The Hidden Heritage of High Lodge

Norfolk Annals

from NORFOLK ANNALS: A Chronological Record Of Remarkable Events In The Nineteenth Century
(Compiled from the files of the 'Norfolk Chronicle')

1802 - January

16 A fine grey eagle was taken alive in a trap upon the estate of Lord Montrath, at Weeting. It measured from the extremity of each wing 7 feet 8 inches, and from the beak to the tail nearly four feet.

1806 - March

28.Died, at Bodney Hall, aged 49, Madame Elizabeth de Mirepoix. 'Descended from one of the most distinguished families in France, she forsook the allurements of the Court for the retirement and austerity of monastic life. From the storms of the French Revolution the Benedictine Monastery (of which she had been a member 31 years and superior 22 years) sought shelter in England, and found an asylum in this county, where for the last 15 years the nuns have been occupied in the education of Catholic young ladies.'

1815 - May

20 The diversion of hawking, a sport antiently much used, has been revived in this country on a considerable scale by Lord Rivers, Major Wilson, of Didlington, and Mr. Downes, of Gunton. Their subscription hawks, under the management of German falconers, have afforded much amusement to numerous spectators. Last week they were exhibited at Newmarket after the races, and flown off at some rooks in the Flat, which they speedily brought down.

1823 - July

12. The ancient pastime of heron hawking is still carried on in this county. Ten cast of hawks and four falconers, natives of Germany, to which country they repair annually in the autumn to catch a supply of hawks for the ensuing season, are kept at Didlington Hall, the seat of Major Wilson, near to which place is an extensive heronry.

1827 - January

13. Very severe weather was experienced in Norfolk. The thermometer on this date registered 14 degrees below freezing point.

A heavy fall of snow on the 15th impeded coach traffic in the neighbourhood of Swaffham. Many hundreds of rabbits perished in the Thetford and Brandon districts through being out in search of food and unable to find their burrows again.

1835 - March

14. At Didlington Hall, the only place in England at which the antient amusement of flying hawks at herons is practised, it has been customary to turn off the birds taken alive, with a ring attached to one leg, showing the time and place at which they were captured. In a late Bristol paper there is an account of a heron having been shot near Carmarthen with a ring round one leg having the inscription: 'Major Wilson, Didlington Hall, Norfolk, 1822.'

1839 - February

10. The week before last, in a little more than three days, Sir Richard Sutton, Bart., and a small party of friends shot 1,313 pheasants and an immense quantity of hares, rabbits, partridges, and woodcock, on his estate at Lynford and Tofts. (This was described as "killing, not sporting.")

1839 - March

16. A fine white-tailed eagle was last week shot on Beachamwell Warren. It measured between the tips of the wings 7 ft. 5 ins., and weighed 10¾ lbs. It has been preserved by the Rev. H. Dugmore, of Swaffham

1856 - September

14 A white stork was shot in the plantation of Mr. R. H. Saye, at North Pickenham. Its wings measured 6 ft. 3 in. from tip to tip, it was 4 ft. in length, and weighed 8 lbs. The bird was preserved by Mr. T. Ellis, of Swaffham.

1863 - July

15 The Maharajah Duleep Singh, the new owner of the Elveden estate, arrived at Thetford for the purpose of inspecting the property. The church bells were rung in honour of the illustrious visitor. On November 21st it was announced that the Maharajah made almost daily excursions in pursuit of his favourite sport of hawking, and that a pack of hounds had also arrived at Elveden.

1864 - January

6 The mild weather of Christmas week was succeeded by frost of great intensity. On this day the thermometer stood at 14 degrees, and the river above the New Mills at Norwich was frozen. Large numbers of golden plover made their appearance in the neighbourhood of Thetford, and an extraordinary quantity of wild fowl came within the bounds of Shadwell, where Sir Robert Buxton prohibited their being shot or molested.

1867 - November

17 A Bohemian waxwing (Bombycilla garrulus) was observed at Old Buckenham, and another was shot the same day near Thetford. By the first week of December the birdstuffers received at least 22 specimens, from Mutford, Worstead, Northrepps, St. Faith's, Rollesby, Cawston Woodrow, Wroxham, and other districts. In the last week of December it was stated that more than one hundred specimens had been procured. 'With the exception of one or two stragglers, this species has not been noticed here since 1863, when some sixteen specimens were killed in Norfolk.'

1868 - September

21. A destructive parasitical weed has made its appearance on some of the small farms at Navarina, an open district forming a part of the very extensive manor of Lord Ashburton, at Thetford. It is known as 'the dodder.' It completely absorbs or destroys the crop wherever it appears, and leaves the land barren of all but its own hair-like fibres. So powerful and fatal is the grasp of this singular plant, that even the hardy and prickly gorse succumbs to the pressure of its delicate fibres.

1869 - June

4. A crane was shot at South Pickenham. It was a young male, in good condition, measured 64 inches in length, and weighed 10½ lbs.; the expanse of its wings was 93 inches. On the 12th two were killed out of four seen at Burnham, and about the same time another was shot on the Thornham salt marshes. The occurrence of so many cranes in one year was remarkable, as not more than three or four specimens were known to have been procured in Norfolk during the preceding half century.

1870 - February

26 Since January 1st several rare birds have been met with in the neighbourhood of Swaffham, namely, a fork-tailed petrel, picked up at Gooderstone; little gull (Larus minutus), in good condition, and weighing only 3 ozs., shot at Beechamwell; stormy petrel, picked up at Narborough; bittern, shot at Weeting; pied thrush, shot at Cockley Cley; pied common partridge, shot at Didlington; dusky grebe, shot at Castleacre; and a peregrine falcon, a fine old female bird weighing 43 ozs. and measuring 47 inches from tip to tip of its wings, shot at Beechamwell.

1876 - April

29. A meeting of gentlemen interested in the field sports of the county was held at the Royal Hotel, Norwich, to consider the advisability of accepting the offer made by Mr. Angerstein, namely, that he would give to the county his pack of staghounds and deer, on condition that the county subscribed a sufficient sum 'to hunt them in a proper manner.' The meeting agreed to take over the hounds if adequate funds were forthcoming.

1890 - January

10 A white-tailed eagle of nine pounds weight was shot near Wretham decoy.