THE HEATH AND DENTON
At the Heath, where the Feltwell Road joins the Brandon and Stoke Ferry Road, there is a patch of ground in the centre of the roadway and on this patch, of all places, was a dwelling house. It was a .well-built house of flint, of the bungalow type, and faced the Brandon and Stoke Ferry Road; it was taken down some 6o years ago, one of the last tenants, if 'lot the last, being Mr. Gent, grandfather to Mr. P. Gent, of St. Nicholas Hill. This patch of ground has quite a history. The story goes that an iron cage or a cage with iron bars once stood there in which offenders against the law were confined. Many parishes had a cage or a round house under the supervision of the parish constable for confining offenders until brought before the magistrate; evidently Feltwell had a cage. Also on this patch people are said to have been hanged in olden times; but the place where gibbetting was done appears to have been on the other side of the Stoke Ferry Road. Captain Hardy informs me that the last public hanging took place on Jackson's Hill, which is practically where the waterworks now are, and that the gibbets were sold at Methwold Market. I am told that there were Stocks on this patch of ground at the Heath; there is reason also to believe that there were Stocks in the Borough on the small green in the fork of the roads bv the Common Bank; no doubt there was a Whipping-Post as well in Feltwell, since almost every parish in the land had one. In an old dictionary in my possession, dated 1759, the Stocks are described as "a Publick punishment more of shame than pain, for various small offences"; and yet, cooling ones heels in the Stocks in rough weather, or even in fine weather, with the neighbours looking on, could have been anything but a pleasant experience.
The Heath is an out-of-the-way place and the Old Lodge, better known to us as Denton's Lodge, was from all accounts used in the old smuggling days for storing illicit goods on their journey inland from the coast; the extensive cellars under the Lodge being used for the storage of smuggled brandy. Theres said to have been an underground passage from the Lodge to the main road for smuggled goods mostly brandy, from King's Lynn. The owner of the Lodge was a certain Captain Denton, of the Merchant Service, who belonged to a Wilton family, and on the house is a sun-dial with names of places to which his ships sailed. Captain Denton appears to have been a friend or at least an acquaintance of George IV who, when at Newmarket, would drive over to the Old Lodge for cockfighting in the barn and to drink smuggled brandy; and though it may be merely a coincidence it is noticeable that the Royal Arms in St. Nicholas Church are those of George IV. Feltwell Lodge in those days was a small cottage completely surrounded by pine trees and the two Walks from Denton Lodge to Feltwell Lodge are still known as the Kings Walk and the Ladies' Walk. Southwest Norfolk seems to have been deeply involved in the smuggling trade so much so that a road in this part of the County is known to this day as Smugglers' Road.
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