Although Drayton Hall no longer exists it lends its name to the road which bounds the estate of modern houses at the east end of the village. Several people have asked about the origin of Drayton Hall Lane and Fen Road.
The composite map, copied from 6 inch Ordnance Survey maps from the late 1840s, shows where the ruins were situated at that time. What is now known as Fen Road was once called Draytonhall Lane which continued northwards under the railway line and follows the current route alongside the housing estate. At the bend in Fen Road, there was a track through the Fen and the railway bridge at Cattle Arch Farm. The A47 diverges from the route of the railway line around the current junction with Drayton Hall lane and now runs south of the route of the railway line. The previously unnamed road past Poplar Farm (now Manor Road) also passed under the railway line. To the north of the A47, the road (now Grange Road) continues towards Dereham Road which was the old turnpike road between Dereham and Swaffham.
Nick Hartley has written –
“It is now agricultural land, but in the past it has been a golf course and for centuries was simply known as Drayton Hall.
Nowadays, as we exit the A47 at Draytonhall Lane, we are, in essence, stepping back in history, though perversely the hall itself stood on the opposite side of the road. Take a left off the A47 at Fen Road and sharp right, and before Manor Farm Riding School you will come to a field on the site of the old moated manor house of Drayton Hall. No traces of the hall remain, but its name is derived from the Drayton family, who also owned land outside Norwich and who gave their name to the village of Drayton.
Drayton Hall in Scarning was previously owned by, amongst others, the Heydon family, who made their money in sheep farming and built Baconsthorpe Castle in Norfolk, and married their daughters into the Boleyn and Paston families. At some point the manor of Drayton Hall was extended to include land near Scarning’s school and into Dillington. Its owners included the wealthy Repps family, many of whom can be found buried in the church, as well as Sir John Lombe, who started life as plain John Hase before changing his name so that he could inherit the great Lombe family fortune and with it Great Melton Hall.
Hase attended the school in Scarning and afterwards went on the Grand Tour to Italy, sitting for his portrait in Rome to Pompeo Batoni, the go to artist for the aristocracy. Hase’s father had been a hatter in Dereham, but the death of several family members elevated him into staggering wealth. His brother, Edward, was also at Scarning School and later put his share of the family fortune into the construction of his home, Salle Park.*
Another owner of the manor of Drayton Hall was John Conyers, who as a young man travelled to Sienna, Florence and Rome. In later years, he was a founding governor of Thomas Coram’s Foundling Hospital, and one of his uncles was Deputy Governor of the Bank of England.
In the meantime, Drayton Hall fell into disuse, but in 1902 the land around it was transformed into the nine hole Manor House Golf Club. That same year, Scarning’s Village was opened and a new cycling club in the village was started.
‘Is there no game or amusement from which Scarning residents are debarred?’ the village’s rector questioned in the new village magazine.
Draytonhall Lane is now a cut through to the old Dereham Road, as well as access to the estate, but its name carries an illustrious history and is another part of Scarning’s long and intensely varied past.
* More about the school and its pupils can be found in Arcadia: A History of Scarning Free School, a copy of which is available in Dereham Library.