World War One in Thorpe Hamlet

St Matthew’s Church, Thorpe Hamlet is holding a weekend of Commemoration from Friday 1st August-Sunday 3rd August.

Friday 7pm:  Launch event

St Matthew’s Church – photographic quiz, talks by Thorpe Hamlet History Group on their WW1 project, musical interludes with songs from 100 years ago, no need to book.

Saturday  10am: WW1 and Thorpe Hamlet’s Riverside Walk

Norwich, Thorpe Station, Ambulances & Crews. Picture Norfolk.

The walk will last up to 2 hours. Focus on the railway station and the riverside industries that supported the war effort and we expect to visit the Sea Cadets’ training shop TS Lord Nelson. Meet at the church.

Saturday 2pm:  WW1 and the Rosary Cemetery

A tour of the Rosary looking at the various graves and memorials to those who died in the War. The walk will last up to 2 hours. The Rosary can be uneven in places. Meet at the church.

Sunday 10.30:  Service outside at the War Memorial, weather permitting.

Sunday 2pm:  Walk – Mousehold Heath and WW1. 

The training grounds, the tramway extension and the barracks. Can be uneven underfoot in places. Meet at the church. Booking not required

Sunday 4.30pm:  Prayer walk

To remember in prayer those in the parish who lost husbands, fathers and sons during the war.

Displays & Exhibitions in church, and refreshments.

Saturday 10am-4pm, Sunday 1-4pm

More details on

Copies of the Programme are available at Plumstead Road Library.

Gresham’s School at War 1914-18

Dallas Wynne Willson, housemaster of the Junior School which occupied the building in Holt known as Old School House, recalled in his memoirs that “the weather on Tuesday August 4th was showery in the afternoon.” He went into the town to Rounce and Wortley’s stationery shop where news was to be posted. It arrived by motor cycle and was read out – “the fateful message that England had declared war against Germany at 11 pm.”

Old School House in 1912 with housemaster Mr Wynne Willson.

Old School House in 1912 with housemaster Mr Wynne Willson.

He continues prophetically, “There was a crowd in the street and an outburst of cheering, and I remember our school doctor shouting, Don’t cheer you fools, you don’t know what you are in for!”

Mr Willson was also a special constable and patrolled the streets of Holt at night checking under bridges for bombs and ensuring blackout regulations were enforced.  The little boys in his house were more excited than alarmed when the first bombs fell in  January  1915 in the Glaven valley, eagerly searching for remnants the next morning, although a few had to be gathered around the fire and read stories to calm them.

Wynne Willson’s detailed and personal account is just one example of the wealth of material held by the School Archive which has been used to enliven WWI history lessons for 3rd formers in the past few years.

Groups visit to research some of the fallen boys, tracing their school and army careers in school records and online in the Autumn term, following the battlefields visit and the annual Armistice Day service.

Perhaps the best resource for studying this period is The Gresham Magazine which has been digitised and can be searched online.  Here we can find details of a pupil’s life at school, the prizes they won at Speech Day, participation in sports teams or school plays, contributions to the debating society, and, later on, information about their military service and sacrifice.

Greshams roll of honour

Photo of the vellum roll of honour which has names of the boys from the Junior House who fell in the War


The carved wooden memorial in the School Chapel records the names of 101 pupils (and one member of staff) who lost their lives in World War I.  At least another ten names have been discovered since and no doubt there were others.

As part of our commemoration of the centenary of WWI we have a number of events planned including a cricket match, chapel service, concerts, and an exhibition.

Plans for medical emergencies by Housemaster of  Junior House & School Doctor

Plans for medical emergencies by Housemaster of Junior House & School Doctor




Sue Smart who wrote the poignant story on the fallen of Gresham’s When Heroes Die is reprinting her book this year, and a history of the cadet corps is also in progress.

We also plan to make more of our archive material available via the Old Greshamian Club website.

Anyone who has Gresham’s ancestors who fought in the War is invited to contact the School Archivist Liz Larby (author of this post) on Tel: 01263 714613 or



School’s IN for Summer… (and other exciting events)

We’ve been around the County, and now Norfolk Record Office is going to be helping you research your military ancestry in Norwich, too.

This Summer/Autumn sees the return of last year’s popular Genealogy Saturday Sessions, updated for 2014.

Each session takes you through particular types of resource before letting you get some hands-on experience in our searchroom at Norfolk Heritage Centre, inside the Millennium Library. Workshops are led by our experienced archive specialists.

Dates are as follows – 16 August (archived newspapers), 30 August (documents for military ancestry), 20 September (parish registers) and 04 October (wills and other probate). All start at 10am and run officially until 11.30am, although you are welcome to stay on longer if you wish.

Each session costs £5, which will be collected at the beginning of each session. Booking is essential. Please call 01603 774740 or book online at

…and if that isn’t enough,

head to our events page ( ) to find dates for beginners’ family history courses, Heritage Hours (including one about the resources of the Royal Norfolk Regimental Museum), a chance to get behind-the-scenes at NRO:The Archive Centre, and our brand new exhibition and tie-in lecture series, ‘Norfolk in the First World War’.

More events will come soon, including a further military workshop in October and a ‘Meet the Curator’ session with Frank Meeres. If you’d like to be the first to know when these are confirmed, follow us on twitter @NorfolkRO, or email and ask for your email to be added to our Events Mailing List.


Peace and War: Norfolk 1900-1914. An Illustrated Talk

Peace and War: Norfolk 1900-1914

6 – 7.30pm. Monday 4th August 2014.

A free illustrated talk by historian Neil Storey

The Curve at the Forum

forum ww1 logo

Norfolk based social and military historian Neil Storey will be giving an illustrated talk about life in Norfolk in the years leading up to the First World War and then the first few months of the conflict when there was still hope it would all be over by Christmas.

After the talk which will last about an hour there will be time for questions from the audience.

This is a free event but space is limited in The Curve at The Forum so please do reserve your place by calling 01603 774707 and leaving a message or by emailing Sarah on  Tickets will also be available to collect from the Sound and Vision Desk at the Millennium Library from Wednesday 23rd July.



Neil Storey will also be in the Forum, Norwich as part of the daytime “August 4th: The Day We Went to War” event where he will be available to interpret family military photographs and memorabilia, something he has done at ‘Who do you think you are live’ at Olympia for the past four years.

August 4th – The Day We Went to War

forum ww1 logo


August 4th – The Day We Went to War

To commemorate 100 years since the out break of war the Millennium Library, Regimental Museum and Norfolk Record Office have teamed up with The Forum Trust, Gressenhall Museum, historian Neil Storey and many other partners to plan an incredible day of events at The Forum.

Events and activities will include:

  • the chance to ‘take the King’s shilling’ at our recruiting office
  • the chance to explore the all new Military History family history course
  • an exhibition of authentic posters from 1914
  • crafts and activities for children, plus the chance to meet one of the Gressenhall horses
  • an expert on hand to look at your family memorabilia
  • The chance to leave your thoughts or tributes to family members who served on our Poppy Wall

Throughout the day The Fusion Screen will show the Norwich Roll of Honour, in memory of the 3,500 Norwich people who lost their lives in World War One.  The names will be displayed on the screen throughout the day and into the evening, and the space will provide an opportunity to remember those lost, and for quiet reflection.

The event will be officially started at 10am by the Town Crier and activities will continue through the day culminating in a free talk from historian Neil Storey at 6pm (details of this talk here).



World War 1 at Sheringham Library

Here are the details of  displays about WW1 that can be seen at Sheringham Library.

The first marks the first bomb “dropped in anger” on a civilian target during a
 - L4 airship raid  on 19th January 1915 at about 8.30pm, hitting a house in Wymondham Street, Sheringham.
ww1 bombed house SheringhamWW1 bomb casing

ww1 blue plaque Sheringham

There is a blue plaque on the site and the remains of the bomb casing is held in the Sheringham Museum. We have details about the course of the raid and photos of the house.

A Norfolk StoryAnother display documents the life of a local Norfolk man, Frederick Chandler who served in the Norfolk Regiment and was awarded the DCM for gallantry, discharged on 1917 as no longer fit for service.

Photos and messages from the Royal Family, details of his Displaymedals etc have been of great interest. The information was passed to us by  a family visiting Sheringham, who thought we would like the details of their grandfather’s experience and requested we did further research for them. I contacted the Norfolk Regimental museum who verified information about his medals.

Finally a display using posters & props, which is promoting books on the WW1 theme for customers to borrow.

WW1 Book Display

Jane Parker – Sheringham Library

Letters from a Family and Yarmouth Strikes Back

Over the past few months we’ve posted and tweeted a lot about the  films young people in Norwich and Great Yarmouth have been  creating as part of the Society of Chief Librarian’s World War One  project.

Norwich film still

Whilst a couple of staff members were treated to a sneak peek of the films a few weeks ago we can now confirm that both films  – the Norwich Letters from a Family and the Yarmouth animation Yarmouth Strikes Back – will be screened in the Fusion Gallery at the Forum in Norwich for all to see.

The films will be showing on a loop on the big screen at the following times:

Monday 21st  – Friday 25th July between 10.00 and 4.30

Monday 28th July – Saturday 2nd August between 10.00 and 4.30

There is no entry charge to the gallery and after seeing the films please do pop into the Millennium Library where there will be an exhibition of the work the young people completed around the films as they worked towards their Bronze Arts Award.

WW1 film porject poster