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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Wymondham (/ˈwɪndəm/ WIN-dəm) is a market town and civil parish in Norfolk, England, nine-and-a-half miles (15 km) south-west of Norwich, off the A11 road from Norwich to London.[2] The parish includes large rural areas to the north and south of the town itself, including the hamlets of Downham, Browick, Silfield, Wattlefield, Spooner Row and Suton.

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The origins of the name are uncertain but it is of Anglo-Saxon origin and probably consists of a personal name, such as Wigmund or Wimund, plus hām meaning village or settlement, or hamm meaning a river meadow.[3][4]



Little is known of the early history of the settlement. However, by 1086, Wymondham was recorded as consisting of 376 households (estimated total population 1,880), placing it among the top 20% largest settlements recorded in Domesday. The land was divided between two feudal Lords: William the Conqueror and William de Warenne.[5]


Wymondham Abbey was founded in 1107.[6]

The earthworks of Moot Hill, probably a large, medieval ring work, survive to some considerable height; they have been subject to a ground survey and are partially visible on aerial photographs. The ring work, located in an isolated part of the Stanfield estate, is thought by some to have been built by the D'Albinis between 1088 and 1139. It measures about 150 metres by 130, with a large bank and water-filled ditch. The internal area also appears to be filled with irregular water-filled pits or ponds. It is thought that a gold ring of Katherine Bigot, wife of Roger Fitz-Ortet, who held Stanfield Manor in AD 1306, was recovered from this area.[7]

The first market charter was issued by King John in 1204, although there was probably a market before that date. The charter was renewed by Henry VI in 1440 and a weekly market is still held every Friday.[8]

The Rebellion

Wymondham's most famous inhabitant was Robert Kett or Ket, who led a rebellion in 1549 of peasants and small farmers against the enclosure of common land. His force of almost unarmed men fought for and held the City of Norwich for six weeks until defeated by the King's forces. He was hanged at Norwich Castle.[9] Kett's Oak, said to be the rallying point for the rebellion, can be seen on the B1172 road between Wymondham and Hethersett, part of the earlier main road to London.[10]

The Fire

Bridewell Street in September 2017
Bridewell Street in September 2017

Th Great Fire of 1615 broke out on Sunday 11 June 1615. Two areas of the town were affected, implying there were two separate fires. One area was in Vicar Street and Middleton Street and the other in the Market Place, including Bridewell Street and Fairland Street. About 300 properties were destroyed. Important buildings lost included the Market Cross of 1286, the vicarage in Vicar Street, the Town Hall on the corner of Middleton Street and Vicar Street, and the schoolhouse. However, many buildings such as the Green Dragon inn survived and many houses in Damgate Street date back to 1400, though now masked by later brickwork.

Wymondham Market Cross in September 2017
Wymondham Market Cross in September 2017

The fire was blamed on three Gypsies – William Flodder, John Flodder and Ellen Pendleton (Flodder) – and a local person, Margaret Bix (Elvyn). The register of St Andrew's Church in Norwich records that John Flodder and others were executed on 2 December 1615 for the burning of Wymondham. Rebuilding the destroyed buildings was quick in some cases, slower in others. A new Market Cross, extant 2016, was started and completed in 1617. However, by 1621 there were still some 15 properties yet to be rebuilt – poor economic conditions in the 1620s could have been a contributory factor.

After the Fire

Kett's rebellion was evidence of an undercurrent of foment in 16th-century Wymondham. Comparable discontent showed itself in the 17th century, when a number of citizens, including Thomas Lincoln, John Beal and others, moved to Hingham in the wave of religious dissent that swept England in the years before Cromwell's Commonwealth.

In 1785, a prison was built in accordance with the ideas of John Howard, a prison reformer. It was the first in England to have separate cells for the prisoners, and was widely copied in the United Kingdom and the United States.

The collapse of the woollen industry in the mid-19th century led to great poverty in Wymondham. In 1836 there were still 600 hand looms, but by 1845 only 60. The town became a backwater in Victorian times and never underwent major development. The town centre remains much as it must have been in the mid-17th century, when the houses were rebuilt after the Great Fire. These houses and those that had survived the Fire, still surround shoppers and visitors as they pass through Wymondham's narrow medieval streets.

Second World War

Wymondham played a part in the Second World War that is poorly documented. It was home to one of MI6's Radio Security Service direction-finding stations; the type at Wymondham was a "Spaced Loop" design newly developed by the National Physical Laboratory. Unfortunately, this was soon found to be unsatisfactory and converted to the more traditional Adcock type.

The station at Wymondham was located at 52°35′00″N 1°07′18″E / 52.583333°N 1.121667°E / 52.583333; 1.121667, just north of Tuttles Lane and east of Melton Road. Based on information from one of the wartime operators, it appears that another spaced loop station was later installed alongside the first in 1944 after the Normandy invasion. This may have been due to increased interest in transmissions from western Europe, where the shorter distance made the spaced loop more reliable.

Recent history

Wymondham was struck by an F1/T2 tornado on 23 November 1981, as part of the record-breaking nationwide tornado outbreak on that day.[11]


The civil parish of Wymondham has an area of 44.31 km2 (17.11 sq mi) and in the 2001 census a recorded population of 12,539 in 5,477 households, rising to 14,405 at the 2011 Census. This relatively large parish includes one nearby village, Spooner Row, which now has its own elected council.

Wymondham is governed by a town council of 14 councillors elected on Thursday 2 May 2019. The town is divided into four wards: North, East, Central and South. Councillors include members of the Conservative Party, five from the Liberal Democrats and one independent. There are two district councillors for South Wymondham.

For the governance purposes, Wymondham civil parish falls within the district of South Norfolk, returning six district councillors. Most of the town returns one county councillor to Norfolk County Council, but the south part has a separate county councillor. Nationally, Wymondham is in the Mid Norfolk constituency and represented at Westminster by George Freeman.


Wymondham Heritage Museum in September 2017
Wymondham Heritage Museum in September 2017

The town-centre market cross serves as a Tourist Information Centre owned by the Town Council. The original was destroyed in the Fire in 1615, and the present one built in 1617–1618 at a cost of £25-7-0d, with funds loaned by the local Philip Cullyer.[12] This stilted building resembled others designed to protect valuable documents from flood and vermin. According to T. F. Thistleton Dyer's English Folklore (London, 1878), live rats were nailed by their tails to the side of the building as a deterrent. This bizarre practice ended in 1902 after a child was bitten and later died of blood-poisoning.[13]

Wymondham Abbey is a Church of England parish church. The headquarters of Norfolk Constabulary are located in Wymondham. The former town jail or Bridewell houses the Wymondham Heritage Museum.


Flint was used in many types of buildings around Wymondham, including this 19th-century Crossing Keeper's hut
Flint was used in many types of buildings around Wymondham, including this 19th-century Crossing Keeper's hut

Wymondham railway station (voted Best Small Station in the 2006 National Rail Awards) includes a piano showroom and a locally known Brief Encounter-themed restaurant. The latter featured in Mark Greenstreet's 1996 comedy film Caught in the Act, starring Sara Crowe, Annette Badland, Nadia Sawalha, Paul Shelly and Leslie Phillips. (In fact Brief Encounter was filmed 250 miles away at Carnforth railway station, Lancashire. The whole site has been restored and also houses a pub and small railway museum.)

Wymondham station featured as "Walmington-on-Sea" in the popular BBC tv comedy series Dad's Army. It forms the junction for the Mid-Norfolk Railway, although its trains, running 11.5 miles (19 km) north to Dereham operate from a separate Wymondham Abbey station. The town once had another station, Spinks Lane, but this closed shortly after opening in the 19th century.


Browick Road School, Wymondham
Browick Road School, Wymondham

Robert Kett Junior School, a mixed primary named after the 17th-century rebel[14] is a state-funded foundation school administered by Norfolk County Council.[15] had 617 pupils aged 4–11 in May 2015.[16][17][18][19]

Notable people

Living in or near Wymondham, in birth order:

See also


  1. ^ "Local Area Report for areas in England and Wales". Retrieved 12 October 2019.
  2. ^ Ordnance Survey (1999). OS Explorer Map 237 – Norwich. ISBN 0-319-21868-6.
  3. ^ "Town History". Wymondham Town Council. Retrieved 13 October 2019.
  4. ^ "Key to English Place-names". Retrieved 14 October 2019.
  5. ^ "Wymondham | Domesday Book". Retrieved 13 October 2019.
  6. ^ "Wymondham Abbey". Wymondham Abbey. Retrieved 13 October 2019.
  7. ^ "Probable-medieval-ringwork-of-'Moot-Hill'-Gristlewood – Norfolk Heritage Explorer". Retrieved 13 October 2019.
  8. ^ "Town History". Wymondham Town Council. Retrieved 13 October 2019.
  9. ^ Express, Britain. "Kett's Rebellion, 1549 | Tudor History". Britain Express. Retrieved 13 October 2019.
  10. ^ "Kett's-Oak – Norfolk Heritage Explorer". Retrieved 13 October 2019.
  11. ^ "European Severe Weather Database". Retrieved 12 March 2019.
  12. ^ "Wymondham Town History". Retrieved 28 August 2008.
  13. ^ "'Wymondham Child Dies of Rat Bite' Eastern Daily Press, 24 November 1902". Archived from the original on 21 February 2009.
  14. ^ [1][dead link]
  15. ^ [2][dead link]
  16. ^ "School Overview – Robert Kett Junior School: Directgov".
  17. ^ "Robert Kett Junior School".
  18. ^ "EduBase – Robert Kett Primary School".
  19. ^ "School website for Robert Kett Junior School Wymondham with Ofsted inspection report".

External links

This page was last edited on 14 October 2019, at 12:41
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