View from the village – 3

Memories: Jill Fisher – 20.01.22

I moved to Gresham when my husband Ted retired, in 1979.  I was born in Norfolk and was glad to be back. We liked our bungalow, this bungalow, bought for our “old age” and I still like it today. We were welcomed by a Church Warden’s wife, visiting on her bike, and also by a neighbour who lived two doors down, with her disabled son. I began to attend church on Sundays and soon became friends with the Church Warden’s wife and others. I enjoyed the social side of church especially and joined the volunteer group which cleaned the church weekly.

Gresham church was one of the five churches in the Benefice even then, so we had lots of different people, vicars and Readers leading the services. All Saints’ and the Methodist church worked together, too, and I sometimes went there for services. About 20 people regularly attended All Saints’ on a Sunday but for festival services- Christmas, Easter and so on, the church was full. 

I became aware that Major Batt- Lord of the Manor- “ran the place”. His wife ran a small Sunday School when we first arrived. My neighbour and friend two doors up, who had visited me early on, had been Mrs Batt’s “lady’s maid” when she came to Gresham. Her train was met at the station by a chauffeur-driven car sent to collect her. Later she married the chauffeur and moved into the village house near mine- Wal-net. They had two boys. I met the Batts, regularly at church, but I did not “bow and scrape” as some did.

In those days, the Sunday School was helped by the primary school: a room in the school was provided for teaching on Sundays and the school helped with resources, printing and so on. My husband, Ted, always used to buy a Christmas tree for the children to have in church. One year, it was not decorated and we found out that Mrs Goddard who had taken over the Sunday School from Mrs Batt, had left. I said: “I couldn’t do that” but ended up leading the Sunday School, with another friend from 1988 until the 2000s. This was a “very enjoyable time for me- I never intended to do any of it but just dropped into it, like being Church Warden as well.”

I used to give the Church Warden in the late 90s a lift to church and we became good friends. I used to help her prepare for the services as I was there. Unfortunately the Church Warden died suddenly, so I took over just for the time being, but I ended up being persuaded to become an official Church Warden two years later in 2001, when I reached 70. I retired in 2019 or 20, when I suffered ill- health.

When I arrived in Gresham there was a shop and Post Office opposite the bus stop. The shop was a general store and I used it to shop two or three times a week. It was not well run by a later owner, who would complain that villagers asked her for change for the bus fare to go to Sheringham or Cromer where they shopped in larger stores! Trade in the shop continued to decline when that owner’s son took over. His later wife was better, but her influence was too late to repair the damage already done and the shop closed.

I remember the pub as a very popular place in the village. The public used to spill out onto the road in the summer as it was so busy.  I got to know the landlady well- she was a lovely person. When I made cakes to sell in aid of the Sunday School, she sold them for me. My husband used to meet friends at the pub from neighbouring villages every Tuesday. When he died, I still went there regularly to socialise with the landlady.

Gresham does show community spirit in times of adversity. During one winter when we were frozen in, ( early 80s), people looked after each other. Tractors went over the fields to fetch supplies from nearby towns and it was all coordinated. One thing I took over was the Neighbourhood Link card- a card with phone numbers of people willing to transport others to hospital, or to appointments, they could not otherwise access. It has been going for 30 years and now needs someone else to take it on.

There have been lots of changes over the years. When we arrived, we had open views on three sides- now houses have been built-The Meadows, Paston Close in the 90s, some individual houses and the terrace on the main road. I do miss the views, but as a younger person, I always had a camera with me so I have lovely photos of those views. There are fewer busses than previously but not necessarily more traffic.

There have been difficult times to deal with- as Church Warden, I was upset that I could not hire the Village Hall facilities for church events easily in recent years- I gave a lot of time to supporting the fundraising for the Village Hall, after all. Although I feel frustrated that I am not able to be as active as previously, I do love the fact that children on their way to and from school wave to me daily, as I wait for them to go past.

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