Zulu Lane | Hazells’ Histories
This footpath is between today’s Queens Road and York Road and is shown on an 1886 ordnance survey map but unnamed. Yet it has always been called Zulu Lane, why? The houses in both roads were built mainly in the late Victorian and Edwardian eras and given the predilection of those times to honour British heroes and battles you would have thought there would be a link close by, but there is none. However, there is a tenuous connection between Bury St Edmunds and The Zulu Wars via the village of Walsham-Le-Willows. There, a local JP, Hooper John Wilkinson had six sons, youngest of whom was Thomas Edward born in 1837. Thomas went to Bury Grammar School a well-respected place of learning, this was evident because he went from there to Kings College then onto Jesus College Cambridge obtaining a BA in 1859. Two years later he was an ordained curate of St Marys Church, Cavendish. His next appointment was as a vicar in Rickinghall followed by an amazing career move; as inaugural bishop of Zululand in Southern Africa in 1870. His full title was Bishop for the Zulus and the tribes towards the Zambesi. The Zulu Wars of Isandlwana, Rorkes Drift and finally Ulindi in 1879 saw much of his diocese torched to the ground and must have had an influence on him returning home to be rector of Caerhays, Cornwall from 1879-1884. Thomas Wilkinson’s last elevated position was as the Anglican Bishop of north and central Europe from 1886 until 1911. He was a prolific writer; one of his books was A Suffolk Boy in East Africa, he died in Khartoum in 1914. So there it is: A Zulu connection! Local councillor David Nettleton was instrumental in having the lane’s name adopted with signage. Both he and I are of the opinion that Zulu Lane is of an age and DID precede that wonderful British stiff upper lip film, Zulu of 1964 starring Michael Caine!
The text on this page is taken from pages 94 to 95 of the book written by Martyn Taylor, published by Amberly Publishing 2016.
If you wish to continue the journey through the streets A to Z of Bury St Edmunds, or indeed read more about the history of Bury St Edmunds, you can purchase Martyn’s book from St Edmundsbury Cathedral shop, Waterstones and Moyses Hall.
Look out for the next instalment next month, or subscribe to our newsletter to be notified when Hazells’ Histories returns!