Saturday, 15 September 2012

The River Tud: primary sources

Sept 15th 089

YOU know you’ve got this book-writing bug bad when it’s a sunny September Saturday and you’re really looking forward to searching for the source of the River Tud.

Sandwiched between the Wensum to the north and the Yare to the south, the Tud pretty much shadows the A47 east from Dereham, winding through places like Hockering, Honingham, Easton and Costessey before flowing into the Wensum at Hellesdon Mill.  (Strangely it runs between East Tuddenham and North Tuddenham without running through either, but that’s another story.) I make it just short of 15 miles from one end to the other.

Clearly all this should be well beyond the boundaries of a book called Riverside Norwich, but since virtually nothing is written about the Tud, I reckon it’s well worth a page of “biography”. That and the fact that I am enough of a river anorak to quite enjoy the thrill of the chase.

So where to start? Well the map shows the thin blue line running out at Spurn Farm on the southern fringes of Dereham. And the only way to find out more is to head west and knock on the farmhouse door.

It’s only recently that I’ve realised that this sort of thing scares the living daylights out of a lot of people. But I’m a newspaper journalist by trade and I love it. It reminds me of working on my first weekly up in the Yorkshire Dales. Go in with a smile on your face and you’ll always get a story, they told me. And they were pretty much right. These days - and with this book - I find proffering an Ordnance Survey map goes a long way too.

Anyway I was greeted by two black labradors and retired farmer Sue Haney …who quickly assured me that yes, I was in the right place. She was kind enough to take me down to a modest enough channel of water, one end of which is known as “the little watering hole” (pictured). 

It’s not a spring, it’s not pretty, it’s not dramatic and Sue talks of other field drains coming in from other directions too. But yes her family, who have farmed here for three generations, see it as a (she was quite insistent on “a” not “the”) source of the River Tud.

But “a”,on a farm with a history going back at least 200 years, is plenty good enough for me. Another page gets written, another photo gets taken, another minor mystery is solved. So, on a summer Saturday, thanks very much Sue.

* More on the Tud from February 2011.


  1. Brilliant, something I've always told myself I'd go and look for when I had the spare time.
    I used to be a bit obsessed by the River Tud as a child after catching a Monster Chub from next to the M&N train bridge as a child.

    Good work,

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  3. Costessey Manor, on the River Tud, is said by Wikipedia to have been granted by William the Conqueror to his Breton cousin Count Alan Rufus in 1066 - must have been rather soon after Hastings! A pity the government knocked the historic building down in 1919.

    I wonder whether the river Tud's name is related to the two Tweed rivers in Scotland and in Leicestershire? In Breton the word Tud means "family, clan or people", and it's also the stem of the Welsh name Tewdwr, Tudur or Tudor.

    The Tweed river in Leicestershire is adjacent to Simon de Montfort Football Park. Aside from attempting to establish a sovereign elected parliament in England, and various other matters, Simon is famous for his descendants, which included Dukes of Brittany.

    My maternal grandmother Ellen May Tweed's family came from Cambridgeshire where they lived for many centuries, in towns such as Cheveley, Duxford, Ashley-cum-Silverley and Cambridge, but retained a strong Celtic identity. All those towns contained manors owned by Alan Rufus, so I'm naturally interested in any other connection.