WIGGENHALL ST. MARY MAGDALEN is a large village on the west side of the Great Ouse river, which is here crossed by a long wooden bridge, 6 miles S.S.W. of Lynn. The parish contains 775 inhabitants, and about 4,000 acres of land, of which nearly three-fourths are enclosed fens, extending three miles to the south, and now well drained by three wind-mills and a steam engine of 40 horse-power. The latler was erected in 1834. The drainage rates amount on the fen lands to about 10s. 6d. per acre per annum. The soil belongs to a number of freeholders, many of whom are residents; but E.H. Browne, Esq., is lord of the manor.
The CHURCH is an ancient fabric, consisting of a nave, chancel, aisles, and porch, with a square tower containing six musical bells. In the east window is a broken effigy of Pope Nicholas on his throne, and in the north windows are mutilated figures of saints.
The vicarage, valued in the King's Book at £5 15s. 10d., and in 1831 at £400, is in the gift of W. Francks, Esq., and incumbency of the Rev. John Richard Thackeray. The rectorial tithes, which belong to Mrs. Thompson, were commuted in 1840, for £532 15s. 7d.; and the vicarial tithes for £253 1s. per annum.
The Baptists and Wesleyans have each a chapel here; and in the village is a National School, built in 1841.
CRABHOUSE NUNNERY stood on the banks of the Ouse, north of this village, and was founded by Roger the prior, and the convent of Reynham, in 1181, for nuns of the order of St. Augustine, and dedicated to St. John the Evangelist. It was built in "a desert and solitary place, that was inhabited by a hermit, but not overflowed." At the dissolution it was granted to Sir John Gage, knight, "with the gardens, orchard, &c."
Before the year 1181, the site and grounds of this priory formed the only habitable place in this parish, between Bustard's Dole and the south side of the village, all the rest being then a watery and desolate fen. The estate now called Crabb Abbey, (about 700A.) belongs to Admiral Sir George Martin. Near the site of the nunnery many human bones have been found.
The Bridge is supprted at the cost of this parish and Watlington, on the opposite side of the river, and underwent a thorough reparation in 1830.
Evans Rev. Wm. James, M.A. curate Green Daniel butcher Hammond Geo. beer house & shopkpr. Narbrough Thomas shoe maker Pateman Mrs. Mary Ann Riches William wheelwright Robertson William blacksmith Smith S. tailor PUBLIC HOUSES. Riches John Cock, (and blacksmith) Booth Nathan Dolphin Barley William Vine and Ivy FARMERS. * are owners, and 2 at Fen-End. Brighten John * Robertson James, Burgess William (parish clerk) * Buttrick James * Scott William Hall John Sharp John M. 2 Hall Robert * Tiffin William * Jackson James 2 Walker Perry * Moyce Swift * Whisler John North Nicholas, * Whisler Richard Crabb Abbey Gardeners. Shopkeepers. Barton Simon Becket William Galley J. Fisher Thos. Wm. Green Thomas Whisler Mary Walker P.
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