WEIRD NORFOLK: Do you live near Nowhere in Norfolk?
- Credit: Archant
We often complain that we're stuck in the middle of nowhere when we find ourselves lost in unfamiliar surroundings. But what happens when you want to be stuck in the middle of Nowhere but you just can't find it? Weird Norfolk go looking for the Nowheres in the county.
Many people joke that they're on the road to Nowhere when they travel to Norfolk because it isn't on the route to anywhere other than itself.
But actually, Norfolk boasts a host of Nowheres, from Nowhere near Great Yarmouth to Nowheres near Reepham, Potter Heigham, Cley-next-the-Sea and West Caister - and while none appear on any modern maps, they can be found if you try hard enough: nothing ventured, Nowhere gained.
The best-known Nowhere (if this isn't a contradiction in terms) appears to be the parish which was annexed to Acle in the 1800s, despite being just a mile outside Yarmouth.
The Norfolk and Norwich Directory of 1889 has this entry: "Nowhere, near Yarmouth, including Fieldholme, Skeetholme and Stargap is in the liberty of the precincts of Norwich Cathedral, though 17 miles from it.
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"Fieldholme and Skeetholme and salt marshes on the north side of Breydon Water, three miles west of Yarmouth, comprising 484 acres, belonging to the Dean and Chapter of Norwich and let to the farmers of the adjacent marshes."
Ernest Bailey even better instructions when he was interviewed by the Evening News in 1969 when he was 52 about his unusual claim to fame- having his place of birth recorded as "Nowhere, near Yarmouth", a marshy area by the River Bure where the villagers of Acle had once produced salt for food preservation.
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He told reporters: "Nowhere is roughly a mile from Yarmouth. If you turn right at the Suspension Bridge Tavern in the Norwich direction and go the full length of North River Road, there are two gates in front. Turn left and the first gate on the right roadway leads to a farmyard where there is a house and farm buildings.
"This was how I knew it, and it was classed 'Nowhere'."
Mr Bailey noted that one of the drawbacks of having such an unusual address was that people suspected that their legs were being pulled when he told them where he lived.
"Once a policeman thought that I was being funny with him and warned me about replying in that manner," he said.
Today, those farm buildings have disappeared and the smallholding called Nowhere has long since been torn down - it's difficult, these days, to tell where Nowhere might begin, or end.
A popular theory as to why several places were called Nowhere is that it was the name given to a scarp of land at the place where two, or occasionally three, parish boundaries met - in other parts of the country, this stretch of "no man's land" was called Catchland.
Nowhere Lane near Reepham is off the Fakenham Road, plast the old Norfolk Wildlife Park, and leads to Nowhere Beck, a little stream which passes under the roadway. Next to the stream used to be two cottages a few yards from the road on the right side, facing Great Witchingham on the Whitwell side. In 1969, Victor Chipperfield wrote to the Evening News saying: "My mother was born in a cottage next to the beck. When she was 14, she went to work at Hackford Hall, near Reepham. When her employer asked where she was born, her reply was, quite honestly, "Nowhere"."
Other Norfolk Nowheres:
In Lower Westwick Street in Norwich, there was a Nowhere Inn: in a book called The History of Signboards (1866) authors Jacob Larwood and John Camden Hotten said it was "…a name which would to the truant husband returning home in the small hours of the night, suggest a ready answer to the warm reception of his partner…"
There was a Nowhere in West Caister and another under Wiveton Stone Bridge, where three parishes meet (not far from the infamous Smoker's Hole, which was a rendezvous used by smugglers in the process of moving their contraband inland, quickly)
Nowhere is also a small wooded area linking Repps (Near Potter Heigham), Oby and Thurne. A footpath joining Repps and Thurne led to Dewbeck and on to Nowhere
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