds.

I very much liked the new web site for Dersingham that Mike Strange and your goodself [Elizabeth Fiddick - Ed] have set up, so I just thought that I would send you a few bits and pieces that might be of interest to you, I liked the recordings , especially my old mate Bernie Twite.

All the best to you both
Dick Melton
Sunny Hunny
Dick Melton Letter 2
Just a few more bits to add to your dersingham history i have sent them now as if i leave it i might forget.

Dodds Hill Dersingham quoted in an Eastern Daily Press book of 700 Norfolk villages as a village (hamlet) 8 miles north east of Kings Lynn

Decoy Farm, Station Road, Dersingham was known as Glebe Dairy and run by the Lincoln brothers.

Fishers fish and chip shop opened up at no 4 Hunstanton Road around about 1938, a potato crisp factory was opened up by Mr fisher in some buildings attached to the fish and chip shop after World War 2, the trade name was Norfolk Golden Crisps, after a while the crisp factory moved to bigger premises at Hill Street, Hunstanton that before the war had been a laundry. At the same time the Fisher family opened up two fish and chip shops in Hunstanton one of them still trades under that name today (2017).

Then the Fishers gave up the Dersingham fish and chip shop, it was taken over by a Mr and Mrs Stevens. By 1965 the Stevens had sold up and went to live in a bungalow in Chapel Road, the fish and chip shop then traded as Big Fry and was owned by a Mr Brian Cholerton. In 1987 the chip shop was damaged by fire , it was re-built in 1988 and re-opened under the name of The Flag, it changed hands once again and is now the Lotus House.

When Mr Fisher had the crisp factory he would take tins of salt to people along with small squares of blue grease proof paper then the salt was wrapped in the paper and the people doing this would be paid so much per hundred.

Brooke Road is called by many local people Laundry Lane as there used to be a laundry at number 8. There was also a laundry behind number 61 Lynn Road which was run by a Mrs Crow.

On the new village map you have a small wood down the drift that has been called By-Pass Wood since 1990 when the by-pass was built. This wood had been named Fiddler’s Wood since 1916. Mr ‘Fiddler’ Mitchell was a carrier in the village; he kept his pony on a field next to a small wood. When it passed away it was buried in the wood and from then on it was named Fiddlers Wood. When I was a lad I would walk through this wood looking for rabbits and I always walked by the mound where the pony's grave was.

There had ‘always’ been some of the Mitchell family living in Dersingham; two of them had been hurdle makers. My father went to school with some of them over one hundred years ago and there was always one of them called Fiddler. In the nineteen seventies one of the Mitchells called Fiddler bought the house called Four Winds at the top of Fern Hill. Now here is a bit of history about Four Winds; Billy Smith rented Hill House Farm off the estate for many years and he lived in Hill House. When he decided to retire in the early nineteen sixties he had to give up the farm and house but Billy did not want to move away from the top of Fern Hill so he asked the Sandringham estate to sell him an area of land at the top of Fern Hill, which they did, and he had Four Winds built. After Billy passed away Fiddler Mitchell bought the house and changed the name to Mitchell House; Four Winds is now (2017) owned by a man from Cambridgeshire.

Many years ago my wife's parents lived in Hill House Lodge so I spent a lot of time up there.

There was a competition in the Eastern Daily Press for the best view in Norfolk. I entered and came third with the view across the wash from the top of Fern Hill.
Yours sincerely
Dick Melton
Sunny Hunny
Dick Melton Letter 3
Dick Melton
No 3 Willow Road
Hunstanton
Norfolk, PE36 5DE
Phone 01485 535348
9/10/2017

Hi there,
I have been going through the Dersingham history web site and you say on it that you would like any comments about it.

The first thing is The Drift; going back to 1910 when my father first used it has never been called Hurry Home Drift or Senters Drift [It was referred to as Hurry Home Drift by a couple of long-time residents during their interviews; we rather like it – Ed]. The big house on the corner was lived in by the Senter family who had three small sheds (shops ) in their back yard and this area was always known as Senters Corner.

As I have said many times the shingle from the pits was never brought up the ‘Concrete Road’ as wagons could not get over the old sea wall and the grader was always up the Snettisham end [other sources tell us differently; conveyors could easily have been used to get over the old sea wall – Ed]; the shingle company was called ETNA [Etna Stone and Shingle Co (Source see NHER 13757) – Ed]. After the 1953 floods the name of the company was the Snettisham Concrete Company and it moved to a stye in Common Road, Snettisham; it was run by Fred Easton from Dersingham.

Next the Alexandra Inn or Hotel down by the station was closed down in 1937 the last landlord was Mr Isaac
David Bird who passed away the same year.

Earl close on the Hipkin Estate was named after Nurse Earl who was the Dersingham District Nurse for many years.

I would think that some of the Albert Victor cottages (middle ones) were the oldest cottages in Dersingham. These cottages were always called Wash House Yard as a lady had a laundry there and she done a lot of washing for the Royal family when they were staying at Sandringham House.

The German and Italian prisoners of war who helped lay the concrete road were billeted in the Prisoner of War camp down Snettisham Beach; some of them were not repatriated until the summer of 1947.

Dodds Hill, a few years back, was first called Doddshill in a book called ‘Queen Alexandra’; first published in 1969 and written by Georgina Battiscombe [now Doddshill Road – Ed]. In 1916 a Zeppelin dropped a bomb up Doddshill; Queen Alexandra, who lived and owned Sandringham House , went up there next morning to see the damage for herself.

Well that's all for now keep up your brilliant work on the history of Dersingham.

All the best
Dick Melton
Sunny Hunny