THE ANCIENT VILLAGE OF HICKLING
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HICKLING has a long and fascinating history, extending for more than a thousand years.
William the Conqueror's Doomsday Book, 1086, refers to the Village as Hikelinga, and mentions a Church being here - noting that Godwin, a free man of Edric of Laxfield' s, held Hickling before 1066.
Hickling Priory, some distance from the Parish Church towards Sea Palling, was founded in 1185. The Priory was granted a Charter by King John, in 1204, to hold a weekly market. The market took place near St. Mary's Parish Church for some five hundred years. (The Priory ruins are on private land and are not open to the public.)
The building of the present Parish Church began in the early twelve hundreds. Work continued into the next century, with later additions and restorations.
In 1287 a great flood engulfed the Village, and 180 people were drowned. The waters rose a foot above the high altar of the Priory Church. Less than a century later, in 1349, the Black Death struck. At the Priory only two of the Canons were left alive, and more than half the population of the Village must have died.
During the Middle Ages peat was dug from the marshes for fuel; the diggings later flooding to form the Broads. Hickling Broad, the largest and wildest of the Norfolk Broads, has for a long time played an important part in the social and commercial life of the Village; and Hickling is internationally famous for its wetland nature reserve.
Agriculture has always been a major feature of rural life in Hickling, and it continues to be so today, though many fewer people now work on the land than formerly.
Both Stubb Mill, an important drainage mill, and Hickling Mill, near the Methodist Chapel, date from the early nineteenth century. Hickling Mill was described in 1819 as a handsome new mill. It had eight floors and three pairs of French stones, being capable of producing 4320 stones of wheat in a week.
In 1818 it is recorded that 12 children were being taught under a bequest by the Rev. John Wells (Vicar from 1769) for the education of poor children. In 1839 there was a Charity School with 20 boys and 25 girls; and the present Hickling School was opened in 1861, designed to accommodate 70 children. The School House, to house the Head Teacher, was built in 1879.
At one time there were at least four licensed premises in the Village. As well as The Greyhound and The Pleasure Boat, both flourishing today, there was The White Horse at the Green and The Bull near the Church.
The present Village playing field was bought in 1937 to mark the Coronation of King George VI, father of our present Queen.
The Royal Family has shown an affection for Hickling over the years. King George V and King George VI visited the Village and Whiteslea Lodge. One occasion in 1959 is well remembered when, because Whiteslea Lodge was flooded, the Duke of Edinburgh and Charles, Prince of Wales, stayed at The Pleasure Boat Inn. The Prince of Wales was in Hickling in 2001 to visit the Nature Reserve.
Hickling Local History Group was established in June 2000 to promote a
greater knowledge of the history of Hickling.
Group formed an archive of documents, illustrations, records, etc. about
However, many of the results of the Group’s research and publication can be seen on the website “Hickling History”
History of Hickling in Brief
1185 An Augustinian Priory, some half a mile from this Church, was founded by Theobald de Valoins.
1204 The Priory's foundation was confirmed by King John, who also granted a Friday market to the Priory.
1209 About this time, and certainly during the first half of the thirteenth century, the Present Parish Church (then called All Saints) was begun.
1287 In a violent storm, in December, the sea burst in, no fewer than nine score people being drowned in Hickling.
1349 The Black Death struck, and many villagers died. Two Priors succumbed to the plague on successive days and only two Canons were left alive. One of these, a novice, was elected Priory.
1400 The bell tower of the Priory collapsed.
1536 Religious houses throughout the kingdom, including Hickling Priory, were dissolved under Henry VIII.
1542 The Priory was granted by the Crown to Sir William Wodehouse. Henceforth the Parish Church is called St Mary's.
1568 The present chalice (inscribed 'This Cup is for the Toune of Hicklynge') and cover were presented and first used.
1653 The Church Registers - of baptisms, marriages, and burials - are complete from this date, and are now held at the Norfolk Record Office.
1700 Hickling Hall, to the north-west of the Church, was built.
1825. . . The last remaining window of Hickling Priory was taken down. Over the centuries the Priory had decayed and had been used as a quarry for building stone.
1834.. Foundation of Primitive Methodist Society in Hickling. Later there were Primitive and Wesleyan Methodist chapels in the Village.
1849 The Vicarage ('The Old Vicarage' opposite the Church) was built by the Rev. Sotherton Nathaniel Micklethwait, at a cost of £1,400.
1860/1 .. Hickling Diocesan School, now Hickling Church of England Voluntary Controlled School, was built (cost £420); and enlarged in 1874 and 1886.
1875/6 .. The chancel and nave of Church was restored at a cost of £2,450, largely paid for by the Vicar. the Rev. Micklethwait.
1879 The School House was built at a cost of £300 paid for by H.N.S. Micklethwait Esq., Patron of the Living.
1882 The Primitive Methodist Chapel (the present Methodist Chapel) was rebuilt.
1883 The Wesleyan Methodist Chapel, near the present Rest Homes, was rebuilt. It has since been demolished, the Deed of Union having brought the two Methodist congregations together.
1910 The Church Hall was built, and later sold in 1975 to Hickling Parish Council. It is now the Community Hall, near the School.
1974.. Hickling Village Sign was erected and unveiled, (incorporating representations of Hickling Priory, the crafts of reed cutting and peat digging, and the swallowtail butterfly and the bittern). The base was built with flint stones from the north wall of the churchyard.
2004.. Commemoration of the 800th anniversary of the confirmation of the foundation of Hickling Priory and the grant of a weekly Friday market by King John.
Please click HERE to visit the Hickling History Website