Historical Society

Massingham Historical Society

Old Church 2


Massingham Historical Society meets on the third Monday of the month (from January 2020), at the Village Hall from 7.30 until 9 pm.  Please come along and join us. No meetings for the time being due to the current crisis.

Chairman – Peter James – 01485 521706

Historical Society and VE Day Celebrations.

Firstly, many thanks to Malcolm Tibble for his talk entitled ‘Navigating a Shackleton & How it Differs From a Lancaster’ at the recent meeting of the Historical Society, on Monday 16th March. The talk was well attended and will be the last meeting, for the time being, of the Society, due to the current crisis.

Both the Village Hall and the Society had planned to hold a joint special event on the 8th May, all day at the Village Hall, to celebrate the 75th Anniversary of VE Day (Victory in Europe). This, as we now know, is to be put on hold.

The Historical Society had also made arrangements to light the beacon on the green as part of the UK wide celebrations, in the evening, at 9.30pm on the 8th May. This is also now on hold.

It is now hoped that VJ Day (Victory in Japan), in August, might be the day to celebrate this year, in more ways than one. We’ll just have to hope! Watch this space!

                                       Well! Well! Well! New Sign Tells All

A joint venture between the Parish Council and Great Massingham Historical Society, to explain the history of our village well, has come to fruition. Some of you will have noticed the new sign fixed at the well  to explain its history. This project was part of the Historical Society’s wish to provide information for people about our village history. The Society thanks the Parish Council for its support with this project.

The inscription reads as follows:

You are standing in front of a Reproduction Well

which was built a year after the Queen’s Silver Jubilee 1978.

Originally, it was boarded in with a large circular handle which drew up a bucket of water.

History has it as deep as the Church tower is tall, 129ft, but it is actually 96 ft deep

                                                                with only 10ft of water in the bottom

                                                 The Village is spring fed via the chalk aquifers below ground.’

Great Massingham Historical Society meets the third Monday of the month, at 7.30pm, at the Village Hall.

New members are always welcome.

Please come along.  



Monday 20th May   (Please note the change of date)

At the Village Hall 


We have a guest speaker, Mr Stephen Pope, who will give a talk on ‘The Village Craftsmen’, after the AGM.

Member FREE, visitors,£2. Please see poster right.




Message from the Chairman January 2019:

The 2019 calendar has proved to be a great success, running to two printings & still selling out by the 1st December! Special thanks are due to the doctors’ surgery & especially Mark in the Village Stores for promoting this so well.

At the January meeting, we were treated to a slide show by Ant Robinson featuring old views of the village. From these, illustrations have been selected by members for the 2010 calendar. When spring finally arrives(!) I will get out with a camera to record the present day views for a direct comparison, as this idea has proved to be very popular with both members, villagers & visitors alike.
The proposed sign giving a history of the village well is now seeking quotes for its manufacture & the Parish Council have offered a 50% contribution to the funding of this.
It is proposed to have four speakers for meetings over the course of the year. Some ideas have already been discussed & as soon as bookings are made they will of course be advertised here.
Peter A. James.

Message from our Chairman November 18 –

Thank you for your support at our recent events.  I am pleased to advise that our 2019 calendars have sold out!

Our meeting on the 10th of December will include a talk by Peter Gunn entitled “Aviation Landmarks”.  Peter is an expert on the history of our Norfolk Airfields and this will be a very interesting and informative talk. “Norfolk and Suffolk are bursting with aviation heritage, having played key roles in military aviation through the two world wars and beyond. Notable landmarks include airfields past and present, traces of former radar stations, decoy airfields and other sites which were once highly secretive”


Members free, Guests £2.00


The welcome return of our President:

Massingham Post Mill

1797   Faden’s Map of Norfolk            No mention

1826   Bryant’s Map of Norfolk            Mill shown

1836   White’s, Miller (& Baker)        Thomas Priest

1845   White’s,  “            “                                “           “

1854   White’s,                    No mention

1868   Harrod’s Miller & Baker            Richard Fisher

1875   Kelly’s, Brewer & Miller            William Smith

1879   Kelly’s, Miller                Jacob Bartle

1883   Kelly’s, Miller (Wind)            James Buckenham

1888   Kelly’s, Miller                Robert Ellis

1892   Kelly’s, Miller                William Stebbing

1895   Auctioned 24th July by William Henry Stebbing

1900   Kelly’s,                    No mention

1916   Kelly’s                    No mention

1929   Kelly’s   Site now owned by Reginald Elijah Palmer, Steam Rolling             & Haulage Contractor. Tel No. Massingham 12.

On this basis, the Mill existed for c. 68 years.

A note with a drawing by A. Copeman quotes “Owned by a Mr Fysh, he then went to the Water Mill at Newton where Dick Joice lives. Only job old Chit? Copeman was known to have.”

Gt. Massingham Post Mill burnt down during first World War”



The site these days is overgrown, but is accessible, with permission. Nothing is left of the Mill as it was all built on timber. However, the Mill House & Outbuildings can be seen & traced as they stand up to a foot above the ground.

Also accessible in the SW corner is the Air Raid Shelter! The steps down are roofed over with a section of a Steam Engine’s Boiler! Rivets included work of Mr.Palmer.

There are more stories about James Buckenhams’ time when another death occurred at the Mill & I haven’t told you about the other yet, so watch this space.

Ant Robinson


The children of the school provided the illustrations for the 2018 Calendar and very good they are too.
We are pleased to say our President, Ant Robinson, is now home from the hospital and recovering.

Ant was able to compose the captions to go with the pictures.

Great Massingham Historical Society update – August 17

Firstly, apologies for the lack of news from the society lately. This has been due to several changes and other unforeseen events, details of which follow.

At the AGM in May, it was proposed that the Chairman, Anthony Robinson, should fill the post of President & Archivist of the Society. This was unanimously accepted, leaving the post of Chairman, responsible for the day to day running of the society vacant. Peter James was proposed and elected to fill this post.

The AGM was followed by a short quiz about the present village to see how observant members were. Perhaps not surprisingly, this was won by Anthony Robinson!

Since then, Anthony Robinson has been suddenly taken seriously ill, leaving the society partially leaderless. But I am happy to report that he is making a slow but steady recovery and I am sure that he will be back with us, imparting his great store of knowledge and enthusiasm soon.

The June meeting featured an excellent illustrated talk from a newcomer to both the village and the society, entitled, “Local Ecclesiastical Architecture, from the Norman Conquest to the Glorious Revolution.”  Well illustrated by images from both our two, plus other local churches, this event was well attended and much appreciated by all who came along.

At the Church Fete, we had a display in the church featuring RAF Great Massingham. Also, Denys Winner provided a slide show of aerial images of the village and surrounding area taken from his new toy, a camera drone!

At our next two meetings, we hope to have guest speakers telling us about childhood life in the village from nearly seventy years ago and then a slide show of aerial views of our village.

The ongoing project at the moment is a survey of all the existing and original well sites within the village. Many of these have disappeared completely, but their original location is at least known. If anyone knows of a well or the site of one, please let us know as we would like to both record it and photograph its location for future historians.

Looking further ahead, ideas for guest speakers are being investigated, a village calendar is once again planned, involving the local school children, displays for next year’s fete and an updated guide to the parish are all being planned.

Peter James.

Chairman, Great Massingham Historical Society.



The Lovat Scouts were a Scottish Highland Mounted Brigade on small Highland Horses, known to be stationed in Hunstanton & may be in Massingham or Houghton Hall.

This was all new news to me! The Great Massingham Historical Society had a Display at Docking’s May Bank Holiday Historical meet. It was fantastic, like-minded villages displayed their records for all to peruse.

It was strange that nobody was looking at our photos etc. but we all were saying, “Oh, I’ve got some stuff for you” bit like a Stock Exchange!

Then I was handed a folder containing 2 years’ worth of WW1 history totally unknown to us of the Massingham’s (1915/16). Pictures of the 1/2nd Lovat Scouts in Massingham, a photo of 25 Scouts watering their ponies in the Post Office Pit! Also, a Scout on a Motor Bike on Station Road looking north. The amazing thing is the 3 Twinned Chimney Stacks on the Fox & Pheasant, (10 foot tall)

The photos are poor quality so will be trying to get better from their Museum.

Then there are all the Press cuttings describing Concerts, Sport Competitions’, Wedding, Bag Piping, Smoking Competitions. All held in the Club Room behind Rose & Crown, a Barn in Little Massingham, and our School.

All these events were attended by the Local Dignitaries, Dewar, McAnnally, Dring & many more.

Barrack House is now confirmed as their Barracks. There were large amounts of buildings behind here & if you look in the Wall down the Lane there is a bricked-up Arch. It’s just the right size for a Scout on his Pony to enter the Yard beyond.

What a rare find, we will pull it altogether & publish a book.

This is the what our Society is about, finding & recording your Villages History.

Ant Robinson                             Image result for the lovat scouts                         Image result for the lovat scouts


The Historical Society has had a very good year. Meetings at The Village Hall, not in my Studio! We are ploughing through the Archives, familiarising ourselves with all that has accumulated over many years. Last month we had a Guest Speaker, Philip West, speaking about farming in this area over many years. It was very well attended. We had an eclectic/retro Raffle with prizes such as a Rolls Royce Hub Cap, Woodfords Ale Chalk Board and An Elvis Presley 78 LP Record to name but some of the ‘wonderful’ prizes!  We produced one hundred 2017 Calendars and have sold out!  Hope you enjoyed the historical contents.

We have been looking at old Maps of the Parish but lack very old ones as they’re held by Houghton or Holkham and require a lot of money to peruse. Our next Project is to record all the wells in both Great and Little Massingham so, if you have one, let us know.

Thank all for your support.

Ant Robinson – Chairman

Village Historical Walk At least twenty people joined the Historical Society walk on the 22nd April led by our ‘local history expert’ Ant Robinson. Ant travelled in style as you can see from the picture left although I think there were some issues with the controls! It was an interesting walk offering much historical information about our village. Thanks Ant.

Massingham Historical Society Proudly presents an illustrated talk by historian Philip West entitled: Farming In The Past –  a popular talk particularly for those who remember summers in the harvest fields. Philip takes us through the farming procedure prior to the 1960’s including muck carts, ploughing and harvesting. The export of grain from the North Norfolk Coast and uses of corn are also included.

35_14407                harvest9

Over 100 slides will be shown. Please come along and support.

At Great Massingham Village Hall on Monday the 12th of December at 7.00pm – £3 on the door.

Please come along. Raffle, Bar and 2017 calendars on sale

The first calendar is now available for 2017 

These calendars have been prepared using pictures from our village archives are pictured above. They will make excellent Christmas presents and cost £6.25. On sale from the Village Store and at various village events.

1851 Census


History Walk

On Saturday, 17 September about 30 people of all ages and several canines met at the well for a most enjoyable stroll around the village led by Ant Robinson on his trusty mechanical steed.

We heard about a few of the past inhabitants and some of the changes to the houses on the route which took in The John Morton Crescent, North View, Weasenham Road and the tour finished at The Dabbling Duck.

During the afternoon, Mike Jackson said a few words about the bio-diversity project which is well worth a visit as it is a wonderful example of how self-help and external funding can create a quiet haven for wildlife – birds, insects and plants. Could you identify many of the 100 plus species growing there?

On the way, we were all treated to a cheery wave from Miriam Flower. Who needs to go to Rio when you have a 99 year old inspiration living in the village?

Although the weather was kind to us, it turned a little chilly and the finishing line at the Duck was much appreciated by all.

We will be running similar events next year once the fine weather returns. There is so much more to look at in the village and we hope to see as many people next time. In the meantime, the Historical Society meets in the Village Hall on the second Monday of each month at 7.30pm (except November). Annual membership is an incredibly low £10 so please come along.

Thanks to Ant for running this event. If any long-term resident has photos, anecdotes, etc we would love to hear from you.

Malcolm Tibble


Massingham Historical Society AGM May 2016 (1)

March 2016

History Society gets a revamp

The Great Massingham Historical Society is having a revamp with a view to making available our collection of material to more people and to encourage active participation in discovering our village’s past.

We have a committee, a formal constitution and a plan for the future. We just need more members. That’s where you come in!

You may remember that we offered the Sister Lawrence RAF collection to the City of Norwich Aviation Museum and they were thrilled to receive it. Whilst it was a superb collection, it was becoming difficult to keep it in good condition. Knowing that it has gone to a good home, we can refocus on the much longer and more varied history of the village.

On 9th of May,  from 7.30pm 9 pm we will hold our Annual General Meeting at the Village Hall. We’ll briefly (very briefly) outline our vision for the next few years and we’ll welcome your thoughts and comments. Currently, we are looking at producing some high quality story boards for display in the village hall, the church, the school and possibly other locations, involving the schoolchildren in collecting memories from older residents and also marketing some of the photos as souvenirs. The list of potential projects is endless so we will have to home in on just a few.

Membership of the Society costs a modest £10 per year

Please give your support by coming along.


We are in need of new Members to join in and get involved. Things are moving fast, The RAF MUSEUM has been taken on by CNAM (50% anyway) so we have room to breathe! We are soon starting an Inventory of all Photographs, Documents, Articles, Human Stories, Artefacts, Publications etc in our collection. Our main aim is to produce Display Panels covering all aspects of life in Great and Little Massingham. These will be on view at Events, in the Church and Village Hall. If you have a skill that would help us – Treasurer, Video Camera user, Typist – then please make contact. Or, if you just want to jot down notes of your memories, find some old photos at your leisure at night when there’s nothing on the Telly and hand them to us we will turn them into a presentation to be shared with future generations. We meet at Ant Robinson’s Studio at The Barns, 9, School Road, on the 3 rd Wednesday each Month from 7.30 until 9pm. Next meeting – 20th January. Ant 01485 520455


Following several meetings and correspondence with the “City of Norwich Aviation Museum.”  We are hopeful of donating “The Sister Laurence RAF Massingham Museum” to them.
It is 15 years old and is in need of a great revamp. So rather spend a lot of money on it, we want to produce new Display Panels of our Village’s histories.
I visited the Holt Society’s Exhibition last month and was very impressed by the quality of their displays. I wrote to them and they have replied with the details of construction, costs, contacts, etc.
So we are now planning what categories to put on each. They will be more user friendly, allowing us to put them in the Church on occasions and perhaps have them in the Village Hall.
It will not be cheap, so if anyone would like to sponsor a panel please let me know.
We will try and digitally record as much of the RAF material, retaining some of the artefacts, for ourselves. But I know CNAM will look after everything with respect, putting it on display permanently, so that it will be more accessible to a wider audience such as Researchers and other interested parties.
So, hopefully, Sister Laurie’s work of many years will be in good hands. We can now get on with recording the Massingham’s history.

Ant Robinson

Golden Years Norfolk
Massingham Village Hall & Club
Dabbling Duck
Community Cars
Minuteman Press
West Heath Barn
Parsley Barn
Karl Andrews