1891 Census Names Index for Downham Market
1891 Census Names Index for Downham Union Workhouse
Index of Marriages (1725-1812) (Alan Gresley)
Kelly's 1883
Clackclose hundred
Kelly's 1900 Directory entry [Martin Edwards]
Catholic church of St. Dominic [Simon Knott] (with my backview in the foreground)
Cemetary Chapels [Simon Knott]
Bexwell road postmill, Cowgate street towermill, Denver road postmill, Howdale postmill, Lynn road postmill,
    Mill Hill postmill, Downham Market steam mill, and Salters Lode smockmill [Jonathan Neville]
Downham Market Archeology [Norfolk Heritage Explorer]
More on Downham Market [GENUKI-NFK]
More Parish Information [Geoff Lowe & Andrew Rivett]
Return to villages index
Paddy's home page

Norfolk - Downham Market

Francis White's History, Gazetteer and Directory of Norfolk 1854, pp. 626-631

[Complete entry. Transcription Copyright © the late A.J. Carter, December 2000]

DOWNHAM MARKET is a pleasantly situated market town, chiefly consisting of two long and well built streets, seated on the eastern acclivity of the vale of the Great Ouse, overlooking the marshes, about a mile from the river ; 11½ miles S. of Lynn ; 13 miles E.S.E. of Wisbeach ; and 84 miles N. by E. of London. It has increased its population since the year 1801, from 1,512 to 3,262 souls in 1851, of whom 222 persons were in the Downham Union Workhouse, previously noticed ; and comprises 2,353a. 17p. of land, lying in several manors, and belonging to Sir Thos. Hare, Bart., E. R. Pratt, Esq., and a number of smaller proprietors. The former is lord of the largest manor, which, with several others, was given by King Edgar, to Ramsey Abbey, the abbot of which was invested with authority to try and [sic] execute malefactors at "his gallows at Downham." The manors in which the abbot exercised this authority are called the Liberties of Thomas Hare. The Market is held on Saturday, but has greatly declined during the present century, owing to the increase of those at Lynn, Dereham, Swaffham, and Wisbeach. A large butter market formerly held on Monday, where 90,000 firkins have been bought annually by factors, is now obsolete ; the growing of corn and wool, and the feeding of cattle being now more attended to in this part of the county than the dairy. Three large Fairs for horses, cattle, &c., are held on March 3rd, May 8th, and November 13th. Hirings for Servants are held on the Saturday fortnight before, and the Saturday after Old Michaelmas Day. The Bridge which crosses the Great Ouse, about a mile west of the town, is a large wooden structure, which was leased by the lord of the manor of Stow Bardolph, in the 32nd of Henry VI., to certain bridge reves, at the yearly rent of 13s. 4d., they being obliged to keep it in repair, and take the tolls, from which all the tenants of the said manor were to be exempt. The spring tides often rise here 25 feet, and are confined by high embankments, part of which gave way in 1833, and laid many hundred acres under water until the breach was repaired. About 4 miles S.W. of Downham, is the fen hamlet of NORTH DELPH, extending into this and several of the adjoining parishes. The soil in the neighbourhood of the town, except the marshes and fens, is in some places a light sand, and in others a loamy clay. The fens have been greatly improved within the last few years by the erection of steam engines. In 1568, seventeen "extraordinary large fishes," measuring from 20 to 27 feet were caught in the Ouse near the bridge. Martin King, a dwarf, only 4 feet in height, died here in 1807. Captain Manby, the inventor of the ingenious apparatus for saving the lives of ship-wrecked mariners, was born near Downham, in 1765, and has been long the resident of Yarmouth. He has recently presented the Mechanics' Institute of this place, with a valuable collection of books, including several of his own works, on the apparatus which he invented. Frances Smith, now being at Downham, aged 102 years, has her eye-sight and teeth remarkably good. The Church, dedicated to St. Edmund, is approached by a gradual ascent, ornamented with a row of lime trees. It has a square tower with 8 bells, and an ancient octangular font. At the bridge, there was anciently a hermitage, and near the church were several monastic buildings, among which was a priory of Benedictine Monks, the site of which is occupied by the rectory house. The living is a discharged rectory, valued in the King's book at £6 13s. 4d., now having a yearly rent of £500, awarded in lieu of tithes. William Franks, Esq., is patron ; Rev. Edward R. Franks, M.A., rector ; and the Rev. Charles E. Freeman, curate. The Baptists, Wesleyans, Primitive Methodists, and Society of Friends, have each a chapel here. The County Court Hall, a handsome structure, was built in 1849, at the cost of £1,500. The Court is held monthly, and comprises the following District, viz:— Barton Bendish, Bexwell[,] Boughton, Crimplesham, Denver, Dereham (West,) Downham Market, Fincham, Fordham, Hilgay, Marham, Roxham, Runcton (South,) Ryston, Shouldham, Shouldham Thorpe, Southery, Stoke Ferry, Stow Bardolph, Stradsett, Wallington-with-Thorpeland, Welney, Wereham, Wimbotsham, and Wretton[.] John Dick Burnaby, Esq., judge ; Charles W. Spurgeon, Esq., chief clerk ; Mr. Benjamin Parrott, high bailiff ; and Thomas L. Reed, Esq., assistant clerk.

Petty Sessions held in the County Court Hall every Monday. Gas Works were established in 1849, by a Company of Shareholders, with a capital stock of £1,500; Mr. Samuel Trotter is the manager. The Mechanics' Institution, Bridge Street, was established in 1849. It has an interesting library of about 500 volumes, Mr. John Willimott, librarian. A commodious National School, erected in 1849, has an attendance of 100 boys and 80 girls. An Infant's School was opened in Parson's Lane, in 1851. The Stamp Office is in Regent Street, George Hutson, distributor ; The West Norfolk Agricultural Association holds an annual meeting in the town. The East Anglian Railway was opened in 1846. Trains are despatched to Ely and Lynn from the station several times a day. Here is also a Branch Line from Watlington to Wisbeach. THE CHURCH ESTATE, mostly acquired or received in exchange at the enclosure in 1802, consists of a house. garden, and about 33a. of land, let for £93 16s., which is applied in the service of the church. At a vestry meeting in 1813, it was determined to lay out about £1,500 in repairing the church. The committe [sic] borrowed £1,000 and the repairs were proceeded with, but no faculty was obtained till after the work was completed. After a long litigation with part of the parishioners the committee were deterred by the fear of expense from attempting to recover more than £1,500, either from the parish or the church estate. Dr. Batchcroft in 1660, left £100 to be laid out in land, to provide fuel and clothing for the poor, which now produces £24 a year. John Saffery, in 1687, left £2 a year for poor widows. At the enclosure, about 100 acres, called The Hundred acre Common was vested in trust with the churchwardens of Downham, Stow Bardolph, and Wimbotsham, the rents to be distributed among the poor of those parishes. The estate now produces £120 per annum. Post Office is at Mr. Edwd. Hutton's, Regent-street : letters are despatched to Lynn at 3 a.m., and to London and all other parts at 7.40 a.m., and 9 p.m. Money orders issued from 9 a.m. till 6 p.m.

In the following Directory of Downham Market, those marked 1, reside on Bexwell road ; 2, Bridge road ; 3, Bridge street ; 4, Denver road ; 5, High street ; 6, Salamanca place ; 7, Lynn road ; 8, Market place ; 9, North Delph ; 10, Paradise lane ; 11, Parson's lane ; 12, Union terrace ; and 13, in Regent street.


Transcription Copyright © the late A.J. Carter, December 2000; Links last updated May 2010.

1891 Census Names Index for Downham Market
1891 Census Names Index for Downham Union Workhouse
Index of Marriages (1725-1812) (Alan Gresley)
Kelly's 1883
Clackclose hundred
Kelly's 1900 Directory entry [Martin Edwards]
Catholic church of St. Dominic [Simon Knott] (with my backview in the foreground)
Cemetary Chapels [Simon Knott]
Bexwell road postmill, Cowgate street towermill, Denver road postmill, Howdale postmill, Lynn road postmill,
    Mill Hill postmill, Downham Market steam mill, and Salters Lode smockmill [Jonathan Neville]
Downham Market Archeology [Norfolk Heritage Explorer]
More on Downham Market [GENUKI-NFK]
More Parish Information [Geoff Lowe & Andrew Rivett]
Return to villages index
Paddy's home page