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Ralph Hale Mottram (1883-1971)

R.H. Mottram was a novelist, poet, local historian and Lord Mayor of Norwich. He is best remembered for his Spanish Farm Trilogy (1927) which was based on his experiences in WW1 in France and Flanders. The three books in the trilogy were The Spanish Farm, Sixty-Four, Ninety-Four and The Crime at Vanderlynden's. It was later made into a film called the Roses of Picardy.

Mottram in uniform: back left

Mottram grew up in the Gurney's Bank building which stands at the top of Prince of Wales Road and as a young man worked as a bank clerk in the building. The building subsequently became Barclay's Bank and is now  the Open Centre. One of his novels, Our Mr Dormer, was set in the bank.

Gurney's Bank Building

Originally Gurney's Bank, Norwich

Mottram was a non-conformist and worshipped at the Octagon Chapel in Colegate. He was also closely involved with the Norwich Society and wrote books on local history - including one on Norwich entitled: If Stones Could Speak.

During the Second World War, Mottram became friendly with the American poet Hyman Plutzik who was stationed at the Shipdham Airbase. In his role as Education Officer for the USAAF, Plutzik invited Mottram to lecture at the airfield and then, later in the evening, drove him and his wife back to Norwich. Plutzik's poem On the Airfield at Shipdham is dedicated to Mottram.

Mottram also wrote a biography of his friend and fellow novelist John Galsworthy. In 1966 Mottram received an Honorary Doctor of Letters from the newly established University of East Anglia.

There is a memorial to him on St. James' Hill on Mousehold Heath - which overlooks the City. He once said that Mousehold Heath was 'the property of those who have the privilege of Norwich birth'. Unfortunately, the memorial was badly damaged by metal thieves in 2011.

He is buried in the Mottram family plot at the Rosary Cemetery - off Rosary Road. The Rosary was the first non-denominational cemetery in England.

Grave of Ralph Hale Mottram

Original gravestone of Ralph Mottram

Mousehold Memorial to Ralph Mottram

Memorial on Mousehold Heath


See also The Deserted Church Tower On Sidestrand Cliff - a poem which Mottram wrote about Craske's Tower on the North Norfolk coast.




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