Like most places in England, Mundesley has its place in 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
By the time of the 1901 census the population had grown by 50% and had become a village of 682 people and by
1939 there were 1355. 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.
Originally on Beach Road was 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
nothing remains. Munhaven Residential Home occupies roughly the site where it once stood. For anyone who is
interested in looking further into the history of Mundesley, there are two very good books available from the library:
Mundesley Past by E A Goodwin and A Mundesley Album by Eric Reading.
Pubs & Hotels.
In the early 1890s, the main hotel in Mundesley was the Royal Hotel in Paston Road, many parts of which date back at
least 300 years. In the late eighteenth century it was known as the 'New Inn' and it was here that Admiral Lord Nelson is alleged to have
stayed whilst attending Paston Grammar School in North Walsham. He left at the age of 12 to join the Royal Navy and the rest is
history. In the late nineteenth century it appears that royalty would stop at the New Inn for refreshments and it was in 1879 that it was
renamed 'The Royal' as it remains to this day.
In 1898, the railway line was extended to Mundesley and, with the prospect of an influx of visitors, three new hotels were built; The
Clarence Hotel started in 1891 and finally closed in 1938, the Grand and the Manor opened in 1897. Over time, the Clarence became a
nursing home, The Grand became The Continental and has recently been converted into flats, and The Manor has now closed.
One of the oldest pubs recorded in Mundesley was The Old Lifeboat Inn which dated back to the early 1800s, and indeed, the village
sign is a picture of the old pub. This is now the cobbled house to the right of the Ship Inn. After it closed, a New Lifeboat Inn opened on
what is now the site of the New Sage Chinese Restaurant. (My thanks go to Theresa McKee for this information). Finally, there is The
Ship, which dates back to the late eighteenth century and is located on Beach Road.
All Saints' Church.
Although mentioned in the Domesday Book, nothing of the original church remains. Parts of the present building probably date from
the 15th century. The church was in such a bad state in the 18th century that the two bells were sold to pay for the repairs. The work on
the new church was mostly effected between 1904 and 1914 when a new chancel was built on the site of the old one. The mill wheel
which is still visible behind a metal grill in Paston Road is in a bad state of repair after the mill itself was burnt down in 1956 and finally
demolished in 1965. Originally built in 1723, it is one of only a few examples of an overshot mill in Norfolk. Its 26ft diameter wheel was
once turned by millions of gallons of water per day at the height of its working life. The River Mun now bypasses the millwheel and
runs under the road to the sea.
There is an interesting book about the history of the area from about the 14th century at the link below. It is a pdf file and is quite large.
Click here to open the pdf
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