Hethersett was featured on a Radio Norfolk programme entitled "Village Voice." I am unsure of the date of the programme but it is likely to have been late 1981 or early 1982. Some of the programme's content was reminiscences not relevant to the village.
The following were the extracts of relevance.
First to be interviewed was WI president Norah Taylor. She described the history of the village sign which is carved out of solid oak and which was presented to the village. Included on the sign are depictions of the church, a deer and an oak tree with an acorn. The name Hethersett means "deer enclosure."
The oak tree is often thought to be because of Kett's Oak, but this is not so. At one time Hethersett was covered by oaks and deers lived on the acorns. There was a competition for the signs design and this was won by Stuart Nairn. It was dedicated on 22nd July, 1974 and was carved by Robert Mapes.
The garden surrounding the sign was presented by the WI in 1978 to mark their diamond jubilee. Bushes and shrubs were placed to give colour all year round.
Norah Taylor also explained that she is secretary of the WI drama group which has been in existence for 15 years. She had written a play in Norfolk dialect entitled "On the Turnpike at Hethersett" which was set in 1805 or 1810 and used many old Norfolk words. The play had won an award at the WI county 80 festival and was based on Hethersett history. Norah had been living in Norfolk for 21 years - 19 of them in Hethersett.
"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," she told the interviewer. The
interview was conducted during a snow shower (giving some indication of the time of
Next to be interviewed was The Rev. Michael Sexton who was the incumbent at St Remigius Parish Church and still visits the village. Since he left the village has had two successors in firstly Rev Brian Llewellyn and Rev Di Lammas. Before the interview starts the interviewer informs us that he has had to cross the busy main road to get to the church. At that time the road was the main A11 long before the bypass was built.
Mr Sexton explained that St Remigius was Bishop of Rheims in France in the sixth century. He was an important figure in the development of Christianity, particularly in France. He was looked upon as the second St Paul due to his holiness. Despite this there are relatively few churches in this country dedicated to him.
At the time that the church was rebuilt in 1320 Remigius de Hethersett was a member of the local ruling family and became a priest and benefactor at Hingham Church. He could well have had an involvement in the Hethersett church and could have been a patron.
The present church was built in 1320 although there had been a previous church on the site long before. It is recorded in the Doomsday Book about 1086.
The interview then continues with a look around the inside of the church before Michael Sexton is asked what he thinks of the village.
"I have been here for nine years. It is a village with everything going for it and is full of life."
In 1977 the village celebrated 1000 continuous years of Christianity. It is almost certain that the Christian faith was celebrated earlier but had been destroyed by the Danes. In 977 it was re-established. To mark the 1000 years celebrations, the Bishop of Norwich visited for a week.
Mr Sexton also pointed out that the building is used by Catholics and Methodists.
Next to be interviewed was farmer and chairman of the parish council Bob Richardson. I remember Bob vividly from my early days in the village as a very extrovert character.
He explained that he was employed as a legal clerk before taking up farming and with his two sons stocked pigs and cattle as well as arable. Bob had been chairman of the parish council for 25 years.
When asked what the current issues in the village were he said:
"Pot holes, double yellow lines, planning permission etc" and described the work as rather repetitive with replies from the local authority difficult to come by.
Bob then went on to describe his years as a magistrate and talk about his book "Some Fell on Stony Ground". He was asked to describe what the village was like 70 years ago:
"Most of the people living in Hethersett at that time worked in the village. The population was about 1000, whereas today it is 4,500. Today the majority of people either work somewhere else or are retired. Seventy years ago those living in the village were employed in trades such as blacksmith."
Bob was asked to remember local characters and told the story of Stout Knapp: "He never
did much work. He was a self appointed traffic controller and used to stand outside the
Queen's Head in a long white coat which was designed for a man of about 6ft and he was
about 4ft 3in. This was before the war. He believed he saved lives by controlling the
traffic. He was a well known character and harmless eccentric."
Next to be interviewed was Duncan Pigg who still lives in the village. He talked about his 30 years as a health service administrator.
Duncan also talked of his role as producer and writer of the village pantomime and explained how it came into being.
"The panto was supported by my mother. She was aware of a committee in the Forehoe and Henstead District Council which helped the handicapped. January 17th was her birthday and she wanted to give them a party. Twenty years ago we played party games and sung to them. They preferred to listen and watch rather than join in. We got a bit more ambitious and put on an ad lib panto where the cast did the words. One or two people said 'why don't you put on a performance for the public?"
And that's what they did in 1970.
The interview then makes reference to that year's panto which included Dr Who music and a cast with lights on their heads. Duncan explains:
"We did Aladdin and the Genie sent Aladdin to Mars. We had girls dancing to the Dr Who music. It was all great fun. I write the scripts for people I know and very often am still writing up to rehearsal time when the cast get another two or three pages."
Duncan is then asked about his role as choirmaster and explains that the group is about 30 strong and of all ages. They lead the congregation in singing and only provide anthems and settings for big occasions.
He is also asked about his role with the village cricket club:
"I am president of the cricket club. It is a village club, strictly only open to those living in
the village. It is 120 years old. I have been president, chairman, treasurer, captain, vice-
captain, but I'm not very good.
Duncan is followed by his mother Hilda Hagg who tells the interviewer that she is 85 years old. She talks of her school days in Norwich and the fact that she has lived in Hethersett for 41 years and ran the Kinkajou Cafe (previously on the main A11 - now demolished) during the war when it 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."
Next to be interviewed was 19-year-old Keith Denmark who talked about his collection of antique postcards and photos of the village. One from 1883 depicted the child Sibyl Back who lived in the village in the early part of the century. A photograph showed her on a cart which was pulled by two sheep. This was later stopped by the RSPCA who felt it was cruel to the sheep.
Keith points out that there are mounds in the local area dating back to 2000 BC. He also
related the story of Kett's Rebellion which saw peasants from all over Norfolk march on
Norwich and produced fighting in the streets between them and the authorities over the
enclosure of land.
The penultimate interview was with Eric Johnson landlord of the Greyhound Public House (now closed) in Henstead Road. He had been landlord for 23 years and had seen many changes in the licensing trade.
"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."
Eric seems uncertain of the history of the pub but thought it was a lynching cottage during
the time of Oliver Cromwell. Eric concludes by admitting that he has 12 children.
The final interview is with Edith Gadsby who made the kneelers for the parish church. She talked about her role in repairing and restoring embroidery on behalf of the National Trust and also in collecting music boxes.