No 26 Naidens
Naidens originates from the 16th century and is Grade 2 listed. The house was originally three cottages and remained so until the 20th century. As a result there were until recently three staircases (now two) and three wells. However, these days only one of the wells is still functioning. The construction is an oak frame with brick and rendering elevations under a traditional Norfolk reed thatch. Much of the oak frame is exposed internally.
Most houses in the village were at one time part of the Shotesham Hall Estate. However Naidens, in the form of three cottages, was part of the Stoke Hall Estate. The house was included in the 1919 auction under Abbott’s Farm but remained unsold. At a subsequent auction in 1931 (during the Great Depression) when Abbott’s Farm was put up for auction by the Stoke Hall Estate, Naidens was no longer included. It turned out that at some time between 1919 and 1931 it had privately obtained as part payment of a bad debt and was eventually converted into one house.
The name Naidens comes from Naidens Lane which is the bridle path adjacent to the house. This was originally called Maidens Lane, so called for one of two reasons. Maidens Lane may have been an alternative name for Lovers Lane or another possibility is that the maidens of the village took their Sunday stroll up the lane after church. Naidens Lane is known for a ghost like figure which would sometimes be seen in the clay pits. However, in the absence of first hand knowledge we remain in doubt as to whether the ghost was a ‘her’or ‘him’or ‘it’.
In the late 1860’s an evangelical open air service was conducted on the common opposite by Mrs Charlotte Bruce of Stoke Holy Cross. Subsequently meetings were held in Mrs Leggett’s cottage which was one of the original three. Later the meetings moved to Hillside Barns and stayed there until 1879 when a piece of land was bought in Chapel Lane in order to build the present Chapel.
In the garden is an enormous beech tree which is well over 200 years old.