European Escapades

Homersfield, Where’s the Donuts?




The Book of Homersfield, Village in a Valley by Ken Palmer The Book of Homersfield, Village in a Valley by Ken Palmer

Well if it was Homer’s Field, then you would expect donuts to be growing in profusion. However this is Homersfield and so whilst there are no donuts around; there are plenty of things to say about this sleepy little village just outside of Bungay in Norfolk. Surprisingly enough for a village that at first glance only boasts a public house, there is enough history here I think to write a book on. In fact if you are really interested in a more detailed account of Homersfield and its history then the book is already available from Amazon or the Black Swan inn. Written by Ken Palmer its called "The Book of Homersfield, Village in a Valley"

The Mammoth tusk atop the bar in the Black Swan Inn Mamoth Tusk at the Black Swan

Homersfield is bordered by a strip of woodland in which sits the flint-built village church. Behind the woodland is a large lake, the site of a former gravel pit. Although once open as an amenity to the village, it is now a private fishing lake. Sands and gravels have been quarried at Homersfield since the 1940s. They have yielded bones, teeth and tusks of woolly mammoth, woolly rhinoceros, wild horse, bison and reindeer, dating from colder phases of the Ice Age. A mammoth tusk is one of the many items adorning the bar and walls of the traditional looking Black Swan Inn.

Along from the Black swan towards the main road is a small bridge of some significance, as it is the oldest concrete bridge in the UK. Homersfield Bridge, designed by Henry Eyton was built in 1870 for a grand sum of £344 and spans the River Waveney. It was an early experiment in combining iron and concrete which predates the emergence of true reinforced concrete from France. It was commissioned by Sir Shafto Adair who owned the now demolished Flixton Hall. The single, shallow arch has a 48ft span and a rise of 5ft, and consists of a wrought iron frame of vertical girders linked on the underside of the arch to shallow joists set 2ft apart, and the whole encased in concrete.

A view of Homersfield bridge A view of Homersfiled Bridge after the recent heavy rains in Norfolk.

If you look closely at the picture you may be able to see one of Adair’s heraldic crests that decorate the bridge. The crest has four small red hand prints as part of its design. Local legend tells of a young ostler who was beaten so badly by his master that he died. Before his dying, the boy left a bloody handprint on the wall as a testimony to the savage assault. In those days, the manslaughter of a servant was socially frowned upon and it was held that Adair should not go unpunished. So it was that the red hand was added to the crest for penance. The truth however is more prosaic. As the Aldair family came from Ballymena in Ireland in the 18th century, the crest carries the red hand of Ulster where they were resident since the 1620’s. Still the first story makes more interesting reading and I’m sure it would have kept the other servants on their toes.

This entry was posted on Thursday, February 25th, 2010 at 3:51 pm and is filed under Travel Stories. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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