Liz Gilding and Jenny Pennell
In the 1930s Mattishall Football
Club played free of charge on Billy Turner’s meadow in Welgate,
now Willow Close. After the 2nd World War some wooden huts that
were on the corner of Welgate and belonged to George Hurren were
pulled down and erected for use as changing rooms. There was a
slope on the pitch and if you were kicking the ball down the slope
it was likely to go over the goal. There were several village
teams around Dereham that the Mattishall team played against,
using a coach for transport to the away matches. In the early
1930s the village team was very good and on one occasion they
scored 30 goals in two weeks. They won 16 - 0 against Swanton
Morley one week and then 14 - 2 against Mileham the next. Wiggy
Pease from Dereham used to referee for the Mattishall team as
well as Risho Williamson.
Cricket matches used to be played
on various meadows. In the 1920s and 30s matches were played on
Faircloths meadow with teas at The Swan. During the war they played
on Hills meadow moving towards the end of the war to The Black
Meadow (where Greggs Close is now). It was also mentioned that
the team played at Poplar Farm and in the 1940s and 50s on a meadow
belonging to the Harrison family at Old Hall Road. The village
team used to visit other teams to play matches in and around Dereham.
Mr. Eastell, the chauffeur to Dr. Williams, was a very good cricketer
and used to be opening batsman.
During the late 1950s it became obvious
that the meadow would be wanted for building so Ron Farrow was
approached and he rented the club 5 acres of land at South Green
for £1.00 per annum for use as a cricket pitch.
Later it became clear the football
pitch was to be developed on so Ron Farrow was approached once
again and he agreed to sell an adjoining piece of land to the
cricket pitch to the football club for £800.00, at the same
time selling the original land to the cricket club for £1.00
and so the two pieces of land became the present playing field.
There was an electricity pole in the middle of the field and after
negotiations this was moved and the field bulldozed over. Whilst
doing this a deep brick lined well was exposed which was eventually
filled with soil. It appears that many years ago there was a house
on the site and the well was in the back garden. Some old apple
trees were pulled out and the pavilion erected, being opened in
Bowls was also played on the green
behind the Ringers from about 1926 until the 1970s.. There was
also a bowling green opposite the cemetery and at the back of
Tennis used to be played at Welborne
Rectory. William Norton’s mother had a tennis court on land
at Dereham Road, about where numbers 115 - 119 are now. They also
had a bowling green. There was a building known as The Pavilion
on the land, this being moved to The Laurels in future years.
Darts were played at the various
public houses. The team at The Swan just after the Second World
War was part of the Lyng and District League. Dominoes, Shove
happeny, crib etc. were played in the public houses.
A travelling fair used to visit Turner’s
meadow in Welgate once a year the villagers having to pay for
rides.There was also a travelling fair on Gray’s meadow
(this would have been Gay's meadow as Reginald Sparke Gay was
faming in this area at the time) occasionally with roundabouts,
swings, darts, roll-a-penny etc.
Village fetes were held at various
sites, including the British Legion fete on Faircloths meadow
in July usually. This was known to continue until 10.00 o’clock
at night. In the summer Church fetes were held on the Black Meadow
(where Greggs Close is now). There were stalls, coconut shies
and also a greasy pole over a pit filled with water that the villagers
used to try and cross without falling off. They also sat astride
the pole with sacks of straw and tried to ‘pillow fight’
each other off. Sometimes the pole was placed upright and you
had to try to climb to the top.
The Gant fair was generally held
on Charlie Fisher’s meadow opposite the Ringers, and they
used to bring in dodgem cars, etc. The last time they came was
in 1964. Sometimes the Gant was held in the Swan Yard and children
were given a ‘Gant sixpence’ to spend.
There was a stream at the bottom
of the village at Clippings Green where the boys fished using
jam jars. Between No. 32 Dereham Road and what is now called Breewood
Cottage there was a moat which was a natural watercourse from
Garvestone. This became a waterfall after heavy rain, and the
stream became wide enough to float a small boat in it.
At South Green, down the track to
the right off Doctors Road (New Lane) were the brick pits and
these used to freeze over so the villagers could skate on them.
In the evenings dances were held
at the Oddfellows Hall which was built in 1911 on the corner of
Burgh Lane and Dereham Road. Dances were also held at Welborne
Rectory and at Honingham. At the Oddfellows Hall there was occasionally
a band for dancing and a Mr. and Mrs. Ladbrook from Honingham
used to play the dulcimer and piano. During the Second World War
the Americans from Weston Airfield used to cycle to the hall to
attend the dances which were then held each Saturday night and
always very well attended.
The ‘Electric Cinema’
was operated from Oddfellows Hall about twice a week in the 1920s.
Mr. Fickling came from Watton with an old steam engine which worked
the projection equipment. There was a screen up one end of the
hall and seating for 70 or 80 people. Silent films were shown
such as Charlie Chaplin.
There was also an Alf Warminger that
came from Norwich in the 1920s/1930s to show films.
There were also concert parties who
visited the village quite regularly, Harry Lambert, Norman Abbott
and Les Everitt came with the ‘Odds and Ends’ concert
party from Dereham, (they always sang ‘Delia’ as part
of the programme). Another member of the party was Harry Faux
and his Chalks (he had a big blackboard with sheets hanging over
the back and he would do quick sketches, then bring another sheet
over) and Buster Newell, a postman was the comedian. Mr. Lambert
owned a furniture store in Dereham and he and his wife together
with others used to entertain the surrounding villages. There
was also an entertainment group know as ‘Values Concert
Party’ who consisted of father, mother, daughter and son-in-law.
They were called the ‘Values’ because the father’s
name was Valentine Hughes. They would put on three or four shows
a week, all different. Mrs. Hughes was the pianist and after the
entertainment the chairs were cleared away and there would be
Magicians and Old Tyme music acts
used to visit and the entrance charge was a silver threepenny
The hall was later sold to St. Johns
despite the village committee putting in an offer of £600.00
to buy it. The hall was demolished in the mid 1970s.
Before the First World War there
used to be Chapel outings to the Ringland Hills for which Mr.
Farrow supplied the transport. He used to take the children by
steam engine pulling timber drugs (heavy carts used to transport
trees) with a plank of wood on top which the children sat on.
The children always ended up covered in soot as the engine let
out clouds of smoke when going uphill.
In the early 1920s Norwich City Football
Club played at ‘The Nest’ (nicknamed the Chicken Run)
in Rosary Road. Villagers went by ‘bus getting off at Bank
Plain and then going across Pulls Ferry (the fare was 1d.).