Bureside House, Wroxham

I’ve mentioned in the past that some of the email enquiries that come in to the website are from people researching their family trees, but I’ve also received a few in the past from homeowners who are hoping to discover more about the history of their Broadland property. It’s not really something that I come across very often, but it’s another angle to the history of the area and can also be quite interesting at times.

The latest addition to the website comes from Trevor Curson who contacted me to provide a name and location for a mystery house seen in the photograph (left) which was part of a c1900 collection that was uploaded couple of months ago. It came from an album of photos and had been captioned as “Houseboat House near Wroxham“. I didn’t recognise it and various suggestions were put forward via the Broadland Memories Facebook page,with the general consensus being that it was probably upstream of Wroxham Bridge, towards Belaugh. Trevor recognised it instantly as being “Bureside” which overlooks the River Bure in Skinners Lane at Wroxham, beyond St Mary’s Church. Trevor told me that the house has since lost the large conservatory that you can see on the right, replaced with a more substantially built extension.

Trevor also mentioned that he had a copy of an auction brochure for the house, produced when it came up for sale on May 29th 1920 and he asked whether it would be of any interest. Absolutely! He kindly loaned me the nine page document which includes full details of the house, the grounds and ancilliary buildings, along with photographs, but it turned out that this wasn’t just any copy of the brochure. It appears to be the copy which was owned by the winning bidder and subsequent owner, Major Sigismund William Trafford of Wroxham Hall and it is adorned with scribblings of figures paid for the house and fixtures and fittings, plus the signed receipt on the reverse to acknowledge his purchase and payment of a deposit. I have scanned the whole brochure which you can view in PDF form via the Paper & Ephemera section of Broadland Memories, but having done a little bit more research I thought it might be worthy of a blog post.

The drive and main entrance to Bureside from the 1920 auction brochure

Bureside was a rather magnificent house which stood within a plot of around three acres and boasted commanding views across the River Bure and surrounding countryside. It was built in the 1880s, and was being sold in 1920 with a conveyance of sale attached to the deeds dated to the 20th November 1889. The brochure mentions that the grounds included tennis and croquet lawns, a paddock and water garden extending to the river with a rustic bridge and an octagonal, thatched summer house. Alongside the river was a large boathouse with double doors, a spacious verandah and loft space above. There was a productive kitchen garden with fruit trees, a 20ft x 14ft hot house, and herbaceous and rose borders. A substantial stable block housed a roomy loose box and stall, harness room, tool house, dog run and kennel, a large coach house/garage with sliding doors, hay and straw loft above the whole lot and a “man’s room with stove”. Outside was a paved carriage washing area with water pump, a pigeon locker, wood yard and men’s convenience. The photograph below also featured in the brochure and shows the view from the house looking across to Belaugh Broad, remarkable for the lack of trees lining the riverside compared to the same stretch of the Bure today. The boathouse with its verandah can be seen on the right.

The house itself was seemingly built with all the mod cons of the 1880s and was fitted throughout with oak flooring, staircases, windows and doors. Fireplaces, or stoves were, naturally, fitted in all rooms. Set over three floors, with a cellar containing two meat safes and a fitted wine cupboard below, the entrance porch led into a large “lounge hall” from which the 17′ 9″ x 14′ dining room and  21′ 10″ x 18′ 6″ dining room could be reached. From the dining room, a doorway led through to the huge conservatory with its “tesselated floor” and plant staging. The kitchen featured a tiled range and back boiler to provide hot water for the house, whilst a scullery contained another range and the copper (for washing clothes). There was also a “Housemaid’s Pantry” with sink, shelving, cupboards and drawers. Outside was an enclosed yard where the coal shed could be found, along with a “Knife House” and “servants’ convenience”.

Back in the main house, the oak staircase led from the hall up to a large landing, which provided access to three large family bedrooms (one of which opened on to a rather spendid balcony), a bathroom with fitted bath, lavatory and basin, all with hot and cold water supply, plus a separate W.C.  and a smaller “servants’ bedroom”. A second staircase on the rear landing took you up to the second floor which, I presume, contained further servants’ accommodation in the form of a small sitting room and three smaller bedrooms, one of which was fitted with a washbasin – cold water supply only for the staff!

The final price when the hammer went down on the 29th of May 1920 was £4,675 plus an additional sum of £62 and 18 shillings payable for the fixtures and fittings. That was an astonishing amount of money back then, but a pretty impressive riverside residence it has to be said. The brochure contained details of viewing days and times prior to the auction – but prospective purchasers or their agents were required to obtain a viewing card from the auctioneer to gain admittance. Paper clipped to the front of the brochure was one such viewing slip, permitting access for an H. Giles esq., and addressed to Miss Thorns, daughter of the late R.E. Thorns who was the previous owner.

Viewing slip for Bureside 1920

The new owner of Bureside was Major Sigismund Trafford whose family had resided at Wroxham Hall since the early 1800s. Major Trafford served in the Rifle Brigade between 1878 and 1909 and was the eldest son of Edward Southwell Trafford. The family lineage can apparently be traced back to the reign of King Canute. The Trafford mausoleum which stands in the church yard of the nearby St Mary’s has been the final resting place for the family since it was erected as a memorial to Sigismund Trafford Southwell who died in 1827.  His widow commissioned the renowned architect Anthony Salvin to design the English gothic, chapel style building – incidentally, he was also responsible for the refacing work done to Norwich Castle in 1835.

My thanks to Trevor Curson for allowing me to publish the brochure via Broadland Memories. I’d love to know how the current interior layout compares to that described within the 1920 sales particulars and how many of those original features have survived. If you have any memories of Bureside, or any further information on it’s history, then please do get in contact.


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