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The Book of Hethersett

A special glossy book on the history of the village was published in November 2002, priced at 19.95.

The book is a large format (A4) 160-page hardback containing over 200 photographs, maps, drawings and other illustrations.

It was put together by the Hethersett Society Research Group and published by Halsgrove.

The book celebrates the past and provides a stepping stone to the future. It also is a reminder of people and events that have made Hethersett what it is today.

Many of the photographs are previously unpublished.

Driving along the busy A 11 into Norwich from Thetford, the motorist may notice signs to Hethersett. The road bypasses the village and only the square tower of the Medieval church with its tiny steeple is visible across the fields. The settlement was mentioned in the Domesday Book as having one mill, two churches as well as meadows and woodland. Records of even earlier times are kept at the Norfolk Rural Life Museum at Gressenhall. In the late eighteenth century, Norwich merchants built their substantial country seats here, with the turnpike giving easy access to the city just six miles away. It was a self-sufficient community with fewer than 100 houses and a population of just under 700, most of whom worked on the land or as servants.

Hethersett still has some of its historic buildings intact but today's visitor will notice the bungalows and houses of the 1960s and 70s, the infilling of the gardens of older properties and the later developments of Steepletower and Henstead Green. In 2002 there are approximately 2230 households and 5410 inhabitants. Most commute to work, with many being employed at the University of East Anglia, the new hospital, the expanding research park at Colney and in financial services in Norwich. The village is well served with schools, health-care facilities, a library, shops and a business centre, while various societies cater for all ages and a wide ranger of interests.

A COMMUNITY PROJECT

The Hethersett Amenity Society, now the Hethersett Society, was founded in 1971. A member, Gwen Hughes, produced three booklets on Hethersett history. Sketches for one of these by the secretary, Nora Pearson, led her to complete a set of drawings of our listed buildings and an illustrated map in colour, showing village development since c1900. These were donated to the Society in 1997.

Having obtained a grant from the Norfolk Rural Community Council, the map was published in 1998. Meanwhile archive material was being collected and a parish archivist appointed, based in Hethersett Library, where the original map now hangs.

As the Society's millennium project, a group was formed to research the history of the buildings shown in Nora's drawings and sales of the map enabled their findings to be published as Hethersett Heritage. A National Lottery Millennium Awards for All grant led to the archive being professionally catalogued and published. To see the archive Click Here.

I was asked to contribute an article on the history of education and schools in Hethersett for the Book of Hethersett. Necessity meant that my final article had to be edited down. You can read the full version by clicking here.