In a city as old as Norwich some of the more interesting glimpses into its past are to be found in the historically significant names given to streets.
Hotblack Road NR2 (off Dereham Road)
The uncommon name, Hotblack, which conjures up images for me of road-laying, tar, and snooker on the telly, commemorates the family of John Hotblack who was a boot and shoe manufacturer in the C19 when Norwich was still one of the country’s major shoe producers. Hotblack’s factory was in Mountergate, off Rose Lane, not far from the large Co-op shoe factory.
The Hotblack family lived next door in St Faith’s House.
John Hotblack’s son, Major-General Frederick Elliott ‘Boots’ Hotblack was decorated six times in the First World War and mentioned in despatches five times. ‘Boots’ was in charge of the Reconnaissance Department of the Tank Corps and had laid a trail of tape for the tanks to follow the next day. However, the trail was obscured by overnight snow so, under fire, he walked across the battlefield, showing the tanks the way . Since Hotblack Road is given on the 1907 OS map it would appear that the street was named for the shoe-making family rather than the war-hero son.
Lyhart Road NR4
In 1463, lightning struck the central tower of Norwich Cathedral, setting fire to the roof in the crossing, causing the spire to crash down into the nave. In the 1470s the Bishop of Norwich, Walter Lyhart, replaced the wooden roof with a vaulted roof of stone, using some of his own money to employ stonemason Reginald Ely, who had worked on King’s College Chapel, Cambridge . Lyhart’s contribution is commemorated in his rebus of a hart lying on wa(l)ter.
Another lying hart can be seen amongst the wonderful collection of roof bosses in the cloisters. The cloisters were damaged in the riots of 1272 and the restoration, which was halted by the Black Death, stretched over the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries.
Bishop Lyhart also oversaw the installation in the nave of 255 stone bosses that mark the intersection of short lierne ribs with the main ribs of the vault. The bosses represent biblical scenes, from the Creation to the Last Judgement. A favourite of mine is the overthrow of the Pharaoh in the Red Sea; it shows the Pharaoh’s chariot – looking more like a farm cart – in a literally red sea.
There was a time when Lyhart’s rebus could be seen in the tower screen at Yaxley, Suffolk . In the same screen was another piece of stained glass depicting the head of a bishop. Could this have been Walter Lyhart himself?Lound Road NR4
Major figures of the Norwich School of Painters (see previous post ) are well represented on road signs – for example, Cotman Road NR1, Crome Road NR3, Ladbrooke Place NR1 – but each time I travel clockwise around the ring road I am reminded of a less-well-known artist, Thomas Lound.
Lound (1802-1861) was a painter and etcher of local landscape but instead of scrabbling for a living, as many members of the Norwich Society of Artists did, he worked as a manager in the family brewing business and actually died with money in the bank. He was employed by the brewery of Tompson, Stackhouse & Co on King Street . In 1844, Tompson’s was sold to the Morgan brothers, one of whom, Walter, drowned in a brewery vat . Morgan’s was one of the ‘Big Four’ Norwich breweries in the first half of the C20.
Lound was taught by John Sell Cotman, whose influence can be seen in Lound’s paintings, though he probably followed more in the footsteps of Thirtle, whose work he collected avidly .
In 1839, six years after the demise of the Norwich Society of Artists, Lound became co-founding President of the Norwich Art Union  that – if it was anything like the Art Union of London – used subscriptions to buy works of art to be distributed amongst members by lottery. Lound was also involved in the Norwich School of Design (1846), a predecessor of the Norwich Technical Institute (1899) on St George’s Street, which is now part of the Norwich University of the Arts (NUA). In its first year the Art Union held an exhibition in its gallery at The Bazaar on the corner of Bridewell Alley and St Andrew’s Street .
The Bazaar is long gone but by one of those pleasing circularities its former site on the corner of Bridewell Alley and St Andrew’s Street is now occupied by NUA’s East Gallery.
Thomas Lound was also on the committee of the Norwich Photographic Society. In 1856 he exhibited five of his own photographs including one of Norwich Fish Market .
Bathhurst Road NR2
Bathurst Road at the city end of Unthank Road was built on the Heigham Lodge Estate that once belonged to Timothy Steward of Steward & Patteson’s Brewery. In 1877 architect Edward Boardman divided Steward’s former land into lots for sale. Three roads were laid around the estate, one of which – temporarily named Grove Street North – was renamed Bathurst Road after Bishop of Norwich, Henry Bathurst (1744-1837).
As described in Colonel Unthank and the Golden Triangle , Heigham Lodge was mistakenly thought to have been the home of William Unthank, who had bought 60 or so acres in Heigham to establish the Unthank Estate. William Unthank and Bishop Bathurst both died in 1837.
After the Reformation, Dissenters were banned by the Church of England from burial in their parish church. But in 1821, Bathhurst licensed Norwich’s Rosary Cemetery as the first non-denominational burial ground in the country (see  for The Norwich Way of Death). This chimes with the Henry Bathurst’s reputation as the only liberal bishop in the House of Lords and as someone who supported Catholic Emancipation.
Since their Oxford days, Henry Bathurst had been friends with Parson James Woodforde (1740-1803) of Weston Longville, about seven miles north-west of Norwich. When Bathurst was non-resident Rector of nearby Great Witchingham, Woodforde would collect surprisingly large tithes on his behalf. In his absorbing Diary of a Country Parson, Woodforde wrote:
About noon took a ride to Norwich … and dined, supped and slept at the King’s Head. As soon as I got to Norwich I went to Kerrison’s Bank and there recd. for cash etc a Note of £137 (about £8,000 today) which I immediately inclosed in a letter to Dr Bathurst, Oxford. I walked to the Post Office, and put the letter into the Post which sets for London this evening at 10 o’clock. I then went to the King’s Head and eat a Mutton Chop and before I had quite dined Mr Hall came to me, and we smoked a pipe and drank a Bottle of Wine .
Harvey Lane NR7
… named after Colonel John Harvey (1755-1842) who moved from the city centre to Thorpe, a few miles east of the city . Harvey came from a long line of wealthy Norwich textile merchants who had turned to banking: he himself was a leading partner of Harvey & Hudson’s Bank. Like nine of his relatives, Harvey became Mayor of Norwich (1792) but in his mayoral portrait he chose to be portrayed as colonel of the local militia.
We encountered Colonel Harvey last month in the large oil painting he commissioned from Joseph Stannard: ‘Thorpe Water Frolic, Afternoon’ (1825) . Harvey instigated The Frolic in 1821, largely as a sporting event for the gentry, but opened it up to the working population two years later when city weavers were given a day’s holiday. 10,000 are said to have attended: polite society on the Thorpe side, workers on the opposite bank . Last time, I focussed in on Stannard on the right bank, peering across to the gentry but here we see Harvey peering back from the left.
Harvey did not live on the riverside in Old Thorpe Hall – only parts of which remain – but at Thorpe Lodge, a five-bayed house that he built on the other side of the highway, re-routing the Yarmouth Road in the process . In the 1930s the central third storey was removed and the east wing demolished; it now houses the Broadland District Council.
Colonel Harvey is thought to have brought old doors from family properties in Norwich to install in the garden wall of Thorpe Lodge . Two plaques – one dedicated to Robert Harvey (1696-1773) the other to Thomas Harvey (1710-1772) – mark fine Georgian houses in Colegate, in the heart of the Norwich weaving quarter, but the Tudor door below comes from neither of these. The garden-wall doors at Thorpe seem to have disappeared in the 1970s but, fortunately, Arnold Kent photographed this door at Thorpe Lodge in 1948 . The flat-arched Tudor oak door came from Mayor George Cocke’s home (1613) at Bacon’s House in Colegate.
Towards the end of the C18 a downturn in the Norwich textile trade brought increasing unemployment . But business took an upturn when Harvey started making highly patterned silk ‘fillover’ shawls that could now be woven-in instead of having to be filled-in/embroidered by hand. These expensive items (12-20 guineas each) were the height of fashion and a counterpane shawl, twelve feet square and woven on Harvey’s looms, was presented to George III and his wife Queen Charlotte .
In 1792 the Royal Mint was unable to obtain sufficient silver for coinage. Harvey responded by minting Norwich trade tokens from base metal, their value no doubt backed by the Harvey & Hudson bank. This can be seen as a philanthropic way of keeping the city’s trade flowing although the loom on the reverse of the coin would also have served to advertise Colonel Harvey’s role in the local economy during his mayoral year .
Onley Street NR2
The Harveys were related to the Unthanks but to understand the origins of this street name we have to untwist the limbs of the Harvey family tree.
Colonel Harvey’s brother Charles (1757-1843) dropped the surname Harvey when he inherited Stisted Hall in Essex from his uncle, the Reverend Onley. The Reverend had himself adopted his wife’s family name, Savill, making him a Savill-Onley. Double-barrelled names were often adopted to preserve a family name that would otherwise have died out due to lack of male heirs or, in the case of Reverend Savill-Onley, ‘in appreciation of the fortune (£33,000) his wife had brought with her’ .
When Charles Savill-Onley died his son adopted the name of Onley Savill-Onley .
Onley Savill-Onley had a daughter, Judith Sarah, and it is she who connects us with the Unthanks by marrying Colonel Clement William Joseph Unthank of Intwood Hall . Their eldest son was Clement William Onley Unthank (1874-1900). Sadly, when only in his twenties, he died of a polo accident while serving in India.
When Colonel CWJ Unthank and his wife moved to her family house at Intwood Hall, CWJ started selling off the Unthank estate in what is now Norwich’s Golden Triangle. Over the years the estate was developed from Trinity Street down to Mount Pleasant and, in memory of their son, one of the later side-roads off Unthank Road was named Onley Street .
To be continued …
©Reggie Unthank 2019
‘An excellent Christmas-stocking filler’. The book Colonel Unthank and the Golden Triangle, which contains more about the Unthank family and describes the development of the the streets either side of Unthank Road, is still available from: Jarrolds’ Book Department (https://www.jarrold.co.uk/departments/books); or City Bookshop in Davey Place (http://www.citybookshopnorwich.co.uk/); or direct from me via the contact form (https://colonelunthanksnorwich.com/contact/).
- Paul Hurst (2013). Norwich Cathedral Nave Bosses. Pub: Medieval Media, Norwich.
- Christopher Woodforde (1932). The Medieval Glass in Yaxley Church. Suffolk Institute of Archaeology and Natural History vol XXI pt 2.
- Josephine Walpole (1997). Art and Artists of the Norwich School. Pub: Antique Collectors’ Club.
- Clive Lloyd (2017). Colonel Unthank and the Golden Triangle. ISBN 978-1-5272-1576-4
- Trevor Nuthall (2014). Thorpe St Andrew: A Revised History. Pub: Trevor Nuthall ISBN 978-0-9543359-1-5.
- Arnold Kent and Andrew Stephenson (1948). Norwich Inheritance. Pub: Jarrolds and Sons Ltd.
- Walter R Rudd (1923). The Norfolk and Norwich Silk Industry. Norfolk Archaeology vol XXI, pp245-282.
- Katy Barrett. Eighteenth Century ‘Hand-Loom’ Token. Analysing the English Collections at the Pitt Rivers Museum. https://england.prm.ox.ac.uk/englishness-token.html
- Reverend A J Nixseaman (1972). The Intwood Story. Printed in Norwich by RR Robertson.
Thanks. I am grateful to Clare Everitt of Picture Norfolk, Ken Skipper of Cork Brick Gallery Bungay and the George Plunkett archive (www.georgeplunkett.co.uk).