Heritage Group

Norwell Parish Heritage Group was set up in 2006 with the aim of recording the past and present heritage of Norwell, Norwell Woodhouse and Willoughby for the benefit of present and future generations.

The group usually meets at 7.30pm in Norwell Village Hall on the third Wednesday of the month.  Meetings take the form of illustrated talks relating to the heritage of Norwell and aspects of the history of the East Midlands.  Trips and visits are arranged and entertaining social events are also held > Forthcoming Events

Annual membership is £6.00 per person (£10.00 for family membership). You can apply for membership via our contact us page.

Norwell Parish Heritage Group was given a generous grant by the Heritage Lottery Fund and has published several trail leaflets and booklets about Norwell > Norwell Leaflets and Booklets

Members are actively involved in researching the heritage and history of Norwell parish and a booket on Willoughby deserted village was produced in summer 2012.  A booklet on Norwell Church and Chapel is planned.  Information and assistance is always appreciated > Contact Us

Deserted Villages in Nottinghamshire.

 The work we have done on our own deserted village of Willoughby is going to form the basis of a much wider study of deserted villages in Nottinghamshire. This will be carried out by several organisations. Dr Ursilla Spence, the lead archaeologist for Nottinghamshire and other archaeologists will be involved with the larger project. 

 Just a reminder that the DVD of the Walk through Norwell at the beginning of the 20th century and the Willoughby by Norwell booklet (and copies of all the earlier booklets) can be purchased from Norwell Village Stores or from Elizabeth Jones  

To find out more details contact Michael at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

For a full list of events click on Forthcoming events in the menu to the right of this page.

Previous talks are listed below.

June - July 2014. Summer Walk - Finding out about Caunton

Every year in June and July the Heritage Group finds out more about one of its neighbouring villages. This year it was the turn of Caunton.

At our June meeting we had a most interesting illustrated talk about the history and buildings of Caunton. This was followed in July by a guided tour round Caunton. Many of us from Norwell just drive through Caunton and the visit gave us an opportunity to see those hidden corners which we didn’t know were there.

Most of us knew about the Methodist Chapel, but had not realized that there was a Primitive Methodist Chapel near the ford. The windmill and Kiln Cottage were reminders of Caunton’s ‘industrial’ past. The weather was kind to us until the end and it was a most enjoyable evening out concluding with the view of a really bright rainbow behind the church. Thank you very much to members of Caunton Local History Society who spoke to us and took us round the village.

Wednesday 21 May at 7.30pm - The Enclosure of Norwell

At our meeting on Wednesday 21 May at 7.30pm in Norwell Village Hall Sue Sinclair talked about The Enclosure of Norwell: fact and fiction.

For centuries Norwell, Norwell Woodhouse and Willoughby all had open fields and farming operated much as it still does in Laxton, the only remaining open field system in the country. All this changed with enclosure of those fields at the end of the eighteenth and beginning of the nineteenth centuries.

Sue Sinclair looked at the impact this had in Norwell. As well as looking at the historical background to the enclosure of the open fields in Norwell Parish she looked at at the process 'from the point of view of the main players, who lived and worked through it.’

March 2014 - Women's Suffrage

Sheila Wright lectured in women’s history at York University and this showed in the passion with which she spoke about women’s suffrage at our March meeting. It made us realise just how much we owe to those women, who at the beginning of the 20th century, were prepared to speak up for their beliefs. We were given a very clear explanation of the difference between suffragettes and the suffragists. We hear a lot about the suffragettes, their demonstrations and what they endured in prison, but much less about that larger body of women who worked tirelessly but peacefully for universal suffrage. It was rewarding to hear about the contribution of Nottinghamshire women to the national movement.

Wednesday 11 - December Henry V Christmas Event

The Heritage Group had quite a lively December. The Henry V Christmas evening introduced us all to the food and entertainment of the early 15th century, thanks to contributions from a large number of people. Some of the food met with considerable approval (if you would like recipes for medieval honey bread, quince paste or dried fruit compote contact Elizabeth on 636 365 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. ).

The Lord of Misrule kept everyone engaged as he called on people to do ‘silly things’ – thank you, Chris, for riding round the long table on a hobby horse! The wonderful renditions of extracts of Shakespeare’s Henry V show just how much talent there is in Norwell. Thank you to those who provided music, but very special thanks to Brian Robins who stepped ‘into the breach’ at the last moment and sang the Agincourt carol.

It was definitely a memorable evening

Wednesday 20 November - Norwell in the 15th century

This was the title for our meeting on Wednesday 20 November at 7.30pm in Norwell Village Hall. You have all heard about Henry V, but what was going on in Norwell when he was on the throne? Timber-frame buildings like Scott’s Cottage were being built. Later in the century the church had a radical make-over – they were putting a new roof on the north transept of the church and carving our green man.

Michael Jones put Norwell in the context of England at the beginning of the 15th century. We looked at some of the people who were living in Norwell at the time. There was a re-enactment of a Court Leet at which villagers were brought before a jury if they had offended against the customs of the manor. The court had the power to exact fines for misdemeanours such as diluting ale, selling under- weight loaves of bread, encroaching on other people’s land, poaching, fathering bastards, and much more. There are detailed records for Norwell which can be drawn on. The re-enactment was light-hearted and involved payment in chocolate coins!

Wed 16 Oct 7.30pm Norwell Parish Heritage Group Some Villages in Sherwood Forest – Dr David Crook

Dr David Crook gave a fascinating talk about the origins of forests, parks and warrens in this part of Nottinghamshire. It was intriguing to follow the changing boundaries of Sherwood Forest – were you in, or were you out? It made a lot of difference to what you could or couldn’t do.

Saturday 21 September at 7.00pm -

THE ARCHAEOLOGY OF THE NORMAN CONQUEST: A historian’s perspective

There was no official meeting in September but members and other interested people were invited to attend a public lecture in Southwell Minster on Saturday 21 September at 7.15pm. Professor Hugh Thomas from Miami University was talking about The archaeology of the Norman Conquest: a historian’s perspective. The Norman Conquest was a key point in the history of this country. This was an opportunity to find out more.

Wednesday 15 May - It’s been raining in Nottinghamshire!

200 years of weather watching in the county. It’s been raining in Nottinghamshire! At our May meeting John Wilson gave a fascinating talk about weather watching in Nottinghamshire. For at least two hundred years dedicated people have kept meticulous details of rain fall and temperature in our county. We were shown some of these records which enabled us to put our own weather in a much wider context. It was fascinating to hear about some of the links between weather and disease.

Thursday May 9th How Old is your garden?

Dr Richard Jones talked about the history under our feet and invited villagers to participate in bringing archeology home to all in a most literal sense. See Forthcoming Events for more details.

April 2013 Local boys made good In the East Midlands Mafia six hundred years ago.

At our April meeting Alison McHardy gave a most fascinating talk about those men from the magic triangle of north Nottinghamshire, South Yorkshire and Humberside who wielded great power in this country six hundred years ago. It was a truly remarkable mafia and has not been repeated since. Most of them were clerks in Holy Orders and it was common practice to find jobs for your friends and relatives – nephews did particularly well. Even some of the Norwell prebendaries had their fingers in the tasty pies of the Royal Chancery. It could well be described as ‘jobs for the boys’.

Wednesday 20 March - THE NOTTINGHAMSHIRE VCs

Tony Higton gave an illustrated talk to the Heritage Group on The Nottinghamshire VCs. He is chairman of the Nottingham and Nottinghamshire VC Committee. He is both passionate and informed about those men who were awarded the VC for their bravery and heroism in the field of battle. Twenty men who were born or buried in Nottinghamshire have been awarded the VC. The earliest was awarded in 1855 in the Crimean War; the most recent in the Second World War in 1942. Others were awarded in the Indian Mutiny, the Zulu War, the British campaign in Sudan and the Boer war. Eleven were awarded in the First World War.

Behind each medal is a story. Perhaps the best-known from Nottinghamshire is that of Albert Ball; Tony Higton will be sharing with us the stories of him and many others who have played a part in our history and deserve to be remembered.

Tuesday 19 February 2013 - ART DECO in the East Midlands

After the AGM Jeffrey Keays gave a most interesting talk about buildings in our area which were built in the 1930s. It made us realise that we really should keep our eyes open for these Art Deco treasures – keep a look out for cinemas, many of which were built in this period and in this style. 

18th century Coffee House

We did indeed celebrate Christmas at our 18th century Coffee House. It wasn’t entirely authentic, but it was entertaining! The games, the food and the entertainment gave us a taste of what is might have been like – but probably wasn’t! They would certainly have played dominoes, whist, spillikins and consequences, but we probably gave them all a modern twist.

Thank you to everyone who was involved in any way, and there were lots of them. The salmagundy, the trifles and the exotic fruits were beautifully prepared and the entertainment was as usual of a very high standard, ranging as it did from the music of the harmonious blacksmith to the drinking song, Nottingham Ale … and have you ever tried singing ‘While shepherds watched their flocks by night’ to the tune of ‘On Ilka Moor bar t’at? That’s what they did in the 18th century!

Plough Plays and seasonal customs

We started the year in a light-hearted way at our January meeting when Chris Rose shared with us his extensive knowledge of Plough Plays and other seasonal customs. Plough Plays were performed in many of our villages, usually at one of the numerous pubs (Norwell had three in the 19th century). A play was performed regularly in Norwell until the First World War. There is an interesting inventory of 1832 for The Crown (which was later The Elephant and Castle) which includes ‘Fools Dress Compleate For Plough Monday’.

History of North Muskham

Madge Brown gave a talk about the history of North Muskham at the June meeting. Her individual approach enabled us to see North Muskham in a new light. Even more revelations were made in a guided walk and talk in July.

Watery Landscape in the Dukeries

Susanne Seymour gave a talk on Landscapes in the Dukeries on Wednesday the 9 May

Steam Engines in the Countryside

An illustrated talk by Robin Drury & Bob Siddall on Wednesday 18 April

Norwell in Maps

Sue Sinclair gave us an absolutely fascinating talk on both the history of maps and map making and showed us that Norwell was first ‘put on the map’by John Ogilby on his ‘strip map’ of 1675. Whilst the geographic placement of both Norwell and Willoughby was somewhat erratic on the early maps, we now have a much clearer idea of how the mapping of the area around Norwell, Norwell Woodhouse and Willoughby developed and how the landscape changed over time.

Lord Byron and the Luddites.

The AGM was followed by an excellent and most interesting talk by Professor John Beckett. We now have a much better appreciation of the activities of the Luddites in the Nottingham area, of the life of Byron and of his brief brush with politics. In his maiden speech in the House of Lords he opposed the Frame Breakers’ Bill in which anyone caught breaking a frame faced capital punishment.

John Carr, architect and his Nottinghamshire buildings

Sheila Wright gave a most interesting talk about John Carr at our January meeting.  She had first ‘met’ John Carr when she lectured on him inYork.  He had an extensive practice inYork, but he also designed several important buildings in Nottinghamshire.  It was particularly fascinating to find out more about Ossington church andNewarkTown Hall.

More information is available on the group’s website www.norwellparish.co.uk

For any enquiries or suggestions please contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. / The Old Chapel, Norwell 01636 636401 | Website by Screenbeetle