to the Mattishall Village Website ....
Mattishall is situated
in the heart of Norfolk 11-13 miles from the centre of Norwich
and 4 miles from East Dereham.
Mattishall lies at the geographical
centre of Norfolk. It is situated on a plateau of boulder
clay left By the glaciers about 300.000 years ago. The soil
in the area varies from sands around the neighbouring Mattishall
Burgh to stickier clays around Mattishall.
Over the years we have been building an archive of pictures,
newspaper-cuttings and stories on Mattishall and our local
Do you have anthing you would
like to share?
All we need is a high resolution scan - I have a professional
scanner if you can't do it yourself.
I will gladly pick them up and drop them back to you.
Once they are on file they will be saved for future generations.
Likewise if your family have been part of Mattishall's history
why not share your items/memories with us.
Email me: HERE
A SHORT HISTORY OF MATTISHALL
AND MATTISHALL BURGH
Evidence of human activity in these villages reaches
back to the period between 8000 and 1000 BC. The discovery in 1968
of a hoard of 110 silver coins provides a link with the Roman period.
However no proof of Roman occupation has been found so far. The
four panels of the Mattishall village sign, erected in 1984, depict
different periods of history from Roman, the Domesday Survey of
1086, medieval. to the mid-twentieth century.
All Saints church, Mattishall dates from the late
14th century, possibly replacing an earlier church on the site.
The Patron is Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge and it is thought
that Dr. Caius was instrumental in initiating the building of the
larger church. Saint Peter's, Mattishall Burgh, which is much smaller,
is mainly late 13th century.
Mattishall has been divided in a religious sense
for many years, first with the Reformation, then the growth of Quakerism.
The Quakers established a Meeting House in 1687. Almost 100 years
later the Old Moor Congregational Chapel was built. Both had their
own burial ground. When it become uneconomical to continue at Old
Moor, the Congregationalists transferred to their Lecture Room in
Welgate built in 1829. It is now the United Reformed Church. Primitive
Methodism gained a following in the 19th century but it was not
until 1900 that a site was found for a permanent meeting place along
the main road. The second half of the 20th century saw the establishment
of the Evangelical Church.
During the reign of Edward VI, cleric Matthew Parker
married Margaret Harlestone of Mattishall. He became the first Archbishop
of Canterbury to be appointed under Elizabeth 1. Local tradition
has it that the house behind the butcher's shop in Church Plain
was the Harlestone family home.
In the 16th century the wool merchants of Mattishall
were well known, even notorious, in East Anglia. A number of them
were warned or fined by the Court for failing to sell their wool
through Norwich market. They had found more lucrative outlets in
Suffolk and other places.
Apart from husbandry, wool combing and weaving,
many other trades were followed in the area. There was a decline
in the wool trade in the 18th century, which led to unemployment
for combers and weavers. These occupations had almost disappeared
by the beginning of the 19th century. Some found work on the land
but others became chargeable on the Parish and either suffered the
indignity of living in accommodation set aside for paupers or worse
still were sent to the Workhouse at Gressenhall.
Most farmers brewed beer but brewing on a larger
scale centred on the Malthouse which was demolished in the 1920s.
Apart from the Swan Inn, The George and Cross Keys there were several
ale houses dotted around the villages and in the 19th century included
The White House, The Ringers, Ivy Cottage, The Duke of Edinburgh
and the Crown and Anchor. Today only the Swan survives as a public
house, in a 20th century building, which replaced the old thatched
place of centuries past.
The population of the two villages reached a peak
of 1385 in 1841 and then began to decline as, due to mechanisation
on forms, people left the area to look for work. By 1931 the figure
had dropped to 829 and by 1961 was only 929. Since then substantial
development and infilling has taken place resulting in rapid increases
in the population. Despite the growing size numerous local shops
and businesses have not survived the advent of the family car and
of super- and hypermarkets. The haulage business of A. J. Farrow
provided local employment for many people for more than 50 years.
Other family business, names which have gone, include Dobbs, King,
Horne, Fisher, Howard, Turner and Reynolds. Norton's Bakery is still
run by a member of the family but Hewitt's Butchers is just a trade
name now. In farming, the names of Hill and Edwards span several
Some of the very old buildings in Mattishall are
hidden behind brick and mortar skins and Georgian facades, but others
remain to be admired. Of the three 19th century, mills the bases
of two remain. One has been converted recently into a holiday cottage.
The National School was built in 1872. A notable
Headmistress was Miss Johnson (1884 - 1919), the daughter of the
Station Master at Hardingham. Miss Mildred Edwards, a pupil-teacher,
was still around when the school celebrated its centenary. It was
she who planted the conker, which grew into the very large chestnut
tree in the garden of Church Cottage near the corner of the school
The fortunes and well being of the villagers have
fluctuated over the centuries. In 1835 the family of Sir Edward
Parry, the Polar explorer, occupied South Green House (now Mattishall
Hall) for a few months. On half pay from the Navy, he was sent to
Norfolk as an Assistant Commissioner for the New Poor Law. His sister-in-law
wrote to her mother:
....... a large population, immense families, and not work for half,
and no resident gentleman near to do anything for them ...... such
a disagreeable neighbourhood....' How would she view Mattishall
This is a pleasant place to live although it is
in danger of losing its rural character. There have been many developments
since the 1960s; a Memorial Hall. Sports and Social Club, new school
buildings on a large site and an excellent surgery and pharmacy.
Written for the Mattishall Village Appraisal 2001