The Town, Meets at Reffley Spring.

I

Visitors came from far and wide, to drink

‘the Healing Waters of Reffley’.

 

 

In the second half of the 18th century, there are reports in the Press and elsewhere, of groups of people visiting Reffley Spring, from Lynn.  It is very likely that these had already been a regular feature for many years, and especially since 1831 and 1841 when the site was enlarged, it was the meeting place of choice, for organised parties and groups from Lynn.  Reffley Spring was possibly in its most developed phase and at the height of its popularity, as described in the following report from 1854:

About a mile to the north (of Gaywood) is the umbrageous wood  and chalybeate spring of Reffly, belonging to Sir W. J.H.B. Ffolkes, but appropriated by the late baronet as a place of resort for the people of Lynn, whom he long represented in Parliament. Reffly spring is a fine rural fountain, overcanopied with foliage, and having a handsome obelisk rising from its centre. Round it are seats, and at a short distance is an elegant octagonal temple, built and supported by subscriptions, at the head of a verdant lawn, planted with a variety of trees and shrubs.. from History Gazetter and Directory of Norfolk  Francis White and Co. 1836 1845 1854.1883.

 

 

 

June 25th 1846. The First Meeting of a New Archery Society, known as the West Norfolk Bowmen, of which Sir William B Ffolkes was Prime Warden and Lady Ffolkes was “Lady Patroness” was held at Reffley Wood near King’s Lynn. From Norfolk annals by Charles Mackie. 

 

However, in 1849, the Norfolk Chronicle reported:

 

West Norfolk Bowmen. – the first meeting of this society took place at Reffley wood, on Wednesday last.  The attendance of members proved, that this elegant art maintained its attractions unabated, and the weather proved, on the whole, propitious. From Norfolk Chronicle Saturday 9th June 1849.

Lynn- On Wednesday last the first Archery meeting was held at the Reffley Spring, adjoining the wood of that name, the property of Sir Wm. B. Folkes.  There was a large attendance.  In the evening a ball was held in a spacious tent erected on the Green for that purpose, and the company did not separate until a late hour.  A band of music was stationed on the Green. From Norwich Mercury Saturday 9th June 1849.

 

At a grand archery fete at Kensington, on Wednesday se’nnight, Mr. P. Moore, the son of the Rev. A.Moore, of Walpole St. Peter’s, in this county, was awarded the highest prize-his gross score being 617. The Rev. J. Bramhill, of Terrington St. John’s, was also a successful competitor-his gross score being 472.  Both these gentlemen belong to the West Norfolk Archers, who hold heir meetings at Reffley Spring, near this town. From Norwich Mercury Saturday 30th June 1849.

 

 

 

The first report of a Marching Band following on from the popularity of the Distin family appeared in 1854-

1854-Bills have been distributed about the town announcing that on Monday next, the Working Men’s Sax-Horn Band will commence playing for the first time on the New Walks, and will proceed from thence to Riffley Spring. From Norwich Mercury Saturday 29th April  1854.

The first appearance of the Sax-horn Band (1st May).  The musicians “trust every allowance will be made considering the short period they have had their instruments (viz. the 23rd of last February).”  They met on the Walks and marched to Reffley Spring.  This band, formed, through visits of the Distins- celebrated performers on the sax-horn, lasted from 1854-1866. from History of the Borough of Kings Lynn  Hillen p.618. ( n.b. John Distin and his family constituted a musical group that toured in the mid to late 19th century. They performed on Saxhorns from the company of Adolph Sax. The Distin family quintet was importantly responsible for popularizing Saxhorns, and influenced further evolution of brass instruments.) from Wikipaedia.

 

1856-On Thursday se’nnight, the children belonging to the St. Mary’s Roman Catholic School, had their annual treat at the Reffley Spring, and about sixty sat down to an excellent tea provided upon the occasion; after which, a number of other persons, who had accompanied them to the spring, numbering about one hundred, also sat down to the same fare. A band was engaged for the occasion, and dancing and other amusements were in requisition during the evening until ten o’clock, when the party broke up, apparently much pleased with the day’s amusement. From Norwich Mercury Saturday 9th August 1856.

From the Norwich Mercury – Saturday 25th October 1856.

Caroline Bunn (15) and Sarah Ann Carrison (18), were charged with stealing a Coburg Cape, value 5s, the property of Charlotte Cobb, at Gaywood on 31st July last.  Mr C. Cooper defended the prisoners.  The prosecuter was a dressmaker, living near the south Gates, Lynn, and on the 31st July, she went to Reffley Spring.  She hung the cape up in the back kitchen, where one of the servants said it would be safe.  When about to leave at 9 o’clock she missed the cape, and on the following day she saw it at the pawnshop kept by Mr. Taylor.  There were a great number of persons present on the occasion, and there were two room in which cloaks were hung; one (not that in which the cloak was hung) was quite full.  The cape was pledged in the name of “Sarah Bullen,”  Norfolk Street, at a shop kept by Mr. Joseph Knock, which name the pawnbroker said it was usual for her to pledge things in.  Police-constable Smith, from information he had received, apprehended the prisoner Bunn.  Carrison on being apprehended by police-constable Parker, said the cape was given her in mistake at Reffley Spring as she had lost her own there.  Carrison had given Bunn the cape to pledge.  The jury found Carrison guilty, and Bunn not guilty.  Carrison was recommended to mercy and sentenced to two months imprisonment.

 


It was also, the custom for schools to hold their annual school treats at Reffley Spring:

1855 - School Treat, - On Monday last, the children belonging to the St. Mary’s Catholic School received their annual treat at Reffley Spring.  About 70 children sat down to tea, and were regaled with cake, meat, &c.  Soon after, the persons connected with the school, members of the Catholic church here and their friends, numbering together about 120 persons, partook of the same fare.  After tea, a band hired for the occasion played a number of tunes, and dancing commenced, and was continued till about half past nine o’clock, when the party separated highly gratified with the manner in which they had passed the afternoon. From Norfolk Chronicle Saturday 4th August 1855.

 

- An almost identical item also appeared in the Cambridge Independent Press for the same day.

                                                                                                 

1855 – School Treat, - On Friday last, about 400 of the children belonging to the Lynn British School were regaled with lemonade, bread and butter, buns, and fruit: in the afternoon they amused themselves with games of all kinds, which they seemed to much enjoy. From Cambridge Independent Press Saturday 8th September 1855.

 

1857 - A treat of no common order was afforded to the children of the Union Workhouse on Monday afternoon last.  Through the kind  exertions of Mr. Sturley, a fund was raised and expended in giving the poor children, to the number of 80, a ride to and tea-feast at Reffley Spring.  A band accompanied the excursion, and after a capital “feed,” toys, sweets, nuts, &c., were distributed, and many sports indulged in.  There was a very large number of visitors, who also had a tea, and enjoyed witnessing the recreations of the children, whose appearance and demeanor did credit (it should be mentioned) to their overlookers. From Norfolk Chronicle Saturday 6th June 1857.

 

1858 – Children’s Treat, - On Wednesday the children in the King’s Lynn Union Workhouse, to the number of about 100, received a treat which they much enjoyed, the expense being borne by subscription, and the arrangements organised by Mr and Mrs Henry Sturley, of South Lynn.  The children were conveyed in vans, decorated with flags, green boughs, &c., to Refley Spring, where they were supplied with tea, buns, and sweetmeats; and amused themselves with a variety of sports, for which prizes were distributed. A large number of the subscribers and others were present to witness the proceedings, and the weather being fine, the affair assumed quite a gala character. From Norfolk Chronicle Saturday 21st August 1858.

 

1859 - School Treat. – The annual holiday of the children in the Baptist Sunday school took place on Wednesday last, at Reffley Wood, where, accompanied by their teachers and friends they spent a most delightful day, their time being spent in amusements of various sorts, amongst which, partaking of a hearty meal was not the least popular. From Norfolk Chronicle 6th August 1859.

 

Testimonials

 

In 1856, Reffley Spring was the chosen place for a presentation: to the Rev. J. Bransby, ex-chairman of the Board of Guardians, King’s Lynn. It was reported in both the Norfolk Chronicle and the Norfolk News:

 

Testimonial. – On Friday last, the testimonial which has for some time been in preparation was presented to the Rev. J. Bransby, ex-chairman of the board of Guardians, as an acknowledgement of the efficiency with which he fulfilled the duties of that office for 16 years.  The present consisted of a handsome tea-pot and stand, bearing the Lynn Arms and a suitable inscription; and it was transferred to the rev. gentleman at a gathering, under the presidency of the Mayor, at Reffley Spring. From the Norfolk Chronicle Saturday 16th August 1856.

 

Testimonial- A party of gentlemen, consisting of many of the Board of Guardians and the subscribers to the testimonial to the Rev. J. Bransby, paid a visit to Refley, on Friday last, at which place a dinner had been provided. After the usual loyal toasts , the silver tea-pot, alluded to in a previous paper, was presented by the Mayor to Mr. Bransby, who received it with his polite acknowledgements for the compliment thus paid him by his fellow guardians and townsmen. From the Norfolk News Saturday 16th August 1856.

1858-Lynn-A meeting of the members of “The Freebridge Lynn Association for Rewarding General Good Conduct and Industry among Servants and Labourers,” held a Rural Fete, at Reffley Wood, on Thursday afternoon.  A spacious marquee was erected in a field adjoining the subscribers’ enclosure, and smaller tents in different parts of the ground.  Sir W.B. Folkes Bart., should have taken the chair, but was prevented from attending by indisposition.  A number of labourers, who were to receive prizes, were in attendance, together with a number of children from different schools in the Freebridge Lynn district. During the afternoon, the children amused themselves and the visitors by jumping in sacks, leaping bars, running races, and by a variety of other games, for which they received toys that had been provided for the purpose.  The labourers after receiving their prizes, were regaled with a dinner, and the children were at the same time treated with tea.  The ladies and gentlemen then adjourned to the marquee, where they dined to the number of about 60. The weather, which had during the day been misty, then turned to rain, causing much discomfort to the visitors.  Under these circumstances it was determined to repeat the fete on the following day (Friday).  The weather bidding to be fine, a larger number of persons assembled that afternoon, and also some children who had not been at the fete the previous day.  The games of the previous day were repeated, after which about 60 of the subscribers and visitors, among whom was Lady Folkes, partook of dinner in the marquee.  The Rev. H. Folkes occupied the chair.  After dinner dancing was commenced in the marquee, and notwithstanding the rain, which came on in the evening, it was continued until ten o’clock.  The company then gave three cheers for Lady Folkes, and after a short address from the Rev. J. Freeman of Ashwicken, hoping to see them again on another occasion, the party separated much pleased with the day’s amusement. From the Norwich Mercury Wednesday 14th July 1858.

1858-Lynn-A meeting of the members of “The Freebridge Lynn Association for Rewarding General Good Conduct and Industry among Servants and Labourers,” held a Rural Fete, at Reffley Wood, on Thursday afternoon.  A spacious marquee was erected in a field adjoining the subscribers’ enclosure, and smaller tents in different parts of the ground.  Sir W.B. Folkes Bart., should have taken the chair, but was prevented from attending by indisposition.  A number of labourers, who were to receive prizes, were in attendance, together with a number of children from different schools in the Freebridge Lynn district. During the afternoon, the children amused themselves and the visitors by jumping in sacks, leaping bars, running races, and by a variety of other games, for which they received toys that had been provided for the purpose.  The labourers after receiving their prizes, were regaled with a dinner, and the children were at the same time treated with tea.  The ladies and gentlemen then adjourned to the marquee, where they dined to the number of about 60. The weather, which had during the day been misty, then turned to rain, causing much discomfort to the visitors.  Under these circumstances it was determined to repeat the fete on the following day (Friday).  The weather bidding to be fine, a larger number of persons assembled that afternoon, and also some children who had not been at the fete the previous day.  The games of the previous day were repeated, after which about 60 of the subscribers and visitors, among whom was Lady Folkes, partook of dinner in the marquee.  The Rev. H. Folkes occupied the chair.  After dinner dancing was commenced in the marquee, and notwithstanding the rain, which came on in the evening, it was continued until ten o’clock.  The company then gave three cheers for Lady Folkes, and after a short address from the Rev. J. Freeman of Ashwicken, hoping to see them again on another occasion, the party separated much pleased with the day’s amusement. From the Norwich Mercury Wednesday 14th July 1858.

1859-Lynn-……The same day the children belonging to the Saint Margaret’s School, were taken to Reffley, where they partook of a substantial tea, and indulged in a variety of sports. From the Norwich Mercury Saturday 13th August 1859.

 

Rifle Corps

 

 

The fate of the Freebridge Lynn Rifle Corps was settled in November 1859, whereas the (King’s Lynn) Rifle Corps was altogether the more successful, as the following article explains:

 

Freebridge Lynn Rifle Corps,-There appears to be some difficulty in settling this corps fairly on its legs, which is a far more arduous task to accomplish in the country than in a town, owing to the distance at which many persons must necessarily live from the practice ground.  A meeting was advertised to be held in the Town Hall, on Tuesday last, to discuss the propriety of uniting the above corps with that of the borough of Lynn, but so little interest appeared to exist on the subject, that Sir W.B. Ffolkes, and D.Gurney Esq., were the only persons who attended, consequently no business could be done, but we believe that those gentlemen recommend that young men living in the hundred  should at once join the King’s Lynn Rifle Corps. From The Norfolk Chronicle Saturday 12th November 1859.

 

In 1864, sporting events at Reffley were reported upon in the (London) Sporting Life 30th March edition-(surely the reference to “several thousand persons” is an exaggeration? race -details included in Appendix are well worth reading) -

 

KINGS LYNN - The admirers of pedestrianism at Lynn determined to gratify the public by getting up a day’s amusement for Good Friday, and as an evidence of the appreciation of those efforts several thousand persons assembled.  The day was particularly suitable for holiday seekers, and the sports in the afternoon were brought off in the immediate neighbourhood of this popular place of summer resort, Riffley Spring.  The committee of management were Messrs. A. Flowers, G. Bloch, A. Brown, J. Palgrave, D. Clack, and Thompson, and the sport, as detailed below, was very good. The 130 Yards Race. Quarter of a Mile Handicap. One Mile Handicap. Match: One Mile Race. (see appendix for race details). Several other sports of a minor character concluded the day’s proceedings, and the prizes were handed over to the winners at the Woolpack Inn the same night. From (London) Sporting Life 30th March 1864. 

 

The Kings Lynn Rifle Corps proved the more successful, therefore in 1865 - The Mayor of Kings Lynn invited The Rifle Corps: to an entertainment at Reffley Spring, on what turned out to be a very inclement day :

 

THE RIFLE CORPS. - The Mayor having invited the members of the Rifle Corps to an entertainment at Reffley Spring for Thursday, the 24th ult., the force mustered early, and marched to the scene of the anticipated festivities.  Unfortunately the clouds were pouring out rain very freely, and the day was dark and dismal. To those who know this quiet retreat it will be evident that such a day was far from propitious for out-door amusements.

 

To enjoy Reffley a hot summer’s day is necessary.  However, the arrangements admitted of no postponement, and the party, which was a large one, repaired to the spot.  At three o’clock, the rain having cleared away, the corps went through a series of movements, coupled with volley firing, and subsequently the party repaired to a large booth, where they found an elegant and substantial dinner provided for them by their hospitable host. 

 

A second tent was provided for the pupils of Lynn Grammar-school, where dinner was also provided; the ladies and the immediate family of the Mayor occupying the “temple.”   The tent was decorated, and several mottoes, &c., adorned the interior.  After dinner, the ladies having been provided with seats in the tent, his worship proposed the health of “the Queen.”  This was followed by “His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales,” his worship alluding to the Prince’s connection with the locality, and paying a tribute to his urbanity to the residents in the neighbourhood.  The “Princess of Wales,” the “Bishop and Clergy,”  and other toasts followed.

 

Capt. Cresswell having been named by the Mayor, returned thanks, referring to the position, claims, and future prospects of the Rifle Corps; and in very complimentary language, closed by proposing the health of “the Mayor of King’s Lynn, their kind and hospitable host.” [Applause.]  He proposed that it should be drunk with honors, the band playing “For he’s a hearty good fellow.”  The Mayor replied, alluding to his former intercourse with the corps of which he had for years been a member; and to the fact that when a man passes 50, it was time to make way for younger men.  As the chief magistrate he had endeavoured to do his duty conscientiously - though the result was far below his wishes. 

 

He regretted the unfavourable state of the weather, but he hoped they would endeavour to enjoy themselves in the best manner they could, and that they would not regret having spent a few hours at Reffley.  [Cheers.]  Mr. W. Moyse proposed the health of Lieut. Gurney, which was drunk with loud applause; and after the acknowledgement by Mr. Gurney, and a few other toasts, the company left the booth. The Mayor invited several gentlemen, amongst whom were Messrs. Holditch,  L. W. Jarvis, J. Smetham, J. Ayre,  J. Saunders,  and Blomfield, &c. as well as several ladies belonging to the party of the Mayoress. From Norfolk News Saturday 2nd September 1865.

 

The Norfolk Chronicle, on the same day, in its own inimitable way, also reported on the event:

 

Lynn Rifle Corps. – On Thursday the 24th of August, the officers and members of this corps were kindly invited by the Mayor (W. Monument, Esq.), to dinner and diversion at Reffley spring,-the favourite resort of pleasure parties, about half-way between Lynn and Castle Rising.  In fine summer weather the woods afford a grateful shelter, and the grass abundant space for any amusements; whilst the mildly chalybeate water of the spring is famous for its inspiriting effects-when combined with certain other ingredients.  Indeed, when “exhibited” in this form its curative properties are so remarkable that an eminent poet lauds it as a remedy for “The gout, the cholic, and the phthisic,” and in fact for all the ills that flesh is heir to; and a “temple,” erected in the grounds in an age not very remote, is dedicated to the cultus of the deity who presides over these health giving waters, and who, from his portal being guarded by sphinxes, and his font adorned with an obelisk, may be supposed to be the Egyptian Bacchus. 

 

Unfortunately on the occasion in question the other water gods were not propitious, and a pouring of rain for hours together, drenched the ground until it was little or nothing better than a swamp.  Nevertheless the corps, to the number of seventy-two, led by captain Cresswell and Lieutenant S.A.Gurney, manfully marched from Lynn to Reffley; and there, when the rain abated, went through a brief drill and expenditure of powder.  Afterwards they sat down to a bountiful spread provided at the Mayor’s expense, by Mr J.J. Lowe, of the Black Horse Inn.  Several other guests were present, including Aldermen Jarvis, Moyes, Smetham, and Saunders, the Revs. W. Haughton, J.Fernie, T.White, and W.W.Dickenson, and Messrs. T.M.Kendall (surgeons to the battalion). F.R.Partridge, G.Holdich, J.cooper, Bloomfield, Ayre, &c.; but the party fell short some fifty or more of the number expected, owing to the unfavourable weather. 

 

The masters and boys of the Grammar School, who had been invited by the Mayor, were dined in another tent; and the ladies, of whom there were several (including the Mayoress and family, Mrs. Cresswell, senr., Mrs. Fernie, Miss Bloomfield Miss Dodd, &c.), in the “temple” aforesaid.  After dinner, the ladies and lads joined the general company in the large tent; and a large quantity of the medicinal preparations before described being in readiness, in very small and very thick glasses to the numerous patients, who by no means “made wry faces” under the treatment.  The solemn rites were then proceeded with, and several discourses were preached from well-worn texts, such as “The Queen,” “The Prince and Princess of Wales,” “the Bishop and Clergy,” “the Army, the Navy, and the Volunteers, and the health of Captain Cresswell,” “the Mayor,” &c.&c. 

 

The beneficient operation of the “medicine,” and the gratitude of those subjected to its influence, were indicated by shouts of “hip, hip, hurrah,” frequently repeated; and the strains of the rifle band joined in the chorus,-but, truth to say, because like the circumambient air, excessively misty as the evening advanced.  However, everything passed off well, and the depressing effects of the moisture without were successfully combated on the well-known homeopathic principle, similia similibus curantur. (treating like with like.) From the Norfolk Chronicle Sat. 2nd September 1865.