Spring Cleaning Fever Hits How Hill

April 5th, 2018

It all started when we decided to repaint the office. How Hill is a busy organisation and the office is a place for planning, eating, working, filing, storing equipment and collecting craft materials. The walls showed at least three different colours and bore the scars of many past fixtures and fittings. Over two hectic days the office was transformed in a frenzy of ruthless de-cluttering, filing, sanding and painting and it is now a serene haven of organisation and productivity. Well, it is at least all the same colour.

Then we moved upstairs…How Hill has operated as an educational centre since 1966 (read up on the history here) and the upstairs storage rooms and loft held treasures and paperwork dating back to this time, and even earlier. Much of the paperwork was unnecessary, fairly dull and only fit for the shredder, but amongst the historic oil bills some gems were unearthed. Gardeners’ diaries from the 1960s revealed that in the past the grounds were tended by five gardeners, today we only have one! Records mention visits from such varied celebrities as Gloria Hunniford and early 90’s pop act Black Box. Boxes and boxes of slides have been found,  some of which we plan to make available to the schools who stay in the house, together with a lightbox slide viewer.

We also found the following lovely poem by Steve Phoenix, originally published in the EDP in 1981, which deserves to be shared again here. A tip – you need to read it out loud and in your best Norfolk accent.

How Hill (Ludham)

That wholly fare t’ perk me up,

To visit owd How Hill,
I allus come in winter, bor,
When all is quiet an’ still,
I come when leaves are orf the trees,
An’ frorst is in the ground,
An’ that marsh wind blow threw ya, bor,
‘Stead o’ goin round.

A lovla plearce is owd How Hill,
So come along a me,
We’ll tearke a pearke around,
Cos there’s plenty here t’see,
Doon’t forget binoculars,
An’ camra’s, gloves an’ coats
And wi’ mud an’ water, an’ some ice,
Yew wear yar welly beoots.

Yew’ll see a titty-totty house,
When many year ago,
There lived the owd eel catcher,
There in’t no-one in it now,
He must o’ bin a little bloke,
Cos them rooms are suffin small,
An’ I reckin that he cracked his skull,
A time or two an all.

Walk a hundred yard, yew’ll see,
The river flowing by,
An’ if you’re lucky yew moight spot,
A bittern in the sky,
An’ look there by the water’s edge,
A croakin’ harnser feeds,
It’s wholly haard t’spot him,
Hidden in them reeds.

If you go accrorst by boat,
To where the reeds are grown,
Yew can see the reedcutter,
A cuttin’ on em down,
An’ while you’re on th’ other side,
Jus’ stand awhile an’ stare,
An’ yew will see what Boardman saw,
When he fust come by here.

Now Boardman wor an arkiteck
That seem a rum ol’ dew,
That now the lovla house he built,
Is used by me an’ yew,
As runnin’ corsts go up an’ up,
They say thas called inflaartion,
Thas nice t’think we still cum here,
Ta help ar education.

An’ when you think about it,
It do seem wholly clear,
Ya laarn things you oon’t laarn at school,
In this here atmosphere.
ya feel as if you’re met ow mother Naature,
Fearce to Fearce,
An’ thas why I think owd How Hill,
Is such a lovela plearce.

Steve Phoenix
January 1981

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Beast From The East Hits How Hill

March 6th, 2018

Children from Wymeswold Church of England Primary School got snowed in at How Hill as drifts blocked the roads… what an adventure!

The group arrived on Monday morning and soon began their 2 ½ day programme of activities including dyke dipping, exploring the reserve, boating to Barton Broad, thatching, visiting Toad Hole Cottage Museum, dissecting owl pellets, orienteering and environmental art. On Tuesday the snow started falling and we made sure that the children were well wrapped up with plenty of time to play outside and enjoy the novelty weather conditions. How Hill is beautiful at any time of year, but in the snow it is magical.

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2018 Events Programme Out Now

January 19th, 2018

There are so many fantastic public events happening at How Hill  this year. Download a printable version of our events brochure here or visit our events pages to find out more, check availability and view pictures.

Beware! Some events sell out extremely quickly so book early to avoid disappointment.


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We have an exciting new telescope

January 15th, 2018

Thanks to a kind donation from Saffron Housing we have been able to buy a super duper new computerised telescope. It’s so new we haven’t had the chance to play with it yet, but we are looking forward to discovering the wonders of the universe alongside children from visiting schools.

As we are so far from any large settlements the skies around How Hill are wonderfully dark. The telescope will be set up in our sunroom and it will display its images on our tv so everybody can enjoy the view.

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Christmas is happening…

December 14th, 2017

Sometimes people ask us what happens during the winter at How Hill, and whether we still have schools staying. Well, for most of the winter months we do continue with all our usual school activities. The house is very cosy and we make sure that every child is weatherproofed and well wrapped up, with regular top-ups of hot chocolate.

However, in December school visits finish for the year and Christmas begins! We cover up the displays about food chains, decorate the house with lots of festive loveliness, bring in a Christmas tree and put Father Christmas hats on the taxidermy Chinese water deer. We know how to throw a party!

Throughout the festive season we host Christmas lunch gatherings for all sorts of different groups. People come and have a feast with their friends or family then walk it off around the How Hill gardens and nature reserve – just like Christmas day but without the washing up. Our Christmas lunches are good fun and really good value. Please contact us if you would like to make a booking for 2018. Merry Christmas!

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Autumn craft fair raised over £2000

November 2nd, 2017

The Friends of How Hill craft fair this year was another big success. It was a lovely sunny day and hundreds of people came and enjoyed browsing the stalls of unique crafts, eating cake and watching the demonstrations. The gardens were open and lots of children had a go at garden orienteering and dyke dipping. One family were lucky enough to catch a huge silver beetle AND a great diving beetle.

Thank you to the Friends of How Hill and everybody who came to support this enjoyable event. Photos below.

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New wheelchair improves accessibility

October  2nd, 2017

Thanks to money raised by St Francis of Assisi Catholic Technology College we now have our own super-duper all terrain wheelchair, so now even the more rugged areas of the reserve are accessible to everyone.

Thanks guys!

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Autumn at How Hill

September 26th, 2017

The autumn term is now in full swing and we are pleased to welcome residential school groups back to the house after the summer holidays – it’s been far too quiet without them. This lovely photo was taken this morning as staff and pupils from Hethersett Junior School enjoyed a boat trip up the River Ant to Barton Broad.

Although we are fully booked for residential visits this year we still have room for a few more school day visits. Please get in touch if you are interested.

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swallowtail butterfly at how hill

Swallowtail butterflies are on the wing

May 25th, 2017

The first swallowtail butterfly of the year was spotted at How Hill yesterday, as usual in the most picturesque of locations – the carpark!

The swallowtail is the UK’s largest native butterfly, and also one of our rarest. These spectacular beauties are only found in the Norfolk Broads, largely due to the distribution of the caterpillars’ only foodplant, milk parsley.

How Hill is one of the very best places to spot them, so come and have a look. Why not come when our tearoom is open so you can treat yourself to a slice of cake after your swallowtail safari.


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Hitler’s Oak Olympic Carving Completed

April 18th, 2017

In the 1936 Olympic Games, all gold medal winners were also given an oak sapling. Christopher Boardman, the eldest son of the Boardman family who lived at How Hill, was the helmsman of the Lalage, a gold medal winning yacht. The sailing races took place at Kiel. Christopher Boardman did not actually go to Berlin to pick up his medal, but one of his team members, Miles Belleville, did – receiving gold medals for all the crew, together with an oak sapling. As Christopher was the helmsman, it was decided to plant the tree at his home at How Hill in Ludham and in September 1936 the sapling was planted at the back of How Hill House.

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