West Dereham Sign Gary Trouton


March 2009

Report from the West Dereham heritage Group

We held our first meeting of 2009 at our usual venue, the Village Hall at 7.30pm on January the 15th. There were 11 members present and at least 4 new faces, one of whom decided to join us and became a member.

The subject was of a general nature with discussion on future meetings and visits. Some members were of the opinion that we should buy the Ordnance Survey maps of the Village. The first survey was in 1884 but not published until 1890 and can only be obtained in a scale of one inch to one mile. The best by far is the revised edition which was published in 1904 and is 25.3 inches to the mile and for the study of old buildings and ancient sites the most practical. Richard has shown us the copies he has before and they retail at £25.00 per map. We would need 8 to cover the entire Village. It was suggested that we should put in for a grant to purchase the maps and later have them laminated but no decision was made.

Paddy was able to tell us about his project of plotting all the known field names. For this he intends to use the 1884 survey map overlaid over a current one. Most of the old field boundaries are still intact although some of the smaller fields have gone, no doubt ploughed out during the years 1938 -43 when the war made it necessary to create bigger fields to accommodate bigger farm machines. A lot of this was also done during the late 1960 and 70s when the Common Agriculture Policy made corn growing profitable. Field names were common in the 18th and 19th centuries when crop rotations became good husbandry. It enabled the farmer and land owner to keep his workers informed as to what would be planted in each field. A few examples mentioned are, Turkeycote, Toads Hole, Homestall, The Chase, Town Close, Walnut 20, Honeypot, Pikgle piece, (not sure this is the correct spelling) I was always told that this was a small odd shaped field of less than 5 acres. As one very well known Norfolk farmer told me in 1952, "As all scoots boy". Paddy is keen to get these recorded because they are no longer used and are soon forgotten.

Recording of Village life by using an Audio system was again discussed with Pam talking about of her recent enquiries. I got the impression there was some doubt as to it's feasibility owing to a lot of peoples reluctance to speak into a microphone and the initial cost of the equipment. This will be a subject for further debate.

Someone also raised the question of the Village allotments and what little I know is that the land was purchased under the 1892 Allotments Act by the Parish Council.

The land was probably offered voluntarily although the Government could make a compulsory purchase order if no land was offered. The Tenancy Register for West Dereham started in 1908 with an area of just over 20 acres of which there are 8 garden allotments and measure approximately 11 yards wide and 75 yards long. The rest of the area was divided up into 1 and 2 acre plots and the income obtained is used for the Village precept. Up to 1998 most of these were tenanted by villagers but it became increasingly difficult to get anyone to take them on and it was decided by the Parish Council to offer the main area to a local farmer to crop commercially. Up until 2004 they were ony 3 garden plots being used, the rest were waist high in weeds. At that time I suggested to the then Council that I take on the vacant plots and clean them up so that they could be brought back into cultivation the following year. This attracted new tenants in 2005 some of whom were successful with there cultivations, others fell by the wayside. This year has seen all 8 plots let and I have started a waiting list.

Richard C. French

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