We 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 here since he was 4. North Cottage is steeped in history - and was a holiday home during the 1800's and 1900's when Cromer first became fashionable for seaside holidays - with the coming of the railway.

North Cottage was originally built as the schoolmaster's house for the boy's school on Overstrand Road. The gate at the end of the garden links to the former school which still stands today and is shown on the early hand drawn plan. It's not completely clear when the schoolmaster's house was built, but the school was built in 1821 and it is said the house was built in 1827. Although the first schoolmaster was a prominent local man Simeon Simons whose address is listed as the Bath House in records from the 1820's and 30's which is a bit of a puzzle we're still trying to unravel. It is possible the house was not built until the 1850's.

In 1895 the school was closed (a new school was opened in the town) and there's a letter from the schoolmaster John B Hudson (dated June 1895) to the Goldsmiths Company (who operated the school under a trust set up by the original benefactor) expressing his dismay at losing his job and expressing his fear that he is too old to be considered for the new school.

Letter from the last schoolmaster John B Hudson (with many thanks to the Friends of North Lodge Park archivist and historian John Morgan for uncovering the above 2 documents)

Meanwhile in 1837 Samuel Hoare (a wealthy local banker who lived in Cliff House) leased the estate from the Goldsmith's Company (also bankers) and built North Lodge for his son Joseph. Samuel Hoare had owned Cliff House, Cromer as a holiday home since 1801. Samuel Hoare died in 1847.

In 1895 Joseph Hoare purchased the entire estate - including North Lodge and the schoolmaster's house. The former school became a house, owned by Dr Barclay. The schoolmaster's house now became known as North Cottage. 

Louisa Hoare - who had been visiting Cromer for the summer holidays since she was a very young girl - writes about about the works done to the house by her father Joseph '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.'

Louisa lived in North Cottage with her sister Helen and her brother Dick. 

In 1901 after Louisa's father Joseph died her eldest brother Douro took over the estate and moved into North Lodge.

Extract from 'Cromer Memories' by Louisa Hoare

Originally we interpreted that the 'four good rooms' added in the 1890's were the living room and study on the ground floor and the master bedroom and ivory room on the first floor. There is evidence to suggest this in the roofline and also on the interior wall beside the staircase. We were told the reason the stairs lead from the back door not the front door is that originally the back door was the front door to the schoolmaster's house.  However subsequently we have seen photographs taken from the church tower looking east towards North Cottage, first in 1885 and then again in 1964 and it appears that it is the rear part of North Cottage that has been extended outwards forming the rooms today used as the Laundry and Wet Room on the ground floor and the toilet and the Red Room on the first floor. There is evidence inside the house of changes to the layout of internal walls in the kitchen and laundry. Owning an old house brings a great deal of pleasure uncovering the changes that have taken place thorugh the centuries.

Photo taken from the Church tower in 1885 showing North Cottage (extract of photo from 'A Cromer Miscellany author Adrian Vicary from the Vicary photo collection)

A similar view taken in 1964. North Cottage has grown considerably in size. Like North Lodge - across the estate to the left - various additions have been made creating a single building with many roof parts (photo from same source as above). A Cromer Miscellany is available from Poppyland Publishing and booksellers including Amazon for £10.95

In 1928 Douro Hoare died and his widow put the estate up for auction. It was bought by Cromer Urban District Council on 24th September 1928 for £5,500. The estate grounds were adapted into a public park which opened in May 1929. 

North Cottage stayed in private ownership. Louisa Hoare continued to live there until the 1960s. The garden was bigger than today and extended towards the sea at the side of the house (as in the original hand drawn plan). 

North Cottage in 1965 (click to enlarge)

In the early 1960s part of the garden was sold to a neighbour to create a parking space in the early and the access changed to the side of the house. There was a summer house in the front garden (where the garage stands today) and at some point a swimming pool was added (where the garden room stands now).

There have been a number of owners since the 1960s. In 1993 the conservatory was added. The summerhouse was converted into the garage and workshop in around 2007. The swimming pool was covered over when the garden room was built in 2011 (it's original purpose was a gymnasium / snooker room).

By staying in North Cottage you're continuing a long tradition - which began when Louisa Hoare came to Cromer for her long summer holidays - the family's horses and carriages travelling from Stoke Newington to Norwich by train - and  then later when the railway was extended the train came all the way to Cromer. Cromer even had two railway stations. 

There is more about the history of North Lodge Park on the Friends website where you can also find out about the events happening in the park.


North Cottage's history also featured in the Property Pages of the EDP24 in June 2019