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Norfolk: Aylsham

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

[Transcription copyright Richard Johns]

AYLSHAM, which gives name to a large Union and Police Division, is a neat and well-built market town, pleasantly seated on the southern acclivity of the vale of the Bure, nearly 12 miles N. by W. of Norwich; 10 miles S. by W. of Cromer; 7 miles W.S.W. of North Walsham; and 120 miles N.E. by N. of London.

At the Norman Conquest, the manor extended into Tuttington, and had 18 carucates, 20 villains, and 28 bordars with woods sufficient for the maintenance of 400 swine.

During the reigns of Edward II. and III., Aylsham was the chief town in this part of the kingdom, for the manufacture of linen, then called "Aylsham Webbs," "Cloth of Aylsham," &c.; but in succeeding reigns, this branch of business was superseded by the woollen manufacture; and in the time of James I., the inhabitants were chiefly employed in knitting worsted stockings, breeches, and waistcoat pieces. Since the introduction of frame-work knitting, the latter trade has also been discontinued.

The town was formerly governed by a bailiff, and had a weekly market on Saturday, but this has been changed to Tuesday. Two cattle fairs are held annually, on March 23rd, and the last Tuesday in September; and a Hiring Session, on the first Tuesday in October, with a small fair on the following Tuesday, chiefly supported by servants, who come hither to renew their apparel, &c.

The Bure, which washes the foot of the town, was formerly only navigable from Yarmouth to Coltishall, (11 miles below Aylsham bridge by the water, and 7 by land;) but in 1773, an act was obtained for extending the navigation to Aylsham, for boats of 14 tons burthen, drawing two feet five inches water, which was completed after many difficulties and interruptions, in Oct., 1779, at a cost of upwards of 6000, including the cost of the basin and wharfs near the bridge, where much business is done in coal, corn, timber, &c.

The PARISH OF AYLSHAM, including many scattered houses and villas, and the hamlets of Dunkirk and Drabblegate on the opposite side of the river, has encreased its population since the year 1801, from 1667 to 2448 souls, and comprises 4311A.2R.4P., of which 4102 acres are assessable, and 100A. woods and plantations. The soil is generally fertile, and most of it arable. The parish is in four MANORS, viz., "Aylsham on the part of the Duchy of Lancaster," held by the Dowager Lady Suffield; Aylsham Wood or Sextons, of which Robert Copeman, Esq., is lord; Aylsham Vicarage, of which the Vicar is lord; and Bolwick Hall, of which John Warnes, Esq., is lord. The three first are subject to certain fines, but the last is held by copy of court roll, of Aylsham Lancaster, and subject to arbitrary fines.

The CHURCH (St. Michael,) is a handsome Gothic structure, situated near the summit of an abrupt acclivity, on the north side of the Market place, commanding an extensive and picturesque view of the surrounding country. It has a nave, with side aisles, two transepts, a chancel, and a square tower, surmounted by a small spire, and containing a clock and an excellent peal of ten bells. Is is said to have been built by the great John of Gaunt, Duke of Lancaster, whose duchy court was once held here.

It has a fine-toned organ, and has recently been thoroughly repaired and beautified. The large east window, and that on the south side of the altar, were filled with stained glass in 1842-'3, representing various saints, arms, &c. Several windows on the north and south sides were similarly decorated in 1844, and all the designs are admirably executed, by Mr. Yarington, of Norwich. The font has basso-relievos of the four emblems of the Evangelists, the instruments of the passion, and the arms of Gaunt. The north transept was called St. Peter's Chapel, and had a guild in 1490.

In the church and chancel are numerous monumental inscriptions, some inlaid with brass; among which is one to Richard Howard, who built the porch about the year 1480; and another to Thomas Wymer, who is represented in his winding-sheet, and caused the screens and roof to be beautifully painted with saints, martyrs, &c., in 1507. Here is a monument of Bishop Jeggon, who died in 1617; and in 1841, a neat monument was erected in memory of the late vicar, the Reverend Philip Hunt, L.L.D., who died in 1838. In the churchyard, enclosed with iron rails, and planted with roses, hearts'-ease, &c., is the grave of Humphrey Repton, the celebrated landscape gardener, who died in 1818.

The benefice is a vicarage, valued in the King's Book at 17.19s.7d., and endowed with the rectorial tithes of all that part of the parish on the N.E. side of the Bure, with a small manor on the opposite side of that river, where the great tithes, (now leased to the Rev. S. Pitman,) belong to the Dean and Chapter of Canterbury, together with the advowson of the living, which is now enjoyed by the Rev. E.T. Yates, M.A., who has contributed largely to the recent improvements in the church, and has now a yearly rent of 582, awarded in lieu of tithes in 1838, when the rectorial tithes, held by Mr. Pitman, were commuted for 642 per annum.

The Baptists and the Wesleyan and Primitive Methodists have each a chapel here; that occupied by the first-named sect, was purchased from the Methodists, who built it in 1789, and erected a new chapel in 1842.

The Free School, near the churchyard, was founded in 1517, by Robt. Jannys, who endowed it with 10 a year, paid by the Norwich Charity Trustees, out of the revenue of the Great Hospital. This endowment was for seven free scholars, but the house and school were rebuilt by a former master, Clement Overton; and the latter was enlarged by subscription, in 1814, and is now conducted on the National system, for 60 boys and 60 girls. In addition to the small weekly payments of the children, the master has the annuity of 10, and a yearly salary raised by voluntary subscription. Archbishop Parker founded two scholarships in Corpus Christi College, Cambridge, for boys from this and Wymondham school, "each to have 12d. a week for their commons; their chamberer, barber, larderer, and other necessaries free." An Infant School, built here in 1840, is attended by about 80 children.

The Savings' Bank, established in 1818, has deposits amounting to about 16,500, belonging to 540 individuals, and 25 Friendly and Charitable Societies. Mr. Jas. Harrod is the actuary, and the bank is open every Monday from 12 to 1 o'clock.

The meetings of the South Erpingham Associations, for the prosecution of felons, and the encouragement of industry and good conduct among servants and labourers, are held at Aylsham. Mr. James Harrod is secretary to the former, and the Rev. J. Bulwer to the latter. The Aylsham Choral Society, established in 1840, for the study and practice of sacred music, holds its meetings at the Concert Room, in Red Lion street. At the Black Boy's Inn, is a large Assembly Room.

The Aylsham Medical Club, established in 1839, for this and the neighbouring parishes, has now about 300 subscribing members, who, for very small quarterly payments, are provided by this valuable institution with medical and surgical assistance for themselves and families. Additional nourishment is also afforded when necessary, and the number of persons now entitled to medical assistance is upwards of 600. The Rev. E.T. Yates is treasurer, and Mr. George Roe secretary.

A Branch Flax Association has recently been established here, and the labourers of the parish are considerably benefitted by two large pieces of land, let to them in garden plots, at low rents, by W. Repton and R. Copeman, Esqrs. Half an acre, called the Town Meadow, belongs to the poor, and is let for 16s. a year. They also have several cottages, given by Simon Porter, in 1730; the lord of the manor, in 1738; and Edward Snelling, in 1737; and 10s.6d. yearly, called Bread Money, paid by R. Marsham, Esq.

In the reign of James I., Thos. Cossey left two houses and 2A. of land, in Millgate street, for the poor. These premises, with additional buildings, were converted into a Workhouse many years ago, and were used for that purpose till 1836, when Aylsham and 45 other parishes were formed into a Union. The Bridewell, built here by Robert Marsham, Esq., in 1543, and rebuilt in 1787, was converted into private dwellings in 1825.

Aylsham was once noted for its SPA, which is situated about half a mile south of the town, and now belongs to Mr. E. Elvin. This chalybeate spring, though now but little used, was formerly much resorted to by invalids afflicted with asthma and other chronic diseases.

Messrs. James Bulwer, Robert Copeman, Thomas Rackham, William Repton, and some others have neat houses in the town, and are owners of a large portion of the parish, in which are Bolwick Hall, 1 mile S.W., the seat of John Warnes, Esq.; Coldham Hall, 1 mile N.N.E., the property of Mr. Geo. De Hague; Aylsham Wood House, 1 mile N. by E. the residence of Mr. J.W. Clover; and Bushy Place, on the Cromer road, the seat of Mr. Thos. Cook; besides which, there are several other neat residences in the parish, two of them belonging to Messrs. Geo. and H.E. Soame.

In 1805, an earthern pot, containing 500 pieces of ancient silver coin, chiefly groats of Henry VII., and pennies of the Edwards, were ploughed up in a field near Aylsham. On Stow Heath, about two miles to the east, are several large tumuli or barrows, in which two urns, containing human bones and ashes, were found in 1808.

In the following DIRECTORY OF AYLSHAM, those marked 1, reside in Churchgate or Church hill; 2, Hungate; 3, Market place; 4, Millgate; 5, Norwich road; 6, Pinfold street; 7, Red Lion street; 8, White Hart street; 9, Workhouse street; 10, Cawston road; 11, Cromer road; 12, Aylsham Wood; 13, Blickling road; and 14, Burgh road.

The POST-OFFICE is at Miss Mary Nobbs', in Hungate, where letters arrive at half-past 8 morning, and are despatched at 5 afternoon, by Norwich and Cromer mail.

	 2 Barnes     Mr Jas.
	10 Bond       Rt.             gent
	 2 Beckham    Benj.           net maker, &c
	   Bowers     Mrs Virtue      Town lane;
	   Briscoe    Rev. John P.    (Bapt. min.)
	11 Brown      Misses Martha
	                and Mary
	   Bulwer     Rev Jas., M.A.  Norwich rd
	 3 Butler     Mr Jno.
	 8 Coleby     Mrs M.
	 4 Case       James Lee       bookkeeper
	 3 Clements   Charles         bookseller, stationer,
	                                stamp seller, news agent, &c
	 3 Clements   Charles, jun.   printer and bookbinder
	   Cook       Thomas, gent.   Bushy Place
	 3 Copeman    Rt.& Geo. Esqs. bankers, (draw on Hankey & Co.)
	   Copeman                    corn, oil-cake, &c. merchants,
	     and Soame                  Canal Basin
	14 Curtis     Mrs A.
	14 Davy       John
	 8 Elvin      Mrs Sarah
	 4 Freeman    John            stone mason
	   Gotterson  Mr P.
	 8 Gunton     George          gentleman
	 5 Harrod     James           bank clerk, &c
	14 Hatcher    Mr Charles
	 1 Holley     Mrs Sarah
	                and Mrs Ann
	   Lubbock    Mrs Eliz.       Church terrace
	 9 Mayston    Mrs Mary
	 9 Mileham    Wm.             artist
	11 Mutten     Richd.          coach maker, &c
	 2 Nobbs      Miss Mary       postmistress
	   Palmer     Mrs Jane        Burgh road
	11 Parmenter  Rt. Wm. Esq.    solictor, and clerk of the peace
	                                for Norfolk
	 1 Platten    Edward Suffolk  brazier, Temperance Coffee House
	   Porrett    Thomas          gent. Cromer road
	 7 Purdy      James           fishmonger
	 4 Purt       Wm.             horsebreaker
	   Rackham    Thomas          gent. (chief constable,) Cromer road
	 3 Rainforth  John            clog & pattern mkr
	 3 Repton
	     and Scott                solicitors
	 3 Repton     Wm.             solicitor, and clerk to the
	                                Navigation proprietors
	   Robins     Wm.             gent. Market place
	 6 Roe        Frederick       magistrates' clerk
	 7 Roe        George          solicitor's clerk
	 6 Saunders   Mrs Emily
	11 Sayer      Mrs Wm.
	11 Scott      Wm. Henry       solicitor
	 8 Seaman     Sophia          (see note below)
	 6 Sexton     John
	 8 Short      Miss Sarah      (see note below)
	 2 Smith      Thomas          cattle dealer
	13 Stoughton  Miss Diana
	   Tattam     Mr Richard      Red Lion st
	 9 Waller     Mr John Clear
	 9 Warren     Thomas          tea dealer
	   Warnes     John, Esq.      land agent, &c. Bolwick Hall
	 8 White      George          parish clerk
	   Wickes     Mrs Susan       Millgate
	10 Winterborn James           millwright
	   Wright     George          assistant overseer
	 4 Wright     James           land surveyor, agent, and valuer
	 4 Wright     Rt. & Thos.     boat builders
	   Yates      Rev Edmd.
	                Telfer,M.A.   vicar
	   Youngs     Mrs Elizabeth   Millgate

(Note: In the original, the entry is:
8 Short Miss Sarah & Seaman Sophia)


	 3 Clerical, Medical, & General Life and Equitable Fire
	                     Thos. Connold
	   Hail Storm        John Clover
	   Norwich Union     James Harrod and Robert Hubbard

	   Anchor           Wm. Mash        Millgate
	   Black Boys' Inn  James Spanton   (posting house) Market place
	 7 Bull             Dick Feek       (horsebreaker)
	 7 Cross Keys       Lucy Ulph
	   Dog Inn &
	     Excise Office  Richard Smith   (posting) Norwich road
	   Fox              Robert Herring  Pinfold street
	   New Inn          Allen Pye       Red Lion st
	 7 Red Lion Inn     John Chapman
	   Star             George Clarke   Red Lion st
	 2 Unicorn          Peter Pike      (horse letter)

	 8 Buchanan   -
	 7 Breese     H. & E.
	14 Burke      Jane
	   Hindry     Jas.            (free)
	   Horstead   Jane            Infant School
	 7 Morris     Mary
	 2 Tillett    Sarah
	 2 Woods      Sarah
	 7 Wright     Wm.

Bakers and Confectioners.
	 6 Abbs       Wm.
	 7 Barnes     Fiddy
	 3 Clover     John
	 4 Cory       Thomas
	 7 Laxen      Richd.
	 8 Soame      John
	 2 Sexton     Joseph
	10 Turner     Saml.
	 4 Wiley      George

Basket Makers.
	 7 Canfor     Ellis
	 4 Starling   Wm.
	 4 Watson     James

Beer Houses.
	 2 Dadley     James
	 4 Freeman    John
	 4 Hagen      Robert
	10 King       George
	   Lovell     Thomas          Dunkirk
	 8 Pearson    Everett
	 8 Poll       Henry           (& brewer)
	 7 Temple     John

	 7 Burton     John
	10 Butler     Wm.
	 7 Pike       Wm. & Son
	11 Tattam     George Edward

Boot and Shoe Mkrs.
	 2 Barnes     Mrs
	 2 Barney     James
	 3 Burrell    Wm.
	 9 Burton     Stephen
	 7 Carman     Thos.
	10 Culley     John
	 3 Ford       Thomas
	10 Foxhall    Thos.
	 2 George     Philip
	 8 Goodson    Wm.
	   Johnson    -
	 7 Mack       Edward
	   Mayston    Samuel          Town Lane
	 8 Ostick     Robert
	 1 Payne      James
	 7 Rust       Wm.
	 4 Scott      John
	 3 Thirtle    Robert
	 4 Wilson     John

	10 Bird       Stephen
	10 Crask & Co.
	 2 Culley     Benj.
	 2 Horstead   John

	10 Soame      James
	 5 Warnes     John

	 7 Chapman    John
	 7 Clark      James
	 2 Sands      John
	 7 Sands      James
	 7 Smith      James
	 7 Temple     John

Chemsts. & Drgts
	 7 Bane       Wm.
	 3 Symonds    John

Coal Dealers.
	At Canal Basin.
	   Copeman & Soame
	   Howes      Matthew         Dunkirk
	 7 Margetson  Rt. junior
	11 Mayston    John
	 2 Sexton     Joseph

	 8 Parker     John
	 2 Smith      James

Corn Millers.
	 4 Parmeter   Saml.           (and maltster)
	10 Soame      George
	10 Tipple     John

	 6 Clark      John
	 7 Cooper     Wm.             (& shoe warehouse)
	 2 Evans      David

	  * are Yeomen.
	13 Batson     Potter Dyball
	   Blyth      Wm.
	   Boddy      Geo.            Spa
	 2 Clark      Richard
	   Colk       John            Coldham Hall
	  *Clover     John Wright     Wood House
	12 Frostick   Danl.
	12 Frostick   John
	   Goodwin    Fras.
	10 Lake       Wm.
	 4 Mash       Wm.
	   Robins     William Burton
	10*Soame      Geo.
	10*Soame      Henry Edward
	 5 Smith      Richard
	   Tipple     George
	   Tipple     Wm.
	  *Warnes     John

Gardeners, &c.
	 4 Fitt       James
	 7 Fitt       Edward
	 2 Randell    Wm.
	 9 Stearman   Jas.
	10 Stearman   Jas. junior
	   Thaxter    John
	 2 Ward       George

Glass, China, &c. Dealers.
	 7 Edwards    John
	 8 Jarvis     Robert
	 3 Skidmore   Arthur Wellington

Grocers & Drprs.
	 7 Cooper     Wm.
	 7 Elden      Eliz.
	 7 England    Mary
	 3 Hatcher    Saml.
	 3 Hubbard    Robt.
	 8 Jarvis     Robert
	 3 Powell     Benj.
	 4 Priest     Chas. Rt.
	 4 Wilson     Mattw. 

Hair Dressers.
	 3 Joslin     Charles Warner
	 7 Dale       Wm. & Rt.
	 3 Smithson   Zeph.

Ironmongers, Braziers, &c.
	 2 Cook       William Barnard
	 3 Skidmore   Arthur Wellington

Joiners, &c.
	  * Cabinet Makers also.
	 4 Bartram    Wm.
	 1*Bowers     Rt.             (& turner & gilder)
	 3*Burrell    Geo.            (& auctioneer)
	 6 Glister    Thomas
	 6*Grimson    John
	 2 Proudfoot  John
	11 Tomlin     John
	 9 Watts      George

Milliners, &c.
	 3 Ayton      Harriet
	 8 Broughton  E.
	 8 Clark      Miss
	 3 Hatcher    Jane
	 7 Sutton     Harriet

Painters, Plumbers, & Glaziers.
	 8 Elvin      Robert
	 7 Pert       Wm.
	 7 Pratt      Robert

	 3 Butler     John Marsh
	 7 Frankland  Jas.
	 7 Hounsfield Ed.
	 3 Laxen      Henry
	 7 Lemon      Benj.           (& organist)

	 1 Morton     Rd. Kay
	 2 Perry      Chas. Hy.
	 3 Smith      Frederick Paston

	 7 Breese     James
	 3 Burrell    Wm.
	   Duffield   James           Drabblegate
	 3 Flaxman    John
	 7 Frary      John
	 7 Haddon     James
	 3 Powell     John
	 8 Powell     Stephn.
	 8 Stearman   Fdk.
	 7 Sutton     John
	 7 Ulph       Richard

Timber Merchts.
	 4 Bartram    Wm.
	 3 Burrell    George
	 2 Calver     Thos.
	 9 Watts      George

Vety. Surgeons.
	 6 Howes      Robert
	10 Howes      Jph.
	 5 Smith      Rd.             (& horse dealer)

Watchmakers, &c.
	 3 Connold    Thos.
	 7 Fitt       John
	 3 Mack       James
	 8 Silence    George
	 3 Wade       Chs Rice

	 1 Bowers     Robert
	10 Craft      Henry
	 6 Glister    Thos.
	 8 Ulph       John


From the Black Boys, to CROMER, past 10 morning, and past 7 evening; and to NORWICH, 9 morning, and p.3 afternoon, daily.

From the Dog, to NORWICH, M. Wed. and Sat. before 9 morning, and to HOLT, 5 afternoon.

From the Red Lion, to NORWICH, Mon. Wed. and Sat. past 8 morning, and a Van, every Mon. Tues. Thurs. and Sat. at 8 morning.


From Holt, Cromer, &c. to Norwich, call at the Inns on Mon. Wed. and Sat.

To Norwich, from Red Lion st. John Chapman & Jas. Purdy, Wed. and Sat. and Rt. Margetson, Mon. Wed. and Sat. 8 morning.

To Holt & Blakeney, Jas. Purdy, Monday, and to North Walsham, Tuesday.


To Yarmouth weekly, from the Canal Basin, Copeman and Soame, and Samuel Parmeter, owners.

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See also the Aylsham parish page.

Copyright Pat Newby.
February 1999