Traces of past from pre-historic times onward have been found in the neighbourhood, glacial deposits in the form of granite boulders, and bones of long-forgotten animals that lived in a time when man was more often the hunted than the hunter.The later Stone Ages brought various tools and weapons, and so down the centuries of time to the birth of Christ, and the coming of the Romans, who brought with them a civilisation which lasted for 400 years.
The Christian Missionaries started quite soon in that period, and thus began the gradual founding of the British Church.
In the 5th century A.D. the Romans withdrew owing to the invasion of heathen Angles and Saxons, Christianity was driven westward and civilisation temporarily perished.
It seems most probable that the name Wicklewood was derived from the Anglo-Saxon and is written as "Wiclurde and Wikolpude" in the Domesday Book.
As the Christian religion took root the lord of the soil considered it a duty and meritorious act to build a church for the good of the people. Having done this, he endowed it a portion of land or glebe, and appointed a priest who had jurisdiction over the local inhabitants. This district was called a "Parish".
THE SAXON CHURCH
The last successful invaders were the Normans, by William the Conqueror's direction a survey of the whole kingdom was begun in 1080 and the Domesday Book compiled.
From this famous book we know that there was a church in Wicklewood at this time.
There are few particulars available about the church, but the original St. Andrew's which stood in the same churchyard as the present church, was built in 1202.
Now completely dilapidated, St. Andrew's stood to the west of the present church of All Saint's and St. Andrew. There is a continual record of incumbents since 1228.
The original church of St. Andrew is believed to have been finally dispensed with during the year 1367. Certain it is that the present church is of the Perpendicular period.
It was therefore built during a time of great trial and stress in Great Britain.
THE BLACK DEATH
The notorious Black Death or Plague occurred in 1348, and there were further occurrences in 1361 and again in 1369.
These extremely fatal epidemic interrupted the work of building in many places and there are signs that this scourge may have left its mark during the building of the church.
The tracery of the windows generally is extremely simple in comparison to that usually attributed to the Perpendicular period.
It is possible that this simplicity is due to the lack of skilled masons as a result of the Black Death.
The church is built mainly of flint, and consists of a chancel, nave and massive square embattled tower at the South West of the nave. As is common with most Norfolk churches, the church is built mainly of flint, stone only being used where essential for quoins and arches.
There is no suitable stone that can be worked in Norfolk.
The flints were obtained from the Norfolk chalk, in the same way as early man obtained his flints in pre-historic days. Flints are still being mined in Norfolk, and flint knapping or the shaping of flints is the only surviving pre-historic industry.
On the 13th June 1367, Thomas, Bishop of Norwich, consolidated the churches of St Andrew and All Saints.
There was no vicarage assigned to St. Andrews because both churches were in the same churchyard. St Andrews was much decayed and, as stated earlier, believed to have been completely demolished soon after the time of the Norwich Domesday Book.
It was demolished on condition that the vicar should find a chaplain in All Saints church to celebrate for the parishioners of St. Andrews.
There was therefore 16 acres of Glebe belonging to St. Andrews church and the alterage of the church added to the vicarage.
In 1424, John, Bishop of Norwich, released the vicar from finding a chaplain for ever, and the whole became one vicarage.
The tower as previously stated is square and embattled, and is unusually situated at the South-West of the nave, and is not adjoined to the nave as is most usual with Norfolk churches.
It is a grand example of the flint construction of East Anglia. The lower stage forms the entrance porch, and on the first floor are a fireplace and a small oven, with another small oven on the second floor.
These were formerly used for baking the wafers required for Holy Communion.
The bell is situated on the first floor, There were formerly two, bells and there is an interesting document in the church records of the permission granted to sell the bells, and with the proceeds of the sale to purchase one in 1875.
Another document records the sale of a bell, and the Bishop's licence is dated 1690.
This bell has been split for a number of years, and the parishioners being unable to repair it had been paying "Dismission fees for the default thereof."
In the chancel are a plain in-arched sedilia, and also a perpendicular Piscina, with a projecting drain. Behind the pulpit is a door leading to spiral roof loft stairs.The roof is high pitched and perpendicular in style.
Some of the benches bear heads of good carving, all different.
A few of these open benches at the back of the church date back to the 15th century.
There were formerly guilds and alters in the church dedicated to St. Andrew and St. John the Baptist, and also lights dedicated to the Virgin Mary, and the sepulchre.
A parish church usually contained more than one altar. These were chapels of gilds voluntary associations for mutual benefit which were of immense advantage, not only materially to people, but also knitting them together in the joys and sorrows of their lives.
The Font, perpendicular in style, is octagonal.
There is an ancient alms chest in the church, the only one in the Deanery.
The registers, which date back to the year 1585, are in a fair state of preservation.
Externally the church roofs are of slate, and there are floriated gable crosses at the East and West ends of the nave, and also over the East chancel window.
WICKLEWOOD CHURCH RENOVATED. (E.D.P 1924)
HIDDEN SHIELD OF ANCIENT MEMORIES.
An interesting discovery was made during the renovation of the interior of the beautiful 14th Century church at Wicklewood. In the course of the work a shield carved in stone was discovered over the south doorway, which had been plastered over and converted into a sun-dial. The shield is of ancient date and bears a coat of arms probably of a branch of the Morley or Lovell family, who flourished herein the 13th and l4th centuries. This family owned extensive lands in the neighbourhood and probably was responsible for the pious work of re-building the church in the year 1367. Hence the coat of arms over the beautiful Gothic archway of the church.
Previous to the year 1367 there were two churches in the same churchyard, and two parishes, also two vicars.
The churches were dedicated respectively to All Saints and St. Andrew. The smaller church of St. Andrew when found to be in a ruinous condition, was entirely removed, the two parishes united and the present church restored and also much enlarged, by the addition of a chancel and tower. The material was taken from the ruins of St. Andrew's church.
The church now bears the names of All Saints and St. Andrew. The vicars of this parish date from the year 1202. And the present vicar, the Rev. S. G. Mansbridge states that he is the 46th incumbent of the parish of Wicklewood, and thus has an "ancestral" line extending over 722 years.
A well attended re-opening service was held on Sunday, when the Rev. Canon Upcher, rector of Hingham, preached an eloquent and striking sermon. Miss Edith Cook played the organ. Before the service the Parish brass band played sacred selections at the church gate. The money required for the work was raised by the patience and perseverance of the present parishioners. The work was placed under the superintendence of Mrs Charles Brown, Cathedral architect of Norwich, and well carried out by Mr. Curson builder and contractor of Hethersett.
The church of All Saints & St. Andrew in the North-western corner of
the parish of Wicklewood, lies three miles in a North-Westerly direction from the Town of Wymondham. In the church may be found many points of interest which tell something of the history of both church and village.
The square tower of the church is on the south side, with a sundial over the top of the massive archway. The base of the tower forms the porch. A winding stairs leads to two rooms, one with an oven. This may have been used to make Communion wafers. The rooms may have provided accommodation for the Benedictine monks of Wymondham Abbey.
There is one Decorated window in the chancel , the remainder Perpendicular. There are some fragments of very old stained glass with a picture of a saint, and Christ holding a sphere. There is a piscina in both the nave and the chancel, the former being part of a lady chapel. The fifteenth century font has blank shields on it. Some of the pews have poppy head carvings with pricket holes.
Hackford has a fourteenth century church. The fifteenth century porch, facing south, is faced with knapped flint and flushwork panelling. Inside there is a figure of an angel in stained glass and the remains of the rood staircase. There is a fifteenth century font with eight shafts and a finely carved sixteenth century chest, with a fern design on it.
The west facing tower contains one bell. The church has a plain Norman doorway, perhaps from an earlier foundation.
There are no places of worship in Hackford other than that of the Church of England.