Brick Kiln Barns Steeped in Local History
Brick Kiln Barns is steeped in local history. Above all it was originally a Victorian brickworks. The original kiln is still in the shared garden – somewhat overgrown – and consists of several furnace chambers with the ruin of a forge on the top.
Numbers 1 & 2 were originally the brick making barns. Clay was taken from the sunken areas that are now the garden for The Smithy and also the wasteland at the rear of the shared garden. It was formed into bricks in these barns and then left to dry in the open barn that is now The Long Barn. Once dry they were fired in the kiln. To complete the process the finished bricks were transported by river to wherever they were needed and the Dilham & North Walsham Canal was excavated to join the Brickworks to the river network.
The kiln was also used to fire a forge and so the local Smithy was also located here. Our house is what was the Smithy’s shop and shoeing barn. What is now Wheelwrights was exactly what you would imagine – an old wheelwrights shop!
The site was completed by our neighbours cottages. Originally four small cottages they were where the brickmakers and other workers lived.
Brick Kiln Barns history becomes sketchy after the brickworks closed the site was used for various things (including a rumoured undertakers) but by the early 1980s was largely derelict. Our house was created from the old Smithy around that time by Rita and Ken who intended to use it as a bed and breakfast. Unfortunately Ken fell in and it was too much for them to ,manage. As a result, in about 1990, it was sold to a doctor and his wife, Tom & Mary. Around that time Michelle’s parents retired to Dilham and her mum Jenny, Rita and Mary became good friends but in 2010 Michelle’s parents had to return to Kent. In 2014 Tom & Mary completed the conversion of the Brick Makers barn into 1 & 2.
Stressed out from our busy lives in London we sold everything up and started looking for a property in Norfolk. Michelle’s parents came too and by an amazing co-incidence Tom’s sale of the Smithy had just fallen through and we came to view. That was that and our new home and business was born. We started running the existing cottages as holiday lets at Easter 2018 and had a great first season so we decided to convert another, almost derelict, outbuilding into two more.
Below are some pictures from our conversion of the Wheelwrights and drying barns into The Long Barn and Wheelwrights. We started the conversion in September 2019 and eventually finished it ourselves in July 2020 after the builders went into administration during Covid Lockdown. I hope you’ll agree we have transformed the site!
We’re very proud of what we have achieved here and want to share it with as many people as possible. We absolutely love it here and still pinch ourselves because we feel so privileged to live here.