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Village History

Village History

This page mainly contains anecdotes and memories sent in by visitors to this website
and they're well worth reading!

The Domesday book recorded Hempstead as being an outlier of the larger manor of Holt and Kelly's Directory of 1892 (amongst others) lists the village as Hempstead-by-Holt. The directories, by means of inserting one incorrect comma, list three manors within the parish when there were in fact only two - Hempstead_Losehall and Hempstead Netherhall.

HEMPSTEAD, 2 miles S. E. of Holt, is a village and parish, in a hilly district, above the vale of the Glaven containing 286 inhabitants, and about 1500 acres, of which 100 are woods and plantations, mostly belonging to Lady Suffield, of Blickling, and H. and R. H. Gurney, Esqrs.; the two latter are lords of the manors of Hempstead, Nether-Hall, and Lose-Hall. The CHURCH has a brick tower, built in 1744, and is a vicarage, valued in K. B. at £9. 6s. 8d., and augmented with £200 of Queen Anne's bounty, in 1792, laid out in land at Bodham, let for £28 per annum. Here is 15½A. of old glebe. The Rev. J. W. Methwold is incumbent, and the Dean and Chapter of Norwich are patrons and appropriators ; but Lady Suffield is lessee of the tithes. In the vale of the Glaven is a large wild fowl decoy, belonging to Mr. Gurney.
White's 1836


Court Green belonged to Red House Farm in the 1700s.

Good Old Hempstead
I have been thinking recently about the village and the changes which have taken place since I was a child in the 1930s, and decided to put pen to paper in case anyone was interested. Visually, Chapel_Lane has changed the most. 'The Knoll was a field on which there was a cricket pitch. Further up on the same side was a small wooden dwelling and then the two flint cottages. The Chapel was operative and the council houses were also built. Opposite Wayside in the Street (then the pub) were allotments for the White Horse Cottage tenants. Of course, the barns at Brownwood, Pine_Farm and Church_Farm look very different since they have been developed.

Life in the village revolved almost entirely around agriculture. Almost all of the men worked on the farms and the various seasonal activities were exciting for the local children. Harvest time was the best. All the children would gather in the fields with sticks, plus a e few adults with guns - the idea being to despatch the rabbits as they ran out of the corn. Rabbits were a very important addition to the diet, and it was equally important for the farmers to have them culled. When the sheaves were being carted to a stack, a small boy would sit on of the horses pulling the wagon. When the wagon had to move on, he would shout 'Holdyer.' This was so that the men didn’t fall off the wagon. Another bit of excitement was when the 'threshing tackle' came to thresh the corn stacks in the fields. There was the huge steam engine, the 'drum' and the elevator which was worked by a horse; all well worth watching!

The annual village fete was also exciting. I remember a competition for the children one year. You had to pick as many wild flowers as you could and display them suitably. Obviously, the child who collected the most won! There was a Bowls club, and the playing held was the green in those days. I think it was pretty active in the summer months.

Hempstead never had a shop, though a few essentials could be bought in the White_Horse. Rose Cottage was the Post Office and the letters were delivered by a lady with a bicycle. She never rode the bicycle, but pushed it all around the village and outlying farms every day. Milk was delivered from a milk float from Baconsthorpe. A van from the ironmongers in Holt came around weekly, delivering, amongst other things, the all-essential paraffin for our oil lamps. Bread was available from Hempstead Mill.

Those lucky enough to have a radio had to take their accumulator to Holt once a week to be 'recharged'. 'This mostly took place on a Friday, which was market day in Holt and an important day, locally, therefore.

If you lived in Hempstead, you either cycled or walked to Holt. There were four cars in the village, one of which was owned by the innkeeper. He supplemented his income by rabbiting with ferrets, and he took his equipment around in a very small car. He also did a bit of taxi work when required.

There was a flourishing branch of the Women's institute in the village and there seemed to be quite a few activities in the Village_Hall, including, of course, whist drives and occasional concerts. I am sure that there were very many villages in which life was much the same as in Hempstead, but which have also changed considerably.

Diana Spalton - February 2020

We descend from William Brettingham who was born in Hempstead 1640. By the time he came of age he had been orphaned and left the area, ending up in London leaving on the ship Baltmore with Captain Myles Cooke for the colony of Maryland. William's 3x great grandfather was Henry Brettingham of Baconsthorpe. His great grandfather Edmund moved to Hempstead. I’ve been researching online in hopes of narrowing down where his family lived and the description of the property I found suggests that it was at or near the “windmill” and a later record says “Puttuckhegge”.  Another parcel of interest is described as 3 acres north and 3 acres south of the millsty.
1. Ever heard of Puttuckhegge?
2. What is a millsty?

Kim Baynard, USA - 24th March 2020

I was born and raised in Hempstead 1953 to 1975 when I left after getting married. I lived at number 11 council house at the bottom of Chapel Lane and was lucky that I had many relatives living in the village. Next door at number 10 was my uncle George Doy with his wife Iris (post lady) and cousin Charles. At number 9 was my uncle Leslie Doy with his wife Dolly and cousin Roger. Furth up Chapel Road at number 4 was my uncle Fred Power with his wide Gladys, cousin Desmond, Malcolm, Maureen and Lily. Then at number 1 was my uncle Billy Doy with his wife Ruby. Elsewhere in the village in a small cottage on the way to Pond Hills was my uncle Dady Clarke with his wife Mabel and cousin Betty.
I was the local paper deliver boy from 1966 to 1969 after which I went off to Kings Lynn Technical College for a year before starting work.
I recall there being a youth club which ran each Tuesday in the village hall and there was a Monday evening salvation army youth school run at the old school down the lane towards the Old Rectory. Us boys in the village would often play in the woods surrounding the rectory after first getting permission from Colonel Shirley of course. Local freshwater fishing would take place at the Rookery pond after getting permission from Mr Harmer, the village farmer. My mother used to be a domestic for Mr Harmer when he first moved into the village. My Father was the local milkman working for Mr Seaman.

Andrew Green - 8th October 2020

If you have any memories, anecdotes or photos please let us know and we may be able to use them to update the site. Please or telephone 07836 675369

Website copyright © Jonathan Neville 2020
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