Little Cressingham

A brief history, including Clermont and The Arms

 

Clermont Gardens

Clermont Gardens

The village of Little Cressingham had two centres of population in the past: one below the church by the mill and the river, the other about 1.5 miles a way on heath land. The latter settlement was for a long time the largest and had a pub, The Cressingham Arms and a Methodist Chapel, both now closed, and is situated on the very edge of the Stanford Battle Area. However, the building of the council houses moved the focus of the village to the area around the church.

Within the parish stands Clermont Hall, whose successive owners from 1776 provided agricultural employment to a large part of the community. The 2,000 acres, largely of light, sandy soil heavily enriched with flints produced corn, sugar beet and potatoes as well as carrots. The estate was sold in 1973 and is now owned by the Ministry of Defence.  Farming continues on a tenanted basis but with no inhabitants employed on the land. Clermont Hall is in separate private ownership as a family home; it is a fine 18th century country house, for a time owned by the Second Duke of Wellington.

A new Country House was built adjacent to Clermont Hall in 1972 and has become particularly well known for its garden, which incorporates an arboretum and a labyrinth laid in 2003. Planting of trees and shrubs began in earnest in 1983 and a wildlife pond was added in 1999. It is often open to the Public. See www.clermonthousegarden.com.

Next to the church, is the old Free School founded and endowed by William Farrer in 1809 and built at a cost of £144; for many decades it was the Village Hall before being sold by auction in 2000. The building was in a very poor state of repair by then and had to be demolished (after carefully removing the plaques). Today, it is the offices of local house builders, Abel Homes Ltd. Many of the original bricks were used in the 2002 construction and the original plaques were also incorporated. Saxon remains were discovered during the excavation of the new foundations and were properly recorded by the Norfolk Museums and Archaeology Service.

The Rectory, built circa 1840, was larger than it is today. It had servant’s quarters until just after the second world war, when they were removed and the property was ‘modernised’. The Diocese sold the Rectory by public auction in 1979 for £52,000. There were also cart sheds and stables adjacent to the house at one time and ironically, the new owners unknowingly built new outbuildings and garages almost directly over the old foot-print in the early 1980’s. The property is now known as The Old Rectory.

The old White Horse

The old White Horse

Sadly, the village today has no amenities as such. No shop, only one bus per week to Watton (on Market day), no village green and no pub or village hall. The White Horse which was the village pub closed in 2003 and has been sadly returned to residential use.

The only interesting vernacular architecture apart from the church and the C16th pub is the mill to the west of the church and though now without sails, it still stands beside the river. There is beside it, a Georgian mill house and a small gothic windowed pump room. Mill Farm, which is on the other side of the road, has been converted into two impressive new homes.

In 1963, Sir Richard Prince-Smith, the Clermont Estate owner at that time demolished five farm houses and thirteen cottages. To the south of the village, at The Arms, are many delightful flint cottages or colour washed houses retaining sympathy with the surroundings.