A few weeks ago I purchased an original copy of P.H. Emerson’s On English Lagoons via an online bookseller. Upon its arrival I began to flick through the pages and was somewhat surprised, but rather delighted, to find an old mooring receipt for the Horsey Hall Estate tucked inside.
The receipt appears to be dated for July 11th 1935 or 1937 (it’s difficult to read!) and records that the sum of one shilling was paid in mooring fees, collected by the millman A. Dove. Intrigued, I decided to see if I could find any information on the millman. Arthur Haslam Dove was born at Martham in 1893 and was the son of Robert and Emily Dove. Robert had been born in Martham in 1862 and was listed as being an agricultural labourer on the 1881 census returns for Martham. On the 1901 census he was listed as being the millman at Horsey, living there with his wife Emily and their eight children including Arthur who was aged 8. By the next census in 1911, Robert had become an estate foreman whilst his eldest son Wilmott had taken over duties as the millman, with 18 year old Arthur listed as being a marshman. The trail goes cold here, but by the late 1920s Arthur Dove had himself become the millman at Horsey. Interestingly, I discovered that there is a brief glimpse of Arthur in the wonderful short film The Horsey Mail which followed local postmen Claude Simmonds and Bob O’Brian as they delivered the mail by bicycle and boat to the villagers after the devastating floods of 1938 when the sea wall was breached on several occasions between February and April, flooding an area of around 7,500 acres. Arthur Dove is seen loading household furniture onto a wagon as he evacuates his family from the mill to temporary accommodation at Horsey Hall where many of the villagers were billeted after their homes were flooded. The Horsey Mail was produced by the GPO film unit and can be viewed via the East Anglian Film Archive website.
The Horsey Estate had been bought by Major Anthony Buxton in 1929 – the particulars for the auction making mention of the fact that “The Estate derives a steady income from the berthing of private yachts, etc. in the Staithe next to the public road and windmill.” The estate encompassed an area of just over 1700 acres which included Horsey Mere, the windpump, the main residence of Horsey Hall, five farms and cottages. Horsey Windpump was built on the site of an earlier mill by the renowned Ludham millwright Daniel England in 1912 and was working up until 1943 when it’s sails were struck by lightening. In 1948 the mill and the estate were bequeathed to the National Trust by Major Buxton, although to this day the estate is still managed by the Buxton family. The mill was restored in 1961 and is extremely popular with visitors to the area – the climb to the top via a series of ladders is well worth the effort for the breathtaking view across Horsey Mere and the surrounding countryside. The Horsey Village website has more information about the mill and the history of the village and also makes mention of the little staithe shop. It was apparently established by Major Buxton in 1934 as a co-operative in which villagers could sell their produce to boating holidaymakers, the profits being divided amongst 49 local shareholders.
Once again I seem to have been dragged off on a tangent but, in all honesty, I’ve had very little time to spend working on the website over the last month for one reason or another. I have managed to upload some new images which include more photographs from the Aylott family taken in the 1970s, plus further additions from the Andrew Day collection that also date from the 1970s, and I’m now working on the Edwardian seaside holiday notes with accompanying photographs and postcards which I mentioned in a previous blog post. I’ll be putting these together in an article for the holiday tales section of the main website, but the research is proving to be quite time consuming. I am hoping that I may actually get a bit more time to spend on it over the next few weeks!