North Elmham


"ELMHAM, (NORTH) once a city, and the seat of the Bishops of Norfolk from 673 to 1075, is now a large village and parish, pleasantly situated on the west bank of the river Wensum, 5 miles N. of East Dereham, and 18 miles N.W. by W. of Norwich. It contains 1219 inhabitants, and 4401 acres of land. The Earl of Leicester owns 479A.; Christ's College, Cambridge, about 110A.; and nearly all the rest is the property of Lord Sondes. The parish is in two manors, viz., Elmham-Nawer's, of which Lord Sondes is lord, and North Elmham, of which the Dean and Chapter of Norwich are lords. . . . The CHURCH (Virgin Mary) was built by Bishop Herbert de Losinga, but it afterwards underwent frequent repairs and alterations. It is a large, handsome pile, 157 feet by 66, with a square tower and eight bells. The interior is neat, and has many ancient carved seats, and two handsome marble monuments, in memory of Richard Warner and Richard Milles, Esqrs., the former of whom built Elmham Hall, and died in 1757. From the latter, the Elmham and other estates passed to their present owner (now Lord Sondes,) who assumed the name of Milles, being brother of the Right Hon. L.R. Watson, the late Baron Sondes, of Lees Court, Kent. . . . There is a small Baptist Chapel in the village." [William White, History, Gazetteer, and Directory of Norfolk (1845) - Transcription copyright © Pat Newby]


South Elmham is in Suffolk.


Church Directories

  • In 1883 the parish was in the Deanery of Brisley, in the archdeaconry of Norwich.
    It could have been in a different deanery or archdeaconry both before and after this date.
  • The parish church is dedicated to the Virgin Mary.
    From the 7th to the 11th centuries, North Elmham was the seat of the Bishops of Norwich.

Church History

Church of St Mary
Description and pictures.
Church of St Mary
Description, services, etc.
The Church
North Elmham: Church of St Mary the Virgin.
[North Elmham, The Church, 1980s]
Wade-Martins, Peter and Wade-Martins, Susanna
St Mary's Church, North Elmham.
[North Elmham, North Elmham Parochial Church Council, 1979]
Reeve, Ken
Elmham Methodist Church, 1876-1976: Centenary celebrations and reunion: October 1976.
[North Elmham, The Church, 1976]
North Elmham and South Elmham
The Mystery of the Two Elmhams.
The Saxon Cathedral
Sketch of a possible reconstruction.
Bishop's Chapel
Description and pictures.
Clapham, A.W.
The Saxon Cathedral of Elmham.
[Norwich, Norfolk and Norwich Archaeological Society, in "Norfolk Archaeology" vol.23, 1929]
Cranage, David Herbert Somerset
The "Cathedra" of the Bishop of Norwich.
[Norwich, Norfolk and Norwich Archaeological Society, in "Norfolk Archaeology" vol.27, 1941]
Holbeach, H.D. (editor)
The First 1300 Years 673-1973: North Elmham.
[Brisley and Elmham Deanery, 1973]
Howlett, Richard
The Ancient See of Elmham.
[Norwich, Norfolk and Norwich Archaeological Society, in "Norfolk Archaeology" vol.18, 1914]
Rigold, Stuart Eborall
North Elmham, Saxon Cathedral.
[ISBN 1850740100, English Heritage, Historic Buildings and Monuments Commission, 1985]
Wade-Martins, Peter and Wade-Martins, Susanna
The Anglo-Saxon Cathedral, North Elmham.
[North Elmham, North Elmham Parochial Church Council, 1977]

Church Records

Legge, Augustus George
The Ancient Register of North Elmham, Norfolk, 1538-1631.
[Norwich, Agas H. Goose, 1888]
[Facsimile reproduction on CD, 2008?]
Archdeacon's Transcripts or Bishop's Transcripts
Baptisms, Marriages and Burials.
These are included in Boyd's Marriage Index.
They are not included in Phillimore's Marriage Registers.
Extracts from Parish Register Transcripts
Some surnames, vicars and churchwardens.
Legge, Augustus George
Ancient Churchwardens' Accounts in the Parish of North Elmham, from AD 1539 to AD 1577, with descriptive notes and a glossary.
[Norwich, Agas H. Goose, 1891]

See also Norfolk Parish Links: Church Records


Civil Registration

For the civil registration of births, marriages and deaths between 1837 and 1930 (and for the censuses from 1851 to 1901), North Elmham was in Mitford and Launditch Registration District.

See also Norfolk Parish Links: Civil Registration


Description & Travel

North Elmham News
News, parish council, etc.
Rose, Edwin J.
A New Guide to North Elmham.
[North Elmham, 1990s]
County School Railway Station
Description, history, pictures, etc.
This is a link to an archived copy.
North Elmham Water Mill
Description, history and pictures.
North Elmham Post Mill
Short description.

See also Norfolk Parish Links: Description and Travel

You can see pictures of North Elmham which are provided by:




Historical Geography

North Elmham is in Launditch Hundred.

Parish outline and location.
See Parish Map for Launditch Hundred
Description of Launditch Hundred
1845: White's History, Gazetteer, and Directory of Norfolk

You can see the administrative areas in which North Elmham has been placed at times in the past. Select one to see a link to a map of that particular area.


Land & Property

Macnair, Andrew Duncan
Foulsham and North Elmham: the landscapes of two Norfolk parishes at the time of Parliamentary enclosure.
[Norwich, Norfolk and Norwich Archaeology Society, in "Norfolk Archaeology", vol.44, part 2, 2003]
Great Britain. Inclosure Commissioners
Statement of claims: North Elmham.
Drawn up in pursuance of the Act of Inclosure, 1829.
North Elmham 79 claims; Brisley and Gateley 11 claims Includes lands from the parishes of Brisley and Gateley forming part of North Elmham Great Heath.
Great Britain: Statute
North Elmham Inclosure Act, 1829.
An act for inclosing lands in the parish of North Elmham in the county of Norfolk: 13th April 1829.
[London, George Eyre and Andrew Strahan, 1829]

See also Norfolk Parish Links: Land and Property



You can see maps centred on OS grid reference TF986210 (Lat/Lon: 52.750217, 0.940616), North Elmham which are provided by:


Military Records


Names, Personal

Sondes (Lord)
See Norfolk People and Families

Poor Houses, Poor Law



These figures are from the population tables which were produced after the 10-yearly national censuses. The "Families" heading includes families and single occupiers.

Year  Inhabited
1801122163  836
1811127190  896
Year  Inhabited
1901243247  999
1911---252  919

There may be more people living in detached parts of the parish (if there were any) and, if so, the number may or may not be included in the figures above. It is quite difficult to be sure from the population tables.

1861 Census
"The return for North Elmham in 1861 includes 89 strangers attending a fair."
1901 Census
"Including Broom Green and Great Heath."

Other population figures



Dodds, Matt and Virgoe, Norma
The village school, North Elmham (edited by Peter Wade-Martins).
[North Elmham School and Home Association, 1978]
Watts Naval Training School
Description, pictures, etc.
Gibbs, A.W.
Watts Naval Training School, North Elmham, Norfolk.
[Norwich, Typescript in Norwich Local Studies Library, 1999]
Watts Naval Training School
Focus on Watts Naval Training School.
[The Guild Messenger, 1973]
(no author)
The Watts Naval Training School: What it is and what it is doing.
[Printed at the press of Dr. Barnardo's Homes, 1913]
Norfolk County School Association
Elmham: Norfolk County School.
[Fakenham, T.J. Miller, 1890s]