History of Mundesley
Like most places in England, Mundesley has its place in the the Domesday Book. It was then known as Museleai and was one of the many areas given by William the Conquerer to William de Warenne in gratitude for his allegiance. A Freeman named Grinkel held 30 acres of land and another freeman, Eadrics, held three areas of ten acres each.
According to the more recent census of 1841, Mundesley had a population of
453 persons. Amongst their trades were a Robert Green, who was a farming bailiff, and a William Barcham,
an auctioneer. A twine spinner and a chief boatman are other less-common occupations that are recorded.
There is also mention of two coastguards, a William Martin and a Joseph Humphries. ten years later in the 1851
census, the population increased only by two and then showed four blacksmiths and six fishermen amongst
the trades. Among the more unusual occupations, there were a letter carrier, a pauper ratcatcher, a rabbit seller and
a clare starcher (whatever a 'clare' was).
By the time of the 1901 census the population had grown by 50% and had become a village of 682 people. The railway, having arrived in 1898 now had eleven employees living in the village. A Station Master, Guard, Carter, two Firemen, two Signalmen, two Engine Drivers and two Platelayers meant that Mundesley Station was pretty well self-contained. Also listed in this census was a village PC, an Agricultural Horse Teamster and 4 coastguards. Perhaps unusually for a small village at that period in time, there was an Alice St.John Mildemay who had been born in India living at 2, Orchard Cottages with a servant, one Zaccharias Molafe from Basutoland.
On Beach Road is the Jonet Restaurant. This was named after a cargo ship which ran aground on the beach in 1969. In the foggy conditions, the skipper of the ship had unfortunately mistaken the Happisburgh lighthouse for the Cromer one.
William Cowper, the poet and author was born in 1731, the son of The Reverend John Cowper
spent time in Mundesley in 1795 and in 1796. Although he found the Mundesley air suited his "melancholia",
the strong winds on the coast forced him to move to Dereham where he eventually died on April 25th 1800 of dropsy.
1964 saw the demise of huge chunks of the railway as a result of Dr. Beeching's swingeing cuts and Mundesley was one of the branch lines to suffer. Part of the old railway track now provides for a beautiful walking area in Pigneys Wood in nearby Knapton. Of the old station, nothing remains. Munhaven Residential Home occupies roughly the site where it once stood.