At one time there were at least four licensed premises in the Village. As well as The Greyhound and The Pleasure Boat, both flourishing today, there was The White Horse at the Green and The Bull near the Church.
Agriculture has always been a major feature of rural life in Hickling, and it continues to be so today, though many fewer people now work on the land than formerly.
In 1818 it is recorded that 12 children were being taught under a bequest by the Rev. John Wells (Vicar from 1769) for the education of poor children. In 1839 there was a Charity School with 20 boys and 25 girls; and the present Hickling School was opened in 1861, designed to accommodate 70 children. The School House, to house the Head Teacher, was built in 1879.
HICKLING has a long and fascinating history, extending for more than a thousand years. William the Conqueror's Doomsday Book, 1086, refers to the Village as Hikelinga, and mentions a Church being here - noting that Godwin, a free man of Edric of Laxfield' s, held Hickling before 1066.
Hickling Priory, some distance from the Parish Church towards Sea Palling, was founded in 1185. The Priory was granted a Charter by King John, in 1204, to hold a weekly market. The market took place near St. Mary's Parish Church for some five hundred years. (The Priory ruins are on private land and are not open to the public.)
The building of the present Parish Church began in the early twelve hundreds. Work continued into the next century, with later additions and restorations. In 1287 a great flood engulfed the Village, and 180 people were drowned. The waters rose a foot above the high altar of the Priory Church. Less than a century later, in 1349, the Black Death struck. At the Priory only two of the Canons were left alive, and more than half the population of the Village must have died.
During the Middle Ages peat was dug from the marshes for fuel; the diggings later flooding to form the Broads. Hickling Broad, the largest and wildest of the Norfolk Broads, has for a long time played an important part in the social and commercial life of the Village; and Hickling is internationally famous for its wetland nature reserve.
Both Stubb Mill, an important drainage mill, and Hickling Mill, near the Methodist Chapel, date from the early nineteenth century. Hickling Mill was described in 1819 as a handsome new mill. It had eight floors and three pairs of French stones, being capable of producing 4320 stones of wheat in a week.
The present Village playing field was bought in 1937 to mark the Coronation of King George VI, father of our present Queen.
The Royal Family has shown an affection for Hickling over the years. King George V and King George VI visited the Village and Whiteslea Lodge. One occasion in 1959 is well remembered when, because Whiteslea Lodge was flooded, the Duke of Edinburgh and Charles, Prince of Wales, stayed at The Pleasure Boat Inn. The Prince of Wales was in Hickling in 2001 to visit the Nature Reserve.
Local History GroupThe Hickling Local History Group was established in June 2000 to promote a greater knowledge of the history of Hickling but disbanded in 2009.
It aimed to study all aspects of the history of the Parish of Hickling and, given that today's activities are tomorrow's history, and can shape the future, the scope of the Group studies included contemporary history and interest in the future of the village.
Many of the results of the Group’s research and publication can be seen on the website “Hickling History”