North Cottage History

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 we have 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 providing 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 1857 Joseph Hoare purchased the entire estate - including North Lodge and the schoolmaster's house. The schoolmaster's house 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 North Cottage by her father Richard Hoare who inherited the estate when Joseph Hoare died in 1886.  '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 when Louisa's father Richard died her eldest brother Douro took over the estate and moved into North Lodge. 

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'. The free school was built by the Goldsmith's Company, so it follows the schoolmaster's house would also have been built by them. The slab cannot be found today.

Originally we interpreted the 'four good rooms' added in the 1890's were the Living Room and the Study on the ground floor and the Master Bedroom and Ivory Bedroom 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 staircase leads from the back door, not as is more conventional - the front door, is because originally the current 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. In the later photo it appears that is is the rear part of North Cottage that has been extended outwards forming the rooms used today as The Laundry Room and the Wet Room on the ground floor and the toilet and the Red Bedroom on the first floor. This would tally with the fashion for interior toilets during the late 1890's (the previous outside WC building is still standing). There is evidence inside the house to support this, with changes to the walls evident in the rear part of the house.

Photo taken from the Church Tower in 1885 showing North Cottage (extract from a 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, also in the ownership of the Hoare family). Various additions have been made to create a single building of many parts (photo from the same source as above - 'A Cromer Miscellany' 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 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). Part of the land was sold to a neighbour to create a parking space in the early 1960s, and the access changed to the side of the house. 
A summer house was built in the front garden.

There have been a number of owners since the 1960s. In the 1980's the conservatory was added and an outdoor swimming pool. The summerhouse was converted into the garage in around 2007. The swimming pool was filled in and the garden room was built around 2010.

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

There's 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.