Norfolk: Downham Market


William White's History, Gazetteer, and Directory of Norfolk 1845

[Transcription copyright © Pat Newby]

DOWNHAM MARKET is a neat and clean market-town, consisting principally of two long and well-built streets, pleasantly seated on the eastern acclivity of the vale of the Great Ouse, overlooking the marshes and fens, and distant more than half a mile from the river; 11½ miles S. of Lynn, 13½ miles W. by S. of Swaffham, 13 miles E.S.E. of Wisbech, and 84 miles N. by E. of London.

It gives name to the large Union, noticed at page 609 [which is the entry for Clackclose Hundred] and is the polling place for Clackclose Hundred. It has increased its population since the year 1801, from 1,512 to 2,953 souls, and comprises in its parish about 2,500 acres of land, lying in several manors; and belonging to Robt. Fellowes, Esq., E.R. Pratt, Esq., Sir Thomas Hare, Bart., and a number of smaller owners. The latter is lord of the largest manor, which, with several others in this neighbourhood, was given by King Edgar to Ramsey Abbey, in Huntingdonshire. Henry III. invested the abbot with authority to try and execute malefactors, at "his gallows of Downham." The manors in which the abbot exercised this authority are called the Liberty of Sir Thos. Hare.

The MARKETS, held every Monday and Saturday, are of great antiquity, being confirmed by Edward the Confessor. They have greatly declined during the present century, owing to the increase of those at Lynn, Wisbech, and Swaffham. A row of old buildings, which stood in the centre of the Market-place, was removed, under the powers of an act of parliament, passed in July, 1835, for paving, lighting, watching, and improving the town. A large butter market was formerly held every Monday, near the bridge, where, in the height of summer and spring, about 90,000 firkins have been bought annually by factors, and sent to London, where it was sold under the name of Cambridge butter; but this trade was removed many years ago to Swaffham, where it is now obsolete; the growing of corn and wool, and the feeding of cattle, being now more attended to in this part of Norfolk, than the dairy.

Three large FAIRS for horses, cattle, &c., are held here yearly on March 3rd, May 8th, and November 13th. The first is called Winwall fair, being held on St. Winwoloe's day, and removed some years ago from the manor of Winwall, in Wereham parish. Hirings for Servants are held on the Saturday fortnight before, and the Saturday after, Old Michaelmas day.

The BRIDGE, which crosses the Great Ouse, about half a mile west of the town, is a large wooden structure, which was leased by the lord of the manor of Stow Bardolph, in the 32nd of Henry VI., to certain bridge reves [sic], at the yearly rent of 13s. 4d., they being obliged to keep it in repair, and to take the accustomed tolls, from which all the tenants of the said manor were to be exempt. At one end of the bridge is the toll-house, and at the other a large public-house, both belonging to the reves [sic], who have also several acres of land, allotted to them under the enclosure and drainage acts, the last of which were passed in 1798 and 1802. The spring-tides often rise here above 25 feet, and are confined between high embankments, part of which gave way on the Downham side of the river, on August 31st., 1833, and laid many hundred acres of the marshes under water, until the breach was repaired.

Near Well Creek, about 4 miles S.W. of Downham, is the fen hamlet of NORTH DELPH, extending into this, and the parishes of Denver, Upwell, Outwell, and Stow Bardolph, and having near it a handsome stone bridge over Tongs Drain, built in 1835, by the drainage commissioners of the Bedford level. (See p. 563 and 608 [which are the entries for Freebridge Marshland Hundred and Clackclose Hundred].) The soil in the neighbourhood of the town, except the marshes and fens, is in some places a light sand, and in others a loamy clay. In the sand pits are beautiful veins of different colours. In 1568, seventeen "monstrous fishes," measuring from 20 to 27 feet, were caught in the Ouse, near the bridge.

Martin King, a dwarf under 4 feet in height, and for some time boots at the Castle Inn, died here in 1807, from excessive drinking. Zachary Clarke, a member of the Society of Friends, who published an account of the "Norfolk Charities," died here in 1815, much lamented, especially by the poor of the town and neighbourhood, whom he had for some years periodically relieved with distributions of money, fuel, and provisions. Capt. Manby, the inventor of the ingenious apparatus for saving the lives of ship-wrecked mariners, was born near Downham, 1765, and has been long a resident at Yarmouth.

Downham CHURCH, dedicated to St. Edmund, is a neat edifice, standing on rising ground, approached on one side by a flight of brick steps, and on the other by a gradual ascent, ornamented with a row of lime trees. It has a nave, with aisles, (62 feet long, and 45 broad,) built of rag-stone, and covered with lead, and has at the west end a square tower, with five bells, and buttresses, quoins, &c., of freestone, crowned by a small spire of wood covered with lead. The vault of the nave is supported by pillars and ten arches; and at the west end is a gallery, the front of which is beautifully veneered and ornamented. The ancient octangular font has shields on each side, bearing emblems of several Saints and the Passion. The chancel is camerated, and measures in length 34 feet, and breadth 16 feet.

At the bridge there was anciently a hermitage, and near the church were several monastic buildings, the largest of which was a Priory, or cell of Benedictine monks, the site of which is occupied by the rectory-house. The living is a discharged rectory, valued in the King's Book at £6 13s. 4d., and now having a yearly rent charge of about £500, awarded in lieu of tithes, in 1841. William Francks, Esq., is patron, and the Rev. John Richd. Thackeray, M.A., of Hadley, Hertfordshire, is incumbent.

In the town are four dissenting CHAPELS, belonging to the Particular Baptists, the Wesleyan and Primitive Methodists, and the Society of Friends, though there are none of the latter sect now resident in the parish.

Petty Sessions are held every Monday, at the office of Messrs. Bell and Hett. The large Union Workhouse at Downham, is noticed at page 609 [which is the entry for Clackclose Hundred]. A commodious National School, attended by about 90 boys and 80 girls, was built here in 1841; and in the same year a Savings' Bank, for the town and neighbourhood, was opened. Mr. Joseph Harrison, editor of the Floricultural Cabinet, has an extensive garden and nursery, on the Lynn road. The Downham Division of the West Norfolk Agricultural Association, holds an annual meeting in the town.

The CHURCH ESTATE, mostly acquired or received in exchange at the enclosure, in 1802, consists of a house and garden, and about 33A. of land, let for £93 16s. per annum, which is applied in the service of the church. At a vestry meeting, in 1813, it was determined to lay out about £1,300 in repairing the church. A Committee, of whom the rector was one, borrowed £1,000, and the repairs were proceeded with, but no faculty was obtained till after the work was completed. After a long litigation with part of the parishioners, the Committee were deterred, by the fear of expense, from attempting to recover more than £1,500, which they had laid out, either from the parish or the church estate.

In 1660, the REV. THOMAS BATCHCROFT, D.D., left £100 to be laid out in land, and the rents to be distributed among the poor in fuel and clothing. The land purchased, comprises nearly 7A., let for £34 a year, subject to a deduction for drainage tax, &c. The poor parishioners have also £2 a year, left by JOHN SAFFERY, in 1687, out of land at Wimbotsham. At the enclosure of the fen lands, &c., about 100A., called the HUNDRED ACRE COMMON, was vested with the churchwardens of Downham Market, Wimbotsham, and Stow Bardolph, in trust, that, after paying the drainage rates and other expenses, the clear yearly rents should be divided into three parts, for distribution among the poor of these parishes. The Eau-Brink and Downham drainage taxes, on this land, amount to about £25 per annum, and it is now let for £60 a year. An Act for more effectually draining the fen lands, &c., in these and nine other parishes, was obtained in the 4th of Wm. IV.

POST OFFICE at Mr. George Scarnell's, Market-place. Letters despatched to London and the S.W. and N., at a ¼ past 8 evening; to Lynn, Wells, &c., at ½ past 5 morning; to Stradsett, Setch, &c., at ½ past 6 morning; and to Denver, Southery, &c., (by foot post) at 7 or 8 morning.

In the following DIRECTORY OF DOWNHAM MARKET, those marked 1 reside in Bexwell-road; 2 Bridge-road; 3 Bridge-street; 4 Denver-road; 5 High-street; 6 Salamanca-place; 7 Lynn-road; 8 Market-place; 9 North-Delph; 10 Paradise-lane; 11 Parson's-lane; 12 Union-terrace; and 13 in Regent-street.

         11 Addison    William         fishmonger
          5 Andrews    Richard         gentleman
         11 Beeston    John Dunn       gentleman
          6 Beeten     Edmund          gentleman
          4 Bell       Francis Brown   solicitor, and clerk to magistrates
          3 Brecken    George          excise officer
          7 Bunkall    Mr. Wm.
          3 Clark      Misses
          5 Cole       Jno.            dyer
          3 Crockford  Mrs. H.
          2 Dixon      John            gent.
          7 Dyson      Thos.           civil engineer, Retreat
          7 Hall       Mr. T.
            Herring    Thomas          coach builder
            Hett       Edward          solicitor, Union clerk &
                                         superintendent registrar
          3 Hobson     George          corn miller
          3 Horsley    Matthew Coats   gentleman
          1 Jameson    Rev. Philip     (Wes. Min.)
          7 Knowles    John            postman
          3 Lemon      Mr. Hy.
            Long       Jno.            constable
          4 Markham    Mrs. Sarah
          3 Merrington Chas.           corn, &c., mercht.
          3 Mumford    Chas.           land agent & survyr.
          3 Mumford    George          fellmonger, tanner, & wool merchant
          5 Murrell    Rt. Newman      solr.'s clerk
          4 Oldham     Mrs. Elizabeth
          5 Palmer     John            sheriff's officer
          3 Patterson  James           physician
          2 Rawling    Samuel          brick mkr., flower & chimney pot, &c.
          7 Reed       Mrs. My.
            Ried       Rev. John       curate
          2 Rose       Mrs. Emma
            Rose       Thos. Negus     govnr. Workhouse
            Savage     Mr. Jno.
          6 Smith      Thomas          relieving officer
          7 Snelling   William         coal dealer
         10 Southgate  Samuel          fellmonger and leather dresser
          7 Thompson   Sus.            furniture broker
          4 Tiffin     Roger           land surveyor
            Tongate    Mr. Wm.
          5 Tooley     Jas.            leather cutter (& Swffm.)
          5 True       Frederick       iron founder, agrcl. implement mnfr.,
                                         bar iron, &c., merchant,
                                         Phœnix Foundry
         12 Ward       Benj.           gent.
            Ward       Geo. Augustus   corn millers, seed crushers, mustard
                         & Co.           mfrs., corn, coal & spirit merchants,
                                         brewers, and maltsters
          2 Wenn       Mary            coal dealer
          3 Weston     Mr. W.
          3 Whittome   James           millwright, brass founder, & machine
          7 Withnoe    Mr. Thomas
          3 Wood       Thomas          corn merchant, &c.
          3 Wood &                     corn and coal merchants,
             Mumford                     maltsters, &c.
            Wright     Robins Steed    corn, coal, and spirit merchant, brewer,
                                         & maltster
          3 Bell & Hett                (clerks to magistrates)
          7 Coulcher   Martin          (coroner for Clackclose Hundred)
          3 Reed       Thos. Lancelot  (sec. to West Norfolk
                                         Agricultural Society)
          5 Townley    Wm.             (coroner for the Half Hundred
                                         of Clackclose)
          5 Gurneys & Co., (of Lynn) Thomas Wright, agent, (Stamp Office)
          3 Savings' Bank, (open Saturday) Edward Johnson, secretary
               FIRE & LIFE OFFICES.
            Equitable                  Joseph Twydell
          5 Farmers'                   Thomas L. Reed
          3 Norwich Union              Bell & Hett
          3 Royal Exchange             C. Mumford
          5 Sun                        Frederick True
               INNS & TAVERNS.
          5 Bull                       John Oakes
          2 Bridge House               John Johnson, sen.
          5 Castle Inn, (posting)      Thos. Harris
          7 Chequers                   Richard Fairchild
          5 Coffee Pot                 Samuel Edison
          5 County & Provident         W. Bartram
          8 Crown Inn, (posting)       Sar. Powell
          8 Hat & Feather              Henry Glasscock (whip-thong manufacturer)
          3 Queen's Head               William Brown
          5 Rampant Horse              Robert Brown
          9 Red Hart                   Thomas Gregory
          5 Swan Inn                   Ozias Fuller
          9 Swan                       Wm. Kay, North Delph
          3 White Hart                 John Capurn Brown
           (* take Boarders.)
          7 Burnard    Sarah
         11 Challis    Benj.
          7*Dunlop     Archbd.
           *Goodrick   Isaac           Hill House
          7*Johnson    Edw.
            Ullyett    Jph. S. &
                        Mary Ann       National School
            Wright     Maria
          5 Mumford and
          5 Wallis     Ambrose
               Bakers and Confectioners.
          5 Baldwin    Wm.             7 North      Sarah & Charlotte
          3 Clark      Edward          8 Poll       Charles
          3 Clark      John            7 Snelling   Thomas
          3 Hobson     George          8 Wright     James
          4 Moore      Joseph
               Basket Makers.
          3 Burman     Wm.
          3 Daines     Wright
          7 Gooden     Richard
               Beer Houses.
          7 Beets      Thomas,         3 Mann       George
                        (and glover)   3 Mann       James
          4 Cawdron    James           7 Melton     Robert
          3 Coates     James           7 Roberts    John
          3 Ely        Thomas          3 Rose       Thomas
          2 Fenton     William         2 Snelling   Joseph
          9 Jackson    John            7 Stevens    John
          3 Mace       Francis
          3 Benstead   Daniel
          3 Hudson     John
          7 Parnell    William
          1 Taylor     Tiffin W.
          5 Vince      Robert
               Booksellers, &c.
          8 Scarnell   George          Post Office
          5 Thorogood  Robt.           (and printer)
          3 Twydell    Joseph          (printer & surveyor)
               Boot & Shoemakers.
          8 Andrews    John            1 Loose      Robert
          3 Banham     Thomas          7 Parker     William
          3 Brighton   Wm.             3 Savage     Osborn
         11 Fretwell   Wm.             3 Vince      William
          7 Kinney     John
               Braziers & Tinners.
          1 Coe        Robert
          5 Newell     Pearson
           (* are Stonemasons)
          3 Bennett    William
          7 Harper     Noah
          7 Juler      Henry
          7 Melton     Robert
          5 Brown      J.C.            3 Lack       William
          8 Bunkall    Keen            3 Scott      William
          5 Bunkall    W., jun.        7 Smart      Elizabeth
          3 Coe        William         3 Smart      William
          3 Gamble     Samuel          7 Vincent    James
          3 Haylett    Robert
               Cabinet Makers, &c.
          5 Casebow    Wm.
          5 Langman    John
               Chemists & Druggists.
          5 Baker      Patrick
          8 Cowper     John
          1 Brown      Bennet
          1 Chapman    Wm.
          9 Farrer     Thomas
          7 Savage     Dynn
          9 Ward       Robert
          2 Whyer      Robert
               Gardeners & Nurserymen.
          7 Harrison   Joseph          Mount Pleasant
          3 Stebbing   Zach.
               Green Grocers.
          3 Eagle      Elizabeth
          3 Jackson    Mary
               GROCERS AND DRAPERS.
          5 Bartram    Wm.             3 Scott      James
          3 King       William         5 Snasdell   Joel
          5 Oakes      William         7 Terrington Wm., (and
          3 Savory     William                       chandler)
          8 Scarnell   Geo., jun
               Hair Dressers.
          5 Crisp      William
          8 Willimot   John
          3 Willimot   J., jun.
          5 Mole       Charles Tingey
          5 True       Frederick
          5 Wallis     Ambrose
          5 Weston     George
               Joiners, &c.
          7 Bennett    Thos.           4 Harpley    Joseph
         11 Cater      Henry          11 Harpley    Wm.
          5 Cowper     Thomas          7 Juler      Henry
          3 Flatman    John            7 Smith      Thomas
         12 Goose      James
               Linen and Woollen Drapers.
                  (See also Grocers.)
          7 Sewell     William
          5 Vince      Wm., and
            Reddington W.              [See note below]
               Milliners, &c.
          3 Banham     My. Ann         3 Raby       Harriet
          7 Carter     Eliza           3 Rawling    My. Ann
          5 Clark      Miss            3 Riches     My. Ann
          1 Holland    My. Ann         3 Shinn      Sarah
          3 Johnson    Eliza & Sophia  7 Wright     Maria
               Painters, Plumbers, and Glaziers.
          3 Mallett    James
          8 Spencer    Robert
          7 Weston     Thomas
               Saddlers & Patten Makers.
          5 Glasscock  James
          3 Steggles   William
          3 Brown      John            7 Reeson     Robert
          3 Clark      Edward          3 Weston     Jonah
          9 Copeman    M.B.            3 Wignall    Rachel
          2 Kendall    Martha          7 Wilkin     Ann
               Stone Masons.
          6 Brown      William
          3 Hainsworth Fdk.
          5 Long       Edmund
          5 Hunter     Chpr., M.R.C.
          3 Patterson  James, M.D.
          5 Wales      Thomas Garneys
          1 Bailey     William         5 Hourston   Thos. and Son
          5 Bennett    Arthur          3 Lock       Stephen
          3 Bunkall    Barker          5 Long       Charles
          3 Bunkall    Charles         3 Searle     Richard (& clothier)
          7 Bunkall    Henry           5 Warnes     William
          7 Coulcher   Wm.
               Veternry. Surgns.
          4 Betts      James
          5 Calver     Benjamin Howes
          5 Heffer     Robert
               Watch Makers.
          5 Howes      Benjamin
          5 Giscard    Wm.             (& furniture brkr.)
          3 Snasdell   Joseph
          1 Swinger    John
          1 Taylor     Tiffin Westwood
          3 Whittome   James
          5 True       Frederick
          5 Wallis     Ambrose


to London, at ½ p. 8 evening, & to Lynn 5 morning, from the Swan
Day Coach
to London, at ¼ past 9 morning, & to Lynn evening
to Lynn and Wisbech, on market days;
and Coaches
from Lynn to Thetford and Bury pass within the distance of 4 miles, via Stoke Ferry (see page 560 [which is the entry for King's Lynn Coaches and Carriers].)


To London, Lynn, &c.,
Swann & Son's vans, &c., call daily at Mr. Geo. Weston's, High street.
Jno. Oakes,
Denver road, to Norwich, (via Swaffham) Tues. morning; & to Wisbech, Wed. and Sat.
John Roberts,
Lynn road, to Ely, Thurs.; to Lynn, Tuesday; and to Wisbech, Saturday
Harrison Shackle
Lynn road, to Lynn, Tues., Thursday, & Saturday

Note: in the original this is:
     5 Vince Wm., and Reddington W.

See also the Downham Market parish page.

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Copyright © Pat Newby.
January 2013