Sunday, 13 February 2011

Costessey: enter the Catholics

WRITING my last post prompted me into finding out more about Catholicism in Costessey. Is it true that the faith endures here to this day, thanks to the arrival of a Tudor knight almost five hundred years ago? I called the parish deacon who confirmed everything and provided much more fascinating detail. As a result my introduction to this chapter is a lot meatier. It also means I will have to add a “Catholicism in Costessey” entry to the book. Anyway here’s the new intro:

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 around the triangle of roads formed by The Street, Folgate Lane and Town House Road and you’ll find two rivers, a strong Catholic tradition and the last remains of a “fairytale castle” called Costessey Hall.

Ab Cost seals 023

Just about all of this historic manor house was demolished after the First World War. You need to be a golfer to see what remains – a magnificient belfry block (pictured left) which guards the fairway on the 18th hole of Costessey Park Golf Club. Costessey Hall was built by several generations of the Jerningham family who were granted the manor during the reign of Queen Mary. They stuck to Catholicism during thick and thin, later providing a Catholic school and church in the middle of the village. To this day most old Costessey families are either Catholic or have Catholic roots.

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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