George Tyrrell

George Tyrrell is not on the war memorial nor on the absent voters list. I have included him as he came from Saxlingham and his name is on a list that was in the Church Chest. The list said that he was serving in 1st Norfolk Regiment. He was a regular soldier.

George was born on 13 December 1874 in Saxlingham Nethergate. His parents were Alfred and Maryann Tyrell. His father was a farm labourer who came from Saxlingham Nethergate. George was part of a large family of ten children, three of whom died.

His siblings were

Elizabeth born 1860

Emma born 1861

Mary Ann born 1863

Alfred born 1864

Rachel born 1866

Charlotte born 1869 died 1871

Sarah Ann Elizabeth born 1870 died 1875

Ellen born 1873

May born 1878

George was baptised at St. Mary’s Church, Saxlingham Nethegate on 7 March 1875. His sisters Ellen, Rachel and Sarah Ann were baptised at the same time. His sister Sarah died a few months later in June aged four years old.

In 1881 the family were living in Shotesham St. Mary but by 1891 they were living on the Green, Saxlingham Nethergate.

On 12 January 1895 aged 19 years and one month, George joined the Norfolk Regiment. He was 5 feet 5 inches tall with a 33 inch chest. He had a fresh complexion, blue eyes and brown hair. He originally enlisted for seven years but this was repeatedly extended and he in fact served for 22 years. His service number was 4239.

After originally training in Norfolk he served abroad for many years; in India from 24 February 1898 till 26 December 1904, in South Africa from 27 February 1904 till 3 October 1908, in Gibraltar from 4 October 1908 till 8 October 1909.

Fort Napier Barracks, Pietermasitzburg. The Norfolk Regiment was stationed here between 1907-1909

 He was in England from 9 October 1909 till 31 January 1917. He was promoted to Corporal on 25 January 1916.  He was discharged in 1917 as it was the end of his period of engagement.

“C” Coy, 1st Norfolk Regiment, Winners Inter-Coy Hockey Shield 1909. George is seated in middle row, second from the left

In 1911 he was living in the Britannia Barracks , Mousehold Heath, Norwich.

George and Alice (nee Aldridge) on their wedding day, August 1914

On 4 August 1914 George married Alice Gaul (nee Aldridge) born 10 October 1882 in a Register Office in Norwich. She was a widow, whose husband Walter had died in February 1911. Prior to her marriage to George she worked in the boot industry as a fitter and then a machinist. She had two sons Walter Stanley Gaul born 6 May 1906 and Donald George Gaul born 1 November 1909.

George had met her in the British Legion Club in Princes Street, Norwich. At the time of their marriage he was 39 years old and she was 31 years old.

After their marriage the family address was given as 59 Barn Road, St. Benedict, Norwich.

They had four children Alice May born 1916

Ivy Ethel born 1917

George Charles born 1920

Phyllis Ellen born 1924.

On leaving the army George worked as a front door, uniformed porter at the Royal Hotel in Norwich. His stepson, Walter, also worked there for a time as a page.

Former Royal Hotel, Agricultural Plain, Norwich, 2013

In 1920 the family was living at 2 Railway Street, Norwich.

The family at Great Yarmouth in 1925/1926 From left, the children are George, Ivy, Phyllis and Alice

In 1934 George retired as a porter and they moved to live in Stubbs Green, Shotesham

Flint Cottage, Stubbs Green, Shotesham

They rented a flint, thatched cottage from a local farmer, it had neither water nor electricity. Water was collected from a stream. They kept chickens and grew vegetables.

In 1939 George was working as a farm carter.

During the Second World War the family moved to a brick built house nearby and the cottage was demolished.

House in Stubbs Green. ( Photograph taken in 1979)

As her husband was away in the Army, Alice, their daughter, and Malcolm and Colin, her sons, went to live with George and Alice in Shotesham.. Malcolm attended the local school and loved living and spending time with his grandfather.

George with his dog, Jack, around 1940

By 1951 George and Alice were living in the Trinity Hospital, Shotesham. These cottages built in the late 19th century provide rented accommodation for elderly residents of Shotesham. ( More information about the fascinating history of this foundation can be found on under the heading Heritage Trail 2000)

Trinity Hospital, Shotesham
George at Trinity Hospital cottage, Shotesham in 1951
George and Alice at Bacton, Norfolk in 1956

He died on 25th January 1957 in the Trinity Hospital. His death certificate said he died from myocardial degeneration/ chronic bronchitis. His occupation was given as retired corporal Royal Norfolk Regiment. A bugler from the regiment played at his funeral.

He is buried in All Saints Church cemetery in Shotesham.

After his death his widow moved into Norwich near to her daughter Alice.

George’s grave in All Saints Churchyard, Shotesham


England & Wales, Birth, marriage, death index 1837-2005

UK Census Collection

1939 Register-

British Army Pension Records

Norfolk, Church of England Diocesan Baptismal Records, Saxlingham Nethergate.

Many thanks to Malcolm Anderson, grandson, and Sheena Wear, great granddaughter, for the photographs and family information.

With special thanks to Malcolm Anderson for permission to include a copy of his article about his grand father.

Wikipedia Photograph of Royal Hotel, Norwich 2013 Photograph of Fort Napier Photograph of Trinity Hospital, Shotesham

Papers in St. Mary’s Church chest now in Norfolk Record Office.

Family Trees on

If anyone has any photographs or information about this person, please contact me. Email

His grandson, Malcolm Anderson, has written an article about his grandfather and about his experience of living with him during the second world war. I am therefore including some of what he has written below.

When my grandfather left the Royal Hotel and finally retired, shortly before I was born, he and my grandmother Alice left Norwich and went to live in a 400 years-old flint and thatch cottage on land rented from the Lovewells, a farming family, at Stubbs Green, Shotesham.  They raised 2s 6d a week by sub-letting a field and so were able to pay the rent on the cottage.  Later they moved to a larger, brick built house not far away and the old thatched cottage was demolished.

            Grandfather was self-sufficient in many respects.  He kept chickens, grew a huge variety of vegetables, had access to orchards, and was an accomplished woodsman and poacher.  The cottage was located in a remote spot, accessible only along a muddy farm track and across a meadow, and had no running water, gas or electricity.  It was lit by paraffin oil lamps, cooking was done on a wood burning stove and open fire.  Water was drawn from a well with a bucket and a roller turned by a large cast iron hand wheel and from a large hand pump with a long, shiny steel handle.  The only neighbours were a family called the Blacks who lived in an adjacent red brick house. As a child Stubb’s Green seemed to me a very long way from the centre of Shotesham village with its shop run by Mrs Lawes, post office, Seppings’ butchery and The Globe public house.  We had no means of transport so we always walked from the bus stop to the cottage, a distance of about a mile, quite a long way on short legs!

            During the war my grandparents moved from the tiny thatched cottage to a larger brick and tile built house, equally remote from the village, and just across the meadow.  It too had no access road and could only be reached across green meadows and lanes or along a rough, flooded, overgrown and sunken lane, or along a footpath from close to Malthouse Farm, over a stile, across a water meadow and a narrow footbridge.

            With the war declared and my father called up to join the Army, my mother found the prospect of living in their fairly remote bungalow at Southhill Road, Thorpe, far removed from the rest of the family, far too daunting, and we went to live for a while with my grandparents at Shotesham.  This was a disruptive and traumatic time for my parents but it is of this period of my young life that I have my happiest and most vivid memories and I suppose it is understandable that I became very closely attached to my grandparents, especially my grandfather, who was my daily guardian, companion, mentor and hero.  Later, when we moved back to Norwich, we still had prolonged and frequent visits to Shotesham and I acquired over a period of some years a deep and abiding love for the Norfolk countryside and the idyllic life which, at the time, I imagined my grandparents lived.  The innocence and preoccupations of childhood clearly hid a great deal of unsavoury life and privation from my eyes.

My principal memories of life at the house at Shotesham are centred around the main living room which was the kitchen and dining room rolled into one.  It had a large open fireplace and a big black leaded stove on which stood saucepans and a large, fire blackened kettle, seemingly forever on the boil.  In the corner of the room was a brick oven set in the wall, with a black door with brass handles, and from which the smells of newly baked bread and cakes emanated, merging with the smells of wood smoke, oil lamps and grandfather’s pipe.  Next to the kitchen was a cool, clean, walk-in pantry with a floor of bare red bricks and stone.  At the front of the house was the ‘best’ room, the parlour, which was used mostly on special occasions and when visitors came, and contained the best furniture and smelt of polish and Brasso.  The front door opened from this room on to a tiny porch and a small patch of front garden straight on to a meadow on which cattle grazed.  Access to the first floor was through a small washroom off the parlour.  Upstairs there were three, perhaps four bedrooms.  As with the previous house my grandparents occupied it had no running water, gas or electricity.  Wood was burned in the kitchen for hot water and cooking, but the fire grate in the parlour was seldom used.  The house had no bathroom and the toilet was a brick built privy with a draughty wooden door, known as ‘The Petty’ halfway down the path into the large back garden.  Grandfather would empty the toilet bucket into the trenches in his rich vegetable garden and, not surprisingly, his produce was always of prize-winning quality!  There were two sources of water supply.  A rainwater butt collected soft water from the roof for washing and bathing, and next to the house was a natural clearwater spring which produced a year-round supply of pure, cold water.  Let into the source in the ground was a large bottomless wooden barrel, which was covered by a wooden lid to keep out leaves and debris from the overhanging trees, but it was not unknown for frogs to be found swimming there.  A special white enamel pail was dipped into the spring water and was kept cool and ready for cooking and drinking in the pantry.

            Having lived for much of his life in the country and in the Army my grandfather was a tough, outdoor character and to me always seemed to be impervious to bad weather and the cold.  At the side of the house was an open ditch which often contained a trickle of running water.  He would sit astride this ditch on a wooden plank and have his daily wash and shave at most times of the year.

            While he was around the house, the garden and the nearby meadows and woods I was his constant companion and he would involve me with everything he did.  Because of our dependence on wood he would spend a lot of time bringing in trees and branches from the nearby woods and hedgerows, sawing and chopping.  I would ‘help’ him by holding one end of his huge cross-cut saw, but my main job was to carry and stack the wood once it was cut.  Together with his faithful black and white dog Jack he would take me up into the Great Wood at the top of the meadow behind the house, show me the snares he had set for wild rabbits and pheasants, point out the wildlife, the owls, the squirrels, and in the right season we would gather wild strawberries, blackberries and wild flowers.  We would be out in the fields early to gather huge wild mushrooms which would be taken home and cooked for breakfast, adding another delicious smell to the warmth of the kitchen.  By the wood was a large, deep pond, partly surrounded by hawthorn thickets, reeds and marsh grass and alive with noisy frogs and huge dragonflies.  Moorhens lived on the pond and in the nesting season he would take a very long thin pole, perhaps nearly 20 feet long, and lash a tablespoon to the end of it with a length of string.  He would venture into the marshy surrounds of the pond, carefully reach into the nest with the outstretched pole, gently scoop up a single egg, and gingerly bring it back across the water where I would collect it and place it in his cap. These rich little eggs would be taken home and cooked for breakfast.

             Indoors he would relax in his chair in the corner, puffing away on one of his pipes from the rack by the fireside.  The tobacco had made him very chesty over the years and he would often be racked by a bronchial cough and would spit lustily into the fire, much to the disgust of my grandmother who would call him a “dirty old bugger”.  Being rather too young to understand this term I didn’t know what she meant, and he would reply “Shut up, Mother Bumps”, laughing as he did so.  Sometimes he would tease me and chide me for some of the things I did.  On one occasion, when I was only about three or four years old and feeling very unhappy about something he had done or said to me, I called him a “Dirty old budda”, which obviously brought the house down since it was the first time in my life I had ever used bad language!

            Next to the house was an ancient orchard, strictly speaking the property of the Lovewells but who seldom used much of the fruit it produced.  Grandfather was the unofficial custodian and chief beneficiary of this wholesome treasure trove and we were, it seems, never without a generous supply of wonderful fresh fruit, apples, pears, greengages, plums and damsons, and grandmother would bottle it and make jam and make excellent pies to keep the family going for much of the year.  Grandfather always called me ‘Mac’ or ‘MacDougall’.  A shout of “Plum time, Mac !” was the signal for us to down tools mid-morning and make for the orchard.    

He was well known in the village, a keen cricketer in his younger days, and captain of the village bowls team until he became too infirm to take part.  In these pre-combine harvester days he was often busy on the farms and one of his jobs, working with a huge scythe and whetstone, was cutting the broad strip around each field to make room for the harvester.  I can recall the mechanical reaper and binder being drawn by horses on the Emms’ farmland and by a pre-war International tractor on Lovewell’s extensive land. I would follow grandfather to the harvest fields, share his bottle of cold tea and cheese sandwiches sitting in the shade of a tree, and be ready with my stick with all the other men and boys to give chase to the rabbits which would make a sudden dash for cover as the reaper reached the final square of uncut wheat in the middle of the field.  Needless to say I was never fast enough to catch one, but the possibility was compelling and the anticipation always infectious.  As the reaper moved around the field casting out a sheaf every few yards the men would gather them up and stand them up on end in groups of six or eight to make ‘stooks’ in neat lines down the field.  There they would stand drying for some days until they were collected on large horse-drawn carts and neatly stacked in the corner of the field or the stockyard to await threshing.  Leading the great horses which hauled these carts was another of my grandfather’s jobs and I sometimes found myself being hoisted on to the back of one of these gentle, elephant-size beasts, or riding in the empty, dusty, creaking wooden carts.

Norwich began suffering rather badly from German night-time air raids while we lived at Shotesham and I can recall seeing the glow of the burning city and the beams of searchlights in the night sky to the north.  Occasionally the drone of an aircraft could be heard above the village.  Grandfather would ‘stand guard’ at the front of the house with his loaded shotgun at the ready in case of invasion or German parachutists.  It was not unknown for him to let fly with both barrels into the night sky at the approach of an aircraft, hostile or not!

            After one particular period of bombing in Norwich where the targets were buildings and factories near the city centre grandfather went missing for a day or two.  He had apparently got wind of a serious raid on Caley’s Chocolate Factory, dug amongst the ruins until he found the great vats full of scorched, solidified, unsweetened raw chocolate and loaded about a hundredweight of the stuff in one huge lump on to his wheelbarrow, and pushed it the nine miles back to Shotesham.  There I remember seeing it in the woodshed, covered by sacking, where it was a source of chocolate flavouring for grandmother’s cakes and puddings for the rest of the war!

My aunt Ivy’s father-in-law had a milk delivery business just off Angel Road in Norwich and, like so many others in those days, operated purely on a cash basis and did not entrust his money to a bank.  My grandfather knew that his business profits were kept in the form of large denomination silver coins, florins and half crowns, and hidden in different parts of his house, beneath floorboards, and in piles on the joists and timbers in the roof. He was soon on the spot to ‘assist’ when the house was destroyed in an air raid.  Unknown, and unsuspected for quite a long time, he had filled a sack with coins, took them back to Shotesham, and hid them by the handful deep in rabbit burrows in a sandy bank beside the footpath on the way to the house at Stubb’s Green.  On Saturday evenings when the family walked in single file along the path towards The Globe public house in the village for their regular drink grandfather would be last, ostensibly to lock the door of the house, tie up the dog and close the garden gate, and would linger, un-noticed by the others, by the rabbit warren long enough to retrieve a half crown to fund the evening’s beer supply.