Goldings Web Photo Gallery
By Frank Cooke
photos from Barnardo's archive
26/04/2002

Honingham Hall
Nr Norwich,
Norfolk.
Tel: Honingham 266


 

Honingham Hall was opened in 1940 as an evacuation centre for boys. Then in 1947 Honingham Hall status changed when it became a temporary Dr. Barnardo home. Then in 1951 the status was changed again to a permanent home. Honingham Hall closed as a Dr Barnardo's home December 1966 like many of the old homes of Dr Barnardo's at this time. The Children were moved to a new home Teichman House named in memory of Sir Eric Teichmann

68/14 Childhood Memories a photographic history of Dr Barnardo's

How did Dr. Barnardo's get such a Home as Honingham Hall. Early in WWII the government required owners of large buildings, in particular stately homes, to use their buildings for the war effort. Some became hospitals for the war wounded, others centres of Allied operations, whilst others offered their homes for orphanages. The latter was Sir Eric Teichmann case. A contract was drawn up whereby Sir Eric acted as landlord, loaning a large part of his home to Dr. Barnardo's whilst retaining the more 'stately' area for himself and his family. Sir Eric Teichmann was so impressed with the children that had been placed at his stately home that in his will Sir Eric left the whole of his estate to them, on the one condition that 'Lady Teichman would reside in her quarters during her lifetime. The will that had been drawn up was soon to be used after Sir Eric Teichmann was murdered by an American serviceman who Sir Eric had caught him poaching. This was on a Sunday morning in December of 1944 Dr. Barnardo's had a new home that was kept open till December 1966.

For some more background information local resident of Honingham Brian Webb wrote some memories of his time he shared with the boys of Honingham Hall Click here to view  some photos to follow.

The top photo was sent in by David Smith along with the one below when the younger children were treading the boards in "The Magic Basket" that was on stage at Watts Naval School.

Back Row:  Tree, Osborn, Harris, Faulkner, Burston, Shorter. Thorne, Banner, Wyney, Mariner.
Middle Row: David Bolton, Wynn and Pennington.
Bottom Row: Moon, Hobson, Hawkins, Tree, Pennington, Peak, Charlie Carson, Randall, Ted 'Kit' Carson.

Are you in this photo and did you become a thespian? David Smith was in another sketch in which he played a policeman giving evidence against Christopher Columbus, his ghastly crime that he Christopher Columbus did find America!


David Smith wrote: before I went to Goldings in September 1947, I had spent the war years at Honingham Hall near Norwich. Myself and my three brothers were sent there from the Boys Garden City, Woodford Bridge in 1940.

Several incidents spring to mind that occurred during my stay there, including the time the Jerries had a pop at the American bomber base at Attlebridge (or Weston as it was called by the locals) and unloaded some bombs in the woods near the house which failed to go off. they were detonated by a controlled explosion by an Army bomb disposal team. We were not allowed to remain in the house, but had to take cover behind trees. I think I must have been the original "tree hugger"!

Another tragic incident was the murder of Sir Eric Teichmann the owner of Honingham Hall, who was shot by an American serviceman who he caught poaching in the woods one Sunday morning in December of 1944. Then there was the time when one of the boys (I cannot recall his name) got hold of a shotgun cartridge, and after emptying out the pellets, luckily for him, threw it on the fire! In the resulting ignition he suffered extensive superficial burns to his face. I will never forget when he walked into the dining room, his face swathed in bandages, looking for all the world like the Invisible Man. We were told not to stare at him, but every now and then we couldn't resist sneaking a look and it must have been pretty off-putting for those sitting at the same table.

The last incident concerned a boy who brought two shell heads (the pointed bit at the top) back from his Summer holidays. The war was over by then, this must have been either 1945 or 1946. My brothers had left by then, being placed in "situations" by the Homes. We had been told repeatedly during the war years not to pick up anything as the Jerries had a nasty habit of scattering anti-personnel booby traps around, i.e.. the Butterfly bomb, but boys will be boys.

During inclement weather , we used to play in part of the old stable block called The Hut and it was in this building on Christmas  Eve that one of the above mentioned items was dropped and exploded with an tremendous bang. Luckily I was outside at the time and as the injured streamed out of the door , I rushed into the room to find out what had happened. There was a lot of shouting and screaming and boys holding various parts of their bodies where they had been hit by shrapnel.

About a dozen boys were taken to hospital in Norwich, the most serious being a piece of metal through a leg. Happily they all recovered with no ill effects. The police were called and grilled the boy , asking him where he had got the offending article and where the other one was. The Army was called in to sweep the area with mine detectors when he told them that he had thrown it away, cutting down a large number of Rhododendron bushes in the process. In fact the other one was found later in a completely different spot to that swept and would not have been picked up by the detectors anyway, as it was made of Bakelite, a plastic, and came from a training round which was harmless. There was a hole in the wooden floor and also a hole in the ceiling , where luckily the largest piece had ended up. It could have been much worse with only minor injuries. As I've always maintained, if you survived Honingham , you could survive anything!

About David Smith
He arrived at Goldings in September 1947 and left to do his National Service on November 1st. 1951, returning to finish his printing apprenticeship in October 1953 to September 12th. 1955. David now lives in Tonbridge, Kent.

Since this page has been on site I have had contact from David Smith, Charlie Carson and David Bolton who wrote:

I arrived at your site in a roundabout way, looking for anything on Honingham Hall, and was surprised to see the article by David Smith, and the photos from Dr. Barnardo archives.  The two of the "hall" must have been taken in its later years, or after closure, as it was demolished sometime afterward.

What really surprised me, was the photo of boys taken when we put on a show - "The Magic Basket".  I did not remember what the show was called, but the photo instantly brought back memories of the time.  I am the David Bolton in the middle row - I was always quite small for my age.  I went to Honingham Hall in the summer of 1944 (and was 7yrs old in November that year.)  I don't remember David Smith, although I remember all the incidents he writes about in his memory, and already knew the history of Sir Eric and Lady Teichman.

I have been back to Norwich over the passing years - always have liked the city - spend a few days there, and have a day walking in the Honingham, and Hockering area.  Last visit was in 2005. The A47 road has bypassed Honingham, just north of the village, and cuts across the old entrance drive.  This has left the village almost in a time warp.  The drive and grounds remain the same, worn by the passage of time, and the woods and rhododendrons still as they were.  The hall is gone, but the outline of surrounding drives are still visible, and the old stable block was still there (one end of which was used by Barnardo's - the hut).  From the area where the hall was, another drive entrance skirts the woods for about a mile, to join the old Norwich road.  At both entrances, the gates remained, and at the Norwich road entrance, the gate house was lived in.  St. Andrews church is just up the road, where we all used to go to church.  We made up the greater part of the church choir.

If I really stop to think, I can remember so many things about my time as a young lad there, and the staff.  How we used to make dens in the woods, and tree houses.  We made bows and arrows, and pop-guns from elder wood.  I remember sledging in the bad winters when there was lots of snow, summer camps at Hopton, and other places.  I could probably write a fairly good book if I thought about it.

Those photos - would Barnardo's have any others of Honingham Hall? How would I go about finding out?
 
Thank you for your time.
 
Dave B         


 

 

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