This police station cannot claim that a long list of desperate criminals have been confined within its walls. There was a little flurry of excitement during the war when four German airmen who had been shot down at Ovington were marched through the front door, and many many years earlier one murderer had been confined in a Watton police cell. On October 29th 1881 Hannah Brett aged 10 was murdered in a field near Saham Church and her grave, near one of the churchyard paths is marked with a stone inscribed "Hannah Brett . . . whose innocent life came to an untimely end . . ." Inquiries soon resulted in the arrest of a hunchback named Harry Stebbings who had recently been released from Dartmoor and. in spite of the efforts of a hostile crowd who no doubt felt that the crime merited instant retribution he was escorted to the safety of a cell. In official circles however even in those days of harsh justice there was some recognition of diminished responsibility and after being found guilty Harry Stebbings was sent, not to the hangman, but to prison for ten years.
My grandfather, whose reminiscences were not too reliable, used to tell me that the first person to be locked up in Watton police station was one of the men who helped to build it. It seems that when the station was finished and handed over there was a bit of a ceremony and the workmen felt that this was an occasion worthy of celebration. By late evening one of the bricklayers discovered that drinking strong ale resulted in a breakdown of communications between his head and his feet, and when found by a passing policeman he could fairly be described as "drunk and disorderly". As he sat in his cell, waiting for the dawn he may well have ruefully reflected that perhaps he had fixed the bars a little too firmly, and built the walls too strong.
Now, I don't know if any of this is true, but, if you don't believe it, don't blame me. Blame my grandfather.