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We want our tree back! New signs move ancient oak from Hethersett to Wymondham

PUBLISHED: 17:01 11 September 2018 | UPDATED: 17:01 11 September 2018

The parish boundary between Wymondham and Hethersett on the B1172, just before Ketts Oak to the right. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

The parish boundary between Wymondham and Hethersett on the B1172, just before Ketts Oak to the right. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Copyright: Archant 2018

A resident of a village near Norwich was outraged to find out that new signs had appeared to change the village boundary, relocating a historic landmark to a nearby town.

The new Wymondham road signs, standing on the B1172 by the Elm Farm Business Park. Picture: DENISE BRADLEYThe new Wymondham road signs, standing on the B1172 by the Elm Farm Business Park. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

However, Norfolk County Council’s Highways department knows nothing about them.

Duncan Pigg B.E.M, a former district councillor, was concerned to see a sign on the B1172 that said he was in Wymondham, when he was in fact within the Hethersett border by David James Cars.

Mr Pigg said: “Of course I know better but 99pc of people will not.

“They will not have seen the Kett’s Oak tree which stands in Hethersett and the plaque installed by the Hethersett Society about the history of the tree.”

Kett's Oak. PHOTO: David WoodcockKett's Oak. PHOTO: David Woodcock

Kett’s Oak is a remnant of what was possibly Hethersett’s most culturally significant event, when John Flowerdew’s hedges were torn down as part of Robert Kett’s infamous rebellion in 1549.

The Oak is said to commemorate the spot where rebels gathered before marching to Mousehold Heath in Norwich. A plaque erected by the Hethersett Society in 2006 describes the Oak as “just inside the Hethersett Parish boundary”.

However, the Oak is not the only issue Mr Pigg is worried about.

He said: “Since I was district councillor serving on South Norfolk Planning Committee in the 1980s it has always been a policy to have a green break between Wymondham and Hethersett and this has always been supported by Wymondham Town Council and Hethersett Parish Council.

Ketts Oak Photo:Sonya DuncanKetts Oak Photo:Sonya Duncan

“Now your new sign has put them adjacent to each other, although in fact this is not the case. However, a keen developer and some land owner or even a planning inspector might assume incorrectly that we have accepted no break. Is there any need for these signs when there are more appropriate signs nearer the town?”

Mr Pigg wrote to the County Council Highways Department in August.

A Norfolk County Council spokesperson said: “We are aware of these signs and have work planned to remove them as soon as possible.

“They were not put in place by our Highways department and we have already been in contact with the member of the public who alerted us to this issue to notify them the signs will be removed.”

Robert Kett, under the Oak of Reformation at his Great Camp on Mousehold Heath, Norwich, receives the Earl of Warwick's Herald, August 22 1549.

Painting by Samuel Wale (1721-1786), oil on canvas, about 1740s

Picture in the Bridewell Museum, NorwichRobert Kett, under the Oak of Reformation at his Great Camp on Mousehold Heath, Norwich, receives the Earl of Warwick's Herald, August 22 1549. Painting by Samuel Wale (1721-1786), oil on canvas, about 1740s Picture in the Bridewell Museum, Norwich

Hethersett District Councillor David Bills said: “As rightly stated the strategic gap between Hethersett and Wymondham is to be protected most closely and whilst this is not a planning matter it does give the wrong impression.

“The boundary between us is much closer to Wymondham and definitely past Ketts Oak which is Hethersett’s. Ordinance survey maps show this.

“There has long been good humoured banter between Hethersett and Wymondham so when I first saw this I was amused thinking Wymondham were trying to take ‘us over!’ and reported it.

“I am delighted that Highways are taking steps to replace these signs and look forward to a speedy resolution.”

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