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Dersingham Folk
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The Station Hotel or Alexandra Public House
Mike Strange ©
The King's Lynn to Hunstanton railway line opened in 1862; the hotel was opened a few years later in 1869 at the bottom of Station Road. It was known as the Alexandra or Railway Station Hotel in 1891 but just the Station Hotel in 1901.


James Buck







Robert Claxton







George Baldwin







Charles Rainsbury in 1877 Harrod's Directory







Charles Raspberry (1878-1880 from the Electoral Registers)







Robert Long







Mrs Annie Smith and Mrs Jane Elizabeth Smith







Thomas Warner







Charles Christopher Simmonds (also spelt as Symonds)







Charles Arthur John Simonds







Herbert Edward Alderton







Isaac David Bird






This map showing the "Alexandra Hotel" is from 1904 while the photograph is c1984 in its residential form.
James Buck
Monday 4th April 1870 - Fine of £1 10s and 16s 6d costs for having house open for the sale of beer between the hours of seven and eight o'clock on the morning of Sunday 6th March 1870 (Lynn Advertiser , April 9th 1870). I can't tell you anymore about Mr Buck.

Robert Claxton
Robert Claxton aged 54 in the 1871 Census [confusingly, different census has his date of birth ranging from 1817 to 1824!)  with his wife Fanny (Frances) aged 48; both were born in Beeston, Norfolk. Robert is also shown as a marine store dealer. Twenty years later they were both in Myton, Kingston Upon Hull with his occupation continuing as a marine store dealer. Fanny died in Yorkshire in 1894 and Robert in 1903.

George Baldwin
1874 Kelly's Directory has a George Baldwin at The Alexandra. Having explored the Baldwin/Balding family tree in the village the only person I can find of that name for the given timeframe is in the 1871 and 1881 census records. In 1871 he was shown as George Baldwing (a unusual alteration), Labourer and married to Lucy nee Skelton. She was one of the daughters of George Skelton, designer of many duck decoys including Dersingham's. Importantly he was never a Glover, all will become clear why that is important.

From 1865 to1875 a Robert Balding was living in 128 Whitechapel Road, London and he was shown in the Electoral Registers for Dersingham that he had voting rights here on the strength of owning an Inn near the Dersingham railway station. This throws up two intriguing twists in the tale. Firstly, we now know that "The Alexandra" was open at least by1865 rather than our previous known earliest date of 1869. The second twist is that 128 Whitechapel Road, London turns out to be the address of a pub called "The Grave Maurice" [see Footnote] that was established in 1723. After many owners or licensees we find here:

1855 Sarah Hill, Deceased, outgoing licensee (The Era, Sunday 15 July 1855)
1855 Henry William Wainwright & Esther Balding, executors, incoming licensees (The Era, Sunday 15 July 1855)
The licence was transferred from Henry William Wainright and Esther Balding to Robert Balding at a Transfer of Licences meeting in Tower Hamlets. (Morning Advertiser, 21 Aug 1855)
1856 Robert Balding (Post Office Directory)
1869 Robert Balding (Post Office Directory)
1874 R Balding (HD Miles London & Suburban Licensed Victuallers’ Directory)
October 1873 Robert Balding outgoing licensee (East London Observer)

The address is now 269 Whitechapel Road but no longer a pub. Its full history can be read here London Pubs - Grave Maurice for whom I fully acknowledge for the historical information about "The Grave Maurice".

Examining the 1871 census for 128 Whitechapel Road, London I was pleased to find:
Robert Balding, head, widower, 48, Licensed Victualler, born in Norfolk  c1823
Sarah Smith, sister, widower, 56, Licensed Victualler, Norfolk
Mary A Balding, niece, unmarried, 26, Licensed Victualler, Norfolk
Henry Leverett, Servant, unmarried 17, Potman, Norfolk
None recorded where in Norfolk they were born.

In 1861 the story makes things a bit clearer; at "The Grave Maurice" then were:
Robert Balding, head, married, 39, Licensed Victualler, born in Rudham, Norfolk c1822
Esther Balding (nee Powell ), wife, married, 33, Laughane, Wales
Mary S A Neave, niece, unmarried, 17, Licensed Victualler's Assistant,  Stepney, Middlesex

Robert and Esther married on 20 Mar 1855 in Chelsea. Robert's father was given as Robert Balding, a Glover. Esther had died by 1871.

So, before I can work out who George Baldwin was, I need to look for a family of BALDING (also BALDWIN, BALDEN or BALDWING!) with Robert, a Glover (at least in 1855) as the head. There needs to be a son called Robert (born c1822 in Rudham) with a sister called Sarah (who was born about 1815) who married a SMITH and a niece, called Mary A on his father's side (born 1845 in Norfolk) and a niece called Mary SA Neave on his maternal side born c1844 in Stepney) .  

Something must have drawn the London publican to want to own (perhaps have built) a new inn and hotel in Dersingham alongside the new railway line and station. A quick scan of the 1851 census for Dersingham gave me a strong clue as living here was a Robert Balding born in 1781 in Grimstone (sic - Grimston, near Congham) and he was previously a Glover! He was a widower but with him was one son John Balding a Blacksmith aged 31 (born c1820 in Rudham) and a Coal Merchant.

In the 1841 census the age of persons over 15 was supposed to be rounded down to the nearest multiple of 5 and places of birth were not recorded. It is good to see that the Glover was also recorded here in 1841 with the following family,
Elizabeth aged 59 (c1782)
John aged 22, Blacksmith (c1819)
Robert aged aged 18, Wheelwright (c1823) - yet to be the owner of two pubs!

I note that in 1861, 1871 and 1881 John Balding was still living here but on his own. In 1861 his birthplace was recorded as Dersingham but by 1871 and 1881 he appears to remember he was born in Rudham. He had work as a coalman in the first two census but was an Unemployed Blacksmith in 1881. I have located the baptism for John, it was on 5 May 1817 and to confirm this is correct his father Robert was shown as being a Glover.  He may have been in court accused of 'maliciously killing a horse' in 1839; the person concerned was found to be Not Guilty. In 1891 John was living here, still single, living on own means as an uncle to a Sarah Rolfe with her husband Frederick in one of 'Rolfe's Cottages' near 'The Oaks'. He was buried here on 1 May 1891, aged 76. It transpired that John and Robert had a brother Thomas, Sarah was one of his daughters; all of Thomas's nine children were born here in Dersingham.  I have located the sister Sarah, she was baptised in East Rudham on 17 July 1814 with her father Robert as a Glover, the earliest event for him with his trade so far. She married George Smith on 8 October 1937 at St James, Piccadilly, Westminster (confirmed that the father is given as Robert, a Glover). I have not discovered how Mary Neave fits into the story but that's deeper than I need to go. There was also yet another Robert Balding here at about the same time but that's another story!

I will just touch on Robert the Glover.  His wife's name was Elizabeth Hildon and they married in Middleton Church in 1808. A lot of people researching the numerous Robert Baldings in this part of Norfolk in the late 18th/early 19th centuries have mistakenly ascribed an Elizabeth Mann as being this chap's wife; she in fact married a Carpenter, not a Glover.  Perhaps I will cover his story in greater depth in another investigation.

On 24th February 1875 a sale was scheduled to take place,
Lynn Advertiser:
At the Dun Cow Inn, Dersingham, on WEDNESDAY, the 24th day of February, 1875, at 5 for 6 o'clock in the evening precisely, in one or more lots as may be determined at the Auction, SIX WELL-BUILT COTTAGES, with convenient outbuildings, yards and gardens, situate on the west side of the Lynn Turnpike Road, now in the occupation of Robert Balding and others. And a piece of GARDEN GROUND, containing 29 perches, on the apposite side of the road, with the buildings thereon, occupied with the cottages. Gross rents £26 a year. The property is Copyhold of the Manor of Jelham Hall in Dersingham. Fine certain.
For further particulars apply to the Auctioneer, King's Lynn; or to PARTRIDGE & Co., Solicitors, King's Lynn.'

Sadly Robert Balding (the publican) died here the following on 25th February 1875!

A Notice in the Norwich Mercury (and other papers) 14 August 1875 reads,
'NOTICE is hereby riven, that all persons having any claims or demands upon the Estate of ROBERT BALDING late of Dersingham, in the County of Norfolk, Innkeeper, deceased, are required to send the particulars of their respective claims to me on or before the 25th day of August instant, in order that the same may be discharged. And all persons who stood indebted to the said Balding at the time of his death are requested to pay the amount of their respective debts to me forthwith - EDWARD B. LOYNES, Solicitor to the Executor.  Wells, 11th August, 1875."  I had not managed to determine his death until finding this. One wonders if he knew he was unwell hence selling the pub in London and coming back to Dersingham.'

With this information I was able to locate his Probate record in the Calendar of Wills; this read:
"BALDING Robert. Effects under £1,500. 6th April 1875. The Will with a Codicil of Robert Balding late of Dersingham in the County of Norfolk, Hotel Keeper who died 25 February 1875 at Dersingham was proved at Norwich by George Balding of Blakeney in the said County Ship-wright the Brother, George Gamble Coal Merchant and Frederick Rolfe Farmer and Dealer both of Dersingham the Executors." As his effects amounted to close to £1,500 (close to £175,000 in today's purchasing power) I have ordered a copy of Robert's Will.

I have not come across a George Gamble yet but Frederick Rolfe was a son-in-law. George Balding, the brother, is of greatest interest; firstly I hadn't made the connection with the Ship-Wright until now and I have validated that his father was indeed Robert, the Glover. Most importantly I would say that he is the most likely fellow, especially as an Executor, to have been taking care of the "Alexandra" after his brother died; the Will may confirm this.

1875 June 19 - TO BE LET With Immediate Possession: The "Alexandra" Hotel at Dersingham, near the Railway Station together with about Two Acres of Land - For further particulars apply to Messrs Elijah Eyre & Co, King's Lynn, 18th June 1875.  (The Lynn Advertiser and Norfolk and Cambridgeshire Herald)

Charles Raspberry
In 1877 this fellow was named as Charles Rainsbury in the Harrod's Directory but in all the Electoral Rolls from 1878 to 1880 he is Charles Raspberry.  In the 1881 census there is nobody in Dersingham with that name but a little searching reveals he may have moved on to Salter's Lode, Denver where there are a Charles Raspberry (publican at the "Three Tuns") and his wife Jane, both aged 52 and both from Harpley.

Robert Long
In the 1881 Census Robert Long was Innkeeper at "The Alexandra", he was born Fakenham, aged 40. With him was his wife Martha, aged 41 from Hethersett. These two are a complete mystery to me!

Mrs Annie Smith and Mrs Jane Elizabeth Smith
In 1882 the Lynn News reported, "Robert Chambers, labourer, Dersingham, for being drunk on the licensed premises of Jane Elizabeth Smith, was fined 5s and £1 2s 3d costs."

According to Kelly's 1883 the licensee was Mrs Annie Smith and Mrs Jane Elizabeth Smith was according to Whites 1883. Besides that muddle they appear to have no other connection in Dersingham, not even with the Smith family who were at the "White Horse" 1858-1891 nor John Smith at the "Dun Cow".

John Minns
The Electoral Registers of 1885 to1887 show that John Minns was here. However, he posted a notice in the Lynn Advertiser of 9 July 1887 that read:
"On Monday next at the "Railway Hotel", Dersingham to be sold by auction by W.B. Lane on Monday 11th July 1887, all the household furniture, feather mattresses, bolsters, pillows, blankets, sheets, linen, glass, china, earthenware, Out-Door and other effects the property of Mr John Minns who is declining business. Sale to commence at One o'clock. For details see hand bills".

In 1891 John Minns was recorded in the Census as a Gardener having been born in Wolferton in 1834. He was now boarding with one William Flegg, at his Market Garden in Heath Road, Dersingham.

Thomas Warner
Nothing found for this history of chap other than in the 1888 edition of Kelly's Directory.

The 1889 Register of Electors does not mention an owner or licensee of "The Alexandra".

Charles Christopher Simmonds (or Symonds) and  Charles Arthur John Simonds

From 1890 to possibly 1903 father and son were running "The Alexandra

White's 1890 Directory has Charles Christopher Simmonds (Charles 1) here and in the1891 Census where the Inn is recorded as "Alexandra - Railway Station Hotel". He was born in Winfarthing, Norfolk in 1830 and was buried in New Buckenham. His son Charles Arthur John Simonds (Charles 2) was also living here with the occupation of Grocer, born in New Buckenham in 1869 and was buried in Romford, Essex in 1942.  Charles 1 continues to be recorded in the Register of Electors from 1892 until 1895, missed off in 1896 and 1897 but picked up again in 1898 through to 1901

However, in the 1901 Census Charles 2 is in charge as Publican the name "Alexandra" appears to be have been dropped so just entered as "Railway Hotel".  The 1902 Register of Electors records Charles 2 as being here but is not in the 1903 edition. 

An explanation for overlapping years with Registers of Electors and Trade Directories compared to Census is that the former are prepared a year in advance whereas Census are the year in which they are taken.

Herbert Edward Alderton
In 1904 and 1908  Herbert is shown here in the Kelly's Directories followed by the 1910 and 11 Registers of Electors. He is still in Dersingham in the 1912 and 1916 editions as Jobmaster and is shown in the Register of Electors for 1912 as owning land and house "Alexandra Hotel to Station Road".

In 1923 Herbert took his wife and six children to New Zealand. Two of his sons were killed in WW2; their names can be found on the Dersingham War Memorial as they were born in the village

Isaac David Bird
The wording in the 1912 Register of Electors is slightly different to Herbert Alderton, it says he is owning land and tenement "Rolfe's Row to Alexandra Hotel". What is certain is that in the 1911 Census Isaac is shown as living at the Alexandra but as General Carter, not as Innkeeper, this occupation appears in the 1913 Register of Electors. Also living in the Alexandra in the 1911 Census is Walter Ernest Freeman, Dealer Pedlar

24 September 1937 - Auction at the "Alexandra"
Friday next at 1.30pm  at THE ALEXANDRA, STATION ROAD, DERSINGHAM THE LIVE AND DEAD FARMING STOCK comprising: 4 Horses viz Chestnut Horse, Bay Horse, Brown Mare and Filly Foal. THE VEHICLES AND IMPLEMENTS including: Road wagon, two tumbrills (one by Wicks), plough, drag, seed harrows, horse-hoe (as new), pulper, chaff-cutter, iron hurdles, corrugated iron, miscellaneous effects. HARNESS, STACK OF HAY: Manure: Stack of Litter.
For Mr I. Bird (who is retiring from farming). (The Lynn News, 17 September 1937, page 9). 

Isaac passed away a month later and was buried in Dersingham on 25 October 1937 aged 60. After his death the public house was turned into a private residential property. The licence to sell wines and spirits was passed to the "Albert Victor" beer-house.

He had married Ethel Mary Smith on 12 November 1902 in St John's Church, King's Lynn. They had four children, two girls and two boys; both boys died in Dersingham; Jack Bird in 1971 and Isaac William Bird in 1979.  Jack was in Lynn Road and Isaac close to the "Alexandra" as he died in 4 Station Road.

A public-house sign. The head of the [Graf Moritz], Prince of Orange, and Captain-General of the United Provinces (1567-1625). ( Hotten: Book of Signs.). I gather it was to celebrate his assistance in 1600 that helped the English defeat the Spanish.

It was a favourite in the early 1960s of the gangsters the Kray Twins.
[The Shady Old Lady's Guide to London]

Portraits of the Prince of Orange by Michiel Jansz. van Mierevelt, 1607 [acknowledgement to Wikipedia] and a copy of the actual pub sign [full acknowledgement to Closed Pubs and picture source: Darkstar]