Social History...


by Miss. Edith Cook. Recollected in the 1950s
(The original church is mentioned in the Domesday book 1080)


built in the 14th century and named All Saint's, St. Andrews because originally there were two churches in the same churchyard. In 1250 St. Andrew's fell into decay during the Black Death and the stones were used to build the chancel of the present church. The tower contains a priest's room, with an oven, in the wall. The oven was believed to have been used to bake the bread for Holy Communion. Just before entering the porch, there are some stones covering the grave of a woman of whom it was said "She was always trampled upon during her life and wished it to be the same after her death"

I can remember a clay lump building just inside the churchyard, which was the old church school and suppose that the churchyard was the playground. I remember there was a controversy as to whether the ground there was consecrated for burial. It is quite full now. The church was lit by candles fixed onto boards in the window sills. When lamps were bought it was the custom for certain people who had given the lamps to clean their own and keep them filled with oil. The foundations of St. Andrew's can be seen in a dry season as I have been told by people living now, who have seen it from the tower.

Harvest around 1930


Built in 1887 and part of the Wymondham Circuit Mother Church, itself built in 1870. The building consisted of clay lump with flint foundations and was restored in 1918 when the front of the Chapel was brick faced.
In the early years the left side of the forecourt consisted of a cart shed and stables to accommodate ponies and carts which brought in members of the congregation who lived as far away as Kimberley and Hardingham. These were demolished in 1936 when a kitchen was built at the rear of the chapel at a cost of £65 Their removal left a pathway to the kitchen.
A Committee of Trustees made up of members of the chapel were responsible for the running of the services. Mains water was connected after WW2 at a cost of £4.7.0d Heating was from a 'Tortoise' type stove and lighting from hanging paraffin lamps
Electricity was connected to the chapel in 1947 and electric heaters installed in 1948.
The chapel closed in 1984.

Leonard Breeze was the Church Steward at Wicklewood for many years and has known the Chapel building since he was a child. He contributes this account of the Chapel through the years he has known and served it.
"I have never seen any record of when the Chapel was built. A plaque on the front of the building states that it was restored in 1918, presumably when the front was brick-faced.
"During my schooldays, and for many years after, when I became a teacher, the Chapel ran a thriving morning Sunday School, numbers often reaching the 70 mark, with 5 teachers. The highlight of the School year was Anniversary day. This was always in mid May, when the children took part in three services, morning, afternoon and evening, plus Tuesday evening to finish. The children enjoyed taking part, the Chapel was always crowded out, even to standing on the road. The children's reward, a train journey to the sea-side in summer, and a winter treat in the Village Hall ."

"Two adult services were held each Sunday, mostly conducted by local preachers who had cycled or even walked miles to get there.
The two main calendar events for the year were Good Friday Fellowship tea, afterwards twenty or more of the Chapel members would render a Service of Song programme in the evening. The other was the Harvest Home tea, followed by a short service and the sale of all the produce which had been given. The proceeds from these events provided the only finance we had to keep the Chapel going.

"At the commencement of the war we had to cancel our evening services, because of black-out problems, but changed to one service in the evening, after it finished.
"As in the case of so many other places of worship, over the years the number of people attending our services has so decreased we now have only 4 members left. This has meant the finances have not been enough to keep the Chapel in a reasonable state of repair, thus the decision to close the building. We regret having to take this step, but we also rejoice in the knowledge that we are still able to uphold Methodism by the courtesy of our Anglican friends, in the Parish Church. We hope we shall welcome more to join with us in worship there.

Mrs Joy Jermany was a regular worshipper at the Chapel. She recalls:-
“The anniversaries at the Chapel in the High Street were very good. As I lived in Wymondham my sister and brother-in-law, Betty and Jimmy Rayner asked me to dinner because they used to say if I had it at home I would be late. The chapel used to be trimmed with flowers, most of which Lenny Breeze arranged himself, and they looked very nice. There were two violins playing as well as Lenny on the organ. The Chapel was always full, they even had to get chairs out for some people to sit on and on one very hot sunny Sunday afternoon one of the girls fainted and had to be carried outside. Mr Tolday from Kimberley always used to ask everybody to “dig deep” when asking for the collection”.


(Copy of a letter to a Mrs Inwood from Mr Cyril N Wigby Nov 10th, 1983)
“Dear Mrs Inwood,
I thank you for your letter to hand this morning re the former Primitive Methodist Chapel at High Oak, Wicklewood.

The facts are that the chapel was official known as the Morley High Oak Primitive Methodist Chapel and was part of the Rockland circuit of chapels, the Superintendent Minister living at Rockland St Peters.
As you know the hamlet of High Oak is in Wicklewood, as is the Morley Buck public house. So you see, Morley Saint Botolph has always wanted to take over the Hamlet of High Oak. These are the facts.

Legend says that the owner of the "High Oak" public house, Robert Head, many years ago was a 'higgler' (i.e. a dealer in small livestock etc,) and smallholder. While driving his pony-trap through the village of Hempnall, he stopped in that village to hear John Wesley preach. He was converted, went home, closed his public house and opened up a Methodist Chapel. How true this story is I have no idea, but part of the buildings were once a public house and John Wesley DID preach at Hempnall (on the green where the War Memorial now stands)

As a teen-ager I was organist at the High Oak Chapel and my Dad was Society Steward, but we left High Oak in 1939 when my Dad hired Lime Tree farm at Hempnall. The chapel was still open then, but when I came back from the war it had closed down.
I'm enclosing some photos of the chapel. Two of them were taken previous to 1906 and Miss Alice Pearce, later became Mrs Wigby and was my mother. T.E. Ormond who took them was the school-master at Morley St. Botolph.
Cyril N. Wigby”

(Goodings Garage occupies the area of John Head's cherry orchard which was about two acres in size and a lovely sight when the trees were in bloom. The nearby industrial estate stands on the site of High Oak Farm, farmed by Mr Wigby's father, Mr John Lindsay Wigby)