Friday, 11 February 2011

Costessey: writing the intro

Ab Cost seals 056

EACH chapter needs an introduction. It’s slightly easier when the chapter encompasses an entire village. But even then, they’re tricky to write. I don’t want to talk about pubs or restaurants or schools, firstly because things change so fast and second because I’m concentrating on the  history and the geography and the natural history – the big picture stuff if you like. Below you can see how far I’ve got for Costessey which is likely to be chapter 2. (Taverham is probably Chapter 1, but I haven’t written a word of that yet.) What this intro doesn’t include is the slightly strange triangular shape of the village nor the continued strength – I think – of the Catholic faith here. You could argue that Catholicism has been strong ever since SIr Henry Jernegan was given the manor of Costessey by the Catholic queen Mary in the 1550s.I’m a sucker for all that “the impact is still being felt almost five hundred years later” sort of stuff. So as I say, work in progress but here it is so far:

The suburban sprawl of Norwich has almost swallowed up Old Costessey. Almost. While New Costessey to the south is full of chalet bungalows and cul-de-sacs, its more mature neighbour hangs on to its own distinct and discrete identity. Dig deeper here and you’ll find two rivers and the last remains of a “fairytale castle” called Costessey Hall.

Just about all of this historic manor house was demolished after the First World War. You’ll need to be a golfer to see what’s left – a magnificient belfry block which guards the fairway on the 18th hole of Costessey Park Golf Club.

And so to the rivers. Old Costessey lies between the valleys of the Wensum and its tributary the Tud. Indeed the Wensum’s meanders provide its boundaries to the west, north and east while the Tud divides New and Old Costessey to the south. It’s not obvious at first glance, but actually the development of Costessey is still dictated by the waterways which all but surround it.

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