Showing posts from August, 2007

Hethel Old Thorn and Church

Roll up! See England’s oldest hawthorn tree, the smallest nature reserve and a church with a history spanning a thousand years and more!
Hethel Thorn and church are away from the Lotus works and wartime airfield, on the far side of the wood. It is said the thorn was a meeting place for rebels in the reign of King John! A legend links it to Joseph of Arimathia’s staff. Whatever the truth, the tree is certainly very old! A figure of 700 years is often given! Today it is in the care of the Norfolk Wildlife Trust and stands in its own micro nature reserve.
The name Hethel comes from the Old English meaning heather hill but visiting the parish I failed to find anything that resembled a heather hill. I couldn’t even find a hill! But the thorn grows at one end of what looks to be an ancient earthwork. Was this the heather hill? I wondered. Perhaps there had been a meeting place there long before a church was built!
Whatever the case, the church is certainly old! Its tower, with long and sh…