"Cawston - great church in lovely setting." Cawston by TygerLyn
Cawston Travel Guide: 2 reviews and 0 photos
Cawston has grown considerable since I lived there in the 1970's but in some ways it has shrunk. Then it had 4 pubs, (one, The Lamb was already a private house, so it originally had 5) 5 butchers, 2 builders’ yards and innumerable small shops. The Doctors Surgery was held in a redundant butchers shop and the repeat prescriptions were laid out on the marble slab in the window - no worry about patient confidentiality then! The medical staff gloried in the names of Hackett and Bones. The reason the village had so many butchers was because there was a slaughterhouse just on the edge of the village. (Now Broadlands Wine Co – then CWS – the company that make wine and beer kits). However, the nationalisation of the slaughterhouses reduced some of those considerably and by 1971 there were only 2 left.
The Vicars wife used to keep her horse in the cemetery/churchyard. And what a church it is. One of Norfolk’s many grand churches, built at a time when the county was prosperous with the money from wool manufacturing, flax production and dyes, St Agnes Church is a magnificent specimen with an unsurpassed hammer beam roof that John Betjeman pronounced as once of the finest examples in England. Carved figures stand on the projecting beans on either side, with cherubs with outstretched wings along the cornices, the bosses are finely carved, and at the east end are to be seen figures which formerly stood by the great cross above the rood screen. The Rood Screen is in very good condition, with its original doors, and a total of twenty paintings by Flemish artists of the fifteenth century.
The Rectory is quite imposing. When we first moved into the village Allen Edward Henry Rutter, who was known as Claude, was rector. It was his wife who kept the horse in the churchyard. Following him was Charles Mayhew and his wife despaired, having come from a small modern house, of ever filling this vast emporium. We all directed her to Cyril (known affectionately as One Eyed Willie) who used to get some marvellous bargains at local auctions. It is probably now The Old Rectory and is a private home and the Rector is now Priest in Charge and living in a modern house that the parishioners can afford to upkeep!
There was an annual charity and, if you fitted the criteria, the Vicar handed out a loaf of bread and a ten-shilling note. You had to stand by the opened sash window of the kitchen in the Rectory, truly giving out of alms. We were never too proud to collect ours! But, somehow, 50p doesn’t have quite the same ring as ten-shillings.
Our oldest daughter was born in Cawston
A year after we moved in we had a house fire. Stanley from Marsham's Garage stupidly threw a brick through the kitchen window and tried to put the fire out with a bucket of water! Mr Oakes had been in the ARP during the war and he had the sense to grab a bit of hardboard and board the window up. At that time the fire brigade came from Reepham and was a volunteer service and they used to summon them off the fields by winding up the old air raid siren. The volunteer fire brigade broke down in between Reepham and Cawston so the Aylsham Fire brigade was called out. By this time the whole back of the house was on fire. We had a black lab/collie cross and Ernie Howard (Ernie – Norfolk’s answer to Johnny Morris - used to do TV programmes about wildlife in Norfolk - hence Howard’s Way in the village) went in with the fire brigade to try and rescue the dog. The dog was at my mother-in laws! In the meantime, the Reepham fire brigade got the engine started and they only got paid if they turned up so they arrived when the fire was out, hacked a hole into my beautiful original Georgian front door, rampaged around the house and gouged huge holes out of my lovely handmade by my uncles father yew sideboard! They did more damage than the fire. I still have the gouges made by their fire hose in my sideboard.
After the dog that was nearly rescued from the fire died, we got an English Setter. Henry was beautiful, so handsome, but definitely 99p short of a £1. Anything he couldn't cope with, like another dog approaching, someone he didn't know, a piece of wood falling from a tree, the sea moving (!) washing flapping on a line, - he fainted. Just like a Victorian maiden aunt, his eyes rolled back & he fell to the ground. Everyone loved him. The bus would come along Norwich Road, he would sit in the middle of the road, the bus would stop, Henry would get on, all the old boys would doff their caps & say "Marnin, Enry", the bus would start again & go into the village centre. People would root in their shopping bags & find him a treat as they got off. He would wait on the bus until everyone got back on & he would be dropped off at the corner again. There is/was a conservatory on the front of the old house, we used to open the door very early in the morning & when Heather delivered the milk, he would jump into her mini van & do the rounds with her. How the two of them & all the milk crates managed to cram in there I don’t know. He was always back in time to sit in the road & pick up the first bus! All dogs can swim, not Henry. He would try & jump out of the water; it was like a demented kangaroo. He couldn’t cock his leg; he would cock the back one & then the front & fall over. One day we were walking on Ringland Hills, Henry bounding along in front of us, & we reached the plateau at the top only to be faced with a group of people filming. Henry stopped, we turned away calling him & that moment John Cleese stepped out from behind a bush dressed as Attila the Hun, all 6ft 4 of him covered in rabbits feet, fox furs & bits of cloth. And guess what? Henry fainted. The Continuity girls rushed over & petted him & John Cleese said, “Can he do that again”? We said, “As long as his heart holds out – yes, he can do it again”. So Henry spent an hour fainting at John Cleese & being brought round by two pretty continuity girls. “Can he do anything else?” asked the producer as Henry tried to wee against a bush & fell over. “It’s more a case of what he can’t do” said Bob “Like that!” “He can’t swim.” I said. “Come back tomorrow” said the producer. So the next day they did the Pantomime Dame scene & just at the bit where they all (Cleese, Palin, Jones etc) fell back into the water, we threw Henry in behind them. It was less than 3 ft deep but Henry panicked & started kangaroo leaping out of the water. Then Ernie Howard got a part in a short-lived TV serial, which was the forerunner of Emmerdale called Weavers Green. So Henry went as well, Ernie pedalling on his bike over to Salle & Henry running beside him Henry’s speciality in that was to watch Ernie & the rest of the “stars” sit in the pub with a pint & eat crisps. Henry would put his head of the table & a big pool of drool would spread over it & then he would shake his head & the drool would wind itself round his muzzle. We knew he could do that because he did it every mealtime at home! Although Henry amazingly survived his fainting fits, eating through the Christmas tree lights (plugged in and on!) etc, he had to be put down before he was two as he had meningitis & he really did go loopy then.
- Pros:A higgedly piggedly village of character
- Cons:Bit too big now
- In a nutshell:Happy memories for me
If you want to know more about Cawston do look at the Parish Councils excellent web site. It is crammed full of... more travel advice
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