St James Parish Church, Southrepps
Southrepps shown within Norfolk
|Area||8.45 km2 (3.26 sq mi)|
|Population||758 (2001 census)|
|– density||90/km2 (230/sq mi)|
|OS grid reference|
|– London||136 miles (219 km)|
|Sovereign state||United Kingdom|
|Ambulance||East of England|
|EU Parliament||East of England|
|UK Parliament||North Norfolk|
Southrepps is a village and a civil parish in the English county of Norfolk. The village is 5.2 miles (8.4 km) southeast of Cromer, 21.9 miles (35.2 km) north of Norwich and 136.0 miles (218.9 km) north of London. The village lies northeast of the A149 between Kings Lynn and Great Yarmouth. The nearest railway station is at Gunton for the Bittern Line which runs between Sheringham, Cromer and Norwich. The nearest airport is Norwich International Airport. The village is close to the sea and surrounded by rich agricultural land.
Upper and Lower Southrepps
The village is split in two halves separated by a mile of farmland. The halves of the village are known as Upper Southrepps and Lower Southrepps (Upper Street and Lower Street to the locals). It is believed locally that this situation came about due to the Black Death which took place from 1348-1350.
Southrepps is built on a low rise mix of glacial sands and gravels, with expanses of rich till formed from the so-called Cromer Forest Bed created in a warmer period when a great meandering river fringed rank forest vegetation. This surface geology makes for extremely well drained and fertile soils. Beneath these younger rocks lie chalk beds which come to the surface in a line stretching south from Weybourne and can also be seen on the village's nearest beach at low tide in a chalk pavement between Trimingham and Sidestrand. The beach here is littered with flint cobbles formed into nodules by chemical replacement of the chalk and eroded into cobbles by wave action. These durable and adundant flint cobbles were collected from the beaches and used as decorative and structural materials in village buildings. Local clays and imported orange pantiles from the Low Countries were used for roofing.
Being in the east, sheltered from most of the extreme weather of the Atlantic from where most of Britain's rainfall comes, Southrepps has amongst the lowest rainfall in the UK, at less than 500 mm per year. The area has a mean temperature of 10C, second only to southwest and southeast England. With a south to west wind blowing in summer the temperature easily surpasses 20C and exceeds 30C on at least a few days every year. Severe frosts are rare because of the proximity of the sea, although in December 2011 the village recorded a low of -13.8C. With over 1,550 hours of sunshine annually, it is behind only the south-coast counties and Suffolk, though it can be plagued by low sea cloud in spring and early summer when water vapour held in warm, moist continental air from the east condenses into fog ("fret") over the comparatively cold North Sea. The village can be in bright sunshine while the lanes to the coast at Trimingham or Overstrand are shrouded in thick mist. However, North Norfolk light is legendary, the clearness of the air giving the sunshine a quality much loved by artists and poets, the area's heyday being in the late 19th century after being praised by Daily Telegraph theatre critic Clement Scott. The village has several weather stations, one of which is on the Met Office website.
Climate and geology have combined to make the area highly productive in various forms of agriculture, arable and sheep farming being predominant from the Middle Ages, though the Black Death and Great Plague led to serious falls in activity. During the Second World War agriculture rapidly intensified, and it has remained very intensive since with the establishment of large fields for cereal and root crop growing. Many uprooted trees and hedgerows, however, have been systematically replaced, restoring the traditional appearance of the landscape, due to the efforts of a small number of local farmers and landowners.
The village has two shops and one public houses - the Vernon Arms in Church Street in the upper part of the village, the Suffield Arms opposite Gunton Station in the lower part of the village having closed in 2011. Southrepps still has a Post Office as one of its two shops, and at the other end of the narrow picturesque High Street is the local Mace supermarket.
At the centre of local life in Upper Southrepps is the Village Hall (pictured below decorated for the villagers' Burns Celebration), which provides a venue for a number of regular users and special events such as receptions for weddings, christenings and funerals, annual village events and other celebrations. It is the meeting place for the active Southrepps Society (see below) which investigates and celebrates rural North Norfolk life in and around the village, which recently published its DVD, "Southrepps: The Story of a North Norfolk Village". It is used weekly as a day centre for the local Multiple Sclerosis Society. There is an outdoor Bowls Club located near the village hall with a well-maintained green of six playing rinks. Lower Southrepps has its own meeting place, the social club, which holds many different functions.
The very large parish church dominates the local landscape and is called St James. This is a busy church, providing for a range of different worship styles and hosting a number of different local activities, ranging from the Christmas Tree Festival to the Flower Festival during the Open Gardens event in late spring, as well as an annual Classical Music Festival.
Southrepps has a primary school, Antingham & Southrepps CP. A group of villagers have been researching the history of the school. Here is an extract from their findings:
Two hundred years ago, Southrepps like much of rural East Anglia and the southeast was in a state of rebellion. Lord Suffield of Gunton Hall strongly supported agricultural reform responding to local distress and poverty at the time caused by unemployment, falling commodity prices, wages, farm rents and land values, mostly the result of the war with France. Like many landowners he feared for his life.
The founding of Antingham & Southrepps School by him in 1826, and well ahead of its time, had much to do with a desire to stem local unrest and was in keeping with the family’s customary generosity to the poor. The school is said to have been modelled on St Margaret’s Church, Thorpe Market, and certainly the end window of the building looked very ecclesiastical.
The school was extended prior to 1878 a bay being added at each end, extending the boys cloaks and with a whole infant wing added. According to the 1900 Kelly’s directory the school was built for 260 pupils. Today, at an enormous squeeze, the most it could take is 150 and that is with two new classrooms added and the headmaster’s house incorporated into the school. Yes, until 1971 he had quite a chunk of the building for himself and family. One headteacher, Mr Amies in the 1890s, lived there with his wife, his mother, TEN children – and a lodger! In fact a house existed within the school until 1982. Little surprise that there are references to overcrowding in the annual inspectors reports!
Overcrowding and open coal fires meant ventilation was a major Victorian preoccupation – as was cold! Headteachers frequently wrote to school managers about the problem but appeals to the education authority in Norwich fell on deaf ears. Indeed, in 1917 when Mr Owles, chairman of the school board, decided that something had to be done and bought stoves for the school, the county council response to such a high minded action was to charge the parish with the full cost of the heating!
The school was surprised when it was billeted by soldiers without warning during the First World War and similarly in World War II the school more than doubled in size overnight with war being declared on 3 September 1939 and 223 evacuees arriving from Dagenham High School the very next day! By December the High School was moved to Hill House in Lower Street for lessons and normal school sessions were restored. The evacuees did not stay long leaving on 2 June 1940.
The school logs reveal all manner of insights into government "efficiency", none more so than the log for 13 March 1946 ‘A Ministry of Supply official called today and left a supply of electric light bulbs and shades’ Sadly, the school had no electricity to take advantage of such largesse! In fact it had to fight to get it installed in 1951 being told in 1950 that there was enough natural light!
In spite of a war being on, the far-reaching 1944 Education Act, amongst many revolutionary educational changes, raised the school leaving age to 15 with part-time education to 18 (this latter being first enacted in law in 1918, but dropped in both cases because of huge budget deficits caused by the wars.) Antingham & Southrepps, at that time a school for children of all ages to 14 was supplied with a hut which was used (and still is) as a canteen. It wasn’t until 1957 that the school stopped taking secondary aged children.
The school got a playing field in 1974 and oil-fired central heating at about the same time. Unbelievably, indoor toilets didn’t arrive until 1979! Just in time…the school got Grade II Listed Building status soon after.
- The Southrepps and District Branch of the Royal British Legion has a membership of some 30 plus. It meets quarterly at the Vernon Arms.
- Local bell-ringers meet and practise at 7.30 pm on Wednesday at the parish church.
- The Southrepps Society was formed in 1979 to celebrate and conserve all that is best in Southrepps. The Memories Project started in 2006, its objective to present the Society's archive in an easily accessible form and to engage the village in these community-based Memories Events and Exhibitions. Its current project is a detailed survey of the history of agricultural land use in the area which the local school is participating in.
- There is a long-established Southrepps and District Women’s Group. The group meets on the third Tuesday of every month at nearby Thorpe Market Village Hall.
- There is also a Women's Reading Group.
- The Village Fayre Committee came together to organise the highly acclaimed Summer Fayres of 2007 and 2009, the first for a number of years. They succeeded in attracting a huge number of visitors and raised substantial funds for local charities and for pump-priming other events aimed at bringing villagers together, such as the Carols-Round-The-Four-Village-Trees event during December which itself raises funds for a local children's hospice.
- Every summer the Southrepps Classical Music Festival brings international singers and players to the village to showcase a wide repertoire of classical genres. The musicians are hosted by 30 village families.
Southrepps Common is biological Site of Special Scientific Interest and a Local Nature Reserve. It covers an area of 12.4 hectares. It can be found in Lower Southrepps. The site supports woodland, reedbeds and many species of grass and wild flowers. There is an 800-metre boardwalk which allows access to the most interesting and important parts of the reserve for wheelchairs and all other members of the public. The diverse habitats support an exceptional range of species and it also has "Special Area of Conservation" status. Across the site there are over 160 plant species including some small orchid species.
List of plants include:
- Parnassus Grass
- Bog Pimpernel (Anagallis tenella)
- Flea Sedge (Carex pulicaris)
- Common Cottongrass (Eriophorum angustifolium)
- Marsh Helleborine (Epipactis palustris)
- Bogbean (Menyanthes)
- Marsh Marigold (Caltha palustris)
There is a large variety of nesting birds across the reserve such as Reed Warblers, Reed Bunting, and Sedge Warbler. The woodland areas are habitat of such birds as Greater Spotted Woodpecker, Nuthatch, Treecreeper, Barn Owl and Tawny Owl. The stream that runs through the common is called Fox’s Beck. The stream is shallow, free-flowing and supports several species of snail, caddis fly and dragonfly, with water voles living along the banks. Fox’s Beck and the Common until quite recently had common rights attached to certain properties in the Southrepps and other rights of common included turbary (peat cutting), estovers (firewood and bedding for livestock) and piscary (fishing). Livestock could be grazed and many other natural resources were exploited, such as reed cutting for thatch; alder and hazel were coppiced for tool handles, twigs were collected for the use of broom heads and willow was cut for use in screens.
Village from the south - view taken from Remembrance Avenue, part of the road linking the two halves of the village, planted with trees commemorating villagers killed during the two world wars of the 20th century
Lower Southrepps Village sign
Media related to Southrepps at Wikimedia Commons
- Ordnance Survey, Explorer Sheet 252, Norfolk Coast East, ISBN 978-0-319-46726-8
- Southrepps Bells
- http://www.southrepps-classical-music-festival.org www.southrepps-classical-music-festival.org
- "Southrepps Common citation" (PDF). Sites of Special Scientific Interest. Natural England. Retrieved 4 August 2013.
- "Map of Southrepps Common". Sites of Special Scientific Interest. Natural England. Retrieved 4 August 2013.
- "Southrepps Common". Local Nature Reserves. Natural England. Retrieved 4 August 2013.
- "Map of Southrepps Common". Local Nature Reserves. Natural England. Retrieved 4 August 2013.
- "Southrepps War Memorial". 9 January 2005. Retrieved 23 June 2009.