Village tells its story at Rougham history weekend
A small West Norfolk village celebrated its place in the county’s history with a two-day exhibition of its past at the weekend.
Aspects of life dating back almost 1,000 years were on show during the display billed as 150 Years of Rougham Life, including a display of fossils, archaeological remains and old photographs.
One special attraction was the recreation of a Victorian kitchen, complete with black-leaded stove, by Sally North whose family arrived in the village, near Great Massingham, more than 400 years ago.
There was also a variety of stalls, a history trail and, more light-heartedly, street games including wheelbarrow races.
The village was listed in the Domesday Book as having 40 households including five villagers, four smallholders, three slaves and 14 freemen.
Records from the Middle Ages provide a more recent glimpse of village life. Descendants of families who still have links with the village include the Mannings who arrived in 1327, the Yelvertons who came in 1505 and the Norths who took up residence at the end of the same century.
The North family’s most famous son was Thomas Keppel North. He designed the Vickers Vimy bi-plane in which British aviators, Alcock and Brown, made the first crossing of the Atlantic from Newfoundland to Ireland in 1919.
It is still one of Norfolk’s smaller villages with a population that was much larger in Victorian times than it was a thousand years ago but has been shrinking since.
At the beginning of the 21st century the census recorded 162 people living in 69 households. By 2011 that had dropped to 141 residents in 55 households.
Andy Manning, of the earliest recorded named family, was the inspiration behind the weekend.
He said: “I may not live here anymore but I love Rougham. Members of my family are in the graveyard and I often visit the village.” His idea was taken up by the village hall committee and heavily promoted on social media.
Mrs North said: “It’s such an interesting village. The weekend is about everyone who has had something to do with Rougham. We invited people to come to the village with their memories.”
To preserve those more recent memories all the residents and visitors with links to the village were invited to write their recollections on cards which were then hung on a memory tree in the village hall.
The rich tapestry of life in Rougham though the ages was brought into sharp focus by Christine Blakemore, formerly a North.
On both days she gave a talk on the history of the village in St Mary’s, the village’s 14th century church.
It was written by her mother, Pamela North, who was county director of the Red Cross 60 years ago.
Because of that connection proceeds of the weekend will be donated to the charity.