The Forncett History Group met on 15 June at Forncett St Edmund’s. The officers were confirmed for the coming year, as was the agreement to have an annual £10 membership subscription. Reports were given on the two recent visits by members of the group.
On 13 May a small group visited the Landscape Archaeology Unit at Gressenhall Museum, where Dr Alice Cattermole had made an interesting selection of aerial photographs of Forncett to back up her talk about the continually developing record of the local landscape in former times. The facility at the LAU has improved noticeably since our last visit; the computerized database is more impressive and also viewable by projection, with various overlays and comparisons possible from a variety of mapping records – tithing and Ordnance Survey maps of various types. These are then used with data relating to buildings and archaeological features to establish ‘snapshots’ of the landscape at various times. Thanks to Alice’s local knowledge and expertise we gained a great deal from the visit and are certainly keen to visit again. It was pointed out that input from Forncett folk would be much appreciated to add to the information already on file. In fact a member brought a number of items found in their house, and these are at present being analysed at the LAU.
Then on 8 June nine members enjoyed a guided tour of the Norfolk Record Office by Victoria Horth, who explained how visitors could best make use of this remarkable facility. She also led us behind the scenes to one of the temperature-controlled archive storage areas and into the conservation lab, where a principle conservator showed how both paper and vellum documents were restored to a usable state. This aspect of the Archive Centre’s work proved especially interesting to everyone. Afterwards we were able to study a selection of documents (previously suggested by the chairman) relating to the Forncetts, including plans for the Wymondham-Forncett branch line, documents relating to the ‘Norfolk Arms’, a fine book of maps of land ownership from 1817, the tithing map, some facts about the war memorial at Forncett St Peter and a bill of sale for the public weighbridge at the Old Sale Yard.
The chairman was pleased to introduce a guest to the meeting, Darren BASSINGTHWAIGHTE, with whom he had recently been in touch. Darren’s family is quite closely attached to the Forncetts, as his forebears lie interred both at Forncett St Mary and Forncett St Peter. Wearing his ‘Forncett Archive’ hat, the chairman had found a number of references to the family from the parish registers and the fact that a Cecil B had been cowman at Old Hall Farm for the Hightons. Albert B had been the blacksmith at Forncett St Mary and the chairman thought this occupation might prove an interesting topic for research.
Work is progressing on two possible publications, possibly with some funding to support production costs, especially for the ‘Book of Remembrance’ in each church.