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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 people'.

Hickling Village Sign

Hickling Village Sign

Hickling Broad

Hickling Broad

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 features a 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.

Pleasure Boat Inn, Hickling

The Pleasure Boat Inn


More photographs of Hickling





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