Population explosion

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Population Explosion

The beginning of a settlement in Sprowston, started with human beings finding a suitable piece of land, to form small villages or settlements, to build a home and plant crops. They began to grow domesticated plants and tame dogs for use in hunting, also to domesticate the sheep, cattle and goats, which provided meat, milk and wool, which could produce clothing, by weaving and they invented the Plough.

The Iceni were a British (Iron Age) Celtic tribe who occupied the areas of Norfolk, Suffolk and parts of Cambridgeshire during the Iron Age. They were wealthy farmers who spent their lives on the rich and fertile farmlands of East Anglia cultivating and harvesting crops, managing woodland and tending herds of animals such as sheep, cattle and pigs. Most families would have owned several horses, as to the Celts, “horses” symbolised great wealth. People were living in and around Sprowston, between 10 to 20 dwellings, situated in and around Sprowston Parish Church since the time of the Iceni, whose Iron Age leader was Queen Boudicca (died 60 AD), it is known that she addressed her tribe on land that was near Sprowston Hall, before she went into battle with the Roman invaders. People lived in small settlements, a typical village being; a group of roundhouses made of timber, with walls of wattle and daub and thatched roofs of grasses, reed or straw.

Harrison`s Meadow on Blue Boar Lane we find evidence of these people with the discovery of a Beehive Quern Stone (Upper part in the 1990`s). There is also evidence of Pot Boilers (stones heated in the fire and used for cooking). Compared to Boudica`s aristocratic lifestyle, life was extremely tough for most Celtic women as they would have spent much of their time at home and on the land. Bringing up their families, taking care of the animals, harvesting crops as well as many other household chores such as; grinding the corn, preparing and cooking food, also spinning the wool to use on the loom in order to make their clothes.

With the arrival of the Norman`s the people of our Saxon settlement, had new masters. They became Villein`s, working the land for the Lord of the Manor Robert Malet (1086). At the time of the “Domesday Book” in 1066, the total population of Beeston St. Andrew and Sprowston there were 16 villagers, 10 smallholders, 19 freemen and 5 free men, living in 63 households, there were two windmills, 18 pigs, 4 cattle and 35 goats The population increased slowly due to the needs of the Lords of the Manors (2), as there were times when these Lords were asked to march and supply men to fight alongside their King. Members of the Aslake family fought at Agincourt and were rewarded In 1349 the population was decimated by the “Black Death”, but nearly two decades later the population had recovered. By this time sheep farming increased and fewer farm workers were needed. Since the 14th century the people in and around Norwich was weaving material made from Wool or Silk. Weaving was a task that most members of the family in the confines of their own homes, could get involved in. In the time of King Henry VI, the wages of Labourers were as follows: - a ploughman, a shepherd, a carter, a maltster received 13 shillings and 4d yearly (in total Mark) with meat, drink and clothing for the best 10 shillings. With meat and drink for the secondary. A labourer, a ditcher, a thatcher, a waller, a hedger, one Mark per day in winter and 2d (Half Groat) in summer for the best, and a 1d in winter. A bailly in husbandry, 20 shillings yearly with meat and drink. Masons, leyers, reders, tylers, 2d a per day in winter and 2d a day in summer, with meat and drink. A carpenter, 2d per day in winter and 3d per day in summer, with meat and drink. Most of the agricultural Labourers were lodged, boarded and clothed by their masters and had their money for their wives and families. By the 16th century the two manors were united, a new Hall was built, and the Lord of the Manor now required a number of staff to keep the hall in good order, and there was a small increase in the population. 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. The second half of this century saw a great improvement in the conditions of the highways and a considerable increase in the range and variety of carriages. It was possible for the population at that time to travel far and wide, but the journey would have been uncomfortable, sometimes long and very dangerous. Travel was mainly by ships, going from port to port, as only the rich could afford a coach to travel along the ancient cart tracks. 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. 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 tollgate. Around 1840 the toll was one shilling and three pennies - seven and a half new pence in today's currency - for a sprung coach drawn by six horses. Four pennies would allow a score of sheep to pass through the tollgate. Sprowston was slowly being accustomed to the arrival of the `Industrial Age` and `Steam Power`, brickmaking was on the increase, and the breweries in the City of Norwich grew in size and number, and men were able to utilize both of these trades in the course of the year, making beer in the winter and bricks in the summer. By 1800 the population of Sprowston was 248 and the number of dwellings to accommodate them increased. 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. With the increase in population it was felt that there was need for another church and in 1885, Saint Cuthberts was opened.

By 1901 the population of Sprowston had grown to 2359 this was mainly due to the success of companies in and around Norwich, like Colmans (Mustard), Boulton & Paul Ltd, Barnards Ltd ,Mann Egerton Ltd and Laurence Scott Electromotors, Caleys (Marching chocolate), Mackintosh`s (Sweets and Chocolate), Southall`s, Florida Van- Dal, Bally`s, Edwards & Holmes, Sexton Son & Everard etc. In 1907 there were changes to Sprowston`s boundary as the City of Norwich extends outwards and annexes part of the Parish. This reduced the population slightly, but still more housing was needed, and the numbers were increasing yet again. By 1976 the population and the number of homes had increased (in the ecclesiastical parish) and had reached 17800. Today with still more housing being built, there is the likelihood that the population will most likely double in size by the end of the decade!