History of The Rushcutters, Thorpe St. Andrew and The Norfolk Broads
The Rushcutters was built between 1580 and 1600, although the timber beams and some of the original stonework date back much earlier. It’s even possible they were reclaimed from a Norwich monastery demolished in the Reformation or from the Bishop’s Palace, where nearby Thorpe Hall now stands. The Rushcutters was almost certainly originally built as an inn, taking advantage of its excellent position both on the River Yare and the Norwich to Yarmouth Turnpike.
When The Rushcutters’ foundations were being laid, Norwich was experiencing a boom in the cloth trade, and the river route would have bustled with wherries - single sail craft designed for the shallow waterways of the Norfolk Broads – carrying cargoes between Norwich and Great Yarmouth. The Wherryman’s Way, an attractive 35 mile walking trail through the Broads, follows the route of these trading wherries.
The 17th and 18th centuries were a period of significant growth for Thorpe St. Andrew, when many of Norwich’s wealthy merchants built residences and summer retreats on the wooded slopes. Writing in 1781, John Armstrong called the village “…the Richmond of Norfolk…delightfully situated on a hanging hill…” Many attractive listed buildings and features survive today in the village, including the ruins of 13th century St. Andrews Church, and the intriguing Taylor’s Tower, a Victorian folly with commanding views built by local solicitor, chess enthusiast and author John Odin Howard Taylor in 1880 as a retreat to contemplate the game.
One of the oldest buildings in Thorpe St. Andrew, the timber-framed Rushcutters is also Grade II listed, although the pub has only been known as The Rushcutters since 1985, rechristened from The Boat and Bottle. Under another former name - Thorpe Gardens - The Rushcutters features in Wearing’s 1947 book: ‘More Beautiful Norfolk Buildings’, and on many scenic postcards. In the 19th century, the picturesque appeal of the Yare riverside at Thorpe St. Andrew encouraged many artists to capture the scene, most notably Joseph Stannard of the Norwich School in his ‘Thorpe Water Frolic’ in 1824.
As boating on the Broads surged in popularity from the late 19th century onwards, the tranquil stretch of river around The Rushcutters bustled with Victorian pleasure craft. A number of boatyards did brisk business in boat hire, including then landlord John Hart, who established a boatyard opposite the pub on what was known as Hart’s Island.
The appeal of the Norfolk Broads, a sleepy landscape which is Britain’s largest protected wetlands, continues to attract boaters, ramblers and nature-lovers today. The historic Rushcutters is ideally located to drop in – or moor up – and enjoy a delicious pub meal with friends or savour Sunday lunch with family on the riverside terrace before strolling along Wherryman’s Way or Whitlingham Broads.
The Rushcutters is located at 46 Yarmouth Road in Thorpe St Andrew, less than 3 miles from Norwich city centre. For satnavs use the postcode NR7 0HE