Jerry and Andrea bought North Cottage, Cromer in November 2018. We fell in love with it the first time we saw it. Jerry grew up in Norfolk and has been going on seaside holidays on the coast here since he was age 4.

We loved discovering the house's history. It was a holiday home during the late1800's and early to mid 1900's. Cromer first became fashionable for seaside holidays with the arrival of the railway, and was served by not one, but two railway stations.

North Cottage was originally built as the schoolmaster's house for the Goldsmith's Company Free school for boys on Overstrand Road. The gate at the end of the garden links to the former school which is still standing today (shown on this early hand drawn plan). 

The school was built in 1821 but the schoolmaster's house wasn't built until 1873. The first and longest serving schoolmaster was a prominent local man Simeon Simons who lived at The Bath House, a business he also owned and ran alongside his schoolmaster role. Only the 3 final schoolmasters from 1873 - 1895 lived in the small house.

In 1895 the Goldsmith's Company closed the school when education became the responsibility of government rather than left to the church and charities. By that time the poorly constructed and outdated building was no longer fit to be classed as a 'modern' educational facility. 

In this letter to the Goldsmith's Company the final schoolmaster, John B Hudson, expresses his dismay at losing his job and fears he's too old for the new state school. If he lost his job he would also lose his family's home.  According to the 1891 census he lived in the house with his wife and 7 children.

with thanks to the Friends of North Lodge Park 
archivist and historian John Morgan

From 1839 Samuel Hoare, a wealthy local banker who lived in Cliff House, leased part of the school land from the Goldsmith's Company and built North Lodge on it, for his son Joseph. 

The Goldsmith's Company hoped to sell further plots on building leases but the plan was unsuccessful. 

Joseph Hoare died in 1886 but the Hoare family continued to use North Lodge as a holiday home. In 1895 when the free school was closed Joseph's brother Richard Hoare purchased the entire estate from the Goldsmith's Company - The North Lodge, the mews stables, the school building and the schoolmaster's house, all for £3,000. The schoolmaster's house then became known as North Cottage. 

Richard Hoare's daughter Louisa Hoare - who had been visiting Cromer for the holidays since she was a very young girl - described the works her father carried out at North Cottage: 

'My father took immense trouble over North Cottage building on four good rooms and furnishing it. He said he hoped we would never sell it as he liked to feel that we should always have a roof over our heads.' 
Extract from 'Cromer Memories' by Louisa Hoare 1956.

Louisa Hoare lived in North Cottage with her sister Helen and her brother Dick. In 1901 when her father Richard died her eldest brother Drouro took over the entire estate and moved into North Lodge.

This extract from 'Cromer Memories' by Louisa Hoare 
describes the 55 years she lived at North Cottage and how the town changed from one century to the next.

North Cottage has been altered and extended considerably since it was built in 1873. Originally the modest 'schoolmaster's house'. 

After 1895 when Louisa Houre's father Richard bought and extended the cottage from 1897 it grew very considerably, with a new set of rooms to the front and to the rear of the house - as can be seen from these aerial photos.

Originally the 'front entrance door' to the cottage was what is now the 'back door'. The staircase up to the first floor leads from this door instead of what is now the front door.

There are more clues to be found as to how the house has evolved in these old photographs. They were taken from the Church Tower looking east towards North Cottage - first in 1885 and then again in 1964. By the time of the second photo, almost 80 years later, North Cottage has been considerably extended.

 Extract from a photo included in 'A Cromer Miscellany' 
author Adrian Vicary, Poppyland Publishing £10.95.

In 1928 Douro Hoare died and his widow put North Lodge and its grounds up for auction, much to the dismay of Louisa Hoare. It was bought by Cromer Urban District Council on 24th September 1928 for £5,500. The grounds became North Lodge Park and opened to the public in May 1929. The school building was purchased by a local doctor and used as a surgery.

North Cottage was the only building to remain in the Hoare family's ownership. Louisa Hoare continued to live here on and off until the 1960's. She also owned a house in London where she spent much of World War I helping to run a hospital for army officers, later she became a volunteer at the Cromer hospital.  

After Louisa Hoare's long ownership, North Cottage continued to evolve with a succession of different owners. In the early 1960's part of the garden closest to the sea was sold to the owner of the old coastguard house to provide a parking space. Around the same time a summer house was built in front of the house (later, in around 2009 this was adapted to become part of the double garage).

North Cottage in 1965 - the summer house is in a sunny spot to the right of the the front garden where the garage stands today. 

The conservatory was added in the 1993 when the house also boasted an outdoor swimming pool! The then owner also owned the tearoom business in the park. 

We've only been able to find one photo providing a tantaising glimpse of the outdoor pool - taken by Dr. Barclay (who owned the neighbouring house) just as the former site of the East Coast Motor Company was being cleared to make way for the Merchant's Court development. 

There was still one major addition to come. In 2010 The Garden Room was added on the site of the swimming pool. Originally the intention was to enclose the outdoor pool, but this plan was abandoned and the pool was covered over with joists and the shell still lies underneath the Garden Room! In the property sales brouchure for the house issued in 2015 the Garden Room contains a full size snooker table and a separate pool table. The next owners used it as a music room and for choir recitals. Today it's the most popular space with guests at North Cottage. 

By staying at North Cottage you're continuing a long holiday home tradition - which began in the 1890s - when Louisa Hoare travelled to Cromer with her parents, brothers and sisters from Stoke Newington by train for their holidays. 

We're indebted to the excellent book 'Chronicle of Cromer's North Lodge Park Pleasure Ground' vol II  published by the Friends of North Lodge Park for clarification of some important dates in this history. 
The book is available from the North Lodge Park Friends' cafe and Jarrolds in Cromer for £10. You can order online here p&p £3 
All proceeds help support the park.  It's a fascinating read!