Parish of Hethersett is, by Norfolk standards, a large one,
covering 2,695 acres; it was the main settlement in the ancient
Hundred of Humbleyard; it lies in the Deanery of Humbleyard and
in the South Norfolk District.
stretched three miles from east to west along the line of the
B1172 (the old Norwich to London road) and two miles from
northwest to southeast. The road cuts it into slightly larger
northern and smaller southern divisions; the Norwich to
Cambridge railway follows its southern boundary but otherwise
the parish has no obvious physical limits and presumably
represents the land needed to feed the Saxon settlements that
grew up in the area.
the west, moving in a clockwise direction, the parishes
contiguous with this are those of Wymondham, Great Melton,
Little Melton, Colney, Cringleford, Intwood (now part of
Keswick) and Ketteringham.
meaning of the name of Hethersett is not clear; the guide to the
church suggests the enclosure for the deer: Heedra is an old
English word for heather or heath, and set is Old English for a
dwelling place, camp, stable or fold. This would give the
meaning as being that of a camp or enclosure on the heath.
the name is a Saxon one, we have evidence of earlier settlers; a
New Stone Age long barrow (burial mound) lies in Cantley and two
areas of Roman pottery have been found in the northern part of
the parish; in view of the existence of a great Roman centre at
Caister St Edmund, the latter finds are nor surprising.
earliest description of Hethersett comes to us in the Doomsday
Book account of 1086; it would seem that there were perhaps 400
people in the parish by that time. The Lord of the Manor had 87
sheep and seven hives of bees, perhaps gathering nectar from the
heather, among his possessions.
Doomsday Book also mentions the church with its 60 acres of
land, a handsome endowment: no Saxon or Norman work remains to
be seen because of later rebuilding. There is also mention of a
second church and this presumably applies to the church of
Cantley, then a separate parish, of which nothing now remains
except some mounds in a pasture to the north of Cantley Farm.
This small parish was amalgamated with its larger neighbour in
1397 although the church was used as a chapel until the 16th
medieval times, the parish seems to have had an uneventful
history. The present parish
church was begun in 1320 and the tower and nave arcades and
windows are in the decorated style (1290-1330). It is dedicated
to St Remigius (438-533), the great Bishop of Rheims. Remigius
de Hethersete, a priest who also participated in the building of
Hingham Church, may have suggested the dedication in honour of
his name-saint. The clerestory of the nave and the lovely north
porch were added in the 15th Century.
Doomsday Village had become three manors or at least was part of
three manors by the 13th Century. These became known as
Hethersett Cromwells, Hethersett Hacons and Hethersett Woodhall.
Cromwells was the chief manor and its manor house was probably
in the meadows immediately to the south of Church Farm. Hacons
and Woodhall sites are less certain and the lands of these
manors lay in the neighbouring parishes as well as Hethersett.
Thickthorn seems to have had a separate hamlet with its own
moated house near to the present Hall.
the community grew during the 16th Century, the commons became
especially important to those who had little other land.
Hethersett with its open green, Lynch Green, would have had
cottages and farm buildings around the edge. Lynch Green opened
out westwards to the great common where Wymondham, Great Melton
and Hethersett parishes met. The most famous event in
Hethersett's history took place in 1549 when Robert Kett and his
men tore down John Flowerdew's hedges on Hethersett common.
Kett's Oak is said to commemorate the spot where rebels gathered
before marching to Mousehold Heath in Norwich.
the 17th and 18th Centuries, several fine houses were built or
added to in the village. Access was improved by the turnpiking
of the main road in the middle of the 17th century. Farmhouses
of some style were built at Hill Farm,
Cedar Grange and Beech Grove, as yeomen bought up land and
some of the common fields disappeared.
the Priory and the Old Hall were modernised and extended by
Norwich merchants such as John Buckle, Mayor of Norwich in 1793,
who lived in the Priory.
the early 19th Century,
Hethersett Hall was built and its attractive park and
ornamental lake laid out by the Back family. The Hill House
estate was laid out in the 1780s by a Mr Brown. Perhaps the
greatest change of all came as a result of the enclosure award
of 1799 when Lynch Green was divided up and disappeared as an
open space, although the tithe map shows that there were still
only a few houses along Mill Road and Great Melton Road in 1844.
"Victorian Miniature", Owen Chadwick gives us a
detailed account of life in the area in the middle of the 19th
Century. The Rev William Waite Andrew, the Vicar of Ketteringham
and one of the two central characters in the book, lived at
Woodhall which he bought for £3,600 in 1841, and to which he
added a new western extension.
the 19th Century, village crafts and small industries employed a
number of men locally; two windmills existed, one giving the
name to Mill Road. Three smithies existed in the village in the
1880s and carriages were built at Harveys. There was a brickyard
in Queen's Road. The railway lasted 120 years; it arrived as the
Norwich and Brandon Railway in 1846, but was closed to
passengers in 1966.
lies so close to Norwich that many think of it as just another
of its suburbs. It is, however, a separate community with its
own vitality and quite a marked community spirit. This shows
itself not only in the wide range of activities in the village
but also in more permanent ways in items provided for the
village through the efforts of villagers. These include a
learner swimming pool in the Middle
School, a bench in the memory of Zita James sited at the
church, a cassette library, the conversion of School House in
the Middle School to provide a Music Room, the erection of a
village sign, village street plans, the Jubilee Youth Club and
the Scout and Guide Hut. Tress have been planted in various
parts of the village and a memorial plaque has been erected on
the site of the old School (No 3 Queen's Road). The Parish
Council have provided litter bins, salt and grit bins for use in
icy weather and "Fido" bins.
September 1994 the new Village Hall was opened in Back Lane,
funded mostly by Wilcon Homes under a Section 106 Planning Gain
agreement. The hall has a purpose built stage with seating for
250 and also provides a committee room for 50 people.
1801 Hethersett had a population of 696 (in 90 houses), by 1851
this number had nearly doubled, but it never reached this total
again until 1931; since then and especially in the last 20 years
or so, Hethersett's population has risen to over 5,000. It is
now as large as some of Norfolk's market towns. During the past
seven years the Steepletower site near the parish church has
expanded rapidly; by 1995 abut 360 dwellings had been completed
out of a projected figure of 520.
supply, mains drains, a new surface water drainage system,
street lights, branch library, new First School and High School,
reflect the demands of a rapidly growing population for improved
services. The village has its own post office, bank, surgery,
pharmacy and dentist and the recent development of the square in
Great Melton Road (known to locals as Oak Square) has brought
new shopping facilities to the centre of the village.
construction of the A11 dual carriageway from Cringleford to
Wymondham has reduced the traffic using the old A11 (now B1172).
Concern continues to be expressed about the dangerous staggered
crossing at the A11/Station Lane junction. Following the death
of a local schoolboy, lighting has been installed, but many
residents prefer to travel to Ketteringham and beyond via the
Ketteringham Lane bridge over the A11 to avoid this blackspot.
effects of the opening of the Norwich Southern Bypass are less
direct, but already land nearby has come under pressure for
development. Hethersett's situation so close to Norwich with its
excellent facilities and transportation links means pressures
for growth and development (both desirable and undesirable) will
continue in the foreseeable future.
the substantial growth of housing over the last 40 years, the
Parish of Hethersett still has much wildlife interest. The built
up area covers less than 25% of this large parish, leaving a
considerable acreage of arable land and open spaces.
areas of much interest are the Kissing and Suckling Lanes, both
public footpaths. From the former the walker has excellent views
of the Park with its remaining large trees and lake. Members of
the thrush family regularly feed here; sometimes in early spring
these include large gatherings of Fieldfares and Redwings before
they depart for their eastern breeding grounds. Both Canada and
Barnacle Geese breed in the vicinity of the lake where Mallards,
Moorhens and Coots are regularly seen. Commorants also visit
these waters with a variety of other ducks dropping in from time
to time. The careful observer can often see a patient Heron or
even a Kingfisher waiting for a catch.
are many interesting walks in the parish including footpaths to
the Village Pit and from New Road to Great Melton church. They
contain old hedges and mature trees providing suitable homes for
various birds. Hethersett continues to grow but it remains a
village with much natural beauty for those with the eyes and
ears willing to seek it.
Articles on Hethersett History
Athletic Football Club
Sure Foundation - Special booklet on Methodism in the village
of Rectors of Hethersett