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Old Catton

Old Catton lies approximately one mile to the north of Norwich. Originally it was a distinct village but is now part of the suburbs of the city.

Anna Sewell lived at 'The White House' at 125, Spixworth Road when she wrote her classic children's story Black Beauty. Despite being for children, it is a harrowing tale of man's cruelty towards horses.

Anna Sewell's House at Old Catton

Anna Sewell's House

Anna Sewell Portrait

Anna Sewell

She was in her late fifties when she wrote the book and received £20 for the rights. Amazingly, by the time she died - only five months after the book was published - 100,000 copies had already been sold. The book was published by the Norwich firm Jarrold's.

It is said that the model for 'Black Beauty' was a horse called Black Bess which her brother Philip used to ride from Old Catton to Dudwick Park at Buxton each week. Anna's grandparents owned a farm at Buxton and it was here that she first learnt to ride.

Black Beauty was sub titled The Autobiography of a Horse and is written in the first person through the eyes of 'Black Beauty'. Here is the opening:

'The first place that I can remember well was a large, pleasant meadow with a pond of clear water in it. Some trees overshadowed the pond, and rushes and water-lilies grew at the deep end. Over the hedge on one side we looked into a ploughed field; and on the other we looked over a gate at our master's house which stood by the roadside.'

Catton retains a good deal of charm and, even today, horses are grazed on the Deer Park opposite Anna Sewell's house.

Horses at Old Catton

Horses on the Deer Park

Catton Park was originally designed by Humphry Repton (who is buried at St. Michael's Church in Aylsham) and today it is managed as a  conservation area.

See also Lamas, Great Yarmouth and Norwich.


More photographs of Old Catton

Read Black Beauty online

More photographs of Anna Sewell locations in Norfolk





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