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Memories of Hethersett

If you have a memory of Hethersett why not send it to the editor so that it can be featured in this section. It may be a memory of school days or work or of the War or any other facet of village life. They will be added in chronological order. See also the genealogy area of this site which can be accessed by clicking here.

Just send it by clicking here

Memories of Roy Jackson - Added April 7th, 2006

Having found your site whilst researching my family who originated on my father's side from Hethersett, I hope I can open up a new family name to those that I find mentioned on your site.

My father, Edward Horace Jackson, was born in Hethersett in August 1914. He was son of the Blacksmith at the Smithy in Norwich Road, Horace Arthur Jackson, who had also been born in Hethersett in December 1886 son of John Jackson and Ellen. John Jackson was, as far as I can make out, a Coachbuilder and also had sons William (c1891), John (c1885), Alfred (who died in the First World War) and daughters Nellie, Edith (c 1882) and May (c 1890).

The iron bands around Kett's Oak, which we always used to see as we passed on the old A11, driving to visit my grandparents when I was a child, were replaced by my grandfather (HAJ) before he left Hethersett to live in Norwich. During the First World War he served as a blacksmith with the army in France and survived to return. I am not certain when he moved to live in Sandringham Road, Norwich, but he was definitely there in 1926 as his will is dated from that address and my father (EHJ) was then attending the City of Norwich School. My grandparents moved to live with my parents in Benson, Oxfordshire, in the early 1970s where they eventually died within a week of one another in 1980.

John Jackson (father of HAJ) also had a brother in Hethersett, Robert Jackson, known as "Bobbo". As far as I can make out he was born about 1863 and became a general labourer. All we know about their parents is that the mother was called Sarah.

Best wishes and thank you for your Hethersett site.

Memories of Hethersett Middle School by Let's Talk's Neil Haverson.

It was just after 9.30 a.m. on that Saturday morning as we pulled into the school gates. The field was already filling up with cars. It was raining - and I don’t just mean raining. Water was gushing down from the heavens as if the clouds were on a mission to see if someone by the name of Noah lived in Hethersett and was ready with his Workmate to construct another ark.

A surprising number of brave souls turned up and squelched round the cars. They even made the odd purchase - probably more out of sympathy for we stall holders than an overwhelming need for a chipped mug or a jigsaw with a piece missing.

We did three boot sales in all at the school. Although they were supposed to be family efforts I always seemed to find myself abandoned at crucial times; i.e. when I was hungry. I’d listen to Chris Watt announcing over the speaker that “Refreshments are available in the school hall. Or “Why not try a burger or a hot dog from the barbecue?”

If only I could. The younger Haversons had long since become bored and disappeared to join their mates. They returned occasionally to deposit something such as a jar of chutney they had won on the Tombola and to demand money for another go.

Mrs Haverson was helping to serve the refreshments.

Something about this always puzzled me. She would sign up to help for an hour but would be missing for anything up to two. Meanwhile my stomach would be rumbling so loudly that I am sure the punters thought it was a noise from some battery operated toy we had for sale.

Eventually she’d return with breathless apologies for being so long. Gossiping was, of course, the reason. Well, the school fete was a gathering of the village, she had to stop and have a natter with the other parents. And then there were the teachers and children.

Famished, I’d have to watch as she slipped the home made cakes she’d bought into the car. But then, bless her, she’d offer to get me a burger from the barbecue. Leaving me salivating she’d go on another royal walkabout. By the time my burger finally arrived my fellow car booters were dismantling their stands.

If we failed to part with our clutter we certainly found that the social side of the event was always a resounding success. Indeed this is an aspect of HMS that sticks out in the memory.

Apart from the fetes, we have been to craft fairs, barbecues, discos, concerts, car treasure hunts and 7 turkey suppers. Not forgetting Carols Round the Tree and The Combined Schools Carol Service at St Remigius Church. As our children passed through the school, we’d see the same gang of parents at all these events, most of which were to raise funds for the school.

I have to say that many of these events have the attraction of partaking of a sherbet or two. The summer barbecue for instance, is one to which the car does not accompany us. That noble bunch, the PTA, always lay on a local draught ale for which I have an acknowledged weakness and I can recall more than one of the volunteer barman greeting my order with: “What are you here again?”

Carols Round the Tree offers a glass of mulled wine and a mince pie. I have yet to crack the challenge presented by this combination. With only two hands, just how do you liberate a mince pie from its foil container and eat it while clutching a glass of mulled wine?

They could be tense affairs if you had a child performing. And one year the singing was in the hands of our daughter. She was operating the overhead projector which displayed the words on the wall. One slide out of place and we could have been singing the words of “Away in a Manger” to the tune of “O Come all Ye Faithful.”

And then there was the Turkey Supper. Sadly this event appears to have had its day but when our daughter first went to the Middle School we were immediately informed: “You must go to the Turkey Supper!” This event had a reputation as an occasion for well and truly letting down the hair - and drinking that local ale.

And so it was. In fact, parents whose children had long since left the school would continue to support the Turkey Supper.

The one of which I have the most vivid memories was when we walked home afterwards with Mrs Farrington. Carols were sung. Mind you they may not have been instantly recognisable as such. And, as I recall, Mrs Farrington did not remain upright for all of the journey. I think she blamed the icy conditions.

I have no doubt that this sense of fun which emanates from the school filters through to the children - and they are the better for it. It wasn’t until our offspring went to the much bigger and therefore more impersonal High School that I realised just what a cosy atmosphere surrounds the Middle School.

With Mrs Haverson working at HMS as a Classroom Assistant we still attend many of the events. There is, of course, a new generation of parents, the PTA members have changed and teachers have come and gone. But the ethos remains.

I am glad to have the opportunity through my wife to maintain the links with Hethersett Middle School. Who knows, I may even be moved to do a car boot at a future fete.

Unless, of course, it rains.

Neil writes a weekly column for the Eastern Daily Press entitled Fortress H. He lives in the village

Memories of the War

In 1981 Hethersett was the featured village on Radio Norfolk's Village Voice. Hilda Hagg, who was 85 at the time, spoke about her memories of the war years. Hilda ran the Kinkajou Cafe (now demolished) for many years. During the war this was visited by Polish, Czech and American troops. The Medical Service was stationed at Old Hall and soldiers were billeted in the village.

People walked out from Norwich to eat at the cafe where egg and chips cost 9d, egg chips, bread and butter and tea 1s 1d and no meals more than 2s (10p in today's money). Soldiers would come in for 50 cups of tea and then order 50 meals. Eventually the Kinkajou had to change from a restaurant to a transport cafe in order to get food during times of rationing.

The foreign soldiers were lovely. The Czechs would come in. If one of them was missing they would be crying. Then somebody would come in they thought was dead and they would be singing and celebrating. I had letters from them all after the war.

The following is an extract from a letter home from Roy Jonasson an American airman with the USAF 389th Bombardment Group stationed at Hethel airfield during the Second World War.

I pedalled to a little town six miles away by the name of Hethersett, a beautiful little English village. It was about 5.50 p.m as I approached and coming down the narrow, winding road I could hear the church chimes in the distance. When I got round the bend in the road I could see the little English church sitting on the side of the hill. It was one of the most beautiful sights  have ever seen. The church on the hill and the sheep grazing in the green meadow. There was a cemetery just outside the church, at one side, and we saw the most beautiful sunset. I decided to go into the church. I found it somewhat similar to our church. The most interesting thing I noticed was that the people were there for a reason, to give thanks. They let me know that I was welcome but that was all. They do not gather after church, they all walked out solemnly. I liked it so well that I shall go there again when I have the chance.

(The above was featured in the brochure for the Hethersett Revealed weekend being held in June, 2005).

Memories of the Greyhound Inn

In the Village Voice programme mentioned above, Eric Johnson looked back on his 23 years as landlord of the Greyhound Public House in Henstead Road.

When I first took the pub there would be nine or 10 old people playing crib (cribbage - a card game). The pub would always be packed. Now that has all gone. We have a juke box and modern society has killed pubs.


Memories of the Village

Norah Taylor had the following to say about the village on the same programme.

"I love Hethersett. I love the skies and the atmosphere. When I came to Norfolk it was as if I was coming on holiday. It has been a 19 year holiday."


Memories of Hunting in Hethersett

Beth Hawthorne wrote to us with her memories of hunting in Hethersett

I have a memory from about 1954. A friend and I who lived in Norwich used to ask for "cap money" for Christmas, and on ponies hired from a riding stables at Eton, ride to hounds with the Dunstan Harriers. One year, and I think it was 1954, the meet took place at Hethersett Hall. We hacked there, and then all the horses milled around outside whilst the stirrup cup was
handed round on silver trays, until it was time to follow the hunt.

I have to say I am against hunting now, but as a somewhat unthinking teenager found it totally exhilarating to career over fields and through woods on a frosty winter morning.


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