High House, once a large property which lies on Station
Road and junction of Pound Lane, Heacham. From 1903-25
the building was owned by Bellerby 'Harry' Lowerison and
he was headmaster of his model school, the Ruskin
Ruskin School Home was opened in Hunstanton in 1900. It
had three storeys and was called “The Birdcage”.
Called Ruskin School Home, one important feature was
that it was to be structured and run like a family.
Lowerison involved the fellowship in the search for the
new buildings in Heacham. They found “The Wilderness”,
built in 1726, then called the High House. At that time
Heacham lacked both electricity and gas. Outbuildings
were converted into classroom and dormitories. There was
also a large garden with fruit trees and a vegetable
plot. Later, a paddock opposite the main house was
purchased. (This appeared to be the area towards the
fire station.) There were two tennis courts, a croquet
lawn, an observatory, (the equipment for which was also
gathered after a public appeal in the village) and a
well, where the school derived its water.
He was appalled that there was no guaranteed clean
drinking water supply to the village and that the main
well in the village was located only 6 yards from the
nearest cess pit and agitated for the erection of a
water tower. The local ratepayers opposed this measure,
and on one occasion during his campaign he was pelted
with stones. He appealed over the heads of the local
rural district council to the Local Government Board and
in the end was victorious, the water mains being laid in
the spring of 1912.
He designed its curriculum to be as natural as possible.
This meant that the school could not be too large.
Lowerison originally thought that 20 would be the
optimum number of children, but in fact the school
always exceeded this.. In 1901 there were 26, increasing
to 36 in May 1902 and to 40 by Christmas 1906. The
summer of 1907 saw 43, by spring 1909; this has risen to
50 where he now set the absolute ceiling. The school was
still full at this level in the summer of 1910, but
numbers were dropping by Christmas 1911. The school was
so under subscribed at 38 pupils in July 1914 that
Lowerison was worried it would go broke. However during
the war the number of pupils increased, especially after
London was bombed by Zeppelins and later Heacham. By the
last year of the war they were down to the 20 originally
envisaged. Much of the explanation for this
larger-than-planned scale of the project probably lay in
its finances. The fees were £12 a
When he put the house on the market after the school
closed in 1925/6 it was in very poor condition, without
basic utilities. His asking price was £5000 but in 1926
the property was purchased for £4,750, its new owners
being the Workers' Travel Association (WTA).