The 'Small' Houses

From Cottages to Modern Homes

Until after the end of World War 2, the majority of Mulbarton families lived in small cottages with very basic facilities. Many of these were 'tied' cottages - rented to agricultural labourers for the duration of their time working on the farm. Tenancies were generally up to Michaelmas (29th September). After the harvest, 'ag. labs.' could find themselves not only out of a job, but out of a house, with the consequent upheaval for their family. And anyone who couldn't work because of illness or injury, and couldn't pay the rent, were equally likely to lose their home and find themselves 'on the Parish' or - worse still - in the Workhouse. For Mulbarton unfortunates, the Henstead Union Workhouse was at Swainsthorpe (now flats and houses on the left of the road from Mulbarton to Swainsthorpe).

Notice to quit - probably Church Cottages - issued 1888
Notice to quit - probably Church Cottages - issued 1888

Very few people owned their own homes - the Poor Rate Book lists owners and occupiers as well as area (in Acres, Rods & Perches), rateable value (in £ s d) and some indication of who is due to pay. Unfortuantely there is no address for the non-resident owners, many of whom did not live locally. A transcript of the 1876 book is here

The better cottages were built of brick, and might have had their own well or pump, but many were built of less expensive material  - 'clay lump'. This was local clay, made into blocks in wooden moulds and dried, then either built up as a wall or filled in between a timber frame. Often the corners were rounded. The whole construction was then daubed with clay, tarred over to make it waterproof, and sometimes limewashed to smarten it up. These cottages could be very damp, and the walls could deteriorate rapidly if water got into them from blocked gutters or broken pipes.

Clay lump barn by the Tower Mill - in a sad state and getting worse.
Clay lump barn by the Tower Mill - in a sad state and getting worse.

Clay lump cottages were some of the first to be condemned by the local Council, and the residents were some of the first to be offered Council Houses.

Norwich Road looking north - c.1907. Only the terrace of 3 brick cottages remain, beyond which was built St Omer Close.
Norwich Road looking north - c.1907. Only the terrace of 3 brick cottages remain, beyond which was built St Omer Close.

From the 1930s an increasing number of well-built, brick Council Houses were built, especially in the 1950s and 1960s to meet the housing shortage. To begin with, local people were rehoused, but later 'outsiders' in need of housing were coming into the village.

Lilian Mickleburgh outside the family home in St Omer Close. Later she moved to a bungalow built by one of her sons.
Lilian Mickleburgh outside the family home in St Omer Close. Later she moved to a bungalow built by one of her sons.

From the mid-1960s came the ever-increasing expansion of private houses on increasingly large estates - virtually all 'owner-occupied'. These had every 'luxury' compared to the cottages of 50 years earlier! But most of these were occupied by 'outsiders' - including many from London and the Home Counties. Mulbarton had changed out of all recognition! 

Mulbarton 1975, looking north from Cuckoofield Lane
Mulbarton 1975, looking north from Cuckoofield Lane