Fond farewell bid to the ‘windmill lady’

Barbara Jean Hewitt and her husband Stanley. Picture: Sheila Hutchinson

Barbara Jean Hewitt and her husband Stanley. Picture: Sheila Hutchinson - Credit: Archant

She was affectionately known as 'the windmill lady', having spent 25 years as custodian of the Berney Arms windmill.

Barbara Jean Hewitt died last week, aged 86, across the water from the windmill at a care home in Burgh Castle.

Born and raised in South Walsham, she left school at 14 and one of her early jobs was in domestic service in one of the local big houses.

She later joined the Land Army, describing this time as a home from home.

She met her husband to be, Stanley Hewitt, on a blind date.

It was love at first sight and they were married on May 28, 1949 at South Walsham Church.

Barbara and Stanley started their married life at Raven Hall, which is at the Breydon end of the Haddiscoe Island and opposite the Berney Arms, and where Stanley was the marshman and had a small dairy herd.

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This was their family home for 14 years and where the couple's first four of their five children were born.

To get the children to and from school Barbara would walk them across the marshes to where the boat was moored on the River Waveney.

The children would clamber aboard and she would row the boat across the river to Burgh Castle where the children would then cycle to the Burgh Castle School.

In 1962 the family moved across the River Yare to Ash Tree Farm at Berney Arms.

Stanley was the marshman on the Berney level and Barbara became custodian of the Berney Arms High Mill in 1965, where she made friends with the holidaymakers before retiring in 1990.

Upon retirement the couple moved to Station Road, Belton.

After Stanley died in 2003, Barbara then moved in with one of her daughters for a short time until she moved to Burgh House Residential Care Home.

She leaves five children, nine grandchildren, 16 great-grandchildren and three great-great-grandchildren.