|The Broadland village of Hickling lies a few miles
north of Potter Heigham.
The village comprises Hickling Heath, Hickling Green and
Stubb and the name derives from the 'place of Hicela's
Hickling Village Sign
Hickling Broad is the largest of the Norfolk broads
covering 141 hectares. It is also one of the shallowest
- with a depth rarely exceeding 6 ft. It has a number of
literary associations including being the opening
location for George Christopher Davies' novel The
Swan and Her Crew: Or the Adventures of Three Young
Naturalist and Sportsmen on the Broads and Rivers of
Norfolk. The book was first published by Frederick
Warne & Co in 1876 and concerns the exploits of three
boys: Jimmy, Dick and Frank. It was an early example of
a children's adventure story and undoubtedly influenced
Arthur Ransome's Swallows and Amazons series.
Ransome set both Coot Club and The Big Six
on the Norfolk Broads - with
Horning providing the epicentre for the action.
There is an
interesting ghost story about Hickling Broad - which
drummer boy from Potter Heigham. In the winter before
the battle of Waterloo, the boy came home on leave from
the army and fell in love with a girl from
the village. Unfortunately the girl's father refused to
accept a soldier as a son-in-law and so the couple were
forced to meet in secret at Swim Coots on Hickling
Broad. Every February the drummer boy would skate across
the Broad to meet his love - but one evening the ice
gave way and he was drowned. Today, his
ghost is said to haunt the Broad during the month of
February to the accompaniment of ghostly drumming.
The writer Oliver G. Ready (1864-1940) grew up in
Hickling and his memoir Life and Sport on the Norfolk
Broads (1910) provides a delightful insight into
Broadland life during the early part of the 19th Century.
At this time shooting wildfowl was still common - as
were other Broadland crafts such as reed cutting, eel
catching and thatching.
Ready was born at Waxham but moved to the vicarage
at Hickling when he was a boy. Its location in a lane close to the
broad inspired him and gave him first hand experience of
the surrounding reedbeds, willow and scrub.
Coot shooting on Hickling Broad was still a popular sport
well into the 20th Century and there is a fascinating
photograph of Prince Charles attending a shoot in 1959
when he was a boy.
Hickling Broad was also used as a film location in
Joseph Losey's adaptation of
The Go-Between by
L.P. Hartley. It is the place where the swimming party
takes place and
where Leo meets Ted Burgess for the first time.
The Pleasure Boat Inn