Short back and sides for How Hill House

September 10, 2019

It’s not just school children who will be starting the new school year with a smart hair cut. Over the summer How Hill’s  roof has received a makeover thanks to expert roof stylist Mick Aldred and his colleagues.

The thatch had become rather shaggy and unruly in recent years, due to the actions of birds, squirrels and the wild Norfolk weather. But Mick and his team combed and trimmed the sides back into shape and replaced the sedge ridge for a fashionable new look.

As you can imagine, a restyle on this scale doesn’t come cheap. Luckily, How Hill received a generous grant from Norwich Freemen’s Charity which made the project possible.

Slightly more informative details can be found here.

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More chances to enjoy home cooked delights

July 27, 2019

Now that the school summer holidays are here our tearoom will be open every day. And if you’ve visited before you might notice a few changes. As usual, all our cakes, scones and sandwiches are freshly made in the How Hill kitchen but we have expanded our range to include more vegan, gluten and dairy free options.

We have also invested in a super-clever bean-to-cup coffee machine. It’s like having our very own robot barista and it makes absolutely delicious fair trade coffee. Not bad for a seasonal tearoom in the wilds of Norfolk!

In an effort to reduce waste and single-use plastic, this year we will be composting our sandwich packaging, serviettes and coffee cups which are now vegetable based and apparently fully compostable. Only time, and possibly Chris the Gardener, will tell. We keep paper straws and stock as many drinks in glass bottles as possible, which are recycled along with anything else we possibly can. We are also more than happy to refill your reusable coffee cup or water bottle… so remember to pop that into your bag when you visit.

The How Hill Tearoom is open every day from July 27th to 8th September from 11am to 4pm.
Please telephone 01692 678555 with any enquiries.


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We made a film! Watch it here.

June 13, 2019

Well actually, the community engagement team from the Water, Mills and Marshes (WM&M) project offered to make a film for us and we were only too pleased to take them up on their offer.

WM&M’s Terry and his drone spent two days in May filming 7 and 8 year olds from Acle St Edmund C of E Primary School as they enjoyed an absolutely cracking visit to How Hill.

The unique aerial footage combined with hearing the children talk about their experiences convey how special How Hill is much more effectively than any written words ever could… so watch the film here.

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New wooden boat at education centre harks back to Broads history (Official press release)

June 3rd, 2019

A piece of floating history has been recreated to help youngsters explore a Norfolk Broads environmental haven.

School pupils are sailing down the river at How Hill in a wooden “reed lighter” boat, like the ones that used to transport roofing materials along the river.

And the classic boat has been specially built in East Anglia at a college keeping the time-honoured skills alive.

The reed lighter will be used to transport hundreds of youngsters each year during day and residential courses to study the landscape and wildlife of the Broads.

It is named the Alderman Norman II after the charitable educational trust in memory of an 18th century mayor of Norwich which paid for it.

And it was built by the International Boatbuilding Training College at Oulton Broad near Lowestoft, using the skills of recent graduate Alex Hunter, 35, from Norwich, who now works at the college’s commercial boatbuilding arm, which supports its training work.

How Hill director Simon Partridge said: “The boat is magnificent – and we are thrilled it was made at a centre which is keeping alive wooden boatbuilding skills.

“Our visitors will ride in it to explore Barton Broad and the marshes – including seeing crops of reeds which boats like this helped harvest. But we could not have done it without the generosity of the Alderman Norman Foundation which also paid for another boat in 1988.”

The foundation’s chairman the Rev Jonathan Boston smashed a bottle of bubbly over the bows at an official launch at the Swallowtail boatyard in Ludham which maintains the How Hill fleet.

The 23ft boat took seven months to build, from an oak and hardwood frame clad in larch planks. It is painted in Donegal Green, with black tar varnish below the waterline.

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Best View In Broads Gets Even Better

May 13th, 2019

It has often been claimed that the view from How Hill is the best in the Norfolk Broads.The house sits at the summit of a mighty hill (rising some 16m above sea level) with views out over the river Ant, marshes, woods, meadows and windmills.

But an even loftier viewpoint is afforded from the scaffolding which currently wraps around the north side of the house. Thatcher Mick Aldred last replaced the sedge ridge on the thatched roof twenty years ago, and now he’s back to do it again. He says this is the highest roof he has ever worked on, and on a fine day “it’s like heaven up there.” With binoculars it is even possible to see the spire of Norwich Cathedral, nearly eleven miles away.

Mick’s dad and brother are also thatchers. Once when they were cutting reed on the marsh beyond Turf Fen Mill their reed cutting machine fell into a hole. They later heard that the hole is one of several craters made by bombs dropped during the second world war.

The locally grown sedge, secured with a lattice of brotches (short lengths of split hazel wood) is only expected to last around twenty years, whereas the reed which makes up the majority of the roof lasts much longer –  in this case  sixty years and counting. By the time the work is finished in July the scaffolding will have been erected in three different positions and over nine hundred bunches of sedge will have been used.

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New Boat Nearly Finished

April 15th, 2019

We are very excited about our new boat, which is almost completed. The Alderman Norman 2, generously funded by the Alderman Norman Foundation, has been lovingly constructed at the International Boat Building Training College in Lowestoft.

Once ‘Norman 2’ has been officially launched she (he?!) will primarily be used to take visiting children on boat trips along the River Ant to Barton Broad.

Watch this space for a report of the official launch event, which should take place within the next month.

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Invasion Of The Recycling Monsters

February 11th, 2019

We are always looking for ways to make the How Hill Trust a greener, more environmentally responsible organisation, so we were delighted to learn about a new crisp bag recycling scheme operated by TerraCycle. We do produce a fair bit of this type of waste as crisps are a popular lunchtime treat for hungry groups of visiting school children. (Don’t worry – we give them lots of healthy food too.) Previously there was no way of recycling them but now the crisp bags are collected, sorted, cleaned, shredded, and then made into new recycled products… much better than ending up in landfill.

Children are often much better at recycling than adults, but to help make it more fun we have turned two pedal bins into recycling monsters. Today was their first outing and the children of White Woman Lane Junior School made sure that they were extremely well fed.


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New Year, New Sofas

January 8th, 2019

Thanks to funds donated by the Friends of How Hill we have started 2019 with some brand spanking new leather sofas in the Sun Room.  The old sofas had served us well for many years. Originally donated from various sources, and not the smartest furniture in the first place, they were starting to look decidedly shabby. That’s when the Friends came to the rescue. We now have five smart new leather sofas, two pleasingly chunky new coffee tables and seven lovely new cushions with Robert Gilmore nature prints.

Slowly but surely we are working our way around the house; repainting, renewing and updating as we go. Come and visit us this year and see what we’ve been up to…

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Polecat Found In The Garden!

November 27th, 2018

Everybody was surprised and delighted yesterday when Chris The Gardener found an unexpected animal in one of his live rabbit traps. It was the unusual smell which first alerted him as he approached the trap, which was in the corner of the walled garden in front of How Hill house. Closer inspection revealed an extremely cute and incredibly stinky European polecat – what a catch! The polecat was understandably quite jumpy and keen to be on its way so it was immediately released back into the garden. Chris hopes that it will help to keep the rabbit numbers down, many of which rudely ignore the rabbit-proof-fence which surrounds the How Hill gardens.

Polecats were once common in the area but were almost wiped out by hunting because of their appetite for chickens and game birds. This is the first confirmed sighting of a polecat at How Hill for many years, although during the summer one school’s nocturnal camera traps did capture footage of a ‘mystery animal’ which now seems likely to have been a polecat. It is believed that polecats first returned to the Thetford area of Norfolk in 2010, and they have been slowly extending their range ever since.

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Friends of How Hill Craft Fair – A Great Success

October 29th, 2018

Last Wednesday the Friends of How Hill (the brilliant band of volunteers who support the charity) put on another excellent craft fair, which raised a triumphant £2254.26 for the How Hill Trust. Once again it was a lovely sunny day and several hundred visitors came to browse the varied craft stalls, enjoy the demonstrations and treat themselves to homemade soup and cakes. The crafts on display included metalwork, weaving, spinning, stained glass, stencilled and painted artwork, beading, all sorts of exciting jewellery, wickerwork, wood turning, quilting, pottery and many more. As it was a day at work for me I didn’t intend to buy anything…but the pull of the stalls was too strong to resist! I came away with ten wool and felt jellyfish/octopus Christmas tree decorations, a dress made from upcycled tablecloths, several pounds of Ivor’s legendary raspberry jam and four giant leeks!

Thank you to all the Friends who helped out, especially Chief Organiser Bella. You did a grand job.

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