Church of St Agnes
At the centre of the village lies the medieval perpendicular parish church of St Agnes, which is a Grade I listed building. The church was erected at the end of the 14th century with a tower standing at 120 feet.
A brick paviour floor in the church was recently listed in the SPAB top 20 floors in the UK, and is suspected to be original medieval flooring. The floor is however in a poor state of repair, especially under the medieval backless pews.
A deeply moulded doorway with a wodehouse or wild man and a dragon. The crest of De La Pole family was the head of a wild man. The De Pole’s were the Earls of Suffolk who largely rebuilt this magnificent church and its mighty tower in the early 15th century..
St Agnes contains three 15th century misericords. One shows two women facing each other, another is a portrait of a man, and the third, a stag’s head surrounded by foliage.
The Rood Screen
The year 1698 saw an event which had featured in many guide books and directories, when on 20 August the last duel fought in Norfolk took place on Cawston Heath. The contestants were Sir Henry Hobart MP of Blickling Hall and Oliver Le Neve, a lawyer from Great Witchingham. Le Neve, described as a great sportsman and a great drinker, fought left-handed and was soon wounded in the arm by Sir Henry who had a reputation as a swordsman. However, Le Neve then struck back and injured his opponent so badly that he died next day at Blickling. As there appear to have been no seconds or witnesses, the duel was illegal. Le Neve fled to Holland but returned to England two years later, having received a pardon.
It is said locally that details of the duel came from a girl who was hiding in the bushes, and tales are still told of this unfortunate event which is commemorated by the Duel Stone which stands in a small National Trust plot near the Woodrow Garage, Norwich Road, Cawston.
Cawston village hall and play park are in the village.
In 1863 a reading room was opened at Oak House. At that time reading was still considered an accomplishment, eight years before the opening of our village school. A visitor to Cawston a few years ago told of how one of her ancestors used to go to the Friendship Inn at Eastgate, where he lived, to read the weekly paper to his friends. There were “private schools” here at that time and in the Norfolk Directory for 1845 the names of two “schoolmasters” appear, William Wells and Robert Yallop.
Compulsory education came with the passing of the 1870 Education Act, and it was on 6 March 1871, that the Rector opened the school at Cawston with 92 pupils on the books, in the care of Mrs. Bilby as Head Teacher, assisted by Mr. Bilby. On 24 May 1890 the school had a holiday for the birthday of Queen Victoria and the Relief of Mafeking. In the immediate post-war years the school was “bursting at the seams”, with more than 180 children in the four classrooms, two of which were divided by a curtain. Playground space was very small, and PE lessons were taken on the strip of road outside the school entrance. Games were played on the Homestead at the back of Church Farm, where the annual sports were held, and the village football team played its home matches. School meals were introduced in 1949 and were served in two sittings in the present Scout Hut near the Rectory, a charge being one shilling per meal for the first child, 4d for the second, and 3d for subsequent children in a family. On 5 May 1953 the new school building came into use, and on 20 July, the school was officially opened by Dr. F. Lincoln Ralphs, Chief Education Officer for Norfolk. The vastly improved facilities, particularly the playing field, were welcomed. In 1957 the school was reorganised as a Junior and Infant School, the seniors (11+) being transferred to the new school at Aylsham, pending the completion of the Reepham High School, which the Seniors now attend.[original research?]
Cawston Brass Band
Cawston & District Band was formed in 1886. They practised on Monday & Wednesday evenings at the Bell Inn at the High Street in Cawston in a first floor room now converted into 3 Bed & Breakfast rooms. They played around the village including the Market Hill & held band contests, a highlight of the village, they were always very popular with Cawston people. The Band was named The Cawston Prize Silver Band. In 1957 the band master was Mr Baxter, the deputy band master was Mr Stearman & Mr Carman was the Sergeant of the band. Young members included Mr Ian Delf & Peter Fuller. The band moved from the Bell Inn in the 1960s to the Primary School & then again in the 1970s to the Mission Room in Horsham St. Faiths, relocating in 1998 to their present home at the St. Faiths Centr. They are now called the Cawston Brass Band.