The 17th to 19th century

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17th. Century

During 1645 the manor of Sprowston was sold to Sir Thomas Adams a former Lord Mayor of London and a friend of King Charles 11. A draper by trade he was a wealthy man and he gave the exiled King £10,000 and helped to bring him home. He endowed a professorship of Arabic at Cambridge and had the Gospels printed in Persian. After he died in London in the February of 1667, his body was brought to Sprowston for burial.

It is ironic that through the actions of Sir Thomas Adams it should bring about the death of the regicide, Miles Corbet, the son of Sir Thomas and grandson of Sir Miles Corbet. Miles Corbet, who lived in Great Yarmouth was the only Corbet not to be a royalist. He was the last signatory to the death warrant of King Charles 1st. and was himself executed in 1662 at the restoration of King Charles 11. He was known as the regicide Corbet, a person who kills, or takes part in a killing of a King.

In 1625 the Treble bell in the parish church was cast.

In the mid 17th. century, parts of the churches mediaeval work was destroyed by the Cromwellians, supporters of Oliver Cromwell.

18th. Century

Church of St. Mary and St. Margaret.

Early this century a new brick tower was added to the parish church of St. Mary and St. Margaret. The bricks used were made locally as brick making took place in many parts of the manor. Some of the buildings erected in Norwich at this time also used bricks manufactured in the manor and some are still standing today.

Sprowston windmill is thought to have been built in 1730. Part of the mechanism, which turned the mill on its base, employed ball bearings and this was the first known industrial use for this type of bearing.


Sir Lambert Blackwell purchased the manor in 1717. Sir Lambert was a director of the notorious South Sea (Bubble) Company, which made a fortune for a few, but for the majority of investors it was disastrous, as the company was made bankrupt.

A 1760 map shows the Boar Inn, it is very likely that there has been an Inn on this site since the time of the mediaeval village. The Boar Inn was demolished and in the 1950's the present Inn was built, on or near the site of the old Inn.

19th. Century

At the turn of the century people in the manor of Sprowston were mainly employed on the farms. There were other crafts including brick making and milling and of course work could be found in the City of Norwich.

Harvest cart during harvest time

Another form of income for the Lord of the manor was the main turnpike on the North Walsham Road. A turnpike being what would today be classed as a toll-gate. Around 1840 the toll was one shilling and three pennies - seven and a halfpence in today's currency - for a sprung coach drawn by six horses. Four pennies would allow a score of sheep to pass through the toll-gate.

By 1800 the population of Sprowston was 248 and the number of dwellings to accommodate them increased.

1801 saw the Sprowston common enclosed as a result of an Act of Parliament.

In 1802 the Manor was purchased by Jonathon Davey and over the coming years it was to change ownership many times, either by inheritance or by being purchased by the following families: Woodruff, Smythe, Head, Talbot, Carver, Steward and finally by the Gurney family.

Sprowston's annual fair was discontinued in 1826 by magistrates because of vandalism.

Map of Sprowston in 1826.

By 1860 the population had increased further and was now 1308 and they occupied some 314 dwellings. Also this year the Elementary National School, on School Lane opened.

John Gurney rebuilt Sprowston Hall in 1876. He retained some parts of the old hall and the public can see these, as the hall is now a hotel on the Wroxham Road just past the Blue Boar public house.

With the increase in population it was felt that there was need for another church and in 1885 Saint Cuthberts was opened.

The first meeting of the parish council took place in 1894. Three years later they opened the recreation ground.