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Mattishall Village Website is sponsored by
Ray Taylor .... Property Maintenance.

Welcome to the Mattishall Village Website ....

Mattishall is situated in the heart of Norfolk 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.

Can you Help ?

I am currently building a page on the Men and Women from our village and local area who died in the Two World Wars. If you have anything that could help, however small, it would be most welcome.
A picture would be the icing on the cake.
For a quick link to the page click HERE

Mattishall War Memorial and Remembrance Day Service

Last year, after consulting village residents, it was proposed that a War Memorial be built near the centre of the village. This memorial will include two of the chimneys from the Old School Building and will be located in the South West corner of the Village Green. It will be dedicated at the Remembrance Day Service on 9th November.

The Barlow Charity and the Parish Council have raised part of the estimated cost of £8000 for the work. We believe that in this year that commemorates the 100th anniversary of the start of World War I many other villagers will also want to support this important addition to Mattishall.

Proposed design by David A Cutting Building Surveyors Ltd

During September, every household in Mattishall will receive an envelope asking for a donation to this project. The envelopes can be deposited at either Victoria Stores or Mattishall News. Additional envelopes will be available in these shops. If you pay tax, we also request that you complete the Gift Aid declaration allowing us to claim back 25% of your donation.

The dedication of the War Memorial in November will be very special for many residents and the service in All Saints Church will be especially relevant to all those whose families who lost men in either World War, or whose families have served their country in the armed forces.

It is hoped that after the dedication of the memorial on the Village Green a service will include stories of some of those who lost their lives or served, read by their descendants. If you have a family story of war service to tell and would like to take part, please let us know.

For further details about the War Memorial please contact John Rockliff on 01362 858774 and for the Remembrance Day Service contact Anne Jackson on 01362 858744


Iris Coe


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 generations.

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 playing field.

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 today ?

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.

Iris Coe

Written for the Mattishall Village Appraisal 2001 Report

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