WORSTEAD (anciently called WORSTEDE) is a parish and town, pleasantly situated on gradually rising ground near a stream, having a station on the North Walsham branch of the Great Eastern railway, 8 miles north-east from Aylsham and 3 south-by-east from North Walsham, in the Northern division of the county, Tunstead hundred, Smallburgh union, North Walsham county court distract, rural deanery of Waxham, archdeaconry of Norfolk and diocese of Norwich. The church of St. Mary is Gothic, consisting of chancel, nave, aisles and porch and embattled tower with four storeys, to which four pinnacles have been added: it has a clock and 6 bells: it is constantly being repaired and beautified, towards which a small sum was left by the late Rev. Henry Wharton: the font is hexagonal, each face being finely sculptured: there is a good organ, which was erected by subscription: there were originally nine chapels, two of which were dedicated respectively to the Virgin and St. John the Baptist; the former was restored by the present vicar, in memory of his father; there are also two remarkable double screens, dividing the chapels from the aisles. The register dates from t he year 1558. The living is a vicarage, yearly value £331, with residence, in the gift of the Dean and Chapter of Norwich and held since 1869 by the Rev. George Harris Cooke M.A. of Wadham College, Oxford. In the reign of Edward the Confessor the lordship belonged to the Abbot of St. Bene't-of-Holme, being the gift of King Canute. The manor was then held of the abbot by Robert, an officer, whose son, Odo, assumed the same of De Worstede or Worsted. The period of the foundation of the church is uncertain, but it is of very early date. Sir Robert De Worstead, in the reign of Edward III, granted the appropriation of the church to the priory of Norwich, by deed without date. On the dissolution of the priory, the manor belonged to it, with the rectory and the patronage of the vicarage, were granted to the Dean and Chapter of Norwich, by whom it is at present held. On Meeting Hill there is a chapel belonging to the Baptists, with burial-ground and parsonage: a British school, school house and almshouses for twelve poor members of the congregation, were built and endowed by Mr. Samuel Chapman, of Norwich. Here are several small charities and a sum of money is given in lieu of a weekly distribution of bread to poor parishioners. This parish, in remote times, was a manufacturing and important market town and the originals seat of the manufacture of worsted stuffs, to which it gives its name: this trade is now confined to Norwich and neighbourhood. A fair is annually held on the 12th and 13th of May, for cattle. Worstead House, the seat of Colonel William John Rous, is a fine red brick mansion, situated within a noble park of 400 acres, whcih contains a lake covering 8¼ acres. The Dean and Chapter of Norwich and R. S. Baker esq. are lords of the manor and the principal landowners are Colonel Rous, of Worstead House, Mrs. Petre, of Westwick House, R. S. Baker esq. and H. Morse Taylor esq. There are no less than 20 manors in this parish, principally belonging to the Dean and Chapter of Norwich, and Colonel Rous. The soil is mixed; subsoil, sand and gravel. The area is 2,603 acres: rateable value, £4,507: and the population in 1881 was 765.
POST, MONEY ORDER & TELEGRAPH OFFICE & Saving Bank.James Benjamin Copping, receiver. Letters arrive from Norwich at 6.45 a.m. & are dispatched at 4.10 p.m.
1891 Census Names Index
Briggate watermill, post-mill and tower-mill [Jonathan Neville]
Worstead archeology [Norfolk Heritage Explorer]
More on Worstead [GENUKI-NFK]
More Parish Information [Geoff Lowe & Andrew Rivett]
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