Church Activities

(Photo above - the Good Friday procession of the Cross.)

Church Organisations & Events 

The main events of Mulbarton Church were the regular services. The parish had a Rector to itself until 1993 and there were 2 or 3 services each Sunday. The format might change, but the purpose was the same: to worship God and give him the glory.

(Above) Welcome into the church! Baptism certificate, 1906, signed by the then Rector, Rev J Carleton Steward.


The Prodding Verger - Mulbarton c.1890

I remember....when I was a boy....nigh on eighty-five years ago. We lads were in the choir and so was dad. There was an old verger, and if we lads didn't behave ourselves he'd prod us with a six-foot stick, which he kept for that purpose. ...One Sunday morning I started larking around. First he prodded me, and then seeing that didn't stop me, he strode up, took me by the arm, and started marching me down the whole length of the aisle; and... the Church was packed in them days. But I see'd the door open (it was summer you see) and....when we were opposite that door I gave a good squirm and was off, and out of that Church before you could look round. Didn't I enjoy myself on the Common that morning! But when I got home me old Dad gave me such a hiding, and promised me worse if it should happen again.
(From 'Within Living Memory - a collection of Norfolk Reminiscences' (written and compiled by members of the Norfolk Federation of WIs, 1971) All anonymous)

Two memories of the 1940s and '50s:

I was 10 years old when I joined Mulbarton Church choir, where the organist and choirmaster was Arthur Bussey. He was an excellent organist and choirmaster, but he was very strict. Choir practice was every Friday evening, and we attended Church for Morning and Evening services. If we sang at a wedding we were paid 6d each (2½ p).

Every year we joined other choirs from Norfolk to sing in Norwich Cathedral on the Saturday nearest to St. George's Day. We rehearsed in the afternoon, and Mr. Bussey took us for tea at Purdy's Restaurant on Tombland. Then we sang in the evening - it used to be a wonderful occasion.

In the summer we always had an outing to the seaside, and every Christmas a visit to the pantomime at the Theatre Royal. The Rector in those days was Rev. A. St. John Heard, and when I left the choir in 1958 it was the Rev. Mosby.

Evelyn Smith (nee Stackyard)
Choir 1946 with Rev A St John Heard (seated 3rd from left) next to Arthur Bussey, organist.
Choir 1946 with Rev A St John Heard (seated 3rd from left) next to Arthur Bussey, organist.

I was a member of Mulbarton Church choir for several years and have fond memories of taking part in church services, choir festivals etc. Mr Arthur Bussey was choir master and an organist of a very high standard. We always sang special anthems during the Church's year for Easter, Whitsun, and Harvest Festival. The church was always full for special services and well decorated, but not so full for the regular Sunday services. The choir were seated near to the organ and in the earlier days it was necessary for the organ to be pumped by one of the boys, and once an electric pump was available there was not so much subdued giggling in the choir!

The Mulbarton choir also used to travel round the diocese for festivals at other churches such as Hethersett and Newton Flotman. Once a year, Mr Bussey took us to the Diocesan Choir Festival at Norwich Cathedral in the summer where we took part in the festival having learnt the special songs and anthems at our weekly choir practices in the church on Friday evenings We used to go to the cathedral for an afternoon rehearsal and then he would take us out to tea at somewhere like Purdy's Restaurant on Tombland, or once to the Samson and Hercules ballroom. We would then go back to the Cathedral for the Festival event. He was very good to us and took us to a summer shows at Great Yarmouth and to the Pantomime at the Theatre Royal in Norwich at Christmas.

Choir 1953 - Rev St John Heard and Arthur Bussey in middle row
Choir 1953 - Rev St John Heard and Arthur Bussey in middle row

The Revd. Heard was vicar in the early part of my life and lived down Rectory Lane in what is now the Old Rectory. His wife was an invalid so we did not know her, but he was one of the few people who had a private car which he used to drive along the common at about 5mph!

We had a Sunday School run by a Miss Larter, a sweet little lady who lived up the corner by the pond. Mr. Middleton [Postmaster]....was a handbell ringer and a church bell ringer. Mr. Nicholls, husband of a teacher at school, was a warden at the Vale Hospital in Swainsthorpe which was a sort of workhouse for elderly men. He used to bring them to church at Mulbarton sometimes. He was a very nice man and used to sing Bass in the church choir when he was not on duty. I can always remember him singing the 150th psalm at Harvest Festival in his lovely bass voice - "Praise God in His Holiness" etc. etc.                                       Brenda Ford (nee Collins)

Rev 'Sandy' Sanderson with church choir after a wedding - c.1964
Rev 'Sandy' Sanderson with church choir after a wedding - c.1964


These were a long tradition in Mulbarton - the School Log Book records that until the summer holiday dates were fixed, the whole school closed for the occasion, as the staff were usually involved in the choir:

1881: July 22nd ...A holiday was given on Monday as Mistress went with the Church Choir to Yarmouth

1883: July 13th - The Master is a choir member - and closes the school for the choir outing to Yarmouth (Bank Hol Mon) and children continue to have an annual treat.

1898: Aug 12th School closed for day for Annual Choir Excursion to Lowestoft

1910: Aug. 8th Choir outing today - 12 choirboys absent on this account.

Being part of the church choir had some rewards in the inter-war years!

MULBARTON CHOIR OUTING - Local newspaper report, Aug. 6th 1931

Mulbarton Church choir and bellringers were given an outing by road to Yarmouth on Thursday. The party, numbering 20, was accompanied by the Rector, Rev. A. R. Vaughan Daubeney, and the organist, Mrs. Howard. Lunch and tea was served at Ellis's restaurant....

Choir outing to the seaside, 1948 - Arthur Bussey, Organist & Choirmaster back row, far right.
Choir outing to the seaside, 1948 - Arthur Bussey, Organist & Choirmaster back row, far right.

MULBARTON CHURCH CHOIR ENTERTAINED - Local newspaper report, Jan. 29th 1932

The Mulbarton Church choir were on Friday entertained to a supper at the Rectory by the Rev. A. R. Vaughan Daubeney and Mrs. Daubeney....After supper games, dancing, etc were enjoyed, and songs were rendered by members of the choir; there was also community singing.... Selections and change ringing was given on the handbells, and an enjoyable evening was spent..... This is the first Christmas [the Rector and Mrs. Daubeney] have spent at Mulbarton....

Mulbarton Church choir 1987, with Rev Geoffrey Unwin (black stole) and Lay Reader George Faulks (blue stole)
Mulbarton Church choir 1987, with Rev Geoffrey Unwin (black stole) and Lay Reader George Faulks (blue stole)

A robed choir continued until the late 1980s. Later, a music group was formed to lead the congregation in worship.



'The Sunday School teacher was Mr. Blackman. He had travelled the Bible lands as a soldier. What tales he told! He brought the Bible to life and was partly to blame for one boy becoming a regular soldier and travelling the desert trails... At Sunday School, pictorial stamps were given for attendance; these were kept in little albums.


With no church hall, the Sunday School was still held in church, with boards put over the pews for some activities. The Sunday School was led by the Rector's wife, Daphne Unwin, and Mrs Bastin from the Methodist Chapel. They had hoped to hold the Sunday School in the Chapel at the same time as the Church morning service, but decided it was too dangerous to take children across the B1113.

Patronal Festival

Special events and services were organised around July 22nd - St Mary Magdalen's Day. Garden parties in the garden of the Old Rectory were a village highlight - with plenty of cakes from the Rectory kitchen! The new Rectory garden (and kitchen) were far smaller so there was room for fewer stalls and games. In the 1980s church fetes moved to the Village Hall and most of the funds raised was given to home and overseas mission work. 

Investigations into building a church room onto the church came to nothing - FAR too expensive, and then the house next-door-but one went up for sale at a reasonable price and was bought in 1993. Renamed Harvest House, it has a large room for activities, office, prayer room, youth room and large garden.

The congregation in the garden of Harvest House for coffee after the service, 2005
The congregation in the garden of Harvest House for coffee after the service, 2005