Why Name ?
Why Name ?

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Why the Name?

It is suggested that here was a HOLY WELL, a place for baptism. In 1934 I remember my grandfather showing me this WELL or pool situated adjacent to the Eriswell Road, some 200 yards north of Holywell Farm House. He also claimed that this was a starting place when rowing to Ely Cathedral. Hence HOLYWELL ROW. This tends to tie in with the winding nature of the STREET. For this characteristic is due almost certainly to the high water mark in winter. Also, almost certainly looking due west from this point for six months of the year one would have been confronted by flood water. The suggestion of this high water mark is strengthened by the fact that not until modern local drainage post WWII only 9 cottages were located on the North of the Street, with 31 on the South. Also I have ice skated from the front gate of No. 4 to Lakenheath some 6 miles, during the severe winter of 1941-42. Land to the north of the village street was made up of either water meadows or heath land resulting in adequate feeding of the dairy herd kept at Holywell Farm i.e. good grazing in winter on heath land and lush grass and hay on water meadows in summer. Conventional crops wheat, barley and mangolds could only be grown on the grade I land (about a quarter of the total) to the south. Hurst Fen to the east provided a ready supply of reed for thatching, sedge for litter and an inexhaustible stock of firewood. Evidence of early settlement in the village was confirmed when a Neolithic (New Stone) age farmstead covering 1 hectares was excavated near Hurst Fen, arrowheads, querns and fragments of pots with rounded bases were found.

Postoffice 1936  > Simply click to enlarge... then use the [Back] button to returnNo public house since the middle of the 19th century. At the time the little cottage now known as Walnut Tree Grove on the Mildenhall Road, served as the local hostelry, but there was a village store and post office until 1948 (now No. 32 a private residence). This store was owned and operated by my Grandmother, Kate Haylock, who annually for some 5 months of the winter was able to increase her sales by some 30%, because of the influx of Romany families to a Paddock adjoining the store, owned by Mr. Isaiah Brinkley, who had settled in the village around 1900. These Romany families would spend the Spring and Summer months working in labour intensive crops (sugar beet, potatoes) in the, very fertile, Burnt Fen. As the whole family worked (children had no schooling), by the time they arrived in Holywell Row (up to 30 caravans) they had considerable savings, and to my grandmother's delight were big spenders. I remember well visiting the shop after school to find 10-15 Romany children buying sweets and toys galore, and walking back home past the Romany site salivating heavily due to the delicious smells coming from their outdoor cooking pots. I wonder, was it someone's rooster or was it hedgehog? Whatever it was it smelled jolly good. Happy days, but tough.

Drawing of Methodist Church  > Simply click to enlarge... then use the [Back] button to returnAn unusual feature of Holywell Row is that the Quakers had a meeting house here from as early as 1678. The earliest headstone in the graveyard is dated 1698. The original building had a thatched roof of sedge and was built like a barn, except that it was boarded up all round inside and had a ceiling. The woodwork was unpainted and my grandfather was the first to put any paint on it in 1885. Like most country meeting houses Holywell Row served a large scattered area; Friends (Society of Friends-Quakers), coming to the meeting on horseback, in carts and carriages, and on footfrom all the district around. In 1759 a brick wall, six feet high was built round the graveyard to keep the cattle out, the village Common commenced nearby, the date was inserted in the brickwork in red bricks, the figures being four feet high. Nearby were the village stocks, the keys were kept by my Great Great Grandfather, he was the village constable and the last person to have charge of the keys, 1816-1824. My Great Grandfather was then a small boy and was sent to school in the cottage adjoining the meeting house. The school was kept by a lady named Dinah Payne and it was open five days a week, the weekly fee being one (old) penny. My Grandfather also went to the same cottage school in 1875 before the school in Beck Row was built. People from as far away as Brandon used the graveyard. One ancient inscription is worthy of notice, "Guy Bullen of Brandon died ye twenty fifth day of ye third month commonly known as MARCH". The Quakers called the days and months by their numbers, discarding the names because of their Pagan origin.

Decorated farm wagons c1930, Sunday School outing  > Simply click to enlarge... then use the [Back] button to returnIn 1815 permission was obtained from the Society of Friends to place Holywell Row on the Methodist Plan. This followed a mission in Beck Row Weslyan Chapel at this time by Isaac Marsden, a great Methodist preacher, and in 1890 the centenary of Robert Raikes, Decorated farm wagons c1930, Sunday School outing  > Simply click to enlarge... then use the [Back] button to return founder of the Sunday School movement was celebrated in the grounds of the Manor House, Mildenhall, home of the Bunbury family who owned the village of Holywell Row. Scholars came to the celebration from surrounding Sunday Schools in ornately decorated farm wagons and this annual custom was kept up until the advent of the motor bus leading to Sunday School outings to the seaside. These annual decorated farm wagon tours of surrounding villages, with the horses in shining plumes and wearing gleaming brasses, took 6 to 8 hours for the round trip of some 12 to 14 miles, caused great excitement for both children and adults.

 > Simply click to enlarge... then use the [Back] button to return  > Simply click to enlarge... then use the [Back] button to return  > Simply click to enlarge... then use the [Back] button to return

Holywell Row had no large farms and compared to its neighbours, Beck Row and West Row, was a poor labourer inhabited hamlet. Then one of these labourers was thrust into the limelight in 1946 when it was learnt that Gordon Butcher, a ploughman of Holywell Row was the man who found one of the British Museum's most prized exhibits, a magnificent hoard of Roman silver known as the Mildenhall Treasure, whilst ploughing in January 1942 in the village of West Row.

Silver Band c1920 l-r back ?unknown, Donald Haylock, ?unknown, William Morley, Reginald Morley. Front ?unknown, ?unknown, William Haylock, Fritz Golding, Thomas Sturgess  > Simply click to enlarge... then use the [Back] button to returnSmall it may be but Holywell Row could once boast its own Silver Band. This was active from its foundation around 1875 until it petered out in 1935. Originated by Matthew Haylock it was carried on by his son William and was always in great demand at local flower shows and village fairs.
Silver Band c1885 l-r Harry Golding, William Haylock, John Golding, ?unknown, Thomas Haylock, Mathew Haylock > Simply click to enlarge... then use the [Back] button to return

2000 Bill Haylock
 

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