A warm, friendly Heather welcome

We are delighted to share Heather, an historic boat, artistic refuge and home for over a century, laying on the ancient Broads Waterways of Norfolk.

It is our aim to preserve the distinctive character of Heather, enabling future generations to enjoy her charms. We welcome you to explore the houseboat and bountiful riverside beyond...

Andrew, Timothy and Christopher

30 December 2015

Hoveton and Wroxham riverside archives ~ King’s Head Hotel

The King’s Head Hotel is situated in a prominent position, close to Wroxham Road Bridge in Hoveton. It has a long and chequered history, serving visitors from the road and river for well over 300 years.

We recently discovered a box of Kodak photographic slides at Old Brampton in the Derbyshire Peaks. Some of the slides feature Mrs Hooten in the grounds of the hotel in the mid 1960s, when the family kept a fine motor cabin cruiser in Wroxham.

In 1965, the King’s Head was owned by the Norwich brewers Steward and Patteson. The main building nestled between the stark new angular beige brick Horseshoes Public House and 19th century Barclay, Pallett and Co steam roller mill, (note the rounded iron casement windows, in the 4th picture). The mill, along with the distinctive black weather boarded Granary store, on the adjacent side of the High Street, were sold off and pulled down.

Boat house entrance. In the distance, upstream are the Free Moorings, maintained by the Blakes Norfolk & Suffolk Yacht Owners' Association

Facilities formerly included livery stables, then later, private garages for cars. Manicured lawns and rose gardens bordered the river. Sail, steam, rowing and later motor launches were at the disposal of guests; many of the boats lived in a prized wet boat house. The boat house with its ornate iron brackets was surely one of the most attractive in Norfolk. Sadly, it was pulled down and the dike filled in, in 1984 to help complete the Riverside Walk footpath. The route opened up previously restricted access to the waterfront, from the road bridge, along the quays up river and is still very popular. 

Boat house and grounds from the river

To the right of the boat house, a large red brick barn or cart shed, trees and shrubs have given way to provide parking for cars. Extensions have been subtracted and added to the hotel itself. You will see the signs within the grounds, advising members of the public, ‘Moorings strictly private, Gardens & fishing reserved for residents only.’

The barn and hotel building. A motor launch for guests is moored in the cut

One remaining mooring cut on the property appears to have been reduced. Was the official red marker post with a roundel, affixed to the quay heading by the Port and Haven Commissioners, presumably to warn navigators of works? 

Mrs Hooten (third from left) with the oak tree and steam roller mill in the background, looking downstream

The gnarled oak tree nearby still flourishes and marks a commonly used mooring for private and public craft.

Quay heading capping being renewed in the cut, summer 2015

In 2015, the interior of the King’s Head was refurbished and over late summer, the quay heading renewed by G & H Services ~ Piling and Dredging. As part of the improvements, a small slipway that was rarely used was enclosed and fresh gravel, which drains water adequately, was laid onto the busy Riverside Walkway.

Tim, Chris

With thanks to Maureen Hooton

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King's Head Staithe, Hoveton, pictured from Wroxham public Parish Staithe