The Lodge                     

The Lodge, Rectory Lane

Read on for information about the house and some of its well-known owners - the Hookes, Bellairs and Hackblocks - as well as other residents and the 1948 sale details.

The Lodge is a fine late-Georgian house to the east of the village, behind a high wall alongside Rectory Lane. It was probably built around 1800, possibly on or near the site of an older building shown on the 1724 Manor map. In 1876, The Lodge was set in 12 acres of land, with a rateable value of £31.

The Lodge from the South, with Boardman's portico
The Lodge from the South, with Boardman's portico

The original house was basically a square building with a central oval staircase, a portico with four pillar on the south side and a veranda on the west. In 1876, W H Hackblock esq. asked Edward Boardman, the Norwich architect, to design a large extension. The south front was extended forwards to enlarge the drawing room and breakfast room, an outer hall added in front of the old lobby and a semi-circular portico sheltered the front door. A number of new rooms were added on the east side, including scullery, larder and store rooms and servants' quarters above. There have been a number of 20th century additions to the house, including a modern sun-lounge with swimming pool. Before the indoor pool was built, there was an outdoor pool (now a sunken garden) and a gypsy caravan used for changing!

The former 'Lodge Farm' (now renamed Willow Grange) is adjacent: a separate and substantial building with a large barn.


The Hooke family are closely associated with The Lodge, Mulbarton, and probably built it as a country retreat. Edmund Hooke (c.1748-1811), barrister-at'law, and his wife Naomi were living there by 1802 but their Norwich house was in St Giles parish. Edmund was the son of another Norwich barrister, Edmund Hooke Snr. (c.1707-1784) and Elizabeth nee Wilson. His ornate monument and lengthy inscription in his home parish, St Miles, Coslany, explains that he served Sheriff in 1744, a Deputy Lieutenant of the City, and was involved in the Norwich food riots of 1766 when 'he very humanly exerted his talents by undertaking to plead for the unfortunate but deluded prisoners without fee or reward'.  His wife, Elizabeth, was the 'daughter of George Wilson, a respectable manufacturer of the city, by whom he had one son and three daughters'.

His one son was Edmund Hooke Jnr. who studied at Caius College, Cambridge, admitted to the Middle Temple and was called to the bar in 1773. In 1798 he married Naomi Gerrard in St Martin-in-the-Fields, London and it may have been soon afterwards that they decided to build (or rebuild) a country retreat in which their children could be raised. However family life must have included a lot of sadness: three children died young and are buried in Mulbarton - Louisa (d. 1800 'an infant'); Edmund Henry, the only son, (d. 1807); and Anna Selina (1804-1822). Of the daughters that survived, Clara Amelia Hooke (1808-1872) married Joseph Henry Storie Jekyll in 1834, and their eldest daughter - and heiress - Cassandra Wilson Hooke (c.1799-1876) married Captain (later Sir) William Bellairs (1793-1863) who becomes an important part of the story of The Lodge. Meanwhile their mother, Naomi who was widowed in 1811 and remarried to John Story (c.1777-1830) and died in Bagnere de Bigorre, Hautes Pyrenees, at age 53.

Sir William Bellairs, husband of Cassandra Wilson Hooke, is listed as owner in the Tithe Apportionment documents of 1841 and in the 1845 White's Directory. Sir William was born 10th October 1793, joined the army in 1811 at the age of 17, died in London on 2nd October 1863 in his 70th year (leaving £40,000 - a huge sum in those days), and is buried in Mulbarton churchyard with his wife, Cassandra, Lady Bellairs, in a fine granite tomb to the east of the church.

Sir William Bellairs' tomb to the East of the church (near the hedge)
Sir William Bellairs' tomb to the East of the church (near the hedge)

According to the inscription on his tomb (below), he served in campaigns against Napoleon's armies in Spain and then in France and finally at the Battle of Waterloo. He had a distinguished military career - his horse was killed under him in the retreat from Quatre Bras and he was wounded at Waterloo. After the war, he went to Trinity Hall, Cambridge and in 1822 he married Cassandra Wilson Hooke, daughter and heiress of Edmund Hooke of Mulbarton Lodge. He was knighted on 17th May 1848. He died in Regent Park area of London, where he may have been living for some years and renting The Lodge to tenants. His widow, Lady Bellairs died 1st November 1876 at the age of 77.

The battles of the Peninsular War in which Sir William fought with distinction.
The battles of the Peninsular War in which Sir William fought with distinction.

Their son and heir, Edmund Hook Wilson Bellairs (1823-1896) had an extraordinary career. He joined the !st Batallion Norfolk Rifles; he married Emilia nee Bellairs (a cousin?) in 1852 and soon afterwards they sailed to Dunedin, New Zealand. He was a member of the NZ Legislative Council, returned to England in 1856 to live at the Lodge. He gained local notoriety when he chaired a committee to get the Common enclosed, following a Vestry Meeting held on Thursday 4th May, 1865. Meetings were held in the village and the proposal was strongly opposed. 'It was asserted that if ever the ancestors of Capt. Bellairs had possessed the power to effect the enclosure, they had allowed their rights to lapse.' Whether this put him off Mulbarton we do not know, but he seems to have sold The Lodge to the Hackblocks in the 1870s (below) and spent most of his later years in France where he was Vice-Consul in Bayonne and then Biarritz. He died on a visit to his son's home in Hatfield in 1896.
But the story then takes an extraordinary twist. His son and heir Edmund Hook William Bellairs (1854-1935), who was born in New Zealand, was a wealthy stockbroker who lived in Hatfield and Hampstead. In 1924 he applied for a faculty to have his parents' remains exhumed from the Norwich cemetery where they were buried and moved to Mulbarton. The Norwich Archives have copies of the correspondence, pleading that 'I promised my father that I would bury him in Mulbarton where he was born and where his childhood and youth were spent, but he died suddenly in my house at Hatfield....' and there follows some rather muddled claims about the family and who is buried where. The City Council would allow exhumation, but there is no evidence that the church authorities allowed reburial in Mulbarton, and no more mention of Bellairs in church or churchyard.


Mrs Harriet Norris
Charles Norris Esq. and his wife Harriet Francis - Mrs. Norris's grave is in Mulbarton Church and a slab on the floor of the chancel, and a memorial on the wall, record that she was 'of Mulbarton Lodge' and died in 1837.

Mrs. Dennison (in the 1860s - from Directories)

William Henry Hackblock (1870s - 90s). He is named as owner and occupier in the Poor Rate book for 1875-6, when 'Extent' was 12 acres 1 rod 38 perches and the rateable value was £31. Mrs. Hackblock was a School Manager and frequent visitor to Mulbarton School. She is first mentioned in the School Log Book as inspecting Needlework in 1875 and is a frequent visitor thereafter.

'July 11th 1879: Mrs. Hackblock visited the school on Friday afternoon to pay for eight children fees for the quarter.'

Hackblock graves, near NE corner of the Church
Hackblock graves, near NE corner of the Church

There are three Hackblock graves in the churchyard (above): Herbert Charles Hackblock; William Henry Hackblock and May Hackblock. In 1947 Miss E M Hackblock left £300 to the Diocese in trust to pay the Rector and PCC of Mulbarton Church for their upkeep. The trust income (now very small) continues to be used towards churchyard maintenance.

The Misses Burroughes in 1883 and the 1890s, described as occupiers, with the house still owned by W H Hackblock.

Arthur Lloyd Clay - listed in Kelly's Directory, 1890s

General George Nicholas Channer, C.B., V.C. (around 1900). He was born in India in 1843 and served with the Indian Army for more than 40 years, becoming a Captain with the 1st Gurkha Rifles. He won his VC on 20th December 1875 at Burkit Putus Pass, Malaya, where 'he was the first to jump into the enemy's stockade whilst leading a small party to obtain intelligence of their position and strength.' Later, he served in the 2nd Afghan War and its aftermath, and was Brigadier-General in command of Assam District from 1892-6. In 1899 he became a General and a Commander of the Bath. Presumably he then retired to Mulbarton. He did not live here for long, and died at Westward Ho in December 1905.

Charles Teesdale (listed as owner in 1904 & 1908)

Edmund Walter Hanbury Wood (owner in 1922)

Pocket watch presented to a long-serving worker by Mrs Agnew in 1933
Pocket watch presented to a long-serving worker by Mrs Agnew in 1933

Mrs. Agnew (1920s - 40s) who is still remembered by a few, and was also a School Manager:

'This large house in Rectory Lane was lived in by the Agnew family in the 1940s' Evelyn Smith

'The Lodge - Rectory lane - was the home of Mrs. Agnew. Her chauffeur/Gardener was the one who taught Sunday School [Mr. Blackman]. He wore breeches, boots and buskins when at work.'

She was related to the Beevor family of Hargham Hall, and the late 7th Baronet remembered visiting The Lodge.

From Parish Council Minutes, 1943 'Mrs Agnew (school manager) died'

Mr. & Mrs. Trafford purchased the property in 1948

Veranda on West side of The Lodge
Veranda on West side of The Lodge

The 1948 Sale

From documents relating to Auction on Saturday 25th September 1948 at the Royal Hotel, Norwich, by Francis Horner & Son at 12 noon in 3 lots. (Copy at Norfolk Record Office).

"Mulbarton 5 miles from Norwich, Particular and Conditions of Sale of the Charming Freehold Residence and Grounds, The Lodge, Mulbarton... and the Deep Soil Well-farmed Residential Agricultural Occupation, The Lodge Farm extending to 255 acres 2 rood 33 perches [as amended by hand on original document] and including seven cottages and also a valuable enclosure of accommodation land..."

Lot 1 - "Freehold residence and grounds near Mulbarton Common and adjoining the Mulbarton - Swainsthorpe Road and being The Lodge, Mulbarton, built of brick, cement rendered and colour washed with slate roof..."

Ground floor - pillared entrance portico; entrance lobby; staircase; drawing room opening to verandah; smoke room opening to front drive; cloak room; side hall and garden entrance; drawing room [amended to 'dining room'], servery, morning room.

Annex - store room, kitchen with 'double oven Reeve Range', 2 store rooms, cellerage, larder, servants' hall, lavatory, scullery

First Floor - Landing, 5 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, chambermaids' closet, secondary landing and maids' staircase, 4 maids' rooms

Mains electricity; water pumped from a well; drainage 'on modern principles by cesspool and soakaway'

Garage, harness room, riding stables, stores, brick and thatch garden room.

The Lodge grounds today
The Lodge grounds today

Gardens to west and south of property: rose garden; summer house; pleasure lawns 'with sheltered walks among mature trees', octagonal garden room, partly walled-in kitchen garden with heated greenhouse, well-stocked orchard, plantations, grazing.

Watercolour of The Lodge from the drive, by an unknown artist.
Watercolour of The Lodge from the drive, by an unknown artist.

Detached brick and tiled cottage - 3 bedrooms, garden 'as requisitioned by the Forehoe and Henstead RDC under the Compensation (Defence) Act, 1939 at an annual rent of £5' - in the occupation of Mr. Ralph Cross.

Lot 2 was Lodge Farm.

The Lodge with extension on left added by the Traffords for an indoor swimming pool. Background, left - roof of Lodge Farm barn.
The Lodge with extension on left added by the Traffords for an indoor swimming pool. Background, left - roof of Lodge Farm barn.