For centuries the church has been at the hub of village life, not just as a religious institution, but as a provider of housing for villagers, administering charity, and overseeing the work of the school. Both the church and the Methodist chapel have traditionally been at the centre of village celebrations such as coronations, social events and social clubs, and village entertainments.
Written by Jill Wright in 1984:
THE COMMON is the glory of Mulbarton: over 45 acres of open land, mostly within a triangle of roads. One of these is the New Buckenham Turnpike, the B1113, which links Mulbarton to Norwich, six miles away to the north.
Today, the Common is a recreation area for the rapidly increasing number of people in the village – and their dogs. Its football pitches are used by all ages.
Even in the 19th century, there were day-trips from Norwich to Mulbarton for games on the Common and liquid refreshment at the World’s End. A move to enclose the Common aroused great opposition in 1865, and modern development on the perimeter has been resisted with partial success.
In earlier times, the Common must have been vital to the community: a place to graze the cattle and keep them from the surrounding open fields. The name Mulbarton is ‘…”Mokebertuna’ in the Domesday Book, and probably means ‘…”an outlying dairy farm’. It is just possible to imagine that a clearing in the forest where the dairy cattle grazed has become our present Common.
(First published in the W.I. Gazette, August 1984)
Dorothy Tungate remembers:
The main part of the common is triangular in shape with at least five ponds on it. It was used for cricket matches during the summer, and football later in the year.
In the 1930s, Mulbarton Common was used for grazing cattle, and at times for sheep, and a man – or a young lad in the school holidays – used to ‘…”walk the green’ as one old chap called it. But in the winter it was mostly used by children. When the snow lay thick and deep in those days, Charlie and Jack Cooper (who lived by the Tradesman’s Arms) used to cut 2 ft wide pathways down one side of the common so the children and others could get to the school and to the butcher’s shop.
Mulbarton – Farming
The huge triangular Common in Mulbarton has been used for centuries for grazing stock. Mulbarton residents today remember walking through herds of cows on the common to get to school. There are also a number of market gardeners. In these articles you can read about the agricultural history of Mulbarton. In the file gallery you will find primary material about the sale of various Mulbarton farms over the past century.
‘The Book of Mulbarton’ has more photos and information about farming in Mulbarton, including a detailed account from a Farmer’s Record Book of the harvest in 1866.
Mulbarton – Milling
Mulbarton had two mills: the tower mill and the smock mill. The base of the towermill still exists, just visible in the grounds of Mill House in the village. Using primary resources, Mulbarton residents have traced the development of the mills and discovered who the millers were.
Mulbarton – Pubs
Mulbarton had two pubs: the Tradesman’s Arms and the World’s End. Both had bowls and other sporting clubs. They also hosted a number of clubs and societies, including an Oddfellows Lodge.
Today there is just one pub – the World’s End, which offers food as well as beverages. But there is also a licensed Social Club in the Village Hall. This is the modern successor to the old Parish Hall (often called the Wingfield Hall) that was very near the World’s End. For over 60 years it was the venue for many village activities. Many of these continued when the old school became the Village Hall, and their present home is the modern Village Hall and Social Club near the Common.
Mulbarton – Schools
Today, Mulbarton has two thriving schools: Mulbarton First School and Mulbarton Middle School, both of which give loacl pupils an excellent education. The predecessor to the modern buildings housing these school stands across the Common – now a dental surgery, and before that the Village Hall. It was opened in 1865 as a ‘National School’ (i.e. run by the Church of England). But there was a school in Mulbarton even before that…
New evidence about Mulbarton’s earliest School, and photos of pupils of the present schools, appear in ‘The Book of Mulbarton’, along with some of the accounts you can link to below, and new memories, too.
Mulbarton – Shops
A fine new Co-op store opened in Cuckoofield Lane in April 2007. Until then, Mulbarton had a small supermarket with Post Office, a farm shop at Paddock Farm and a chemist shop next to the Dental Surgery (both in the old school). There is a huge 24-hour Tesco only 3 miles away, but people remember that in the past the village was well served with shops. Then, ”All the shops sold everything, from sugar to paraffin – and hands were not always washed between articles in those days.”
The history of shops and services in Mulbarton is given in the following articles, along with telephone and postal communications in the village, the milk lady, and medical services. As part of the Norfolk Heritage Explorations Project, local people have traced the original Mulbarton telephone numbers and compiled a telephone directory, and this research is given in the file gallery.
Mulbarton – Trades
Victorian Mulbarton was virtually self-contained, with local tradesmen and shopkeepers offering most of the services needed by the farmers and other local residents. Today, many of these trades have disappeared, and yet Mulbarton still has its skilled craftsmen and traders, some of whom have made the village famous internationally.
Mulbarton – War
Both the First and Second World Wars had a profound effect on Mulbarton, affecting not only those who lost their lives in the wars, but the generation of children who missed out on their education to do agricultural work during World War I. An American Air Base close to Mulbarton is still remembered fondly by the people who played tricks on the Americans, and those who as children went to parties hosted by American Forces. Finally, there is a touching article based on firsthand accounts of how the war affected individuals.
Who were ‘The Volunteers’? Who was their commander? Did they ever get their uniforms? Which Mulbarton man won the DCM? The answers to these, and yet more memories of the war years, in ‘The Book of Mulbarton’