Mattishall : The Geographical Centre of Norfolk.

This week I’m visiting family in Norfolk but I decided to book my own place for the week and now find myself in the geographical centre of the county staying in Mattishall.

Mostly I’ve been driving into Norwich to visit family and take my mother out for ‘days’. But today I stayed around Mattishall and took two walks around the village and local lanes. The first on my own and later with my schoolfriend and her husband, daughter and Phoebe their spaniel.

Agriculture was the main source of employment for the population of Mattishall throughout the centuries but today workers travel mainly to Norwich. From the numbers of bungalows and the evidence in the shops the village is home to many retired people. There seems to be a good bus service serving East Dereham and Norwich.

OS Map 1961

O.S. One-Inch Map “Fakenham”  (sheet 125) 1961

OS Map 2013

O.S. Landranger Map “North East Norfolk” (133) 2013

At the centre of the village, not surprisingly, is the church of All Saints. Just outside the churchyard on Church Plain is the village sign. It illustrates 4 important facts about the village.


The Mattishall Hoard

The hoard was found inside the Roman globular greyware pot. The rim had been broken off due to ploughing. Altogether 1,080 coins were present. They date from between 145 AD and 260 AD. The earlier coins are called denarii and the later ones are radiates, named because of the crown of sun’s rays worn by the emperor on each one. Hoards were often buried to store good coins when new, poorer, debased coins entered circulation. They were also hidden during times of trouble. [Adapted from here]

Caius Connection

The Caius Connection and Sheep

Mattishall has had connections with Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge (once upon a time, a long time ago, I was the College’s Assistant Librarian) since 1370. Edmund Gonville endowed Gonville Hall with the income from the Great Tithes of Mattishall Church and with the Advowson (the right to appoint the vicar). It’s the College coat-of-arms in the top LH corner. The illustration also refers to a time when there was a large number of wool dealers in the village.

Nosey Parker

Matthew Parker – The Original Nosey Parker

The term ‘Nosey Parker’ was said to come from the 16th century Archbishop of Canterbury, Matthew Parker, who seemed to take a very detailed interest in the lives of his clergy. But, the use of the expression did not surface until after his death. [source] After the death of Henry VIII Matthew Parker, scholar and priest, married Margaret Harlestone of Mattishall. Henry had continued to ban priestly marriage.


A Dobbs Brothers’ Tumbril

The Dobbs family lived and worked in Mattishall for well over 100 years, manufacturing tumbrils, carts and harrows. Through orders gained during the Norfolk Agricultural Show, the work of Dobbs Brothers became well known and their reputation spread to Suffolk and other parts of East Anglia. The last tumbril was sold in 1950.

All Saints

All Saints Church, Mattishall

I fetched the church key from one of the local shops. (This village is very well provided with shops, Post Office, car repair garage, several churches of different denominations, 3 hairdressers, an excellent butcher, pub, two cafes, primary school and much more – and yet I bet may not have heard of it!)

porch and sundial

South Porch with Slate Sundial above

Perpendicular window

Perpendicular Window

All Saints church has an impressive tower surmounted by a cupola and a weathercock. It’s a fine example of a local Norfolk church rebuilt in the 14th and 15th centuries – the Perpendicular Period. The new wealth at the time that came from wool and the developing cloth trades was channelled into church rebuilding. The original church was enlarged, the windows made bigger, clerestories added and towers rebuilt.


The Chancel with Hammer Beam Roof, wrought iron light fitting and corner of lower half of rood screen

Jacobean Pulpit

Jacobean Pulpit

Rood screen close up

One Panel of the Rood Screen

Brass 1

Brass 2 words

Brass 2

Some Mattishall Brasses

Also, Mattishall has number of lovely Georgian and other houses and cottages.

Anchor House Church Plain

Anchor House Church Plain

Old Vicarage

The Old Vicarage

Several House Church Plain

Several House, Church Plain

Sobriety House

Sobriety House

Church Plain again

On Church Plain

On Church Plain

Church Plain


Mattishall has another, smaller church – St Peter’s Mattishall Burgh. We had a look on our way home.

Mattishall Burgh Church



2 comments on “Mattishall : The Geographical Centre of Norfolk.

  1. Fran says:

    Mattishall appears to have everything to make it a ‘proper’ village. What an enchanting place to stay.

    • It does indeed, Fran. I wouldn’t really say enchanting – there are many prettier villages in this country – but it’s a lot more attractive than I had expected it to be.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

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