West Dereham Heritage Group

Aims and Objectives
• To learn more about the local area
• To research and record the past of our village
• To co-operate with other local heritage groups for mutual benefit and to share information
• To assist in the preservation of our local street scene.
November of this year will be the 15th Anniversary of our Heritage Group. The idea arose from a general meeting that was held in the old school in 2005 to see what people would like to take place in their village. Along with suggestions to improve the village hall, quite a few people thought there should be a group that would look into the history of our village. The following are examples of our famous historic links:-
• West Dereham has the remains of a Premonstratensian Abbey built by the former Chief Justiciar of England and Archbishop of Canterbury, Hubert Walter, c1160-1205. Hubert Walter is generally acknowledged to have been born in West Dereham. The Abbey was granted a weekly Wednesday market and the right to hold an annual four day fair, starting on St Matthew’s Day, 21st September, by King John in 1199.
• Elias of Dereham also born in the village; c1165-1245 with links during his lifetime to Hubert Walter. Elias was a canon at Salisbury Cathedral from its foundation in 1220 for 25 years at the same time acting as project manager/fund raiser; this was only part of his life’s great achievements.
• Also there are the links to the Dereham family itself; most infamously Francis Dereham who was executed at Tyburn on 8th December 1541 owing to his alleged affair with Henry VIII’s wife, Catherine Howard.
So a few people decided to take the idea further and set up the first meeting. The inaugural meeting was held on 30th November 2005. Early meetings included a speaker from Gressenhall talking about the village’s archaeological past, local slide show and a visit to the Denver Sluice complex. With the refurbishment of the Village Hall we were fortunate to obtain space for a dedicated Heritage Room; this is open to all by prior arrangement (under normal circumstances). Some members successfully applied for a £12,000 grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund which enabled the equipping of the room. Further to our Lottery bid the group held an Open Day, when the Heritage Room was officially opened by Dr Paul Richards on 7th July 2012, and two successful junior training days.
Every year since we have managed to organise a full and varied programme of speakers and events that always include a summer and Christmas social event. We have had coach outings to Sutton Hoo, the ‘Lost Villages’, Bletchley Park and the last working shoe factory in Norwich, Van-Dal. At members’ requests we incorporate ‘round the table’ sessions where local history memories and ideas are exchanged. We have participated in local heritage events and made links with other local history groups as well as printing several of our own booklets and our magazine ‘Both Ends’. We have our own recording equipment and our always keen to record local people’s memories. The work still goes on to glean what information we can about our local history. Members obtained permission to visit the Keyser Workroom in the Archaeological Museum, Cambridge to view a figure, believed to be that of one of the Abbots of West Dereham Abbey, which had once been in The Church of the Holy Trinity, Cambridge.
Our recent launched Facebook page is proving to be not only a link with past memories but a means of people keeping in touch and reminiscing during these difficult days.
We hope to get back to our normal routine as soon as the government allows, and would like to take this opportunity to wish all our Heritage Group members, Facebook followers, supporters and Pump readers the best of health.
Pam Bullas
Secretary, West Dereham Heritage Group

Out of the Frying Pan into the Fire

It had been a delightful Springtime, that is the month of February in Andalucia , Southern Spain. We had been staying there to evade the dreadful weather the UK was experiencing, feeling not smug but grateful as we watched the BBC Look East and Channel 4 News, realising that our friends and family were suffering under the gloom. In fact the only glitch in this brilliant weather was the sad demise of our 17 year old Volvo whose automatic gearbox decided to break; a replacement in Southern Spain, not noted for Volvo dealerships was going to take weeks and would be more costly than the value of the car. We bought a cheap and cheerful Opel Zafira which actually proved to be more practical in accommodating my electric scooter than the venerable Volvo.
News had been breaking for several weeks about the situation in Wuhan and that it had spread rapidly to South Korea and Singapore and over parts of China. I wondered what happened or was happening to North Korea? Would the enforced prohibition or international travel play to their advantage? We watched with increasing concern what was happening to Northern Italy. But we thought Italy is a relatively wealthy country with a functioning healthcare system, separated from the rest of Europe by the Alps and Spain is by the Mediterranean and the Pyrenees. But we all forget about the ubiquitous airline travel and how border controls that have been abandoned since the EU was instituted, enabled unlimited cross border travel. We felt safely safe tucked away in Southern Spain hundreds of miles away from the centres of the Covid 19 action. Doreen celebrated her 75th birthday on the 11th March and we had a deliciously long lunch and a walk by the sea before spending a quiet evening watching TV. The next day the weather broke and rumours were circulating that the dreaded virus had been rapidly spreading in Madrid. The local Spanish were furious with the Madrilenos as the wealthy ones were escaping the city to stay at their second homes down on the Mediterranean coast, bringing the virus with them, whether they knew it or not. Our son Rupert decided that he would ride his Triumph triple Sport motorbike crossing to Santander, across Spain to rescue us. Then he would drive us back up through Spain and France in our Opel but that plan was soon wrecked by France and then Spain closing their borders.
As the days ticked by it was becoming clear that the Spanish were going to be taking no chances and, on the 13th March, an effectual martial law was instigated. All the beaches were roped off, no-one was allowed out unless going shopping, to the doctors or pharmacies. Going for casual walking exercise or cycling was banned, being enforced by the local police force. It was prohibited for more than one person to ride in a car, i.e. the driver. The police were stationed at the big supermarkets fining people who were going food shopping as a couple, the fine being a Draconian €6oo. The streets were patrolled by loudspeaker vans warning people to stay indoors and maintain the 2 metre separation, which is anathema to most Spanish who like the Italians are very tactile in their personal behaviour. We had previously booked our return flight on the 5th April , but as we watched the TV news we realised that airports around the World were being closed, Mr. Trump decided he didn’t like Chinese exports after all, and we started checking out Ryanair for an earlier flight. Eventually we got a booking on Friday 20th March at quite a reasonable rate. Breathing little sighs of relief, it suddenly dawned on us that our British friend, who is resident in Spain, would not be able to take us to the airport as usual, risking a €600 fine. Doreen called the local town hall to ask if there were any taxis in the vicinity that could take wheelchair passengers. We had never ever seen one and as a disabled person one is automatically on the lookout for such things, so we had little hope. The lady at the town hall was brilliant. Although she did not know herself about a suitable taxi, within a couple of hours she called us back with the number of a local taxi service designed to take wheelchairs and still maintain a 2 metre separation from each other. She warned us that we could not be 3 people in a car as there was heavy police patrol on the roads. She even wondered if Murcia airport may have closed by then! We were filled with trepidation the whole week worrying whether Ryanair like easyJet were to ground all their aircraft. Then Doreen in her best Spanish called the taxi service and wonder upon wonder they were very accommodating and promised to collect us at 4.00 pm on that Friday. Giving people directions to places over the phone is a business fraught with misunderstanding as the postcode for our place covers about 10 square kilometres, so one has to resort to; “do you know where the Riding School is on the seafront opposite Thomas’s little supermarket well, we are in the street behind that up the Parata hill and left into calle Alegria”. We spent the week packing and cooking for ourselves as there were no cafes or restaurants open. The weather had turned dismal and we were in a pretty dark place mentally. Although the guy on the phone seemed to understand where we were, when the day came, I went down into the street on my electric scooter and watched for any sort of taxi. Spot on at 4.00 pm a large white Ford Transit type people carrier appeared from the opposite direction sporting a large green TAXI sign on the roof. I waved to the driver who rushed up did a u-turn in the middle of the road and out jumped a rather “chunky lady” fully PPE-ed except for the eye protectors. She opened the rear doors of the van and unfolded a large ramp up which I had to drive myself on the scooter. Clearly, I was to ride the whole way on my scooter anchored to the van with an additional seat belt for me. Doreen was in a normal seat just in front of me, which meant that we and the driver were separated by at least 2 metres. This was fine until we went over the first of many speed bumps in the road when my head made painful contact with the roof of the van. We passed unheeded through the village as we could see the police busy interrogating a group of people. Our driver was very competent particularly when negotiating roundabouts which she took at speed such that I, seated rather high on my scooter, had to lean into each corner as if riding in the Isle of Man TT. We arrived in good time at the airport in exchange for €200 and made our way into the Departure Hall to contact the Assistance Desk. We were so relieved to learn that there would be an Ambi-lift available as I was not relishing the climb up the steps into the rear of the aircraft. The place was almost deserted as all the shops except for those selling bottled water at extortionate prices, so we ate our sandwiches and read our books. Time now passed slowly, the sky darkened and at last we could see the lights of our approaching aircraft. The only one on the Departures Board. We were ushered to our seats and donned our face masks and our slightly modified snorkel masks covering our eyes. What a pair we looked.
The flight was pleasantly uneventful and really was the very last flight out of Murcia. Upon arrival Stansted there was an Ambi-lift to take us off the aircraft and my scooter had also made the trip although for some strange reason the ground crew couldn’t find it in the hold. We knew it went in so why wasn’t it coming out? Even the Ambi-lift driver went over to assist and eventually it appeared. How one can mislay an electric scooter in the hold of a medium sized aircraft is quite beyond me.
Doreen had managed to order a Tesco delivery on-line from Spain but 3 days after our return to Norfolk, the government instigated our own UK lock-down. To start with we had no fears of this as we had endured a week’s worth of military lock-down in Spain. We have lovely neighbours who have helped us collecting our medications and food supplies. We are making use of “Norfolk in a Box” and Goddards of Downham and have come back to sparkling Spring sunshine and flowers.
However, the sad news every day of so many people dying and the hospitals and care staff not being able to get the correct protective equipment is terrible when they are putting their lives at risk for the people of this country. The dilemma of when and how to come out of this lockdown remains a problem for us and Europe too. It seems that those of us with underlying health issues will have another 9 weeks at least to survive like this.
It is sad that there are no concerts or shows to see or holidays to plan, but we will just hunker down and wait patiently for the worst to pass. It will never completely pass as the virus will be around now for millennia. So, we will just urge the biochemists to come up will a vaccine as we trust that they will and we shall sleep easier in our beds.

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West Dereham Parish Council Meeting March 2020


PRESENT (Six Councillors):- Tom Foy (TF), Stuart Glover (SB), Tim Glover (TG), Keith Gore (KG), Lorraine
Hunt (LH) Chair and Susan Pepper (SP)
In attendance: Councillor Brian Long (BL), Peter King, Parish Clerk, and 6 members of the public.
The Chair welcomed Tim Glover as a new Parish Councillor, Councillor Brian Long (BCKLWN & NCC) and everyone present to the Parish Council Meeting.
1. Apologies for absence: None received.
2. Declarations of interest on agenda items
The Parish Councillors confirmed that they had no personal interests for items coming up on the agenda.
3. Notice regarding use of social media, audio recording of Parish Council meeting and invitation for public contributions.
LH apologised that she had made a mistake at the last meeting in that the Parish Council has a Reporting Policy whereby the Chair of the meeting asks if ‘anybody present is going to be recording,
blogging or tweeting?’. Nobody present stated that they would be. LH noted that the meeting is audio recorded to assist the Parish Clerk in the writing of the minutes.
4. Minutes of the Parish Council Meeting held on 6th February 2020
LH confirmed that all Councillors had seen the minutes of the Parish Council meeting held on 6th February 2020. The Councillors agreed that they were content that the minutes should be signed as a true record. LH as Chair signed the minutes.
5. Matters Arising
5.1 Ditches, Church Road – The Parish Clerk reported that he had received an information document from Rocklands Parish Council that had in the past, been circulated to their villagers who had been affected by problems of flooding in their local ditches. The Parish Clerk noted that he had been previously advised by Norfolk County Council Flood Department (NCC-FD) to expect receipt of this document. The Parish Clerk added that the document did not address the original problem in Church
Road, that of effluent appearing in the ditches from an unknown source, so had contacted NCC-FD to identify what the latest position was.
5.2 Parish Cemetery, boundary trees – The Parish Clerk issued an apology that he had been led to believe that the trees on the boundary of the cemetery had been fully cut back, as reported at the February Parish Council meeting. The Parish Clerk commented that he had received a message from a Parishioner on 18th February regarding the matter and that he had then contacted the grounds maintenance company who had agreed to complete the necessary work. The Parish Clerk added that the work had not taken place and he would contact the company again to resolve the matter. The
Parish Clerk noted that the grounds maintenance company had been asked to carry out additional hedge trimming along the side of the farm tenancy in Hilgay Road. SG commented that much of the work had been carried out, however there was still foliage around the telegraph poles that needed to be removed.

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