Reunion to celebrate 200th anniversary for the old Norwich school on the hill

Bracondale School, Norwich, June 1925. Picture: Ray Studios Braintree Essex

Bracondale School, Norwich, June 1925. Picture: Ray Studios Braintree Essex - Credit: Ray Studios Braintree Essex

Calling all the Peppermint Boys. Pupils from Bracondale in Norwich, the old school on the hill, will finally be gathering to celebrate its bicentenary next month.

It opened in 1821 and for more than 170 years educated generations of young men mainly from across Norwich, Norfolk and Suffolk.

Bracondale School pictured July 1995

Bracondale School pictured July 1995 - Credit: Archant

The pandemic put paid to events last year to mark the bicentenary but now the show is back on the road….there will be a reunion dinner at Park Farm, Hethersett, on Thursday April 28.

During the 20th century some residents of Bracondale affectionately referred to the boys from the school as the “Peppermint Boys” because the black and white caps of the boys’ uniform reminded them of the popular black and white peppermint sweets.

Today, on the corner of Bracondale and Carrow Hill stands a large grey bricked Georgian house. It is now offices for the Norwich Housing Society which does such good and valuable work helping older people to find good quality, affordable homes.

The building has quite a story to tell.

NORWICH2ND WORLD WAR BLITZREAR OF BRACONDALE SCHOOLDATED 30TH APRIL 1941PLATE P0851

NORWICH 2ND WORLD WAR BLITZ REAR OF BRACONDALE SCHOOL DATED 30TH APRIL 1941 PLATE P0851

More than two hundred years ago Mr D B Hickey announced he was opening a school in a house on Bracondale Hill describing it as in the “most beautiful and healthy situation in the environs of Norwich.”

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A place where young men, aged from eight to 16 would be taught subjects including Greek and Latin with French, Italian, and Turkish – if required.

Most were day boys, some boarders. It had a good academic reputation and excelled at sport….many years later world-famous cricketer Bill Edrich was a pupil and described as a “right little tinker.”

In 1902 Dr Frances Darkens Wheeler, the son of a Norwich Baptist Minister who ran a small school near St Giles Gate in the city, took over as headmaster and enhanced the reputation of the school. Often taking boys sailing on his boat on the Broads.

Bracondale School, Norwich, June 1925. Picture: Ray Studios Braintree Essex

Bracondale School, Norwich, June 1925. Picture: Ray Studios Braintree Essex - Credit: Ray Studios Braintree Essex

One of his pupils was author Ralph Mottram who wrote of him:

“I can see his figure in his sports suit, tweed jacket, knickers and stockings, trotting deliberately for exercise down St Giles and Ber Street on some errand connected with his school, his bearded head bent his intense preoccupation including him to mutter in his beard.

“Or when, pressed for time, he would bring out his old Penny Farthing, solid wheels and extremely dangerous.”

The aim of the school was to produce happy and decent young gentlemen who do their best, and have considered for the welfare and feelings of others.

Our Eric Fowler, a former President of the Bracondale School Old Boys’ Union, described the school in 1963 as a place of “manners and character.”

The gates were finally closed for the last time in 1993.

Derek James

Derek James - Credit: Archant

The memories live on and the reunion for the school family, is being organised by Steve Buckle who was a pupil in the 1960s and helps to keep the former pupils, now living all over the world, in touch with each other.

More details about the reunion dinner on April 28 from Steve at steve_buckle@sky.com or call 07811 165026.

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