FAKENHAM is a flourishing and well built market town, pleasantly situated on the north side of the Wensum, 9 miles S. of Wells, 12 miles W.S.W. of Holt, 23 miles E.N.E. of Lynn, 25 miles N.W. by W. of Norwich, 16 miles N.N.E. of Swaffham, and 109 miles N.E. of London. The parish, exclusive of the small liberty ofAlethorpe, already noticed, has increased its population, since the year 1801, from 1,236 to 2,240 souls, and contains 2,106a. 3r. of land, all arable, except 240a. of grass, and 140a. of heath, on which the parishioners have commonright, and cut furze and whins. A small part of it forms the rectorial manor, (fines arbitrary,) and the rest is in the manor of Fakenham, (fines certain,) so called from its being granted out, from the Crown, as a parcel to the Duchy of Lancaster, and now held by Sir Willoughby Jones, Bart., of Cranmer Hall ; but a considerable part of the soil is the property of Lord Hastings, and Anthy. Gwyn, H. J. Le Warner [sic. Lee Warner], and Robt. Campbell, Esqrs., and several smaller freeholders and copyholders. The manor was held by King Harold, and passed from him to William the Conqueror. Henry I. gave it to Hugh Capel, and King John to the Earl of Arundel. Henry III. granted it to the Countess of Provence, and after her decease it belonged to Queen Eleanor. It was subsequently granted to the Earl of Gloucester, and has since passed through various families to the present lord ; but the advowson was granted by Henry VIII. to Trinity College, Cambridge. By ancient custom, the inhabitants are exempt from serving on juries, and by an inquisition in the 38th of Edward III. it was found that they were not obliged to repair the causeway, called the Bigg Mill-dam, then broken down. In the 17th of James I., Fakenham Mill, and a parcel of land, called Hulmore, with a warren, &c., were granted to Edward Ferrars and Fras. Philips, subject to the annual rent of £5 10s. The extensive corn mill, built some years ago, is now the property of Mr. Joseph Fyson, and is situated below the town, on the river Wensum, which is crossed by a handsome bridge of three arches, built in 1833, of white brick, with stone parapets and iron palisades. On a hill, a short distance from the town, was formerly held the sheriff's court for the whole county. The town was much injured by an accidental fire on August 4th, 1738, which destroyed 26 houses. It has been greatly enlarged and improved during the last thirty years, by the erection of new houses, some of which are large and handsome. The Market place is tolerably spacious, but is obstructed by a row of buildings in the centre and on its south side is a small square lined with good houses, and used as the Cattle Market. A company has recently been formed for the purpose of erecting a Corn Exchange, magistrate's room, and library, which is expected to be completed in the autumn of the present year. Geo. Watson, Esq., is the secretary. The Market, held every Tuesday, is well supplied with corn, soldby [sic] sam ple[sic], being numerously attended by millers, maltsters, and merchants, from Wells, Blakeney, Brancaster, and the surrounding neighbourhood ; there is also an increasing supply of cattle, sheep, and swine. A Hiring Session for servants is held here in October, and three fairs are held annually on the heath, in Hempton parish, on the opposite side of the river, viz. : on Whit Tuesday, the first Wed. in September, and November 22nd ; the latter is noted for its extensive show of cattle. The Church, dedicated to St. Peter, is a spacious and handsome structure, on elevated ground, above the Market place, and consists of nave, chancel, side aisles, and lofty embattled tower, with pinnacles, and eight bells. The tower has a fine entrance doorway, with a large window over it, beautifully ornamented with tracery. On each side of the door is a canopied niche, and the buttresses are wrought with panelling. An ornamental east window, partly filled with stained glass, was erected in 1805, and a new organ in 1826 ; the latter at the expense of a late rector. The octangular font is decorated with the figures of an ox, lion, and eagle, and the emblems of the Evangelists, the Trinity, and the Passion. A beautiful stone altar piece, in gothic style, was added, in 1844. On the south side of the chancel are three stone stalls for the bishop, archdeacon, and rector ; and near them is a neat mural tablet to the late rector, the Rev. Chas. Norris, who died in his 89th year, after expending much money in beautifying the church. The porch has the date of 1497, and in 1602 was used as a powder magazine for the Hundred of Gallow. The east end of the aisles were formerly chapels, dedicated to St. Thomas and St. Mary. Under the tower is a room in which the fire engine is kept. The rectory, valued in the King's book at £35 6s. 8d., and in 1831 at £905, has 83a. 1r. 14p. of glebe, and a good residence. The patronage is vested in Trinity College, Cambridge ; and the Rev. John Philips Higman, M.A., and F.R.S, is the incumbent. The Independent Chapel, in Chapel Street, is a handsome edifice, built in 1819. The congregation is under the pastoral care of the Rev. Wm. Legge. The Baptists have a Chapel in Swan Street, erected in 1808, of which the Rev.S. B. Gooch is the pastor. The Primitive Methodist Chapel, in Oak Street, was opened in 1825. There are National Schools for boys, girls, and infants ; that for the former was established in 1840, and a school for girls and infants was erected in 1848, which forms a handsome building, situated on the Wells road. They are attended by upwards of 300 children. Lady Mary Townshend, in 1662, bequeathed £100, to be laid out in land, the rents thereof to be applied every year in apprenticing poor fatherless children of Fakenham to good trades "one year a boy and the next a girl, and so by course for ever." The estate now belonging to this charity consists of a house and 12a. of land, in Stibbard, let for £24 a year. Premiums of £15 and £20 are usually given the boys ; and sometimes a girl is apprenticed with a premium of £10. A house, now used as a school and a parish vestry, was left to the poor by Robt. Sheldrake, in 1719. Three acres of land, left to the poor by Thos. Salmon, in consideration of benefaction money which he had borrowed, are now let for £5 a year. A rent charge of 20s. yearly, left by Mr. Wortley, for the poor and repairing his tomb, is paid by Caius College, Cambridge. Ann Harrison, in 1794, bequeathed £1,666 13s. 4d., three per cent consols, and agreeably to her will, the yearly dividends, £50, are applied as follows: £10 to a schoolmistress, for instructing eight poor girls; £10 to a schoolmaster, for teaching four poor boys; and £30 (except what is required for the expenses of the trustees) in a distribution of blankets, &c. The workhouse here was sold in 1837 for £905. The Savings Bank was established in 1829, and its deposits in November, 1853, amounted to £29,612. The Fakenham Provident Society was formed in 1795, for the benefit of the widows and orphans of deceased members. Messrs. Gurney and Co. are the treasurers, and Mr. Robert Cates, secretary. The widows of deceased members, who have been subscribers for the space of two years, are each entitled to an annuity, increasable at the discretion of the committee, according to the state of the society's funds, which, in February, 1852, amounted to £13,320 6s. 9d. ; and in which annuities were paid to 334 widows and orphans, amounting to £2,694 13s. 10d. Petty Sessions are held on the last Monday in every month, at the Red Lion Inn ; Mr. John Overton is clerk to the magistrates. Gas Works were established on the Hempton road, in 1846, and the town was first lighted with gas in October in the same year. The gasometer will hold 4,900 cubic feet of gas. Mr. John Donaldson, secretary; and Mr. Wm. Page, collector. The Police Station, erected in 1841, is in White Horse Street. A Public Library and Reading Room, on the Norwich road, was established in 1853. Sir W. Jones, Bart. is the president. A Branch of the Norfolk Railway, from Dereham, runs within a quarter of a mile of the town, where there is a neat station. Application at the ensuing Session of Parliament will be made for an Act to extend the line to Wells.
Post Office at Mr. Martin Bambridge's, Market Place. Letters from London, &c., arrive at 6 30 a.m, and are despatched at 6 p.m. Letters from Wells arrive 6 p.m., and are despatched at 6.30 a.m. Letters from Walsingham arrive 5 p.m., and are despatched at 8 a.m.Money Order Office open from 9.a.m. to 4.30 p.m.
In the following Directory of Fakenham, those marked 1 reside in Bridge street ; 2, Hall staith ; 3, Hay's lane ; 4, Holt road ; 5, Market place ; 6, Norwich road ; 7, Norwich street ; 8, Oak street ; 9, Quaker's lane ; 10, Rampant Horse street ; 11, Swan street ; 12, Tun street ; 13, Wells road ; 14, White Horse street ; and 15, in York street.
1891 Census Names Index
Fakenham Archeology [Norfolk Heritage Explorer]
Fakenham watermill [Jonathan Neville]
Fakenham smockmill [Jonathan Neville]
Fakenham towermill [Jonathan Neville]
Fakenham Heath postmill [Jonathan Neville]
Holt Road postmill [Jonathan Neville]
Fakenham Town pages
More on Fakenham [GENUKI-NFK]
More Parish Information [Geoff Lowe & Andrew Rivett]
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