Now as ever, the social life of the village centres around the green with its two rows of semi-detached cottages. One was once a shop in 1841, but sadly no longer. Another was made into a reading room at the end of the 19th century and provided books and newspapers, today the mobile library calls. The Baker also lived close by in the “bake office” and each year he baked the Charity Bread for the poor. John Motteaux from the big house left money for these loaves.

At the west end of the green guarded by cherry trees, stands Beechamwell’s fourth and oldest church. St. Mary’s. The flint tower was built by the Saxons a thousand years ago. Later generations added the octagonal lantern and thatched roof. On one of the pillars in the nave is the “Beechamwell Demon” sticking out his tongue to the congregation. The Norfolk painter John Cotman visited Beechamwell in 1810-11 and an engraving of his view of St. Marys can be found at the back of the church.

At the far end of the green opposite St. Mary’s is the pub which was once known as “The Hole in the Wall”. Apparently when purchasing ale, drinkers would not go inside the building but would go to a hole in the wall to the side and drink in the open air. Now whether this was just for the farmhands and whether the gentry went inside and sat to drink is not known.

The Village Hall is also next to the green and is used for village functions and clubs, also the W.I.

Photos supplied by David Mason

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