A LITTLE HISTORY OF HUTS IN NORFOLK
Sheep husbandry was essential to farming from the Middle Ages onwards and brought great prosperity to the whole country. Our village of Salle has a magnificent 15th Century church which can seat 600 people which is standing evidence of the wealth generated by the wool and weaving trade. The City of Norwich was a very important centre for wool and cloth; and many Norfolk towns and villages had large population of weavers and cloth merchants.
The principal local sheep breed was the black-faced Norfolk Horn, grazing mainly on light sandy heathland, producing sweet mutton and a short fine fleece perfect for the weaving of Norfolk’s famous worsted cloth.
Shepherds' huts became commonplace from the late 18th Century onwards. Used as mobile shelters pulled by a farm horse or the shepherd's trusty pony, a hut accompanied the flocks as they were moved from sheepfold to pasture,and was crucial at lambing time when the shepherd needed to be continually on hand:
Night and day they must be on the watch to assist the ewes, to cherish weakly lambs with warm milk, to restore others that appear dead by administering a little spirit; to counteract the unnatural disposition of some mothers that refuse their off-spring; or to find foster-mothers for poor orphans … these are reared generally by the assistance of a tea-pot with cow’s milk, and are called cades or pets. A fire is kept up day and night in the shepherd’s lodge, to which any perishing or weakly lambs may be brought.
The sheep are kept upon turnips, so as to maintain their strength and afford sufficient nourishment to the lambs; screens of hurdles, or straw, or fern, are raised to keep off the wind, and troughs with corn, or linseed-cake, are placed.