North Walsham & District Community Archive

Paston 1875 - 1975

"North East Norfolk Country Churchman Centenery Magazine 1875-1975"

PASTON 1875-1975

The Rev. Thomas Cooper was the Incumbent of Paston a hundred years ago. He was a single man - his sister living with him. He was spoken of with great affection by the generation who knew him.

It is said that the older part of the Vicarage was at one time a farmhouse where one of the Gaze family farmed. On an old estate map the Vicarage is marked on this site, and it is also marked on the grown-over site to the east of the Church.
Thomas Roberts was Sexton then and was noted for his loud "Amens". He held that post for fifty years and was followed by William Hewitt, who held it for another fifty years.

The value of the living was under one hundred pounds. Paston Pound would be in operation at that time, straying stock being impounded and released on the payment of a small fine.

In 1875 a School Board was formed, the school being situated at Edingthorpe to accommodate scholars of that Parish and Paston. It is now closed but up to that time, the only opportunity of education was at the Dame School at Paston, kept by Mrs. Elizabeth Gray - a widow - who also kept a small shop and, later, the Post Office. Her son, George Gray, had recently been apprenticed to Thomas Gaze, who had premises on Mundesley sea front "To learn the Art of Carpenter, Wheelwright and Boat-builder". His indenture stated that "He shall not haunt Taverns or Playhouses". As the payment stated was "One shilling per week for the first year" it doesn't look as if he had much chance.

The Mill on Stow Hill was owned and worked by the Gaze family. It would then have been a busy place, grinding the corn of the local farms and retailing meal, flour and yeast.

Elizabeth Gray, the school-teacher, was a daughter of William Gaze of Paston Mill. Paston Hall was the home of John Mack. He farmed most of the land in Paston then and was lord of the Manor, having the gift of the Paston living. His farm would have been a busy place; apart from the many employees on his land, the horses and the cattle, he would have his own Smithy, Sawpit and Estate Carpenters. The earliest type of threshing machine had probably arrived a hundred years ago, and
the sound of the flails may have been no longer heard in the Great Barn built in 1581 by Sir William Paston. The corn would have been mowed by scythe at that time. Towards North Walsham would be the Paston Wherry Inn, standing on the bank of the North Walsham and Dilham Canal with its Granary, where wherries and barges picked up and discharged their loads. The railway through Paston and Knapton was not yet thought of - this came later and is now gone and almost forgotten.

Paston has its place in history, by reason of the "Paston Letters" written by the Paston family during the reigns of four Kings. From Paston this family built up large estates elsewhere. Clement and Edmund Paston are buried in the Chancel of the Church and there are brasses in memory of Erasmus Paston and a fine monument to Catherine Paston, the wording on which is rather lovely. The Church has a scissor beam roof, covered with thatch, and has mural paintings on the walls.