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, Northamptonshire) 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 Butcher. Beer Houses. Nicholson Geo. Oswick John Tombling Robt. Corn Millers. Mayston Joshua Norton Robert, Grint Mill FARMERS. 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 JohnCOACH
Betts' Van to Norwich, Sat. 6mg., and to Litcham, 7 evg
Robt Spooner, to Norwich, Fri.
Jno. Tombling, to Norwich, Sat., and Lynn, Mon.
Copyright © Pat Newby.