- A feature from the August 2017 issue of Suffolk Norfolk Life magazine
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By Philip J Chapman
On this occasion I found it difficult to give a correct title to this article as Reepham is entwined with Whitwell and Hackford together with a much smaller Kerdiston but the decision was made to make Reepham the main interest whilst the other areas will be mentioned in ‘dispatches’! The Kelly’s directory for 1912 reveals how the parishes are closely linked and I can do no better than use extracts to explain a complicated situation.
Reepham is described as “a small town and parish on the banks of the Eyn with a station on the East Norfolk branch of the Great Eastern railway and is 7 ½ miles west-south-west of Aylsham”. Whitwell likewise is described as “a parish to the south of Reepham with a station on the Midland and Great Northern joint railway, 9 miles west-south-west from Aylsham” whilst Kerdiston is described as “a parish 1½ miles north-west” and finally “Hackford-next-Reepham is a parish which includes Reepham market place and town. The church, which stood in Reepham churchyard, was destroyed by fire in 1543: the parishioners attend Whitwell church.”
I expect local people understood the situation in the early part of the 20th century but, by today’s local government boundaries, these descriptions appear confusing to say the least. Suffice it to say that there were originally no less than three parish churches that were constructed very close together in the centre of what is now known as Reepham. My wife serves on a present day “Churches Together” committee, but I am sure nothing like this was operating in earlier times! However, these places were well served by railways at that time if not in the 21st century. I would now like to share with readers some images from picture postcards that were published in the first quarter of the 20th century.