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Poringland is a long unattractive village which lies 5 miles south of Norwich - between Arminghall and  Brooke. Essentially a commuter zone for Norwich, it retains little character although there are some older houses and cottages close to All Saints Church.

W.G. Sebald lived at the Old Rectory on Upgate here for many years - prior to his tragic death in a car accident in 2001.

Old Rectory, Poringland

The Old Rectory at Upgate, Poringland

W. G. Sebald

Sebald was born in Bavaria in 1944 and was educated in Germany, Switzerland and in Manchester. In 1970 he gained a lectureship at the University of East Anglia - where he remained until his death in 2001. He was also the founder of the British Centre for Literary Translation.

Sebald's father fought in the German army during World War Two and returned home from a French POW camp when Sebald was 3 years old. European history shapes much of Sebald's work and, in particular, what he saw as the German people's 'forgetfulness' in relation to the war and the holocaust.

One of his works - The Rings of Saturn is an account of a journey through East Anglia. It is not a traditional novel but a meditation - with photographs - combining history and travel writing. The narrative touches upon a number of other writers who lived in East Anglia including: Sir Thomas Browne, Edward Fitzgerald (see Merton) and A.C. Swinburne. The book was originally written in German and then translated into English by Michael Hulse.

The White House, Poringland

The White House

In the book there is also a description of the aftermath of the storms which hit the county in 1987 and brought down many trees:

'I stood at the window and looked through the glass, which was strained almost to breaking point, down towards the end of the garden, where the crowns of the large trees in the neighbouring bishop's park were bent and streaming like aquatic plants in a deep current.'

The 'bishop's park' referred to is the grounds of The White House which lies at the far end of Upgate and is the residence of the Roman Catholic Bishop of East Anglia. At the lower end of the park flows the River Chet - barely more than a stream at this point.

Sebald is buried in the graveyard of St. Andrew's Church at Framingham Earl - which lies about half a mile from the Rectory.

I grew up in Poringland and the following poem of mine, entitled A Parish Newsletter, is a satirical take on village life:
Following Mrs Carr's terrible accident on Pig Lane
The parish Council are to petition for street-lighting in the village
(Mr Warburton has agreed to co-ordinate the campaign.)

Other news: a site has finally been found
(Following complaints about dog-dirt in the children's swing area)
For a specifically designated dog-fouling site on the recreation ground.

And lastly: P.C. Thrower is anxious to question two youths who were seen
Leaving the car park of 'The Swan' on Tuesday night (around 10.15)
In connection with the removal of turf from the bowling green.

Poringland also features in one of my long Norfolk dialect poems called The Boundry Dispoot - under the guise of Little Waddingham.

Poringland, however, is probably best known for providing the location for John Crome's painting The Poringland Oak - painted circa 1818-1820. It is thought that the pond was located at Carr Lane, just off the main village street. There is still a pond there today - although it is now part of somebody's garden. On the horizon of the painting can be seen a church tower - which could easily be All Saints Church. The painting now resides in the Tate Gallery in London.

The Poringland Oak by John Crome

Poringland village sign depicts Crome at work on his famous painting.


More W.G. Sebald Location Photographs

More photographs of Poringland





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