1891 Census Names Index
White's 1854; and 1883
White's 1845 [GENUKI-NFK]
Swaffham Archeology [Norfolk Heritage Explorer]
Catholic Church of Our Lady of Pity [Simon Knott]
Swaffham smockmill and Kidall's Mill Farm postmill [Jonathan Neville]
More on Swaffham [GENUKI-NFK]
More Parish information [Geoff Lowe & Andrew Rivett]
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Norfolk: Swaffham

Entry in Kelly's Directory for Cambridgeshire, Norfolk & Suffolk, 1883, p. 508-511.

[Complete entry. Transcription Copyright © E.C."Paddy" Apling]


SWAFFHAM is a market and union town, parish, head of a county court district, and polling-place for the Western division of the county, and station on the Lynn and Dereham branch of the Great Eastern railway, and a railway has been made connecting Swaffham with Watton and so with Thetford, 113 miles from London by railway and 96 by road, 14½ south-east from Lynn, 12 west from East Dereham, 28 west from Norwich, and 23 north-west from Wymondham, in South Greenhoe hundred, Cranwich rural deanery, Norfolk archdeaconry and Norwich diocese. The town is pleasantly situated on a rising ground, in a fine open country, 216 feet above sea level. The inhabitants enjoy peculiar privileges, the town being an ancient demesne.

The town is not incorporated, but is under the jurisdiction of a local board of nine members, under the Public Health Act, 1840. The town is lighted with gas. The Swaffham Water Works were opened September 16th, 1867: the occupiers of cottages of the annual rent of £5 and under are supplied with water from the works free of charge; the cost is defrayed from a portion of the fund derived from the Town Estate.

The church of SS. Peter and Paul is said to have been built in 1474; it is in the Early English style, and is cruciform, and consists of chancel, nave, aisles, transepts and en embattled tower, bearing two shields, charged with the emblems of its patron saints: the tower was completed in the year 1510: the north aisle is reported to have been built by John Chapman, of whom a very doubtful tradition, as to his mode of acquiring wealth, exists; he was churchwarden in 1462, and his device, carved in certain parts of the building, probably gave rise to the tale of his being a pedlar, but are more likely quaint rebuses on the name of Chapman: among the monuments are those of John Botwright D.D. seventh master of Corpus Christi college, or Bene't College, Cambridge, who was a native of this town, proctor of the university, and chaplain to King Henry VI.; and of Catherine Steward, daughter and heiress of Thomas Paine, of Castle Acre, and wife of William Steward, of Ely; she died in 1500: here are also several monumental brasses, and many stone from which the brasses have been taken away: in the vestry is some armour and a library of books: the church was restored and the galleries removed in 1877; a large handsome organ has been put in place of the old one, and a beautiful reredos presented by Herbert Day esq.; a stained window also was placed in the south transept by the Day family, as a memorial, and one in the north transept by the parishioners in memory of three children of the present vicar. The parish register dates from the year 1557. The living is a vicarage, yearly value, tithe rent charge of £543 with 36 acres of glebe and residence, in the gift of the Bishop of Norwich and held since 1872 by the Rev. George Robert Winter M.A. of Brasenose College, Oxford.

A Mission-room in connexion with the church, situated at the North pool, was built in 1874, the gift of a lady in the parish.

The Baptists, the Wesleyan Methodists, and the Primitive Methodists have chapels.

The charities are numerous. The town estate, including the heath, enclosed in 1863, produces the yearly sum of £190, £100 of which is applied for supplying the poor with water, £35 for church fabric, and £25 for church services, and £16 for town improvements, the surplus being retained as a reserve fund. £2 is derived from the camping land. There is also the interest of about £1,212, invested in the £3 per Cent. Consols, which is expended in coals.

The Corn Hall, in the market place, is a handsome building, erected in 1858 by a company, in shares of £5, and used as a place for public meetings. At the Shire Hall the general quarter sessions of the peace are held, by adjournment from the city of Norwich. William R. Haggard esq. and Lord Walsingham are chairmen alternately; and there are magistrates' meetings. The Assembly Rooms, in the Market place, were erected in 1817.

Here are iron foundries, a bank and savings bank, and a subscription library and reading room. A monument and drinking fountain was erected by subscription in 1882 in the Market place, in honour of the late Sir W. Baggs M.P. There is a small market every Saturday. The cross on Market Hill was rebuilt in 1783, by the then Earl of Orford. Annual fairs are held the second Wednesday in May, the third Wednesday in July, and the first Wednesday in November, for cattle and sheep. The G company of the 3rd Volunteer Battalion Norfolk Regiment was formed in 1860, and has about 102 efficient members; the armoury is at the Corn Hall.

On the north-west side of the town about 2,370 acres of common land were inclosed in 1868, under the direction of the Inclosure Commissioners. Goodluck's Close, north-west of the town, is a corruption of Guthlac's Stow, a chapel founded by Allen, son of Godfrey de Swaffham, in the reign of Henry II, and dedicated to St. Guthlac; it was a cell of the Priory of Castle Acre. The other antiquities of note in the neighbourhood are those of Castle Acre and Oxborough Hall.

Richard Henry Hamond, Commander R.N., J.P. and Thomas Hamond esq. are lords of the manor, the rectorial tithes are now in possession of the Ecclesiastical Commissioners, commuted sum £1,143. The principal landowners are Richard Horace Hamond, Commander R.N. Thomas Hamond esq. Miss Fountaine and John Wayland esq.

The area is 7,550 acres; rateable value, £15,903; and the population in 1881 was 3,643.

Official Establishments, Local Institutions, &c.


Savings Bank & Government Annuity & Insurance Office, Market place.

Postmaster—Thomas Johnson.

Letters arrive from London per mail cart, viâ Brandon station at 3 a.m. daily, and at 1.10 p.m. per rail (except sundays), & are dispatched thereto at 10.47 a.m. per rail & at 9.15 p.m. per mail cart viâ Brandon
Letters also dispatched to Castle Acre, Rougham, Rudham, Massingham, Rainham, Weasenham &c. by mail cart, at 4.30 a.m. & received per return mail at 8.20 p.m.
Are also dispatched to Litcham, per mail cart at 4.30 a.m. & return mail at 7.45 p.m.; sundays at 2.30 p.m.
Also by foot messengers to Cockley-Cley, Shingham, Beechamwell, North & South Pickenham at 6 a.m. & return at 7 p.m.
WALL BOX, Station street, cleared at 8 a.m. & 7.40 p.m.; sundays at 2.25 p.m.
WALL BOX, London street. cleared at 9 a.m. & 7 p.m. No collection on sunday
WALL BOX, Railway station, cleared at 10 a.m. & 7.30 p.m. No collection on sunday


Office, Mangate street; Board day, first thursday in every month at 7 p.m. summer months; & 3 p.m. winter months

Thomas Lindsey, The Grange
Joseph Cross, White Hart la
Charles Paler, London St.
James Fuller, Norwich road
Henry Arnold, Market place
Thos. Moore, Providence ter
Durrant Dutchman, West Acre road
John Smith, London street
Robt. Smith, White Hart la
Clerk, Charles Stevenson Johnson, Mangate street
Treasurer, A. Gurney
Medical Officer of Health, Robert Nelson Emerson, Mangate street
Surveyor, Inspector of Nuisances & Collector, John Copland, Campingland


William Meybohn Rider Haggard esq. LL.B., D.L. Bradenham hall, Thetford (chairman)
Capt. Richard Horace Hamond, R.N. Manor house, Swaffham
Rev. Bircham Houchen M.A. South Pickenham, Swaffham
Robert Harvey Mason, esq. Necton hall, Swaffham
Joseph Truman Mills esq. D.L. Clermont, Watton
Rev. Henry Milne M.A. Rectory, Holme Hale, Thetford
William Henry Doveton Haggard esq. West Bradenham, Thetford
Edward Archer Applewhaite esq. South Pickenham hall, Swaffham
Algernon Charles Fountaine esq. D.L. Norford hall, Brandon [sic. Narford hall]






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

1891 Census Names Index
White's 1854; and 1883
White's 1845 [GENUKI-NFK]
Swaffham Archeology [Norfolk Heritage Explorer]
Catholic Church of Our Lady of Pity [Simon Knott]
Swaffham smockmill and Kidall's Mill Farm postmill [Jonathan Neville]
More on Swaffham [GENUKI-NFK]
More Parish information [Geoff Lowe & Andrew Rivett]
Return to villages index
Paddy's home page