(The following article, authors unknown, would seem to originate from Wymondham College – there are references to the college and local people who work at the college in the text. -TE)
"THE SOUL OF A VILLAGE"
Imagination - Automatic, inspiring word. For example, from here, in the shallow depths of the Wilkinson study room, where recreation, discussion, even study and radio musical blending 'harmoniously', it takes but a short moment of time to be transplanted into some distant, waving field of daffodils, as the 'Waltz of the Flowers' struggles against the overused needle and the tap tap tap of a writing machine.,
Will you come with us then, on your cycle ('Motycars' will hinder rather than help us, they’re all too noisy, smelly, and create a sort of barrier between folk).
We will go down to Morley signpost, then, turning left and, as soon, right again we will pass the Morley 'Buck' on the left, a steady climb then up past the Water Tower landmark and on by simply following the very good sign-posts into the very heart of our parish ‘quarry’ - Wicklewood and Crownthorpe.
But it is not things we're looking for. We search for soul - we think we had our first glimpse of that soul halfway up the lane where we met our three Wicklewood road-men friends there.
They are men of about 65 years of age, employed by the Norfolk County Council on the maintenance of the roads of their own village.
What genuine men they are!.
Lean brown faces with flowing mature whiskers, who seem to thrive on the smell of the simmering tar, which is heated in an old fashioned boiler on wheels.
They told us that they were
(1) Using stone from Wymondham stone pits to cover the healing layer of tar
(2) The site of the Water Tower was reckoned to be the highest point for miles around
(3) That Morley 'Buck' was in Wicklewood and
(4) That "yew'd nivver git a cow'd workin' wi tar"
We found them quite open-minded about such things as their grandchildren's 'eddication', and eager to learn that part of their story had to play in it, they are mild modest sort of men ever ready to say 'Yes' rather than 'No'.
In them prove to be the temper of all the Wicklewood folks we met, whose reserved, though concerned manner, is characteristic of hard-working countryman everywhere.
We travel on, over the mended parish roads and found the customary 'High Street', at one end the' Cherry Tree' spread out inviting arms, whilst at the other the Kimberley arms offered similar welcome.
The 'Wild Man', though fearsomely postured, is the centre of evening dart activity - about which more later.
In between these' houses of hospitality' are houses, cottages, bungalows in all shapes and sizes and varying states of repair, whilst further afield, dotted here and there, you get the real side of a country parish - farm cottages beautifully thatched; some tiny and compact, others lofty and barn-like- but all, nevertheless picturesque and comfortable in which warmth, once it is generated by small old time ranges, plays caressingly throughout the building.
We felt that our road-men would think twice before moving into the Swedish-type prefabricated houses which stand in Low Street.
Threshing is still a very necessary job in Wicklewood and, we are reminded of a group of stalwart farmhands, who, with muscles straining were heaving a straw elevator into position and on to the 'drums'.
The men spoke kindly to us.
They tugged and smiled, then during a breather, told us simply, of the good barley crop this year, although they said, the crop was a 'trifle dusty'; of their other daily work, carting muck, milking ("machines now y' know") and the autumn ploughing.
Passing on reluctantly we marvelled at Mr. Sheldrake's farmhouse, Wicklewood Old Hall, with its Dutch type gables, similar to that at the 'Sun' inn at Wymondham, and received a most happy welcome at the Wicklewood Hospital.
The historians will have told you of its formal services to the port and the needy.
Now, Mr. and Mrs. George, who are the most delightful couple and as master and matron of the hospital are doing very valuable work.
They radiate joviality and kindness, and the aged patients responded accordingly.
It was an education to listen to the old men's tales of their younger days.
Some of them still 'keep their hand' in a by mowing the lawns, but others do all sorts of seasonal jobs on the extensive hospital garden.
There are old ladies as well at Wicklewood Hospital, many of whom, Matron said with a smile 'Are now part of it'.
Just listen to one dear old soul named Emma. Matron told us quietly that Emma had come into the hospital many years ago to give birth to a daughter, and that daughter was now over 40 years old, but who disappointed Emma greatly by not remembering where poor old Mum lived.
At last election time Emma had insisted on reading at least four different newspapers before going to vote. 'What on earth did you do that for?' Matron had asked her at the time. 'Well', replied Emma, most concernedly, ''If I was to put my crawse in the wrong place the world 'ud be upside down'.
We are of the opinion that should such a measure of discrimination be the blessing of our charges when they leave school, then our work would have been of value.
We would like you all to know that at Wicklewood Hospital there exists a wonderful cooperative spirit between patients, staff, and master and matron, who are always glad to welcome visitors, known or unknown.
There's also a welcome awaiting any interested student, at the parish hall of Wicklewood, which was built in 1904.
Thereby hangs a tale told you elsewhere - Mr. A.H. Buck, the parish council chairman, and carpenter of no mean repute, helped to build the hall when he was a young man.
Now in his clean little workshop at the back of his house in the High Street, he can saw, plane or chisel away to his heart's content for he has retired. He recalled for us the days when nearby land, now producing tomatoes and chrysanthemums in season, and other garden crops was once set aside by a local farmer for use as a cricket ground, but lack of interest has gradually brought about the necessary change.
Mr Buck is sad because of this but we think he tries hard for the good of the village in other directions. He has the following people to help him on the parish council.:-
Mr B. Cook Vice-Chairman
Mr M Totton Headmaster of Wicklewood School
Mr W, Howes Baker and Youth Club Leader
Mr C. Buck Painter
Mr Chenery Smallholder
Mr Clitheroe Grocer.
These representatives meet once a month at the school, and work hard on their recommendations to the higher authority.
Tomatoes in summer time are produced in great quantities on all the market gardens of the parish and we had the pleasure of a novel introduction to one of Wicklewood's nursery gardeners who is a very friendly unassuming man ; some months ago we happened to be seated at the same table in the 'Swimming pool Cafe', Wymondham, and at the end of his meal.
Mr. Tom Morgan passed over to us a newspaper which carried a few words on the reprieve of an alleged murderer.
"What do you think of that?" he said, quietly.
When we told him, he was not perturbed because our views did not coincide with his.
Instead, he listened patiently and substantiated his opinion as firmly, revealing a remarkable knowledge of people.
He told us he was producing tomatoes for Norwich and chrysanthemums for north-country markets.
He once had a green house blown over and reduced to a skeleton of wood-work by a gale, but, unperturbed he calmly told his employees that he was going to 'sleep on it' and tackled the erection of the 'house' next day.
Now as a family business the nursery is well organized and profitable.
New greenhouses are being built to produce more tomatoes and flowers.
Mr. Tom Morgan and his brother were most kind and helpful to us, they explained many points of interest concerning the heating of the greenhouses, of the soil, of sterilization, spraying, compost-making with reed-grass sods from Costessey, and of packing and dispatching flowers and fruit.
German employees at this nursery were very pleased to be working there, which confirms our feelings that those who work and live in close association with the soil and its fruits, often possessed a calm sureness of purpose like Nature herself.
Wicklewood soil is certainly well used to produce many other crops, and an interesting point is that there are extensive allotments worked by some of inhabitants in their spare time, to produce sugar beet, turnips, and soft fruits such as strawberries and raspberries.
A typical allotment holder is Mr. Ford. Mr & Mrs Ford have four children, and, as Mr. Ford's wages as a road worker are not adequate to provide for all the family, he works on his hired land, and by growing sugar beet, helps his family and helps to maintain the domestic sugar ration.
He neither smokes or drinks; he was proud of his crop whilst his wife wondered how other people who drink and smoke manage to keep their children adequately fed and clothed.
At school Mr Topham, the headmaster, does excellent work for children of the village, many of whom have fair distances to either walk or cycle.
It was encouraging to see an electric cooker in the school and two ladies cook hot midday meals for all who wish to stay.
Mrs Chenery helps with the school dinners, then goes to her shop in the High Street where you can buy anything from pencils to bicycle lamps.
About a hundred yards further on down the High Street, we found Mr. Clitheroe in his Grocer's shop, and in this instance 'Grocer's' means anything from biscuits to lady's shoes.
To complete the picture there is a really wonderful old bakehouse at the back of the shop, where on its very ancient brick 'floor' and by the heat of its efficient clear flued fire seven hundred loaves are baked each week to supply all of the parish.
Mrs Clitheroe showed us some George III coins she had found under the floorboards of her kitchen.
The latter needs no warming on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays when the oven is being used. Seven hundred loaves each week calls for helpers and Mr. Howes is the efficient Baker who has his son-in-law, to help him (whose job is that of a stone worker) on Saturday afternoons, the tins have all to be washed and greased.
Mr. Howes is a very busy man in the village, he is a churchwarden, and organises the village youth club gatherings which are held in the village hall. He arranges social activities and occasional film shows there.
Passing on down High Street we discovered a unique post office, whose post box, and that in the wall of the House and marked 'E.R.' makes the most interesting study.
>Mrs. Atkins is the village postmistress, her husband, who is village shoemaker, works in his shop nearby.
Inside the cosy front parlour of the post office, Mrs. Atkins keeps an array of little toys, and many useful household articles.
Only one village mother comes to collect the orange juice and cod-liver oil from the Post Office where it is always available.
Mrs. Atkins could not understand why some mothers made the journey to Wymondham or even Norwich, instead of using the facilities at the post office where the orange juice and cod-liver oil and the necessary stamps to purchase these things were always available.
With the traditional kindness of village folk, Mrs. Atkins told us of other hard-working Wicklewood people. We 'discovered', with her guidance, Mr. Buxton a motor engineer, in his spare time; typically again of the hard-working villagers, many of whom find time for a hobby, Then at Mrs Mann's farm where chrysanthemums, tomatoes and apples are grown, we found a family of ten, all workers, and concerned in the same food and flower production.
Wicklewood is very well represented by least three of its people who work on the domestic staff of the college. Robert Blake, is a quiet pleasant man, fond of work and music, and who, years ago, organized and played in the village band.
He played the euphonium and says he wished he had more lessons when young.
Mrs. Stafford Pitcher finds time to help clean his section of the college, besides being landlord of the 'Cherry Tree'.
The third college worker from Wicklewood is Mr. Billy Wade whose pleasant manner when either cleaning or 'Serving at the hatch' is typical of all these neighbours in the village.
We would not conclude our impression without reference to sport and recreation. Mr Edwards, the village policeman, is that 'guiding star' who organizes darts' matches, football and cricket.
The college second team played a very enjoyable game against Wicklewood.
The Earl of Kimberley loans his park for this purpose and Mr. Edwards is to be congratulated for his enthusiasm and hard work in the hundred and one tasks of preparation for a successful sports season.
In conclusion, we feel we were fortunate in having such a village as Wicklewood for our objective.
It is a hive of industry especially where food, fruit, vegetables and wood are concerned.
All are sent out of Wicklewood to help provide for others needs and in this providing much hard and persistent work is done by 'honest to goodness' folk.
Sport and recreation are enjoyed in similar spirit.
What strikes us most however is the smiles and good nature of every individual we have met.
We feel we were privileged to find the "Soul of a Village"
In 1896 it was the duty of the District Council (Forehoe and Hempstead) to test drinking water much of which came from wells in people's gardens, inspect dustbins and improve roads
Roadmen, known as 'Lengthmen' were employed to keep a certain length of road in good repair.
They would be seen working along the roads with their barrows and shovels Mr. Defew, who was killed in the First World War, was one of these, Billy Allen was the last - he died in at 1988.
in 1899 the County Council sent a horse shoeing training van round the village.