I was looking for something else, I didn’t actually find what I was after, because of gates and no access signs and the sound of people murdering wildlife in Westwick woods, but as I pootled down another dead end this vista was there, so I hopped along the lane a bit further in the drizzle and took a shot of it.
In Domesday Worstead is Wrdesteda/Ordested an old Saxon word meaning place or ‘gaff’ presumably Wirda’s place. King Cnut/Canute (back waves back etc) gave the village to the abbots of St. Benet’s, the one with the mill in the middle of it on the River Bure. The village gained prosperity in the twelfth century when weavers from Flanders arrived bringing their voodoo weaving skills, they were encouraged to settle in Norfolk by King Edward III of England who had married a Flemish princess. Odd given that The Bishop of Norwich Henry le Despenser then attacked Ypres in 1383 as part of the hundred years war he was slightly driven by the cloth economy and Ypres position in the market. The Le Despensers were a rotten bunch generally, he was the man who quelled the rebellion in North Walsham the Le Despencer family variously ended up being killed in various horrible ways. Oddly my wife is vaguely related to them about 700 years back via another Norman family that her ancestors married into, so I try my best not to upset her in case she lowers me face first into a fire or mutilates me in my sleep or something worse.
The church is impressive, a big old thing in a little village, built on the money from the cloth trade, It’s size is the result of multiple bequests it is vast and glorious and sticks up through the trees like a beacon. It also has a very fine Rood Screen, beautiful in fact, and allegedly has a ghost which someone managed to photograph while it was having a rest in a pew. You can read a lot more about it here. The village hosts a rather nice festival in the summer too, which is ripe for nice unusual photos of our rustic entertainments (see below for a sample).
Worsted cloth derives its name from the town and its weaving heritage, John Cubitt the Last Worsted weaver of Worsted in Worstead died in 1882 at the age of 91. The was also a Walsham cloth which was quite famous, but not as much so. I always remember as a kid being driven to Norwich there being sheep in the fields around Westwick, like some echo of the past glory.
Westwick is another story in itself which I’ll save for another day, but lets just say there’s hidden stuff, folly, enclosure and desertion if you look and if you can get access you’re a lucky man, because the estate is still private even now as far as I’m aware.