Norfolk: North Elmham


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

[Transcription copyright © Pat Newby]

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. In the former, the fines are certain, and in the latter arbitrary.

It is supposed that there was a ROMAN STATION here, in Broom close, where upwards of 100 urns, many coins, and other Roman antiquities were found, in 711. Among the inscriptions on the coins were, "Vespatianvs Avg.," "Caesar Divi F. Domitianvs Coss. VIII.," "Diva Favstina," "Lucilla Avgvsta Antonina Avgvsti Filia," and "G. Constantvs Nob. Caesar."

Bisus, the fourth Bishop of the East Angles, about the year 673, divided his diocese into two, when one bishop was appointed to reside here, where the first cathedral church was a wooden fabric. After the removal of the see to Thetford, about A.D. 1070, and finally to Norwich, in 1096, Elmham still continued a favourite residence of the succeeding bishops. (See page 101 [(onwards) which is the section about the Diocese of Norwich].)

In the 11th of Richard II., the warlike Bishop Spencer obtained a license to embattle and make a castle of his manor house at Elmham. This episcopal castle stood on an artificial mount, on the hill above the village, surrounded by a broad and deep ditch, encompassing about five acres. The inner keep was also defended by a deep foss, which enclosed about two acres. Some traces of the intrenchments and foundations of the building may still be seen, overgrown with briars and thorns. From the castle, there was a vault under-ground to the church.

The extensive park which belonged to it, now called the Old or Westfield Park, is still preserved. It contains 370 acres, and nearly five hundred deer, and is the property of the Earl of Leicester.

Adjoining the east side of this, is the extensive and well-wooded deer park of Elmham Hall, one of the seats of the Right Hon. Geo. John Milles, Lord SONDES, who succeeded his brother in the peerage in 1836. The hall is a large brick mansion, which has undergone considerable alterations, and stands on an eminence, rising gently from the margin of a fine sheet of water, which abounds with pike and other fish, and is supplied by a small brook flowing through the park to the river Wensum.

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. In the church windows, are several fragments of stained glass.

The benefice is a discharged vicarage, valued in the King's Book at £13. 15s. Lord Sondes is the patron and impropriator, and the Rev. Henry Edward Knatchbull is the incumbent. In 1838, the vicarial tithes were commuted for £463. 2s. 6d., and the rectorial tithes, on those parts of the parish not belonging to the impropriator, for £291 per annum.

There is a small Baptist Chapel in the village.

Petty Sessions are held here on the third Wednesday of every month; hirings for servants, at Michaelmas; and a large FAIR for cattle, sheep, and swine, is held yearly, on April 6th, unless that day fall on Saturday or Sunday, when the fair is held on the following Monday.

The FREE SCHOOL, now conducted on the national system, in two departments for boys and girls, is attended by about 140 children, and was built by Richard Milles, Esq., the late lord of the manor, who vested it, in 1813, with a house for the master, a playground, and 13A. of the common, in trustees. At the enclosure, in 1831, it received an allotment of 2A. 2R. 15P., which, with the 13A., yields an annual income of about £20 per annum.

The Church Lands, 74A. 20P., are let for £74 a year. The Fuel Allotment, awarded at the enclosure, is 50A. 21P., on which the poor cut turf, &c., and let the herbage for £10 a year. They have also the interest of £100, left by Peter Johnson, in 1833; £1. 11s. 8d. yearly, left by Robt. Shettles and John Culling; and 36s. a year from Gooch's Charity. (See East Dereham.)

There is a Bowling Green at the George Inn, and a Cricket Ground near the King's Head, and in the parish are two water-mills for grinding corn.

The POST OFFICE is at Mrs. Dent's, whence letters are despatched to East Dereham, &c., at four afternoon, and to Holt, Cley, &c., at half-past nine morning.

         SONDES      Lord               Elmham Hall, (and Lees Court,
                                          Kent; and Rockingham Castle,
         Bradfield   Chas.              plumber & glazier
         Bradfield   Rt.                vict. King's Head Inn
         Brunton     Benj.              plumber, glazier, &c.
         Chapling    Mr John
         Cook        Jeremiah           cooper
         Cooper      Mrs Sarah
         Copsey      Thomas             pump maker
         Cushing     Francis            bricklayer & bldr
         Dent        Mrs Sophia         Post Office
         Dix         Henry              boarding school
         Fisher      Money              land agent and chief constable
         Goshawk     John               watchmaker & regr
         Jewell      George             veterinary surgeon
         Knatchbull  Rev Henry Edw.     vicar
         Lambert     Charles            gardener
         Linley      John               tea dealer
         Neal        James              bricklayer
         Parkerson   James              surgeon
         Reynold     Francis            relieving officer
         Rogers      Rd. & Sophia       Natl. School
         Rump        Chpr.              steward to Lord Sondes
         Sparkes     Sutton             vict. George Inn
         Thompson    Rev Jph.           (bdg. academy,)
                                          chaplain to the Union
         Upton       Wm.                bricklayer
         Williment   Mr Howlet
         Whiter      William            Old Park keeper, Park House
         Yull        Peter              tinner and brazier
            Bakers &c.                     Blacksmiths.
         Diggens     Wm.                Monument    John (& iron fence
         Goshawk     Henry                            manufacturer)
         Grant       Wm. (and           Monument    Thos.  
                       Baptist min.)    Ward        James
         Tuck        Thomas
            Beer Houses.
                                        Nicholson   Geo.
         Oswick      John
         Tombling Robt.                    Corn Millers.
                                        Mayston     Joshua
                                        Norton      Robert, Grint Mill
         Bird        John               Hawes       Wm.
         Bradfield   James              Howell      John
         Bradfield   Robert             Hubbard     James
         Bradfield   Thos.              Mayston     Joshua
         Bradfield   Wm.                Monument    John
         Bream       Thomas Rudd        Norton      Robert
         Bunn        James              Rix         Wm. Old Hall
         Elmer       Wm.                Whiter      Wm.
         Elmer       Robert             Williment   John Kirby
         Englebright Ths.               Winter      Samuel
            Grocers & Drprs.               Shoemakers.
         Davies      Philip             Pratt       Jonathan
                       (& druggist)                   (and glass dlr)
         Sands       Wm.                Tombling    Henry
                                        Tombling    Benj.
            Joiners &c.                 Twiddy      George
         Sussens     Edward                Tailors.
         Tombling    Robt.
         Tombling    Wm.                Chapling    John
                                        Cooper      John
            Saddlers.                   Elmer       John
                                        Howell      Robert
         Bell        Philip             Willby      Samuel
         Wells       John

    To Norwich, M. Wed., & Fri., 7mg.
    & to Holt, Tues., Thurs., and Sat. 8 evg

    Betts' Van to Norwich, Sat. 6mg., and to Litcham, 7 evg
    Robt Spooner, to Norwich, Fri.
    Jno. Tombling, to Norwich, Sat., and Lynn, Mon.

See also the North Elmham parish page.

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Copyright © Pat Newby.
July 2002