Stories of Hingham

Here are some stories of Hingham


Titles of the stories that appear below.

– Lincoln Hall

– “Come all you gay lasses and all you young sparks to Hingham and witness some precious good larks”

– Isaiah and his cap badge.

– The Guild of Bell Ringers.

– The Bus Shelter.

– The Boot and Shoe Club.

– The Royal Flying Corps and a Hingham link to “bomber” Harris

– Memories of the Mission Hall

Lincoln Hall

Do you attend the Women’s Institute, the Luncheon Club, the Mardles, the Quizzes, jumble sales or the Zumba classes or any of the myriad other events that are laid on at the Lincoln Hall?  How many of you, the users of the Hall, have any idea of the trials and tribulations that went into building the Hall as it is now?
The Lincoln Hall and the surrounding land has a complicated history; this is but a whistle-stop tour taken from a booklet published as part of the Festival Week in 1971 to raise funds for the building of the present Hall.
The first hall was built on Glebe (Church) land in 1922 with money borrowed from Barclay’s Bank; the Guarantors were Major Mirrlees and Mr Bedwell. It was an old army hut which was brought from Thetford behind the traction engine driven by Willie Smith. A subscription list was started in 1922 to help pay off the debt. The sums raised ranged from the small from individuals up to quite considerable amounts. The WI gave £80 and the NAAFI gave £38-15s. The Hingham Tennis Club raised £50. The debt was finally paid off in 1939. There are accounts in the Minutes of the dances held here for American servicemen towards the end of the War.
On 7th December 1945 five huts were purchased from the Army for £250; one was sold to Mr Long and the others were used for the present library, The Royal British Legion, the Mens Club and the Youth Service. (Unfortunately “owing to dissension among the members it was found necessary to give them notice to vacate”).
In 1946 the WI presented the Hall with 50 chairs. Later brick cloakrooms and a kitchen were added.
On 13 April 1949 the buildings and land were transferred to the Charity Commissioners in order to safeguard the property for the people of Hingham.
In 1971 it was decided that a new hall was desperately overdue and a fund was set up; the amount needed was £20,000. On 6th June a sponsored walk raised over £250 and a football match by the lads made £3-51. By the time of the Festival Week the fund stood was nearing £600.
The Festival Programme included events such as, A Singalong, Comic Football Match, Festival Supper and Dance, Bingo, a Whist Drive, a Pram Race, decorated Floats and Steam Engines, Fancy Dress and even a Dwile Flonking contest! as well as displays by the Dog Club and the Hingham Archers.
Eventually the money was raised and the new Hall opened in the mid-1970s. The Dance Floor is the original from the second Hall.
As you can imagine there are always huge expenses incurred in the running of such a facility; in the last year new windows and fascia’s have been bought and by the time you read this, the new lavatories should be installed.
Even with all the calls on the income, the Lincoln Hall is still let to Hingham residents at a lower rate than to those from outside as a “Thank-You” to the people of Hingham who paid for it!

“Come all you gay lasses and all you young sparks
to Hingham and witness some precious good larks”

We’ve had some good parties here in Hingham over the past two years; the Royal Wedding, the Jubilee and Bernard Burt’s 90th birthday. But none of these come close to one we discovered last month.
We were intrigued to find a newspaper advert, reprinted in the EDP of 5th June 1972, of a party to be held for 1000 people on the 4th of June 1856. Celebrated vocalists of the town were invited to compete for a handsome waistcoat. The evening was to feature a firework display, “the most brilliant ever seen outside London” and a bonfire was to be lit at 11-00pm on the Fairland and a brass band engaged to play many new and popular airs.
Unfortunately the EDP hadn’t found the reason for all this. So we went digging! It didn’t take long to find that the Crimean War ended in 1856. Back to the newspapers held on film at the Forum. The following are both from The Norwich Chronicle and Gazette.
5th April 1856
“HINGHAM    On Monday, as soon as the Peace was known, guns were fired in honour of the event. This led to an accident to Mr F. Coe, the landlord of the White Hart inn. He placed his thumb over the end of a pistol; it went off unexpectedly, blowing his thumb completely off. It was found in the course of the next day. A bonfire was made on the Fairland, but all passed off quietly”
7th and 14th June 1856 (this a compilation of the 2 reports)
On Wednesday the celebrations began with the firing of guns at 5 a.m. followed by the ringing of the Church bells. All the houses and streets were decorated with banners and evergreens; tables were laid in the Market Place to seat the nearly 1000 people who dined on roast beef, plum pudding and good ale (Mr Crawshay donated 3 casks). The afternoon continued with donkey races, sports for the boys and girls and other amusements until darkness fell and preparations made for the grand firework display and the lighting of the bonfire on the Fairland.
BUT …. Soon the cry of “FIRE” was heard. A thatch roof was ablaze, the fire soon spread and a total of five houses were burnt down. The fire engine was called, but was of little use as there was not enough water for it.
No blame for this was attributed to Mr Coe, the pyro technician who had only just started his display. Itinerant firework sellers had arrived and sold rockets and squibs to the boys who had been throwing them around.
As there were many empty properties in the town all the victims were rehoused the next day and collections were made to buy new furniture etc. All the houses were insured with the Norwich Union Office.
So a good time was had by all, only 1 thumb blown off and 5 houses burnt down!
They certainly knew how to party!

Isaiah and his cap badge.

Last year Bruce Maltby, from Pottles Alley, was using his metal detector on the Fairland when he unearthed a military cap badge on the small green near Hingham Hairdressers.
He brought it to the History Centre, where we recognised it as being Royal Artillery. It had an army number, 1545416, etched on the reverse, which usually indicated the First World War.
We looked at where they have copies of all existing WW1 soldiers’ records but no luck. Then we tried the Commonwealth War Graves Commission and found it matched to Isaiah McInnes who had died in the Far East on the 22nd January 1942 aged only 22. He has no known grave but is commemorated on the Singapore Memorial.
The CWGC was able to give us Isaiah’s regiment, the 80th Anti-Tank Regiment and also the names of his parents, Isaiah and Elizabeth and his home town of Glasgow.
Asking all the Mardlers who were here during the war, we found that the Royal Artillery were stationed in Hingham during 1941; their guns were kept in the yard of The Cock Public House and they used to practice on the Fairlands and, at weekends, in the Market Place. Presumably this was when Isaiah lost his badge.
Incidentally, Roger Sadd has a memory of a winter’s day when he got a snowball ready to throw at the soldiers. One of the men warned him that if he did, the man would rub Roger’s face in the snow; of course Roger just had to throw it, the soldier was as good as his word. Roger said his face hurt so much after that he’s never thrown a snowball at anyone since!
We felt it would be right to return the badge to his family but were at a dead-end as we had no access to Scottish records. Colin tried the Museum of the R A but they explained that there were hardly any records from the Far East as so many perished there. On drawing blanks everywhere, Colin then rang one of Glasgow’s newspapers and was lucky enough to be put in contact with Craig McDonald of the Glasgow Sunday Mail who has a love of local history. Colin gave him all the details we had but heard nothing for several months.
Then, everything happened at once. Craig rang to say he’d been able to trace the family and was in contact with one of Isaiah’s nephews who knew of a connection to Hingham from one of the letters that Isaiah had written home whilst stationed at Beachamwell near King’s Lynn and saying that his new address was to be Hingham.
Colin drove to Glasgow at the end of July and met Isaiah’s nephew, William for lunch and then returned the cap badge to the family. This was reported in the Glasgow Sunday Mail on 4th August and is still available online.
William had no photo of Isaiah but the wonders of email came up trumps. William has a cousin in South Africa who sent one back so the story was complete.

The Guild Of Bell Ringers

Copy of original rules – date unknown
1.    We resolve to be a respectable and well conducted body of Ringers, to give no occasion to anyone to speak ill of us and to avoid bringing disgrace upon the Church.
2.    We will not take into our company any who are of bad life and character but only such as are approved by the Rector and Churchwardens. All differences and misunderstandings that may arise we will refer to the Rector and agree to abide by his decision.
3.    We will not behave ourselves unseemly in the Belfry. No drinking or smoking shall take place there under any pretext, nor will we allow swearing or improper words and conduct.
4.    No person shall be admitted into the Belfry during ringing without the consent of two thirds of the members present and even then the senior officer present shall have a power of veto if it seem right to him.
5.    All monies received for ringing from whatever source shall be equally divided among the ordinary ringers at Christmas.
6.    The Bells shall not be rung on any special occasion without the consent of the Rector and Churchwardens.
7.    The Rector and Churchwardens shall have power to expel any members who shall break these rules or otherwise dishonour the Church and in such case the offending member shall forfeit all claim to a share in the ringers fund.

The Bus Shelter

E 11 R
“This pavilion has been built by volunteer workers of Hingham to commemorate the Coronation and to provide shelter to wayfarers who are invited to use it in a spirit of good fellowship and to leave it unsullied to their own credit and to the profit of those who follow”
How many of us really take notice of our bus shelter, the plaque and the history of it?
All we do is moan about the state of it.
In 1947, the Hingham Traders Association urged the Parish Council to provide a shelter in the Market Place. Nothing happened until, unexpectedly, we had a new Queen in 1952.
The Royal British Legion put a plan to the Coronation Committee that a bus shelter should be built as a permanent reminder of the Coronation. This was agreed, but only if the Parish Council would keep it in good repair.
James Fletcher Watson was approached to design the building and the Parish Council raised an 8d rate to pay for all the materials.
It was built entirely by volunteer labour most of whom worked for a local builder, Gordon Cordy. Among them were Alec Bennett, George Davy, Donny Jarvis, Vic Cook, Bill Cunningham, Archie Page, Ron Wilkin and Lew Wyatt.
The finished building was handed over to Captain Denny (Chairman of the Parish Council) by Commander Granger-Brown (Chairman of the Coronation Committee) on the 21st February 1954.
The Town Council has responsibility for the maintenance of the shelter, but in recent years it has been redecorated by members of Hingham Christian Fellowship and by the Hingham Society.  I was pleased to read in the minutes of the Town Council meeting in August that they have asked for quotes to decorate it again.
Our bus shelter won an award when it was built and residents were proud of the facility, but now it seems unloved and uncared for. In the days when it first came, our bus service was far less than it is now, and much less comfortable! But, we did have Effie Cator as our conductor; he would wake all those on board who had fallen asleep on their way home from work with a cheery yell of “Hingham” only to find that we were no further on than Hackford Red Lion!
Let’s reclaim our shelter and learn to love it again!
And another thing; the Phone Box. A kiosk was first erected in Hingham in 1930 which was soon replaced by a concrete one, until in 1939, our present, red, box was installed.
In 1991, it became the smallest “listed building” in the town. Contractors for BT repaired and repainted it, including painting the crowns gold!
Let’s see if we can get the Phone Box back to its former glory as well.

The Boot And Shoe Club

This was a club managed by St Andrew’s Church
It was open to all the children who attended Sunday School and in 1881 there were 151 members. The club was administered from the old Girls’ School on the Fairlands. Each week the children paid in a small amount of money and at the end of the year a bonus was added by the Rector to enable the children to buy boots and shoes; the parents could choose which of the town’s shoemakers they wished. In 1881 £60 poundsworth of shoe leather was purchased by the club.
One of the hassocks in the Church commemorates the club.

The Royal Flying Corps and a Hingham link to “bomber” Harris

From 1916 to 1917 there was an RFC landing field at Hingham.   The location of this landing field is not currently known (we would be delighted to be enlightened) but we do know that the Old Grammar School which still stands on the corner of  Hardingham Road and Folly Lane, was used as a Squadron Headquarters (HQ) and several RFC squadrons formed at Hingham.

The RFC officially took over the role of Home Defence in December 1915.  By December 1916 there were 11 RFC Home Defence Squadrons including 51 Squadron which had its Squadron Headquarters in the Old Grammar School  at Hingham.

51 Sqn operated BE2 and BE12 aircraft. The BE2 was a single-engine, two-seat biplane which was in service with the RFC from 1912 until the end of  World War 1.  About 3,500 were built. Initially used as front-line reconnaissance aircraft and light bombers.  The BE12 was essentially a single seat version of the BE2.

51 Sqn Headquarters was at Hingham from 23rd September 1916 until 7th August1917 when it moved to Marham.  During this time period (specifically from 2 March 1917 until 18 June 1917) a certain Arthur Harris served on 51 Squadron as a Flight Commander.

This same Arthur Harris became famous during WW2 when as an Air Marshall he commanded Bomber Command.  Approved by Churchill in 1942, the doctrine of area bombing called for raids against urban areas with the goal of destroying housing and displacing German industrial workers. Though controversial, it was approved by the Cabinet as it provided a way to directly attack Germany. The task of implementing of this policy was given to Harris and Bomber Command.  ‘Bomber’ Harris, as he was nick-named by Churchill and has become known, remained Commander-in-Chief of Bomber Command from 1942-1945.

During the war Harris had become a household name as one of the Allies’ greatest military leaders and the determined commander who was hitting back at Germany. Once the war was over and the level of destruction in Germany’s cities became apparent, Churchill and other politicians were careful to distance themselves from what had been inflicted on the enemy. On the 1st January 1946 Arthur Harris was promoted to Marshall of the Royal Air Force.

Two other Squadrons were formed at Hingham:

The first RFC squadron to be formed specifically for night bombing, Number 100 Squadron formed at Hingham, Norfolk on 23 February 1917, and moved to France a month later.

Formed at Hingham in August 1917, for the purpose of night bombing, No. 102 Squadron was equipped with the F.E.2b aircraft which it took to France a month later.

We have several RFC related photographs including one of an engine being worked on at the “Old Grammar School”.   These can be found in our Hingham at War gallery.

Memories of the Mission Hall

Both my parents’ families lived in the Lowestoft area during the First World War and were therefore subject to the bombardment of the town by the German Navy on Easter Monday 1916. This unnerved my paternal Grandmother to the extent that, when the Second World War occurred, she formed the opinion that we were in imminent danger of being invaded. Grandmother and Grandfather therefore closed up their house in Oulton Broad and took over either all or part of what is now the Post Office and Hingham Butchers along with their two youngest children, my twin aunts Pamela and Isobel.
As my great grandfather was a fishing boat owner in Lowestoft, the female members of the family were all trained as “beatsters” which is the local name for those who made and repaired nets. Both these aunts are hale and hearty at 95 and one of them told me that, whilst in Hingham, they were both put to making camouflage nets, the completed items then had to be taken to Norwich on the handlebars of their respective bicycles.
The family was staunchly Non-Conformists, my Grandmother being the organist of the local Methodist Chapel in Oulton Broad and most of the family, including my father singing in the choir as children. However for the eighteen months or so they stayed here in Hingham, the family attended the little Mission Hall in Mrs Haylock’s yard on the Fairlands.
In the 1950s my father was a local preacher and the secretary of a well-attended Mission Hall in Oulton Broad. The ties with Hingham remained strong and on several occasions over the years I remember coming across with him to take part in services at the Mission, sometimes accompanied by my mother and sometimes with other younger members of our choir. For me it was a visit to look forward to; Father did not possess a car so when we came “under our own steam” the means of transport was borrowed and usually in a condition that would be an MOT failure by today’s standards. When no car was forthcoming we would come up to Norwich by train and Sidney Whiterod would pick us up and bring us to Hingham. I can vividly remember being taken around Harry Haylock’s farm by his son Norman and shown his Landrace pigs; singing a solo at an open-air meeting held under the large oak tree that still stands on the Fairlands and trying, with David Whiterod to stick my newly-acquired sheath knife into its trunk from a distance.
Just as clear is the memory of being given a pillion-ride on the back of a Triumph motorcycle by Norman Haylock’s friend, David, from the old farmhouse down the Hardingham Rd. He took off so suddenly that I was not holding on properly, my legs flew up in the air and we must have been past the school by the time I managed to regain my equilibrium.
The little Mission was always beautifully kept, the welcome warm and the people as genuinely pleased to see us as we were them. The final time I went to the Mission was probably in the 1970s by which time I was in the RAF, married and with two young sons. To me it seemed largely as I remembered, the congregation somewhat smaller but the welcome undiminished. It was the last time I heard my mother sing a solo.
Dave Weavers for Hingham History Centre



  1. I am researching the Lincoln family of Swanton Morley and Hingham and was disapponted that there is nothing on your website previous to the 1800’s. Can you advise where I may look to find earlier information please? I loved your site, what a wonderful way to keep the community involved. Many Thanks.

  2. My grandmother’s maiden name was Sadd and have an old bible stating that she was born in Hingham. I know that her father was called John. She had a sister called Lucy and 2 brothers. I know that one of the brothers was called Luke. Perhaps there is a connection between Roger Sadd and my grandmother ( My grandmother died in her 70’s in early 1960’s).

  3. The piece about the bus shelter in interesting as it reminds me of a story my father (Roger Vincent, of White Lodge Farm, Hingham) told me when I was a lad in the 50s. Commander Granger-Brown, who lived on the left down Hall Moor Road in a “cabin” at the end of the garden, presumably because he didn’t get on this charming wife, was chairman of the parish council. Every time someone mentioned the new bus shelter he would interrupt proceedings by announcing: “A bus shelter somewhere for buses to shelter; it’s a BUS PAVILION.” The shelter – sorry, pavilion – was opened on February 21 1954 and a red horse-chestnut tree was planted at the same time.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Post comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.