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Norfolk - Wymondham

Francis White's History, Gazetteer, and Directory, of Norfolk 1854, pp. 479-486

[Complete entry. Transcription Copyright © the late A.J. Carter, December 2002.]

WYMONDHAM, or Windham, an ancient market town, situated on rising ground, upon the Norwich and Thetford turnpike, is distant 9 miles S.W. by W. of Norwich, 19 miles N.E. of Thetford, and 100 miles N.E. by N. of London. It contains many ancient dwellings, and consists chiefly of four streets converging in the centre. The Norfolk Railway, now leased to the Eastern Counties Company, crosses the parish parallel with the turnpike road, about half a mile south of the town, where there is a convenient brick station, erected in 1844-5. The town was formerly celebrated for the manufacture of wooden turnery-ware ; but this trade gave place many years ago to the weaving of bombasins, crapes, &c., in which employment here were 20 years ago, 600 looms ; but they have been reduced to about 150, and these are partly employed by the Norwich manufacturers. Here is an extensive brewery, belonging to Messrs. Cann and Clarke ; and in the parish are several corn mills. The Market, held every Friday, is not very numerously attended ; corn is usually sold by sample, at the Griffin Inn, in the evening. The Market Cross, built in 1616, is covered by an octagonal roof, and supported on wooden pillars; on the cornice are carved the various articles of turnery, for which the town was once famous. Fairs are held on Feb. 14th and May 17th, for horses and cattle, &c., and on Sept. 29th for pedlery, &c.; when any of these dates fall on a Saturday, the fair is held on the following Monday, so as not to interfere with Norwich market. A hiring session is held on the second day after Old Michaelmas Day. Wymondham, in 1801, had a population of 3,567 souls ; 1831, 5,485 ; 1841, 5,179, and in 1851, 5,177. It is in Six Divisions, the names of which, and population, are, Downham, 1,236 ; Market Street, 1,305 ; Town Green, 845 ; Silfield, 643 ; Suton,718, and Wattlefield, 421 ; Market Street and Town Green are called In Soken and the other the Out Soken. Downham comprises the north part of the town, and includes many farms, and Kimberley Hall, which is 3 miles distant. The parish contains 10,400 acres of well cultivated land, extending from 3 to 4 miles round the town, and rising in undulations from both sides of a tributary stream of the Yare. Silfield stretches nearly 3 miles to the south east, and includes STANFIELD HALL, a fine Elizabethan mansion, formerly a seat of the Flowerdews. The Rev. Geo. Preston, who died in 1838, built a neat Catholic Chapel here, but it has since been converted into kitchen offices.

Stanfield Hall was the scene of one of the most extraordinary and diabolical murders that are recorded in the annals of crime. The Hall was the residence and property of Isaac Jermy, Esq., Recorder of Norwich, and on Nov. 28th, 1848, Tuesday evening, about half-past eight o'clock, Mr. Jermy, having just left the dining room, (where he had been sitting alone) and proceeded to the porch in front of the hall, when he was shot dead ; the son hearing the report of the gun, ran out of the drawing-room into the hall, where he was met by the same person who shot him through the right breast, and he also fell dead. The assassin then fired at Mrs. Jermy, and wounded her in the upper part of the arm, and with the fourth shot, he dreadfully wounded Eliza Chastney in the thigh, a servant that had gone to the assistance of Mrs. Jermy; the murderer then made his escape at the back door. No sooner were the authorities acquainted with the affair, than suspicion fell upon James Blomfield Rush, a tenant of Mr. Jermy's, in a respectable sphere of life, who occupied Potash Farm, and between whom and Mr. Jermy there had been some dispute in monetary matters. Rush was taken into custody the following morning, and on searching the premises, evidence of a criminatory character were furnished against him. The great characteristics of Rush were hypocrisy, cunning, and an indomitable spirit, that nerved him to the most atrocious deeds, which his unwearied perseverance sought every means to accomplish ; whilst he maintained a semblance of piety, he was practicing the most insidious and treacherous arts of seduction, living in the grossest profligacy, plotting in various ways to cheat his neighbours of their property, and meditating acts of malice and revenge. This trial excited an unusual degree of interest in Norwich. The prisoner conducted his own case, cross examined some of the witnesses with considerable ability, and in his defence, which occupied upwards of thirteen hours and a half in its delivery, confidently expected an acquittal. The Judge having summoned up, the jury in about ten minutes pronounced the prisoner guilty, and he was sentenced to be hanged on the 21st. of April, 1849. On the morning appointed, a dense multitude assembled to witness the execution, and Rush ascended the scaffold with a firm step, placed himself under the fatal beam, and the scene of life closed upon this hardened malefactor, almost without a struggle.

Suton Division extends about 3 miles S.W., and includes Burfield Hall, the beautiful seat of Miss A.D. Burroughes. Wattlefield is about 3 miles south of the town, and here is a large room built for a school, where the vicar performs divine service for the benefit of the inhabitants in this district. The divisions form the following 12 Manors, viz : Wymondham Reginæ, or, Abbotts ; Gishaugh Cromwell, Rusteyn, Choseley, Brockdish, Gonville, Stanfield Hall, Downham Hall, Stalworthy, with Burfield Hall, Nothers, and Palgraves. The inhabitants enjoy all the privileges of ancient demesne, being exempt from serving on juries out of the parish, free from tolls at markets, fairs, &c.

The town appears to have arisen into consequence from the Abbey founded here in 1130, by William de Albini, afterwards Earl of Arundel, whose father obtained from William the Conquerer all the manors in this parish, to be held by the service of butler to the king, on the day of coronation, except Stanfield Hall, which was held by the Warrens, and subsequently by the Bigods. The abbey was richly endowed as a cell to the Abbey of St. Albans, but was constituted an abbey for monks of the Benedictine order in 1448. Henry I. endowed it with "all wrecks on that part of the coast lying between Eccles, Happisburgh, and Tunstead, and a rent in kind of 2,000 eels annually, from the village of Hilgay." Its revenues amounted to £211 16s. 6d. per annum, at the dissolution, and as no crimes were laid to the charge of the abbot he had a pension of £66 13s. 4d. a year, and the monks were found to be blameless except four, who acknowledged themselves guilty of incontinency. Henry IV. conferred its possessions upon the Earl of Surrey, who was attainted and beheaded in 1547. The Abbey Church was a large cruciform structure, dedicated to the Virgin Mary, and St. Thomas a Becket. When the monastery was destroyed, the parishioners obtained a grant of the church, with its chapels, and beautiful choir or chancel ; but the latter and the south aisle were destroyed by Sergeant Flowerdew, who superintended the demolition of the abbey. The inhabitants rebuilt the south aisle, and converted the east part of the nave into the chancel. The Parish Church now consists of a spacious nave, with aisles, a large western tower, and another at the intersection of the nave with the transepts. A fine gothic arch, with a few fragments of the walls, are all that remain of the choir, the ruins of the east end, and south side of the church, being cleared away in 1834, when two bodies were found wrapped in lead, supposed to be the remains of Lady Albini and her infant, who with the founder of the Abbey, and many other of the Albini and Clifton families were interred in the choir. The interior of the church is of great extent, and the semi-circular arches are ornamented with zig-zag mouldings, and above them are full-length figures of angels, resting on grotesque heads, supporting the roof. It contains a fine organ, which cost £800, the gift of Mrs. Farmer in 1793. The font is very ancient, and on it are emblems of the four Evangelists and the Holy Trinity. The gallery was built in 1717, and the pulpit was newly erected and placed in its present situation in 1837. A sumptuous monument on the south side of the altar is supposed to cover the remains of the last abbot. The Bishop of Norwich is appropriator of the great tithes and patron of the vicarage, valued in the King's book at £10 14s. 4d., and enjoyed by the Rev. Robert Jarrold King. The tithes were commuted in 1839, for the yearly payments of £2,169 16. 6d., to Thos. Bailey, Esq., the lessee of the appropriate rectory, and £799 6s. 8d. to the vicar. Here is an endowed lectureship of £160 per annum, which is held by the Rev. David Jones.

The Independent Chapel, built in 1652, was vested in Roger Gay in 1715, with seven trustees, and certain lands and tenements. then of the yearly value of £36 10s. In 1745 lands were exchanged for a yearly rent-charge of £24. The premises now belonging [to] the trust consist of certain tenements and 3a. 2r. 28p. of land, let for £22 per annum, which, with the above £24 and the rents of some cottages and houses purchased for the use of the sureties, is carried to one account, and £20 is appropriated to the support of the minister ; the rest is applied in the reparation of the chapel, and for the benefit of the poor. The Rev. John Anderson is the pastor. The Methodist chapel was built in 1825 ; the Primitive Methodists have one at Silfield, and another on the Norwich road. The Baptist chapel was built many years ago. The Friends' meeting-house, built in 1687, is about a mile north-west of the town. Sunday schools are connected with most of the places of worship.

THE GRAMMAR SCHOOL, AND OTHER CHARITIES.— Edward VI. and Queen Elizabeth granted certain lands and premises for the support of a Free Grammar School. The Chapel of St. Thomas a Becket was converted into a school room in the early part of the reign of Elizabeth. In 1762, Robt. Day left a house for the residence of the master, and gave £40 for apprenticing poor boys. Thos. Taylor, in 1670, bequeathed several messuages for the use of the poor parishioners. Blyth Meadow, 4a., was held in trust for the poor of Suton and Damgate. Under the enclosure act, 46th George III, various charity lands were exchanged for other lands ; and a petition, filed in the Court of Chancery, in 1822, states that these exchanges had so confounded the charity lands that the petitioners were unable to ascertain to what charitable purposes the income was applicable. In 1825, the old school house was given in exchange for 1a. of land and a good house for the master. By the new scheme, sanctioned by the Court of Chancery in 1826, there are to be 12 trustees and 12 governors. The school and master's house is to be kept in repair out of the rents, and the master must be a clergyman of the Church of England, and a graduate of Oxford or Cambridge. whose salary is to be £60 per annum ; that all such boys as the governors appoint shall be instructed in reading, writing, arithmetic, the learned languages, and other useful learning, without any fee or gratuity. No boy to be admitted under eight years of age, nor continue after eighteen. The rent of Day's charity land, £7 6s. 6d., and the yearly sum of £5, are to be applied in apprenticing one or more boys ; and the residue, after paying the master's salary, in distributions of coals, clothing, or small sums of money among poor parishioners. The Rev. Jph. Grisdale, the present master, teaches about 12 free scholars. In 1657, Matthew Parker founded a scholarship in Corpus Christi College, Cambridge, for a boy from this school, who must be a native of the town. The Fuel allotments awarded at the enclosure in 1810, consist of 53a. 0r. 18p., let for £86 10s. a-year, which is distributed in coals and money among the poor. In 1722, John Hendry left £400 to be laid out in land for the benefit of the vicar of Wymondham, on condition that two sermons were preached every Sunday in the year. He also bequeathed certain lands to the vicar for the time being, in trust, to apply 50s. yearly among poor unmarried women, 10s. to the poor of Crownthorpe, and the residue to be applied in teaching poor children to read and write, and to bind them out to trades. And he devised his lands called Flory's to Philip Carver and his heirs, upon condition that they should pay to the vicar £3 10s. yearly, for preaching a sermon every Friday in Lent. The £400 was laid out in the purchase of 25a. 2r. 16p. of land, now let for £38 5s. a-year, which is received by the vicar. The estate, devised for education now consists of 1a. 1r. 20p. at Crownthorpe, and 18a. 26p. in Wicklewood, producing £27 a-year, of which 50s. is divided among 25 "ancient maidens," and the residue applied to the support of five charity schools, three of which are held in hired rooms, and the other two in commodious buildings erected by the late vicar, the Rev. Wm. Papillon. There is also a large National school, and a British school, which are numerously attended. In 1692, Ann Blackborne left £100 for the poor, and her executor, Francis le Neve, added as much as purchased a yearly rent-charge of £8 2s., which is distributed by the owner of Burfield Hall.

THE BRIDEWELL, or Divisional County Prison, in Bridewell Street, was erected in 1787, on the plan recommended by the philanthropic Howard ; but after the removal of the prisoners to the New Gaol at Norwich, in 1827, it remained unoccupied till 1832, when it was reopened for the incarceration of females, and those sentenced to hard labour are employed in washing and sewing, &c. The present matron, Mrs Martha M. Bryant, has made great improvements in its management, and introduced the making of mats, &c. The average number of prisoners is 21. The Rev. D. James, chaplain ; and Robert J. Tunaley, surgeon. Wymondham is in Long Stratton Police Division. Two officers are stationed here, and there is a lock up in Bridewell Street. Petty Sessions are held at the King's Head Inn, on the third Tuesday of every month. Gas Works were erected in 1845, by a number of £5 shareholders ; J. S. Cann, Esq., is treasurer. The County Court for Wymondham District comprises the following places, viz:—Ashwelthorpe, Aslackton [sic], Bunwell, Carlton Rode, Crownthorpe, Deopham, Forncett St. Mary and St. Peter, Fundenhall, Hackford by Wymondham, Hapton, Hingham, Kimberley, Morley St. Botolph and St. Peter, Moulton St. Michael, Tacolnestone [sic], Tibbenham, Wicklewood, and Wymondham ; Thomas Jacob Birch, Esq., judge ; J. S. Cann, Esq., assistant clerk ; Charles Crane, deputy bailiff. On Saturday morning, June 11, 1615, while the inhabitants were at the church, the town was set on fire by a party of gipsies, and upwards of 300 houses consumed, valued with their contents at upwards of £40,000. The town was visited by the plague in 1631. Richard Crashfield and Francis Knight were burnt here, for not conforming to the Catholic religion, in the reign of Queen Mary. Robert and William Kett, who headed the formidable rebellion in 1549, were natives of Wymondham, (see page 60.) This parish gives name to the distinguished family of Windham, branches of which subsequently resided in Fellbrigg [sic], Cromer, and Earsham, in this county. In 1204, William de Wimundham being skilled in metallurgy, was appointed overseer of the lead mines in Devonshire, and extracted great quantities of silver from the lead ore.

Post Office at Mr. Thomas Colman's, Market Place ; letters arrive at 2.30 a.m., and are despatched at 10 p.m. The delivery commences at 7.30 a.m. There are foot-posts to Hethersett, Barnham Broom, Tacolnestone [sic], and Morley, daily at 7 a.m.

In the following Directory of Wymondham parish, those marked 1, reside in Back-lane ; 2, Bridewell-street; 3, Church-street ; 4, Cock-street ; 5, Damgate-street ; 6, Downham ; 7, Fairland-street ; 8, Market-place ; 9, Market-street ; 10, Norwich-road ; 11, Silfield ; 12, Suton ; 13, Town-green ; 14, Town-green-street ; 15, Vicar-street ; and 16, in Wattlefield.

Transcription Copyright © the late A.J. Carter, December 2002; links updated April 2011.

Return to villages index
Paddy's home page
1891 Census Names Index
Forehoe hundred
Forehoe Incorporation
Kelly's 1883 Directory transcript
White's 1845 [GENUKI-NFK]
Holy Trinity chapel, Spooner Row [Simon Knott]
Catholic church of Our Lady & St. Thomas of Canterbury [Simon Knott]
Catholic chapel of St. Thomas of Canterbury [Simon Knott]
North Mill smockmill, Silfield tower mill and Betwick postmill [Jonathan Neville]
Wymondham Archeology [Norfolk Heritage Explorer]
Wymondham Village pages
Kett's Rebellion [BBC]
More on Wymondham [GENUKI-NFK]
More Parish Information [Geoff Lowe & Andrew Rivett]