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Great Hockham

Great Hockham lies six miles south-east of Watton in the Brecklands.

The novelist Christopher Bush was born on Christmas day in Great Hockham in 1885. He was educated in the village school and then won a scholarship to Thetford Grammar - before studying modern languages at King's College London. After university he worked as a school teacher and also fought in both world wars.

Christopher Bush: aka Michael Home

He wrote over 50 detective novels using his real name - but also wrote nine novels about Breckland life using his pen-name Michael Home. The first of these was entitled God and the Rabbit and was published in 1934 and concerned the adventures of a local boy called Harry Francis. In the novel Bush transforms Great Hockham into the fictional village of 'Heathley' - portraying the isolation and poverty of rural life at the turn of the century.

He also wrote 3 other autobiographical novels entitled: Autumn Fields, Spring Sowing and Winter Harvest.

Great Hockham Cottages

Great Hockham Cottages

Great Hockham Village Sign

Great Hockham Village SIgn

Here is an extract from Spring Sowing (1946) which perfectly captures the spirit of the Brecklands:
'I wish, too, that I could convey to you the incredible beauty of that vast and lonely country. For all its quietude there was in it nothing forbidding. It had space and freedom and the friendliness of growing things. The heaths and brecks had their gentle undulations so that in lanes and tracks one never saw too far ahead. And then again there would be great sweeps of open country. And even there the miles of bracken or heather would have no monotony for they would be broken by ancient woods or clusters of gnarled pines, and mossy pools with their silver branches, or the oases of silver sand which were the burrows of the teeming rabbits. Above would be the open sky, and across the clear stretches it would be hard to tell where the faint blue of the horizon ended and the sky began. Then there were the meres, as varying as the heath itself.'

Bush was born in a cottage on the old Watton Road - just past the old Village Stores on the left hand side. After finding success as a writer in the early 1900s, he returned to the village and bought Home Cottage. He remodelled the house - adding two new wings - and created a tennis court and bowling green in the garden; it is now known as Home Hall. Recently, the house was turned into Bed and Breakfast accommodation by Wendy and David Carr.

Bush returned to Great Hockham briefly in 1967 to unveil the new village sign. He died in 1973.

More Great Hockham photographs




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