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Reedham

Reedham lies 12 miles south-east of Norwich. The village is built on a spur of higher ground overlooking a vast area of marshland created by the confluence of the River Yare and the River Waveney.

The railway line from Norwich to Yarmouth splits at Reedham - with one track heading north-east through the marshes to Breydon and the other passing south-east over the swing bridge towards Lowestoft in Suffolk.

Reedham and River Yare

River Yare at Reedham

There is a marvellous poem called Reedham Marshes  by the poet Edwin Brock which recounts his experiences of being stranded aboard a cruiser on the river here:
 

They say the water's salt here
as though the North Sea's fingers
are at our belly, tickling us like trout.

Dozy from blue and bottle-green,
we wallow in each passing wash
like a long drunk on a hot Saturday.

The reeds sigh and part as we enter them,
then zip us up behind like some
silk Sargasso. It is an old fantasy.

Sick from a seized engine, we sit
in this sanctuary of seabirds where
at night the crocodiles slip from holes

in their reed bed to jostle us
like hissing logs; and we confuse
the red rising moon with its setting sun.

Now no longer water-borne we drift
on this night mist which dreams us:
there are sharp cries, quiet splashes

and the voices of fishermen in an old pub
where a hand pours a White Shield Worthington
as clear as a bell and without a hint of mud.


Reedham is also famous for its chain ferry which, for many years, has carried motorists across the river.

Reedham Ferry by Stephen Mole

Reedham Ferry (Photograph © Stephen Mole)

In Crow Country the nature writer Mark Cocker describes the ferry and how it's played a significant part in Norfolk's transport network for centuries:
 

'Halfway between the two bridges in Norwich and Yarmouth is Reedham where there's a small private ferry, which maintains a long venerable tradition and reflects the historical answer to the Yare's hindrance. In previous centuries there was far more contact between the two sides. On either bank the recurrence of the 'ferry' place names - Ferry Road, Ferry Lane, Ferry Farm and various Ferry inns - speaks of a community that looked to the water as a means of communication. Yet to cross from side to side was one thing; to leave the valley itself was another matter entirely.'

The Norwich School artist Joseph Stannard (1797-1830), who had a particular affinity with the River Yare, painted both Reedham and Buckenham Ferrry.

In The Rings of Saturn W.G. Sebald describes the train journey from Norwich to Lowestoft which passes through Reedham. He was heading to Lowestoft to begin the walk that would provide the structure for this innovative and unusual work of non-fiction.
 

'Through Brundall, Buckenham and Cantley, where, at the end of a straight roadway, a sugar-beet refinery with a belching smokestack sits in a green field like a steamer at a wharf, the line follows the River Yare, till at Reedham it crosses the water and, in a wide curve, enters the vast flatland that stretches southeast down to the sea. Save for the odd solitary cottage there is nothing to be seen but the grass and the rippling reeds, one or two sunken willows, and some ruined conical brick buildings, like relics of an extinct civilisation.'

Reedham also has another interesting literary link. During the 15th Century, when the the church tower of St. John the Baptist was being built, Margaret Paston gave 8s and 4d towards its cost. Margaret, who is buried at Mautby church, wrote many of the Paston Letters - which give us a fascinating insight into English social history.

Links:

More photographs of Reedham

 

 

 

 

 

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