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Drayton Village History

Post Office

It appears the very first post office in Drayton was at No. 1, Post Office Lane, the first of the three cottages off Pond Lane, just after where the pond used to be. This was from 1870 onwards. The post mistress was Charlotte Grief, a widowed lady. The 1881 Census showed her as 45 years with a son Francis, aged 18 years, an apprentice upholsterer. Living with them was Clara Thompson, a single lady aged 34 years from York. She was headmistress at the little school on School Lane (now known as School Road).

By 1890 the postmaster was Henry Pyle at the same location, Pond Lane. The 1881 Census showed him as 38 years, Licensed Victualler at the Cock Inn.

In 1896 the Post Office had moved to Drayton High Road where James Hall was carrying on his business as butcher, grocer and postmaster. His wife Agnes actually ran the post office in the grocery side of the business. A busy man, he was elected to the Parish Council in 1901 and from 1909 until 1921 was Vice Chairman. He died in 1928.

The post office moved in 1912 from the High Road to 18, Taverham Road, where Mr. George Thomas Smith took over the reigns as postmaster. In October, 1918 the Parish Council raised no objections to the post office closing on Saturday afternoons. Mr. Smith died in March, 1944. He was followed as postmaster by Fred Barsted in 1937. About that time the post woman was Mabel Barrett. George Pointer became a well respected postman in 1950 who retired in 1981. Mr. Barsted was very keen on football and supported the local team he was also on the Parish Council. He died in 1982.

Following on from Fred Barsted was Mr. C D Squire with the post office moved a little further up Taverham Road where it remained until 1964. These were purpose built premises with the left part devoted to the post office and the right to selling grocery. In January 1964 the post office moved to 3, Low Road with Mr. Philpott as the post master.

It was in June 1976 that Michael Gallant and his wife bought Drayton Stores from Mr and Mrs Nelson. The shop was extended and the post office was added in April, 1977. Their son Jon was joined by Mark Curson to run the post office and that is where it has remained ever since with their most able and helpful team of assistants.

The Doctors & Surgeries of Drayton & St Faith

Back in time when the whole of Europe was Catholic Pope Alexander III gave permission to some Knights of Jerusalem (called Hospitallers – members of the military and religious order of St. John ) to establish a hospital at Horsham and Newton St.Faith parish. It was founded in the village soon after 1154 and the Pope then placed it in the care of the Priory of the St. Benedictine Monks at St. Faith.

The priory was in fact founded in 1105 and flourished until 1536 when it was dissolved by King Henry VIII. The buildings, including the Priory church were demolished. It was in 1163 that a monastery was founded and at one time there was a fair, market, also a prison. The exact location of the hospital is unknown but local legend associates a barn once at Mill Farm Horsham with the hospital.

There is a record of a doctor’s surgery at St. Faith in 1790 and in 1797 there was a workhouse there. In those days Horsham and Newton St. Faith had a much larger population than Drayton. In 1821 the population of Drayton was only 283 and rose by only 10 in the next twenty years. Certainly in 1793 a Robert Mandell surgeon, was at St. Faith appointed by the local squire to provide medical care for the villagers and in 1796 it is recorded he was paid a salary for looking after the paupers of the village.

In 1797 he was replaced by Doctor Drake who remained there until 1802. The next year there was a Mr. Chandler, surgeon, until 1827 when he was succeeded by Doctor William Wilson Harris.  About 1835 at the newly enlarged Union Workhouse at St. Faith Dr William Wilson Harris was appointed as one of the four medical officers. It is said that Dr Harris was dismissed two years later, in 1837 for ‘habitual intoxication’ – he was in the habit of prescribing porter and even port as a medication to his patients, perhaps to ensure he had drinking partners! He died at the early age of 38 and is buried in the village churchyard as are some of the other local doctors.

A Dr. Dove of Norwich attended the Workhouse inmates in the mornings also attended some of the villagers and then a Dr. William Stanton Priestly filled the gap left by Dr. Harris. He lived at Brook Cottage beside the village ford and died at the age of 61 in 1878.

The other medical officers at the Workhouse were joined in 1881 by a Jeremy Fielding who termed himself as Physician, Surgeon and Medical Officer for the workhouse. Medical Officers had to pay for the drugs they supplied and it was common practice to employ illiterate paupers as nurses. At that time the population of St. Faith was nearly four times that of Drayton.

In the 1870’s there was an epidemic of diphtheria in Drayton and several children died. Probably the spread of this was blamed on the new school which was built in 1857 which still stands on the corner of Vawdrey Road, albeit now a private residence. In those years often children were employed as scarecrows in all weathers, collecting hay and helping in the turnip fields, also taking their fathers dinners out to the fields.

In those days there were many infectious diseases, head lice and the school was periodically fumigated. It was not until 1919 that instructions were given by the Education Authority that the lavatory pail (s?) was to be emptied every week, at a cost of £3 per year. Water was brought to the school in a wheeled container once per week and there was one enamel mug for use, chained to the container.

It appears there was no doctor in the village of Drayton but it is recorded that in the 1881 Census there was a nurse, Mrs Louisa Hunt living at 2, Drayton Road. After her name were the initials SMS which meant Subsidiary Medical Services, i.e. having some medical training but not properly qualified.

Next to serve the parishioners of St. Faith was Dr John Hawkes but only until 1882 when Dr James Fielding appeared. He rented the cottage ‘Gildencroft’ at 56, Norwich Road but moved to Norwich in April, 1888. A Dr Robert James Horne arrived and opened a surgery at ‘Gildencroft’. He remained until 1916 when he died suddenly at the age of 61 after serving 28 years.

It was in 1898 that a Doctor J. Johnson arrived at Costessey. He was the first medical man to live in the village, in fact at ‘Glen View’, 13 – 19 The Street. This was a seventeen room grand residence which he rented. He did his visiting rounds by pony and trap driven by his groom who lived in a cottage next door. In the 1920’s he moved to his own new house at Long Water Lane.  Presumably the sick of Drayton had to make their way to Costessey until in 1933 when Doctor William Harwood Nutt of St. Faiths had the first surgery at Drayton, on Station Road. Four years later, in 1937, he was joined there by a Doctor J.P. Hayes.

At last the residents of Drayton did not have to visit a doctor in St.Faith! The St Faith practice was bought by Dr John Darley Wynne. He remained there until 1924 when he sold his house and practice to Dr William Harwood Nutt. Dr. Nutt also opened a surgery at Drayton in 1933 and he remained to serve the villages until 1935. Along came Dr James McAlpine Scott who for some reason didn’t stay very long selling the practice the next year to Dr Jerome Patrick Hayes. He didn’t stay long either, only a couple of years until 1938 when Dr James Newlyn Gale bought it and continued to use part of the house, ‘Gildencroft’, as his surgery. He was joined by his son, also named John, as a partner in 1952.

Dr Julian Eve joined the practice at St Faith as a partner of John Gale Snr ( who retired in 1957) and practiced at ‘Gildencroft’ until 1972 when the new surgery was built at Doctor’s Meadow. Dr Eve served the villagers for 30 years, retiring in 1986.

It was in 1938 that Doctor Johnson (of Costessey) and a Doctor Hinchalwood were holding surgeries in the front room of a terraced cottage at No.14, Taverham Road, Drayton, occupied by the Chambers family. The patients had to wait outside and when necessary sheltered from the elements under a large holly bush in the front garden. The matter was reported to the Parish Council who passed the matter on to the Health Council but to no avail. Doctor Johnson was even offered the use of the village hall which he declined. Doctor Hinchalwood died in 1979.

Also in 1938 Doctor John Gale Snr. was holding another surgery in the front room of ‘Shirley’, Costessey Lane, the home of Mr. and Mrs. Ted Borritt and family. His patients waited in comparative comfort on the stairs! It was in 1950 that Doctor Gale and his son, also John, were running a surgery at their home at ‘Pinecroft’, 183 Drayton High Road.

In March, 1952 a proposal was made for the erection of two doctors surgeries and a flat above for a resident nurse but the Ministry of Health was not in agreement. That same year the popular Nurse Knights, the local midwife retired after thirty years of service in the area. Many a family had much to thank her for. A collection was made among the parishioners and a presentation made to her on 8th July of that year.

Doctor John Gale Jnr. established a surgery at 27, Hurn Road in 1956 and he was joined by Doctor David Sladden. Big changes were afoot and in 1960 a part of the kitchen garden of Drayton Old House was purchased for £2,000. A new surgery was built and opened at 14, School Road on the 1st of May. The indefatigable Mrs. Dorothy Coleman took employment there and stayed until she retired in 1973. The doctors at that time were Sladden, Gale and Eve.

By 1962 Taverham had its own doctor and surgery, saving residents the need to travel to Drayton. In 1964 there was an epidemic of mumps and four cases of measles in Drayton. In that year a Doctor Elspeth Whittaker was holding surgeries at Manor Farm Cottages. She also had a house built at School Road called ‘Stokewood’. The house now forms part of Badgers Wood nursing home. Doctor Whittaker stayed until 1970.

It was in April, 1983 that the now senior partner, Doctor John Gale Jnr. retired after over thirty years in the practice and a presentation party was held in his honour at Drayton. The next year Doctor Eve also retired and the current doctors were now Leeming, Barclay and Rivett.

In March, 1987 a new surgery was opened just up the road at Manor Farm Close. Drayton surgery changed from being a branch of St. Faith to become the main surgery. It cost £260,000 and a grouting in ceremony was performed by the retired Doctor John Gale Jnr. This is a symbolic filling in of joints, the last job of the building process. The surgery was blessed by Canon Roger Robinson, the rector of Drayton, and it was officially opened in September of that year by Doctor Prior, of the Norfolk and Norwich Hospital. The doctors in attendance were then Sladden, Leeming, Barclay, Rivett, Dalrymple, Daykin and later Manson.

The Drayton Patchwork Quilters got busy and made a presentation of their work of a quilt depicting nursery rhymes in the following September. The local Womens Institute also made a presentation in the same month of an audiometer to celebrate their seventieth anniversary. Unfortunately in the December there was a small fire in the cleaners cupboard but this had no adverse effects.

Over the years there have been many improvements, the most recent in 2009 when considerable work was done to the car park also the pharmacy was built as an extension to the surgery. Then there has been an extension to opening hours. The approximate 13,000 patients residing in the large area covered by Drayton and St. Faiths Medical Practice are most fortunate in having the present team of doctors at their service i.e. Messrs James Rivett, James Dalrymple, Stephen Daykin, Sarah Martin, Alan Lee, Michael Macbeth, Pooja Kogod, Claire Waddy, also the managing partner Mrs. Rachel Arkieson, and Afshan Hasan as Registrar. In addition there is the clinical manager, the seven most capable practice nurses, five dispensers, the twelve most patient receptionists who deal with the sometimes nefarious needs of patients, and not forgetting the mysterious I.T. and Office Manager Wayne Bolt and his team of seven.

The services provided by the Drayton and St. Faiths Medical Practice are now many and varied. It has also has been involved in the training of general practitioners since the 1970s. Recently the practice has become involved in medical research. There are six consulting rooms, two nurses rooms, a treatment room, a day procedure unit also a training and research area.

What more could we local residents ask for?

Bas Kybird December, 2010 With thanks to Dr. David Sladden (Retired) for the loan of his copy of the book Horsham St. Faith – A History, by Dr. Julian Eve, 1994.


Harry Cator – A Local Hero

by Bas Kybird


Cator Road. How many people, on passing Cator Road, off School Road, Drayton give a thought to the man who bore the name? Cator Road bears mute testimony to the heroism of one of Norfolk’s most decorated soldiers.

Harry Cator was born in a little terraced cottage at Fakenham Road, Drayton, on 24th January 1894, next door to Alfred George Senior. At that time Alfred was a coal porter at Drayton Railway Station. It is believed Harry’s father was a plate layer on the railway.

At the age of three or four he started his education at the local village school on School Lane as it was then. Another village lad, Robert George Carter, later to be a most successful builder, was already attending there, he being about two years older.. There were two teachers, Miss Gamble who was the Headmistress, and Miss Smith who taught the infants. About this time the children were supplied with slates and sponges for writing.

Harry left school about 1908 when we was fourteen years of age. Not long after he obtained a job as a porter on the M&GN Joint railway at Thursford. Following this he had other jobs, some in the building trade.

In 1914 at the age of nineteen Harry was working as a builders labourer at Great Yarmouth. There he married Rose Alice Morris on 2nd September and on the very next day answered Kitchener’s call for volunteers. There is no record of what Rose had to say about this! Lord Kitchener had appealed for 100,000 volunteers and soon after for another 100,000 men. They were referred to as K2 Service Battalions of Kitchener’s Army because they were not regulars and trained at Colchester Barracks.

Harry was posted to the 7th Battalion of the East Surrey Regiment. Nine months later, on the 23 June, 1915, he was posted to France and fought in Flanders which entitled him to wear the 1914 – 15 Star.

‘In 1916 at the age of twenty two he was a sergeant. The battle of the Somme, which was fought between 1st July and November, 13th saw terrible losses. In the last week of June one and a half million shells rained down on the German positions then on 1st July the British troops moved forward only to find the Germans had not been badly effected by the bombardment. That morning alone the British suffered 60,000 casualties,20,000 of them died and many others.

Drayton Station


The Heritage Trail was produced by Drayton Church of England Junior School as part of their project in support of St Margaret’s Church Heritage Lottery Funding for major repairs.

Download The Heritage Trail

(PDF, 3.9MB)

It is with grateful thanks to Juliet Webster that we are able to include some images from the R G Carter Ltd archives.

Download the Photo Archive

(PDF, 8.1MB)

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