HOLKHAM is a parish and village, with a station on the West Norfolk, Lynn and Hunstanton railway, 1¾ miles west from Wells.about 5½ north-west from Walsingham and 127½ from London by rail, situate om the coast. in the Northern division of the county, hundred of North Greenhoe , Walsingham union, and county court district, rural deanery of Walsingham and archeaconry and diocese of Norwich. The beach of Holkham bay is very fine, firm and elastic, and is resorted to in the summer months, being perfectly safe for bathers. The Church of St. Withburga is situated west of the village, and about half a miles from the Hall, on an artificial mound, supposed to be Saxon, and near a tumulus in which bones and iron armour have been found: it is in the Decorated and Perpendicular Transition styles, and was repaired in 1767 by the Dowaget Countess of Leicester, at a cost of £1,000: it has chancel with north and south chapels, nave with clerestory, aisles amd a lofty embattled tower on the south-west angle, in which is a rich and powerful peal of 6 bells: in the years 1868-9 the church was restored and decorated, at an expenditure of nearly £9,000 by the Earl of Leicester: it has some fine specimens of oak carving: in the north chapel is a beautiful monument by Boehm, a recumbent figure of the late Countess of Leicester, to whose memory it was erected in 1871; in the south chapel is a fine monument of its kind erected to the memory of John Coke and his wife. St. Withburga, the saint to whom the first church on the site was dedicated, was the youngest daughter of Anna, King of the East Angles, and was sent to this village (which then belonged to the King) to be nursed, and lived here till the death of her father in 654; she founded a monastery in East Dereham, and died there in 743. The register dates from the year 1538. The living is a vicarage, tithe rent charge £300 and 19 acres of glebe, with residence, in the gift of the Earl of Leicester K.G. and held since 1847 by the Rev. Alexander Napier M.A. of Trinity College, Cambridge, who is also rector of Egmere and Waterden. Here are almshouses, founded in 1757 by the Countess Dowager of Leicester, at a cost of about £2,300, and endowed with a rent-charge of £50 a year charged upon the Holkham estate and an estate containing 97 acres, in the parish of Weasenham St. Peter's, they are occupied by 3 men and 3 women, who have coals, faggots, bedding, clothing, and 7s. in money each per week. Henry III. granted a market and a fair, now both obsolete. Brick and tile making is carried on at Peterstone. In the marshes, and easily accessible by a road leading from the church lodge, is a large camp, constructed on natural features of the soil, and probably used successively by Romans, Saxons and Danes.
In Edward II.'s time Holkham was a port of some consequence: subsequently, it belonged tp the Boleyns and the Greshams. In the 17th century, the family of Chief Justice Coke acquired (partly by marriage and partly by purchase) the whole of the parish. The late proprietor, "Coke of Norfolk," the first Earl of Leicester, who distinguished himself as the greatest agriculturalist of his day, succeeded to the estate in 1775 and was created Earl of Leicester in 1837,taking the title from the previous creation in 1744, which had become extinct in 1759; opposite the north front of the house here is a Corinthian column, erected 1850 and raised by public subscription as a testimonial to the memory of the Earl. Holkham Hall. the seat of the Earl of Leicester K.G. is one of the finest seats in the county, the two fronts being each 344 feet in length, with a Corinthian portico on the south front, fronting which is a fountain, consisting of a group of figures representing St. George and the Dragon, the work of Charles Raymond Smith, while on each side of the approach on the north side are a male and female lion in bronze, splendidly posed and executed by Boehm in 1872: the picture gallery is rich in fine works particularly in Claudes: the statue gallery contains some celebrated productions: the library, besides books, includes an almost unrivalled collection of manuscripts: the mansion stands in an extensive and well-wooded park, which, with the pleasure grounds tastefully laid out and adorned with choice shrubs and flowers, is open for inspection every Wednesday during the summer months. Queen Victoria, when Princess Victoria, visited Hockham in 1835, with her mother the late Duchess of Kent; and the Prince and Princes of Wales are frequent visitors. The park, which is well stocked with deer and game contains about 3,200 acres, of which 1.100 are wood, and there is a lake 1,056 yards long, ferquented by large flocks of water-fowls: the whole is enclosed with a wall nearly 9 miles in length. About the year 1660, 360 acres were enclosed from the sea; and the first Earl of Leicester (created 1744) enclosed 400 more in 1722, and also reclaimed Holkham Heath and commenced the mansion in 1734; it was finished by his widow in 1760. The southern lodge of the park is approached through a massive triumphal arch of the Doric order, 1½ miles northwards from which is an obelisk 80 feet high, erected in 1729; to the left is a small temple much admired for its portico. The present Earl has reclaimed about 700 acres from the sea. The Earl of Leicester is lord of the manor and sole landowner, The occupiers of several houses in the parish take in lodgers during the summer and autumn. Every description of soil exists in the parish, from strong clay to blowing sandl subsoil, strong clay, marl, chalk, brick earth, gravel and sand. The chief crops are wheat, barley, turnips, mangold-wurzel and grasses. The area is 5,208 acres of land; rateable value, £5,274; and the population in 1881 was 537.
NEW HOLKHAM or LONGLANDS is a hamlet at the south end of the parish, about 2 miles south from the Hall.
Letters from Wells, by foot messenger, arrive about 8 a.m. & 4 p.m. are forwarded to Wells by foot post at 2.50 p.m. Collection from PILLAR BOX, weekdays 6 a.m. & 4.25 p.m. sundays at 8.30 a.m. Wells is the nearest money order & telegraph office.
IINSURANCE AGENT.Alliance, J. Davidson
There are schools on the National system for boys, girls and infants, supported by the Earl of Leicester; William Belcher, master; Mrs. Belcher, sewing mistress; Miss Emma Cooper, infants' mistress
Railway Station, Laommi Reynolds, station master
CARRIER TO WELLSHoward, passes through the village on saturday from Burnham Market
1891 Census Names Index
White's 1845 [GENUKI-NFK]
Holkham Archeology [Norfolk Heritage Explorer]
Holkham postmill [Jonathan Neville]
Holkham Hall [Local web-site]
More on Holkham [GENUKI-NFK]
More Parish Information [Geoff Lowe & Andrew Rivett]
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