North Cottage History

Exterior front view of North Cottage Cromer showing house of traditional Victorian design with bay windows, flint stone facing, brick inlay and gravel driveway.

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 late1800's and early to mid 1900's when Cromer first became fashionable for seaside holidays - with the coming of the railway.

Wall plaque with inscription displayed on today's building at the former Cromer Free School for Boys.

North Cottage was originally built as the schoolmaster's house for the Goldsmith's Company Free 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. The school was built in 1821 but North Cottage wasn't built until 1873. The first 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. 

Hand drawn plan from around 1873 showing location of school and schoolmaster's house - today North Cottage

In 1895 the Goldsmith's Company closed the school when education became the responsibility of government rather than charities and the church. This is a letter from the final schoolmaster John B Hudson expresses his dismay at losing his job and his fear he is too old for the new state school.

Letter from John B Hudson, the final school master to live at North Cottage (then known as the school master's house)Letter from the last schoolmaster John B Hudson (with many thanks to the Friends of North Lodge Park archivist and historian John Morgan for providing the above 2 documents)

From 1839 Samuel Hoare (a wealthy local banker who lived in Cliff House) leased part of the land set aside for the school from the Goldsmith's Company and built North Lodge 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 nephew Richard Hoare purchased the entire estate - The North Lodge, the mews stables, the school building and the schoolmaster's house for £3,000. The schoolmaster's house became known as North Cottage. 

Richard Hoare's daughter Louisa Hoare - who had been visiting Cromer for the summer 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).

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.

Typed extract from Louisa Hoare's book 'Memories of Cromer' outlining the 60 years she lived here

This extract from 'Cromer Memories' by Louisa Hoare records her years living at North Cottage. In the second paragraph she writes 'On my garden wall is a slab saying it was the property of the Goldsmith's Company'. Sadly The slab cannot be seen today.

Drone shot looking directly down from above at North Cottage Cromer as seen in September 2021

North Cottage has been altered and extended considerably since it was built in 1873. Originally it was a modest 'schoolmaster's house'. John B Hudson lived here with his wife and 7 children according to the 1891 census. When Louisa Houre's father Richard extended the cottage he enlarged it very considerably adding a new set of rooms to the front of the house as can be seen from the roof in this aerial photo (photo taken by drone in September 2021).
Originally the 'front' door was the current back door - which is why the staircase leads from the back of the house not the front.

There are more clues to be found as to how the house has evolved by studying these photographs taken from the Church Tower looking east towards North Cottage - first in 1885 and then again in 1964. In the later photo North Cottage has been considerably extended.

North Cottage as seen from the Church Tower in two different photos. The first photo is dated 1885 and the matching photo is dated 1964

North Cottage as seen from the Church Tower in two different photos. The first photo is dated 1885 and the matching photo is dated 1964

Photos taken from the Church Tower in 1885 and 1964 showing North Cottage.
 Extract from a photo included in 'A Cromer Miscellany' 
Author Adrian Vicary from the Vicary photo collection. Poppyland Publishing £10.95.

In 1928 Douro Hoare died and his widow put North Lodge and its grounds up for auction. It was bought by Cromer Urban District Council on 24th September 1928 for £5,500. The grounds were adapted into 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 builiding remaining in the ownership of the Hoare family. Louisa Hoare continued to live here on and off until the 1960's. She also owned a house in London and ran a hospital for army officers injured during WWI, later she helped form Cromer hospital.  

After the period of her ownership North Cottage continued to evolve. In the early 1960's part of the garden was sold to the owner of the old coastguard house to provide a car parking space and at the same time access from the park changed to the side of the house. Around the same time a summer house was built in front of the house (in around 2007 this was adapted to become the left hand side of the double garage).

North Cottage Cromer as photographed from the air in 1964 showing the house without the modern additions of the conservatory, and garden room.

North Cottage in 1965 - no conservatory or garden room.
 There is a summer house where the garage stands today

The conservatory was added in the 1980's when the house also gained an outdoor swimming pool! 
We've only been able to find one photo of the pool - taken by Dr. Barclay (who owned the neighbouring house) before the Merchant's Court was developed on the former site of the East Coast Motor Company.

Photograph featuring a glimpse of the outdoor swimming pool that once occupied part of the garden at North Cottage

In 2010 The Garden Room was added on the site of the swimming pool. The pool was covered over with joists and still lies underneath! In the sale brouchure for the house issued in 2015 the room has a full size snooker table and a seperate pool table.

North Cottage Cromer garden room exterior view as seen in September 2021.

By staying at North Cottage you're continuing a long holiday home tradition - which began in the 1890s when Louisa Hoare came to Cromer with her family from Stoke Newington 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!

Image showing cover of book detailing History of North Lodge Park and the Cromer Free School for Boys