The Parish of Roudham and Larling straddles the A11 between Thetford and Attleborough in Norfolk. It is formed from the two ancient parishes which centred round the churches of St Andrew, Roudham, and St Ethelbert, Larling. St Andrew’s is now a ruin, after workmen repairing the building in 1736 accidentally set fire to the thatched roof. The ecclesiastical parish continued, and the church remains consecrated to this day. In addition to the two villages, there is a hamlet more or less on the border between these two parishes, which grew up either side of the London-Norwich railway line and the station of Harling Road. There is also the usual pepper pot scattering of more remote rural dwellings.
Until 1894 the churches performed all the functions of local government. This all changed with the Local Government Act, 1894, which created civil parishes alongside each of the ecclesiastical ones. All the duties which did not relate to church matters were transferred to the civil parishes, each of which was governed by a parish meeting, or (when the number of residents in the parish justified it) an elected parish council.
In 1894 both civil parishes were covered by Parish Meetings. The first meeting of Roudham Parish Meeting was held on 4 December 1894, and we have a complete record of Parish Meeting minutes from that date. Sadly we have been unable to locate any corresponding minutes of Larling Parish Meeting.
The early history of the two parishes is unclear, but we do know that under an Order Establishing Parish Councils, dated 29 December 1894, Norfolk County Council established Councils for a number of parishes, including Roudham. We are unable to locate any records of meetings of Roudham Parish Council during this period, but a Parish Meeting on 15 November 1900 resolved to petition the County Council to dissolve the Parish Council, and this was achieved by an Order for the Dissolution of Roudham Parish Council dated 1 December 1900.
Norfolk was a county of small villages, and so there were a lot of small parishes. The County of Norfolk Review Order, 1935 sought to rationalise this, and under this Larling Parish was ‘abolished’ and merged with Roudham Parish. The name of the resultant enlarged parish was not changed from Roudham.
However, in 1946 things changed again, and the Parish of Roudham (Establishment of Parish Council) Order, 1946 (dated 26 October 1946) once again created a Parish Council for Roudham Parish. The first meeting of the new Council was on 7 November 1946. We have a complete record of the minutes of meetings from that date.
It was not for many years that anything was done about the parish’s name, but on 14 August 2000, at the request of the Parish Council, Breckland Council sealed a Notice of the Change of Parish Name. The parish then became Roudham and Larling.
(All documents referred to are held at Norfolk Record Office. Parish Council documents are under reference PC 197.)