Some anecdotes as related
by older inhabitants of Mattishall Village
This book has been compiled by Liz
Gilding and Jenny Pennell following
conversations with the more mature residents of Mattishall.
We would like to express our appreciation to all who have helped
us in giving up their time and making us welcome in their homes.
Our special thanks to Derek Bingham, - Ruby
Eastell, - Russell Smith and Brian
Young's for their considerable contributions.
We would also like to acknowledge the help given by
Keith Hudson and
Mr. G. Webster of Yaxham
for their ideas and drawing skills for the cartoons.
We hope this book will bring back happy memories to some and provide
light hearted reading to others.
Below is a
few pages from the book ............
If you are interested in purchasing the full version contact
the Mattishall Society
MATSELL WOT WAS
|One day in 1942 a "Wings for Victory"
fete was held to raise money for the war effort. The Home
Guard, Fire Service etc. all gave demonstrations.
||The Fire Service gave a demonstration
of pumping water from a mobile tank to a canvas water container.
Needless to say they were all trying to outdo each other and
the length of hose was very long. As soon as the water got
up to good pressure one of the lengths of hose burst soaking
all the villagers that were peering at it closely to see what
|Mr. Horne used to run his building and undertakers
business from what is now Almond House. The paddock off Thynnes
Lane was used to store great tree trunks being seasoned and
waiting to be cut up for building work and to make the coffins.
The coffins were then stored in a loft at the back of the
|"When we were children we
used to play on the logs in the paddock. They made great see-saws
but you had to mind you did not trap your fingers.”
At the turn of the century there were
three bakeries in Mattishall. The one at the back of what
was Welgate Stores, owned by Mr. and Mrs. Leveridge ceased
baking early in the Century.
The other two bakeries were owned by members
of the Norton family. The bakery on Dereham Road at what
is 'The Laurel’s' was run in the early years by William
Norton. He was succeeded by his son, also William but the
bakery eventually closed in the 1950s.
The bakery on Church Plain was run in the
191O's by Richard Norton who unfortunately died at the early
age of 41 in 1922. The business was carried on by his wife
'Addie' together with her four sons. Dick Norton continued
to run the bakery whilst his other brothers went off to
other occupations. The bakery today is run by his son Richard.
In the early days bread was delivered by
horse and cart, in later years by van. The Dereham Road
bakery delivered to The Tuddenhams, Hockering, etc., and
the Church Plain one to Shipdham, Hingham and the villages
on the southern side of the main road.
Rev. Graham was vicar of Mattishall from
1929 - 1946. He lived a the Vicarage together with his niece
who was his housekeeper. He was known for being rather eccentric
and wore a black straw hat.
||"He used to come into the
bakery making a nuisance of himself and granddad would 'accidentally'
knock against him as he was taking the bread out of the ovens
with the peel, covering him with flour."
|The village school opened in 1872, Fred Brayley
becoming Headmaster in 1915 until he retired in 1945. He was
known for being very strict but was very well respected by
the pupils. Behind his desk was an open cupboard with all
the canes on show.
||"lf we were not paying attention
he would take the wooden blackboard rubber, or anything else
that came to hand and throw it at us."
|There were several long serving teachers
at the school, one of whom was Mildred Edwards who started
as a trainee teacher in 1898 and stayed until 1944 when she
retired. The daughter of 'Knacker' Edwards she lived at South
Green for many years before moving to Dereham Road.
|"She used to keep her hankie
up her knicker leg. We called her 'pedal freewheel' because
she used to pedal once on her old bike then freewheel a bit."
|Hukey Skipper used to travel round the local
villages with an old horse and cart buying and selling rabbit
skins and other second-hand goods. He also had a small dog
which used to run under the cart when they were on the move.
He had regular calling places where he would stop for several
weeks, Mattishall, East Tuddenham, Honingham and Weston Longville
being amongst them. He was found dead in 1940 / 41 down a
lane off the Honingham / Barnham Broom Road.
|"My brother used to take me down the
lane opposite what was Farrows farm to see old Hukey. He used
to turn his cart over and fix this old tarpaulin to the side
of it to sleep under. He had chickens which he used to let
loose at the various stops. They say he used to roast hedgehogs
for his supper."
|Gerald and Fred Hewitt ran the village butchers
on Church Plain, founded by their father Oscar, for many years.
They used to deliver to many villages in the area. Pigs were
slaughtered in the old slaughter- house at the back of the
shop until the mid fifties.
"One day whilst going
up the road towards East Tuddenham past the Council houses
we suddenly saw one of our front wheels was going up the
road in front of us."
"We used to have one of them things
on top of the van to keep the meat cool that hummed like
an aeroplane when the wind was blowing."
"One day it took off and went across the fields."
|In 1916 during the First World War an airfield
was built beside the Mattishall to East Tuddenham Road in
the large field behind Tollgate Farm. The Airfield was built
for fighter planes to defend the Eastern Counties against
||"During the First World
War us boys used to go down to the airfield to watch the planes.
There were a lot of oak trees beside the road and they cut
them down for the benefit of the airfield - well we used to
go down there and stand on these stumps to watch the planes.
One day a plane taking off came over so low it knocked us
|The Home Guard had various points around
the village where they would stand guard.
Land at Sandpit Farm was used for shooting practice.
They were issued with Uniforms - some very illfitting. One
farmer found his uniform to be so badly fitting he obtained
some khaki cloth (we know not from where) and made coats for
his two greyhounds. When questioned he said he had made the
coats from his uniform.
During the Second World War people were issued with identity
cards. Signposts were removed in case of invasion.
"One evening one of the firewatchers dressed up as a
woman, walked on to Church Plain and asked one of the Home
Guard the way to Weston Airfield. The guard did not think
to ask the woman for identification and gave directions. Afterwards
they suddenly realised the woman might be a spy and search
parties were sent out round the village to look for her. Needless
to say' she' had vanished."
In the 1920s a Gant Fair used to be held
in the Swan Yard, there would be swing boats and roundabouts.
Grays Travelling Fair visited the village all through the
20s and 30s. It was held on Fish's Meadow on the opposite
side of Dereham Road to what was then the Eight Ringers
Public House. It was also held on Turner's Meadow in Welgate.
There were village fetes held on the Black
Meadow or Faircloth's Meadow. There would be darts, bowling
for the pig, coconut shies, etc. On occasions the fetes
have been known to go long into the evening with villagers
vying for who could win the pig.
"They used to have this big greasy
pole either across a pit filled with water, or upright.
If it was upright the boys used to have to climb to the
top. The one across the ditch they used to have pillow fights
on with sacks filled with straw or they had to walk across
|In the early days of the century corn was
cut by scythes and bundled into sheaves to be set up in the
fields to dry.
During the 1930s and 40s, with the coming of mechanisation,
the process was taken over more and more by binders. At first
they were pulled by horse power, in later years by tractors.
After drying the sheaves were carted to stockyards or the
corner of fields to be built into stacks ready for the threshing
gangs to arrive.
Obviously the stacks of corn were ideal breeding places for
rats and mice and the village boys used to arrive with their
sticks as the threshing process began.
An old boy told me the story that one day Mrs. Winton came
into the field to watch the threshing, she was a fairly big
busted woman. Us boys killed the rats with sticks, the mice
we used to pick up and throw at one another. Someone threw
a mouse at Mrs. Winton and she went backwards so it dropped
down the front of her dress. He said they had never seen a
woman undress so quickly."
Mr and Mrs Winton lived at the old Crown and Anchor during
|In the 16th Century a Margaret Harlestone
from Mattishall married a Matthew Parker from Norwich. He
was enthroned as Archbishop of Canterbury in 1558, during
the reign of Elizabeth 1.
In her will Margaret left land to the Parish of Mattishall.
She also left instructions that every year at Rogationtide
a Sermon should be preached in Mattishall Church by a Fellow
of Corpus Christi College at Cambridge and this tradition
still continues to this day.
During Rogation Week the ceremony of beating of the Bounds'
took place, and this together with the arrival of an eminent
preacher caused much celebration and a Fair began with the
traditional hiring of workers taking place. The Fair became
known as 'The Gant. Rogation Week is also known as 'Gang Week’
and it is believed that Gant is a corruption of the word 'Gang'.
Gants were held regularly in the village until the 1950s when
they died out. In recent years a weekend Gant was held in
1977 to mark the Queen’s Silver Jubilee. In 1997 a Gant
week was held with a 'Millennium Gant' being planned for May
and June 2000.
The cost of printing this book has been
borne by the Mattishall Society and by the generosity of
Derek Bingham and Brian Youngs from the proceeds of the
sales of 'Mattishall Airfield & The Zeppelins 1916 -
1919'. Revenue from 'Matsell Wot Was' will go towards further
publications covering the life of the villagers of Mattishall
and it is hoped to publish further volumes covering the
20th Century and other periods of the history of Mattishall.
|Copyright:- Mattishall Society