North Walsham & District Community Archive

Walcot 1875 - 1975

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

WALCOT 1875-1975

A hundred years ago Walcot was a small parish with about a hundred inhabitants, most of whom worked on the land. One farmer was also a maltster, and there was a smithy, a village shop and an Inn.
Children attended the newly opened National School at Happisburgh, walking by lane and footpath. They were often prevented from attending in bad weather, for roads as well as fields soon became almost unusable for children with poorly shod feet. When Lord Wodehouse of Witton objected to wet weather being given as an excuse for irregular attendance, the school provided slippers for those who arrived with wet feet. Chilblains were another cause of absence, and for these no remedy could be found.
The Rev. Horatio Nelson
William Comyn, who was vicar of Walcot for thirty-seven years, was Lord Nelson's godson, and had been baptised on board H.M.S. Victory. He was a great benefactor to the church, paying for much of the restoration which he supervised. In 1857 he had three windows inserted on the north side of the nave, and in 1878 gave a Treble bell costing £100. At the same time the four 17th century bells were rehung, and the tower and nave restored at a cost of £1190. The seating capacity of the Church was then estimated as being for two hundred people.
In 1887, the year of Mr. Comyn's death (?), Walcot was united to Happisburgh for ecclesiastical purposes, and the Rev. James Slater spent the last eight years of his ministry as Vicar of Happisburgh and Walcot.
An interesting footnote to Mr. Comyn's incumbency is that he raised money for the restoration of the Church in several unorthodox ways. He sold tobacco, sweets and vegetables, as well as plants, which he carried with him in his pony and trap, selling them to the congregation after Sunday service; nor did he hesitate, so it is said, to take his mobile shop with him when he accepted invitations to preach in neighbouring parishes.
Surnames occuring in the registers about this time include Dyball, Watts, Bush, Besford, Sieby, Beane and Gotts, all of which have a familiar ring today.
The story of Walcot a hundred years ago seems to centre round its truly remarkable incumbent, and it would be interesting to know more about this colourful and devoted priest.