Hoe and Worthing Archive: The Village


hunt 1850

This 1850 trade directory entry gives a good impression of the sort of place Hoe was in the mid nineteenth century, and
most likely had been for all of its history. Note the spelling 'Hoo' that's how most of its inhabitants would have pronounced it.

The census of 1841 fills in some of the detail. Of the 220 inhabitants, sixty-two were agricultural labourers (a third of whom were under eighteen years old). Including their families, a total of 137 over half the population.
There was a schoolmistress, but schooling wasn't compulsory until 1873, and so children of labourers would have been more likely to have been working on the land than being taught to read and write.

In 1841 an agricultural labourer in Norfolk would have earned about eight shillings a week, supplemented by whatever smaller amounts his wife and children could earn.

Eighteen inhabitants were female servants and there were three shoemakers, the only tradesmen apart from the brickmaker.

At Gorgate Hall, William Millett, a curate at Swanton Morley, employed a governess, one male and four female servants and a gardener.

The game laws enacted to discourage poaching required the purchase of a licence to shoot game. In 1830 two Hoe residents held them, both members of the Grounds family, at a cost each of 3.13s.6d (Norfolk Chronicle 2.10.1830).


Faden's map of Norfolk of 1797 shows Hoe as a small settlement off the main road. Some buildings are recognisably still with us, others are not, including the windmill on the Common.
The brick kiln on Stanton Heath was still active in 1917 when the Bylaugh estate was sold.

[Reproduced by courtesy of Andrew Mcnair.]

aerial photo

This aerial photograph was taken in 1946 by the RAF. At the bottom, at the road junction, are the church and hall; north of them, extending round the bend in the road, can be seen rectangular indentations and other earthworks. They mark the site of a part of the village abandonded or displaced, probably in the medieval period. The line of what may have been a road can also be seen curving sharply to the north-east to join the present road to Swanton Morley. The earthworks include several moated enclosures and a mound on which a windmill may have stood.

[Copyright Norfolk County Council; photo by RAF 31 January 1946]

A complete record of archaeological surveys of the site is available at http://www.heritage.norfolk.gov.uk/record-details?MNF2810-Earthworks-of-the-shrunken-medieval-settlement-of-Hoe&Index=2&RecordCount=1&SessionID=97877579-dc73-422b-a21c-2120b2f2bbde

Other aerial photos of the site, from the Cambridge University collection, taken in February 1970, can be seen at:

The name Hoe means a hill. The Oxford English Dictionary references a 15th-century source describing Stanhoe, also in Norfolk, as a stony hill. But Hoe isn't obviously perched on a hill and the slope from the village down to the north of the parish is a gentle 25-50 feet. Nearer Dereham, however, there is a fall of almost 100 feet in less than half a mile. No longer in the modern parish of Hoe, but historically, according to Boston & Puddy's History of Dereham, Hoe was part of that parish. Perhaps that slope gave the area its name.

contour map

[Based on Ordnance Survey data, PSMA licence number: 0100053823]

Two estate maps of Hoe are held in the Norfolk Record Office. Both are of private land holdings in the late eighteenth century. They give the names of other landowners as well as some field names.


This map is dated 1772, based on a survey of 1740. Perhaps the lands had been in the Helwys family all that time. The 'Explanation' of the holdings lists 324 acres in total. William Helwys was a Norwich resident from a prominent family.

[Courtesy of Norfolk Record Office CHC 11901]
helwys map

Grounds estate map

This map shows the estate in Hoe of Thomas Grounds, surveyed in 1773. Drawn on vellum, it also lists the names of the fields with their acreages, and the names of owners of adjacent land. Interestingly, it does not show either the church or the hall, where the family later lived. Home Close, at the centre of the map, is adjacent to Angel Farmhouse, numbered 1 in the Terrier. Perhaps Grounds lived at the farmhouse there at the time.

terrier detail

[Courtesy of Norfolk Record Office MS 4532]

town house

The map also shows the 'Town House' on Barkers Lane. At the top here is Manor Farm. Before the building of the Poor Law institutions like Gressenhall (Mitford & Launditch Union, 1776), provision for people unable to support themselves through age or infirmity was made locally. The rent from the adjacent pightle perhaps went towards paying for their keep.

[Courtesy of Norfolk Record Office MS 4532]

                    house terrier

Thomas Bone, John Stanhoe and George Baily lived at the Town House according to this eighteenth-century terrier.

[Courtesy of Norfolk Record Office DN/TER 86/1/?]

Thursford Hoe settlement case

The Poor Law could lead to disputes between parishes. A person who became destitute could only apply for support from the parish in which he or she had a settlement, and poor people were often shunted from one place to another to in an effort to reduce parish rates. This court case between Hoe and Thursford found in favour of Hoe and the parish was recommended to send the paupers back to Thursford. No mention is made of who they were.

Norfolk Chronicle  18th May 1776

Rural poverty was extreme in the mid nineteenth century owing to a combination of low wages, poor harvests and the impact of the Corn Laws which held the price of staple foods artificially high until their repeal in 1846.

poor's dinner
                                                      subscriptionThis scrap of paper in the handwriting of William Grounds of Hoe Hall lists the subscribers to a 'Dinner for the Poor of the Parish of Hoe 1838' celebrating Queen Victoria's coronation. The subscribers include local gentry, clergy and farmers. 


enclosure map Northill Common

[Courtesy of Norfolk Record Office C/Sca/2/243]

Mcnair northill common    Hoe once had another common, called Northill Common
    on Faden's map of 1797. It was over a mile wide and was
    shared with Dereham. The Hoe part is the funnel-shaped
    area outlined in pink on the enclosure map above (
    the words Parish Boundary, No.76)
. Faden's map shows
    several roads converging on the common and houses
    grouped along its southern boundary.

    The land was enclosed and allotted to the Dean &
    Chapter of Norwich.


[Reproduced by courtesy of Andrew Mcnair.]

The Norfolk Heritage Explorer website lists all the known antiquities in the village: