Old Catton – whose name most likely means farmstead (or Tun) of a man called Catta, a local tribal leader. Another possible explanation was the presence of wild cats in the area – now depicted on the village sign. The settlement was recorded in the Domesday Book. Until recent times Catton was an agricultural village but following the late 18th and 19th century development of the Catton Park estate several wealthy Norwich families including the Gurneys, Jewsons, Buxtons, Lindleys, Norman and the Tilletts built their houses here. Old Catton residents still regard it as a village and there is a strong sense of village and community life here. It remains a popular destination for people looking for somewhere to live.
It has the delightful historic Church Street, off which are Catton Hall and its magnificent Humphrey Repton landscaped park which is becoming increasingly popular for its weekly park run. St Margarets, the pretty Norman church is much sought after as a wedding venue and nearby is Anna Sewell House, overlooking Deer Park where the author found the inspiration for her novel ‘Black Beauty’. On the edge of the city with a regular bus service but easy access to the countryside and the coast and a choice of good schools in the area are all factors that contribute to its popularity.
Anna Sewell House
And on the other side of Norwich International Airport also with good transport links into Norwich is Hellesdon, on the banks of the River Wensum. The name comes from Hægelisdun (the spelling of the location c.985), meaning 'hill of a man named Hægel', with the spelling having changed to Hailesduna by 1086. Hægelisdun is recorded as the location where King Edmund was killed by Viking invaders in 869. It has signs of very early settlement. A variety of flint instruments dating back at least 4,000 years have been unearthed in the area, a collection of bronze axe heads were found near Hellesdon Hall and a skeleton dating from around 600 AD was discovered next to Hellesdon Lodge in Low Road. Hellesdon was one of several manors owned in the fifteenth century by Sir John Fastolf, the original of Shakespeare's Falstaff.
In the 1880s the railway reached Hellesdon linking it to nearby Norwich – Hellesdon station was closed in the 1950s. In 1915, requested by the government to build aeroplanes for the war effort, Mann Egerton built H1s, Spads and Type B seaplanes in the area. In the 1920s construction of the Norwich ring road began, making Hellesdon much more accessible to both the city and the coast.
Residents are able to take a relaxing walk along the riverbank where the river Wensum winds its way past the old arches of the Wensum Mill. The Saxon St Mary’s Church is possibly where King Edmund was interred before being moved to Bury St Edmunds. There are two Ofsted rated outstanding schools in the area and Hellesdon is well served with local shops including Dixon’s Indoor Shopping Centre which was opened by Ken Dixon in 1936 and now has more than 20 shops under its roof.
All in all NR6 has a great deal to offer and All Things Norfolk is proud to celebrate Old Catton and Hellesdon’s newfound standing!