Social History...


From 1895 Rev. Sidney Mansbridge was the Vicar, living where the Gambles now live (The Beeches.)

The Rectory

He had a large family including Mercy, Bob, who was ordained and went to live in Canada, and some servants. Church life was the centre of all village activities, as can be seen from all the parish magazines which refer to the two choirs, a brass band, formed in 1903 and large Sunday school class. Lent was taken very seriously, with the litany said twice during the week and all contributed to decorating the building for festivals, particularly at Harvest, and Easter when literally thousands of primroses were picked by the children. To be in the church choir, you had to serve probation until you could show that you were promising and reliable. Only the seniors went on an outing to Yarmouth in 1899.
In time a harmonium was donated by Mrs Serrys who lived at the Grove. It would seem that she was a singer seen as she was at a spinster as she gave concerts from time to time - some in Norwich - for church funds. In January 1896 a new lamp was given to the porch.
On Christmas Day 1895, 15 Sunday school children were giving a special tea by the Earl of Kimberley and Lady Constance provided a cake. It would appear that Christmas was spent somewhat differently in those days, on Christmas morning at 1897 a large catechising service was held for the children and the Sunday School prizes for the year were distributed.
On New Year's Eve, the men's Bible class had a Christmas dinner, and 80 people attended the Midnight Service, with 12 communicants. This dinner was an annual event, when "there were songs and speeches, and harmony and good will prevailed". In July 1896, the Bishop took a Confirmation and a special chair was bought out of church collections.

Evidently Mrs Mansbridge had at one time worked for four years amongst the lepers on Robben Island in South Africa. She gave a talk at the quarterly meeting of the Missionary Association.
That September, some Harvest Home Festivals were arranged as an experiment. With no Parish rooms, these had to be out of doors and were spoilt by rain. This sparked off the desire to raise money for a Hall, which was eventually built in 1897.

A brass altar cross was given anonymously in 1897, and an appeal was made for candlesticks. Mrs Mansbridge presented a pair of bronze vases for the altar the following year. The organist designed a brass alms dish and gave it to the church in 1902. .
In February 1898, the Vicar took a break and wrote to his flock describing a voyage through the Bay of Biscay, where there were cows and chickens on board, so fresh milk and eggs were available. There was also electric light (electricity came to the villages in 1933.) He was heading for Ascension Island, St. Helena and South Africa. On his return he took a party to the Missionary Loan Exhibition in a special reserved railway carriage from Kimberley station.

There was now an appeal for church gates, new South doors and a new organ as the harmonium was too small. This was built by Arthur Glasspool and Son of Wymondham in March 1889 and there were organ recitals in the afternoon and evening. Someone gave some beautifully worked velvet alms bags and the vicar gave a bell rope (there used to be a fund for these but, obviously, it had run out)

Queen Victoria died in 1901 and at the time of George the Fifth’s Coronation a souvenir prayer-book was bought. The King was ill at the time. The nine members of the 'Wicklewood Enterprise Brass Band' gave an evening of fireworks with a bonfire in December 1903 and the following March were in uniform in church for Bible Sunday. In July of the same year they led evensong on Whit Sunday together with the Foresters of 'Court Loyal Kimberley.'

Sunday School teachers received weekly instruction. Some people worked for the Society of the Propagation of the Gospel and clubbed together and drove over to Welbourne Rectory. The Girls Friendly Society was strong and Mrs Cook was made an Associate. On July the 6th 1897 the Hingham Deanery branch held its Festival at Kimberley. There were two Rural Deans in 1905, as the Hingham Deanery covered a big area and all Parishes contributed to a deanery magazine. Each had their own parson, he was the father figure, and the whole Deanery worked as a team.

In 1906 18 standard roses donated in memory of loved ones, were planted up the church path, together with creepers up the church wall. With the new gates and turnstile and the lamp in the porch the approach to the church must've looked lovely. It was intended to have 20 flower beds as well but it is not recorded whether these ever materialised. Evidently the graves rather spoilt the effect as they were being neglected.

There was a path running from the gate in Church Lane, to Hackford road. This was planted with lilacs and syringas which in their heyday look lovely, but at the time of writing have deteriorated badly.