1891 Census Names Index
Dereham Census, 1841 & 1901 [Geoff Lowe & Andrew Rivett]
White's 1854
Dereham Council Web-site
Dereham tower-mill, Banyard's postmill, Quebec Road postmill, Toftwood post-mill and East Dereham watermills [Jonathan Neville]
Church of the Sacred Heart and St. Margaret Mary [Simon Knott]
About Dereham [Dereham Times]
Life in Dereham 1798-1819 Autobiography of James Mursell Phillippo [Note: This link is no longer available, but 4 copies of the book are held by Norfolk County Libraries]
Dereham archeology [Norfolk Heritage Explorer]
More on East Dereham [GENUKI-NFK]
More Parish Information [Geoff Lowe & Andrew Rivett]
Return to villages index
Paddy's home page

Norfolk - East Dereham

Kelly's Directory for Cambridgeshire, Norfolk & Suffolk, 1883, p. 286-291.

Complete entry. Transcription Copyright © E.C."Paddy" Apling September 1999.


EAST DEREHAM is a thriving market town, railway station and parish, head of a county court district and polling-place for the Southern division of the county, in the hundred of Mitford, union of Mitford and Launditch, rural deanery of Hingham, archdeaconry of Norfolk and diocese of Norwich, 127 miles from London by rail and 100 by road, 16 west-by-north from Norwich, 12½ east-by-north from Swaffham, 11 north-west from Wymondham and 26¾ east from Lynn; it is a junction station of the Lynn branch of the Great Eastern railway and has communications to all parts of the kingdom.

The town is well drained by new sewage works, and lighted with gas, and is governed by a Local Board of 12 members: the Headboroughs are trustees of the assembly rooms and other property, after paying certain outgoings, the balance, about £100 is paid over to the Local Board in reduction of the rates.

Waterworks were erected in 1881, to supply the town, from deep wells, at a cost of £4,000: a fire brigade was formed in 1879, and has two engines with all apparatus by Merryweather, of London.

The place is very ancient, and is supposed to have been made a parish by Anna, who was King of the East Angles from 635 to 654: his daughter Withburga founded a nunnery here; the Saxon Chronicle records that fifty-five years after her death her body was found all whole and uncorrupted as on the day of her interment, and was removed into the church: subsequent writers add that from her burial-place in the churchyard issued forth a spring of the purest water, gifted with many healing virtues: the sisterhood were driven out of their cell about the year 870, when the country was overrun by Danes: the tomb of Withburga having become of great repute for the cure of diseases, the Abbot of Ely became very desirous of getting possession of her body, in order to translate it to Ely: he concerted a scheme for stealing it, which he carried into effect the night after a feast which the Abbot, as lord of the town, gave at his court-leet: this exploit, called in history, "a sanctified sacrilege, a pious theft, a soul-saving robbery," was perpetrated on the 8th of July, 974. In the reign of Queen Elizabeth a fire happened, on the 1st of July, 1581, by which the whole town was destroyed; a second fire occurred on the 3rd of July, 1670, during the reign of Charles II. by which 170 houses were burnt, and property destroyed to the value of £19,500.

The church of St. Nicholas is an ancient stone building, erected on the site of the conventual chapel: it consists of chancel, nave, aisles and transepts with eastern chapels (dedicated to St. Thomas of Canterbury and St. Withburga) and a central lantern tower: the bell-tower which is square is detached from the church, was commenced abotu 1508 and contains a peal of 8 bells: the styles of architecture are various, the church have been erected and altered at different periods: there are vestiges of the Norman in portions of two twisted shafts on the west side of the jambs of the chancel arch; the chancel itself is Early English, built about 1250, but the tracery of the east window is of much later insertion, as well as the chancel arch; the west door with an ogee-headed niche on each side, the great window over it, and the whole of the north side, except the doorway, are in the Decorated style; the lantern tower standing on four fine arches, with triforium arcade and clerestory, the transepts, eastern chapels, the arches of the nave and the westernmost piers are Perpendicular: there is a beautiful font, erected in 1468, adorned with carvings of stone, representing the seven Roman Catholic sacraments and the Apostles, but the figures were mutilated, at the time of the reformation: there is an ancient carved muniment, chest brass eagle and organ which has been greatly enlarged and renewed; several brasses were formerly in the church, two only of which remain in a perfect state: Cowper, the poet, is buried in the church (1800) and there are monuments to him and his relatives, Mrs. Unwin and Miss Perowne: much has been done to beautify and preserve this venerable building: many coats of whitewash were carefully removed from the stone pillars, the entire church re-seated and repaired, the east and other windows adorned with stained glass and a reredos of carved stone, beautifully illuminated, has been added: the Sacrarium is enclosed by an oak railing, with irons standards: the pulpit was made from an ancient beam of oak, almost as hard as iron, taken from the old Vicarage house at Besthorpe; it bore an inscription, which proved it to be more than three centuries old: in the churchyard is the spring said to issue from the spot where the bones of St. Withburga were first deposited and the ancient arch, from which the water issues, is supposed to be the remains of her tomb, but the greater probability is that this erection was in very ancient times a baptistery. The register dates from the year 1679. About £1,000 has been expended on the chancel by the Ecclesiastical Commissioners, on the reversion to them of the great tithes, at the decease of the last sinecure rector. The living is a vicarage, with the vicarage of Hoe annexed, joint yearly value £536 13s. 10d. with about 60 acres of vicarial glebe and house, in the gift of the Crown and held since 1850 by the Rev. Benjamin John Armstrong M.A. of Caius College, Cambridge.

A mission church in connection with the parish church was built in 1880 in the Upper Norwich road.

The "Cowper" Congregational church, erected in the year 1874, in the Gothic style, stands in the Market place, and occupies the site of the house where the poet Cowper spent his last days: the front is faced with Kentish ragstone with Bath stone dressings: it consists of apse, nave and aisle: the windows of the apse are stained and a beautiful window, representing the Good Samaritan, has been inserted at the west end: there is a carved stone pulpit: the reading desk and communion table are of oak, and the woodwork of the bed-room in which Cowper died has been preserved and fitted in the minister's vestry: Mr. Edward Boardman, of Norwich, was the architect of the building, the total cost of which, including lighting apparatus, was about £3,500: in front of the church is a memorial to Cowper, in polished granite, which bears he following inscription, written by the late Dean Stanley:—"This monument is erected on the site of the house where the beloved poet of Olney, William Cowper, spent the last years of his life, under the care of faithful friends. He lies buried in the parish church, having given up his soul to God, April 25th, 1800." The follow a few liens from "The Task."

The Baptist chapel, High street, was built in 1793.

The Primitive Methodist chapel, Commercial road, was built in 1863.

The Trinity Wesleyan church, situated in Theatre street, is a Gothic building of Kentish rag with Bath stone dressings built in 1880, at a cost of £3,500. including the erection of Sunday schools and the minister's residence, erected on the site of the old one, the architect being Mr. Edward Boardman, of Norwich; the fittings throughout are of pitch pine, and the building is heated by hot water.

The Cemetery was opened in 1869: it is about 5 acres in extent and contains two mortuary chapels; it is under the control of a Burial Board of 9 members.

The charities amount to about £400 yearly, for distribution, and there are 84 acres of fuel allotment.

The Corn Hall, erected in 1856, at a cost of more than £3,000, is a handsome building, in the Market place, and affords great facilities to merchants and farmers transacting business here.

The Assembly Rooms, built in 1756, on the site of the old market cross, form a spacious brick building, in which the magistrates hold petty sessions for the hundred every alternate Friday: there is a Reading Room and Institute in the same building

The manufactures of the town are principally connected with agriculture: there are manufactories of agricultural steam engines and threshing and other machines and iron foundries; coach works, saw mills, breweries, maligns, and shoe factory, and there are many handsome modern shops. The market is held on Friday, and is well supplied with corn, live stock and provisions of every description. The situation of the town, in the centre of a fertile and highly cultvated district, and its distance from any other market of consequence, cause Dereham to rank among the best markets of the county. Fairs are held in the Market place on the Thursday before July 6th and September 29th. There are four branch banks. A company of rifle volunteers was embodied in 1860, of which E. Hyde esq. is captain.

Quebec house, the seat of Col. William Earle Gascoyne Lytton Bulwer J.P. High Sheriff of Norfolk, 1883, is situate a mile north-west from the town, is Gothic, and derives its name from having been built at the time of the capture of Quebec; it stands n an extensive lawn, which is well timbered, and is partly surrounded by plantations.

The area of the parish of East Dereham is 5,222 acres; rateable value, £27,013; and the population of the parish in 1861 was 4,368, in 1871 was 5,107, and in 1881 was 5,640, and of the town about 4,000.

DILLINGTON, in Launditch hundred, is a hamlet in this parish, about one mile north-east.

DUMPLING GREEN, 2 miles south-east; ETLING GREEN, 1½ mile north-east; SOUTH GREEN, half a mile, and TOFTWOOD, 1 mile south, are other hamlets.

Official Establishments, Local Institutions, &c.

POST, MONEY ORDER & TELEGRAPH OFFICE, Savings Bank, Government Annuity & Insurance Office.

Edwin Girling, postmaster

Deliveries commence in Dereham as under:—Letters from London & all parts of England &c. 7 a.m. 10.50 a.m. & 2.10 p.m.

WALL LETTER BOXES.—Three collections are made from Station, Norwich road & High street, Theatre Street & Scarning road Wall Boxes; & one collection from the Upper Norwich street Pillar Box.
Money Order, Savings Bank, Government Insurance & Annuity Business is transacted on weekdays from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Postal telegraph office is open for business on weekdays from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.; on sundays from 8 a.m. to 10 a.m.


Clerk to the Magistrates, Walter May Barton, Guildhall
Meetings at the Assembly Rooms, East Dereham, every Friday, & at the Bull Inn at Litcham about 4 times in each year

The parishes in the Mitford & Launditch petty sessional division are—


Offices, Theatre street

Board day, 1st Wednesday in each month, at half-past 10


Clerk, James Saunders, Church street
Treasurer, Henry Birkbeck (Gurney & Co.)
Medical Officer of Health, Henry Bird Vincent, St. Withburga cottage
Surveyor & Inspector of Nuisances, Market Collector & Manager of Water Works,
   W.H.Nankivell, Theatre street
Town crier, Charles Stewart, Baxter row




The union comprises the following parishes:—

Board day, alternate mondays, at the Workhouse, Gressenhall
Clerk to the Guardians, Walter May Barton, Guidhall, East Dereham;
   Assistant Clerk, Richard Watson, Commercial road, East Dereham
Collectors to Guardians & Relieving Officers
   Elmham district, Robert Ostler, North Elmham;
   Litcham district, Joseph Horne, Longham;
   Mitford district, John Cary, Reymerstone
Vaccination Officers,
   John Cary, Reymerstone;
   Joseph Horne, Longham;
   Robert Ostler, North Elmham;
   Saml. Parker, East Dereham;
   Henry Perdy, Foxley
Medical Officers & Public Vaccinators
   Colkirk district, F. Coomber, Fakenham;
   East Dereham district, H. C. Hastings, East Dereham;
   Gressenhall district, S. M. Hopson, East Dereham;
   Fransham district, S. H. Wheatcroft, Litcham;
   Hardingham district, R. Heald, Hingham;
   Litcham district, H. Raven, Litcham;
   Mattishall district, George Taylor, Mattishall;
   North Elmham district, P. P. Ransom, Elmham;
   Shipdham district, I. K. Milne M.D. Shipdham
Superintendent Registrar, Walter M. Barton, East Dereham; Deputy, Thos. B. Taylor, East Dereham
Registrars of Births & Deaths—
1, Shipdham sub-district, Francis Lee, Shipdham;
   No. 2, Mattishall sub-district, George Taylor, Mattishall;
   No. 3, Bawdeswell sub-district, Edward Street, Bawdeswell;
   No. 4, East Dereham sub-district, Richard Watson, Commercial road, East Dereham;
   No. 5, Litcham sub-district, H. Wheatcroft, Litcham;
   No. 6, North Elmham sub-district, John Chapling, North Elmham
Registrar of Marriages— Richard Watson, East Dereham
Workhouse, Gressenhall, Philip John Reynolds, master; Rev. T. W. Bartlett, chaplain; James Vincent M.D. medical officer; Mrs. Betsy Reynolds, matron; Miss Lucy Jane Mackay, schoolmistress



PLACES OF WORSHIP, with times of service:—


RAILWAY STATION.— John Joseph Playford, station master



Transcription Copyright © E.C."Paddy" Apling September 1999; links updated, January 2011.

1891 Census Names Index
Dereham Census, 1841 & 1901 [Geoff Lowe & Andrew Rivett]
White's 1854
Dereham Council Web-site
Dereham tower-mill, Banyard's postmill, Quebec Road postmill, Toftwood post-mill and East Dereham watermills [Jonathan Neville]
Church of the Sacred Heart and St. Margaret Mary [Simon Knott]
About Dereham [Dereham Times]
Life in Dereham 1798-1819 Autobiography of James Mursell Phillippo [Note: This link is no longer available, but 4 copies of the book are held by Norfolk County Libraries]
Dereham archeology [Norfolk Heritage Explorer]
More on East Dereham [GENUKI-NFK]
More Parish Information [Geoff Lowe & Andrew Rivett]
Return to villages index
Paddy's home page