WALSINGHAM (LITTLE), or NEW WALSINGHAM, notwithstanding its appellation, is more populous than Great Walsingham, containing 1,207 inhabitants, and 263 houses, and is pleasantly situated 5 miles S. by E. of Wells, and 27 miles N.W. of Norwich. The market, held on Friday, has been discontinued within the last few years ; but a large fair is held on the second Monday after Whit-Monday. The parish contains 976a. 3r. 22p. of land, mostly the property of the Rev. D. H. Lee Warner, the lord of the manor. About 1061 the widow of Ricoldie de Faverche founded here a chapel, in honour of the Virgin Mary, and her son added to the foundation a PRIORY for Augustine canons, for whom he built a noble conventual church. This priory afterwards obtained great wealth from the fame of its image of the "Lady of Walsingham," to which foreigners and many Kings and Queens of England came on pilgrimage. Its revenues were valued at the dissolution at £446 14s. 4d. Spelman observes, that it was said Henry VIII, in the 2nd year of his reign, walked barefoot from the village of Barsham, to pay his devotions to this celebrated image, which he decorated with a gold necklace ; but he treated it with less respect at the dissolution, when his officers seized it, and burnt it at Chelsea, taking care to preserve its jewels and all its valuable trappings. The ruins of this once magnificent priory consist chiefly of a portal or west entrance gate, a richly ornamented arch, 60 feet high, which formed the east end of the Church, a Saxon arch, part of the original church, and cloisters, a stone bath, and Two Wells, called the Wishing Wells, devotees being taught that whoever has permission to drink of the waters could obtain, under certain restrictions, whatever they might wish for. In excavating, during the past year, the bases of some massive stone pillars were discovered, supposed to have formed the western termination of the nave of the Abbey Church. These interesting ruins are mostly included in the plantations and pleasure grounds of Walsingham Abbey, the handsome mansion of the Rev. D. H. Lee Warner, fronting a rivulet which is here swelled into a fine lake. In addition to this once celebrated place of monastic splendour and human superstition, here was a house for Grey Friars, founded by the Countess of Clare, of which some fragments of its ruined walls may still be seen. Here was also a Leper's Hospital, the site of which is occupied by the prison. The inhabitants considered that the dissolution of their priory would, in a great measure, ruin the town ; they therefore assembled in a riotous mob to oppose the King's officers in 1537, but were soon dispersed. Grove Cottage,is the residence of W. L. Rix, Esq., whose family have resided here for several centuries. The parish CHURCH, dedicated to St. Mary, is a cruciform structure, with a tower surmounted by a slender spire, and has five bells. The font is of an octangular shape, richly sculptured. The living is a perpetual curacy, valued at £100, in the patronage of the Rev. D. H. Lee Warner, and incumbency of the Rev. H. J. Lee Warner. There are 9a. of glebe, and a new parsonage house was built by the incumbent in 1839. The Independents, Wesleyans, and Primitive Methodists have each a chapel here. Quarter Sessions are held at the Shire Hall, and Petty Sessions on the first Monday in every month, at the Black Lion Inn. The Bridewell, erected about the year 1787, has been enlarged, and fitted up as a County House of Correction. It has now 53 cells, and several day rooms and airing yards. Mr. Money Curtis is governor, and the Rev. Henry Kitton, chaplain. A new Police station is about to be erected here. The COUNTY COURT is held at the Shire Hall, and comprises the following places, viz:Alethorpe, Bale, Barney, Barsham East, West, and North ; Binham, Blakeney, Briningham, Barwick, Bircham (Great), Bircham (Newton), Bircham Tofts, Brancaster, Bagthorpe, Barmer, Broomsthorpe, Burnham Westgate, Burnham Sutton, Burnham Norton, Burnham Thorpe, Burnham Overy, Burnham Deepdale, Cockthorpe, Creake (North and South), Docking, Dunton, Egmere, Fakenham, Fring, Fulmodestone-cum-Croxton, Field Dalling, Gunthorpe, Helhoughton, Hempton, Hindringham, Holkham, Houghton in the Dale, Holme next the Sea, Hunstanton, Houghton, Kettlestone, Langham, Morston, Pensthorpe, Pudding Norton, Raynham, (East, West, and South,) Ryburgh (Great and Little), Ringstead (Great), Rudham (East and West), Saxlingham, Sculthorpe, Sharrington, Shereford, Snoring (Great and Little), Stibbard, Stiffkey, Swanton Novers, Syderstone, Stanhoe, Tatterford, Tattersett, Testerton, Thursford, Toftrees, Thornham, Titchwell, Walsingham (Great and Little), Warham, Wells next the Sea, Wighton, Wiverton, and Waterden. JudgeJacob T. Birch, Esq. ; clerk, Geo. Watson, Esq., Fakenham ; high bailiff, Mr. Thos. Kerslake ; under bailiff, Mr. Jno. Gamble ; assistant clerk, Martin Brown, Esq., Market-place. Henry Lee Warner, Esq., a late proprietor of Walsingham Abbey, was a polite scholar and a complete gentleman, but was remarkable for several eccentricities. His custom was to sleep during a great part of the day, rise in the evening, breakfast at midnight, and dine at 4 or 5 in the morning. His dress was a gold laced coat and waistcoat, with deep slashworked sleeves, and richly embroidered buttons, a deep chitterlin of rich yellow lace, curved toed shoes, and oblong buckles. He died in 1804, aged 82, and was buried with much pomp in the Abbey Church. The Free Grammar School was founded in 1639 by Richard Bond, who endowed it with £1,040, which was laid out in 85a. 3r. 20p. of land, at Great Snoring, now let for £110 a year. For many years the school was of little benefit to the poor ; but since 1836 it has been open as a Free school, for all the branches of an English education, as well as for the classics. A National School was built some years ago by Mr. Lee Warner. The above named Rd. Bond left £400 for the poor, which was invested in land, now let for £63 a year, which is distributed in clothing and fuel, together with £20 6s. 8d. the rent of the Fuel Allotment, 13a. 2r. 9p., and most of the rent of 18a. 1r., called Houghton and Sickhouse Lands, now let for £62 a year. The latter was purchased with £100 left by Philip Brown, in 1639, and is charged with the yearly payment of £2 for a sermon, and £2 10s. for repairing the Almshouses, which consist of 8 tenements, given by the late D. Lee Warner, Esq., in exchange for some dilapidated houses which stood near the mansion. Several buildings and 10a. 0r. 31p. of land, devised by Wm. Cleave, in 1665, are let for about £40 a year, and expended in cloth and coals for the poor, who have also 50s. a year left by B. Shouldham, to be given in bread. Four poor widows have the dividends of £100 stock, left by Jas. Straycock, in 1827. Lady Mary Townshend left £100 for apprenticing poor children. This gift was laid out on 7a. 0r. 15p. of land, now let for £14 a year. The poor have 40a. of land at Great Snoring, let for £90 a year, which is expended in coals at Christmas.
In the following Directory those marked 1, are in Bridewell street ; 2, Church-street ; 3, Common-place ; 4, Crown-street ; 5, Egmere-road ; 6, Exchange-street; 7, High-street ; 8, Knight-street ; 9, Market-place ; 10, Wells-road ; and 11, Guild-street.
Post Office at Mr. W. C. Hill's ; letters from London, &c., arrive at 9 a.m., and are despatched at 4.15 p.m. ; from Wells, arrive at 5.40 p.m., and are despatched at 7 a.m.
Money Order Office open from 9 to 6 o'clock.
1891 Census Names Index
North Greenhoe hundred
Kelly's 1883 Directory entry for Little Walsingham
White's 1845 and 1883 [GENUKI-NFK]
Walsingham Archeology [Norfolk Heritage Explorer]
Introduction to the Churches of Walsingham [Simon Knott]
Catholic church of The Annunciation
Little Walsingham watermill [Jonathan Neville]
Wells & Walsingham Light Railway
More on Little Walsingham [GENUKI-NFK]
More Parish Information [Geoff Lowe & Andrew Rivett]
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