Downham Market shown within Norfolk
|Area||5.20 km2 (2.01 sq mi)|
|Population||9,994 (2011 Census)|
|- Density||1,922 /km2 (4,980 /sq mi)|
|OS grid reference|
|District||King's Lynn and West Norfolk|
|Sovereign state||United Kingdom|
|Post town||DOWNHAM MARKET|
|Ambulance||East of England|
|EU Parliament||East of England|
|UK Parliament||South West Norfolk|
Downham Market sometimes simply referred to as Downham is a market town and civil parish in Norfolk, England. It lies on the edge of the Fens, on the River Great Ouse, some 11 miles south of the town of King's Lynn, 39 miles west of the city of Norwich and 30 miles north of the city of Cambridge.
The civil parish has an area of 5.2 km² and in the 2011 census had a population of 9,994 in 4,637 households. For the purposes of local government, the parish falls within the district of King's Lynn and West Norfolk. It is part of South West Norfolk parliamentary constituency.
It was an agricultural centre, developing as a market for the produce of the Fens with a bridge across the Ouse. During the Middle Ages, it was famed for its butter market and also hosted a notable horse fair. The market is now held Fridays and Saturdays on the town hall car park.
Notable buildings in the town include its mediaeval parish church, dedicated to St Edmund, and Victorian clock tower, constructed in 1878. The town is also known as the place where Charles I hid after the Battle of Naseby. In 2004 the town completed a regeneration project on the Market Place, moving the market to the town hall car park. The decorative town sign depicts the crown and arrows of St Edmund with horses to show the importance of the horse fairs in the town's history.
The town’s signal box is one of the five rare examples across the region to have been granted Grade II listed status in 2013. The Department for Culture, Media and Sport has awarded listed status to 26 signal boxes across the country as part of a joint project between Network Rail and English Heritage to secure the nation’s railway signalling heritage. Downham’s signal box was built in 1881 for the Great Eastern Railway Company but will soon be decommissioned as part of a 30-year modernisation project.
There are two primary schools in Downham Market; Nelson Academy, which has a nursery for children aged 3-5, and Hillcrest. The town has one secondary school, Downham Market Academy which includes a sixth form.
Sport and leisure
- Isaac Casaubon (1559–1614), classical scholar and philologist, spent time in the town.
- George William Manby (1765–1854), inventor of a lifesaving rocket and the first modern form of fire extinguisher, was educated in the town.
- George Henry Dashwood (1801–1869), antiquary, was born in the town.
- Golding Bird (1814 – 1854), Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians of London, became an authority on kidney diseases.
- William Hayes Fisher, 1st Baron Downham PC, KStJ (1853 – 1920), was a Conservative Party politician.
- Father Oswald Baker (1915–2004), controversial Catholic priest, originally at St Dominic's, Downham Market and later had his own chapel
- Jim Russell (born 1920) is an English former racing driver.
- Patrick Holman (1945-), cricketer, was born in the town.
- Ordnance Survey (1999). OS Explorer Map 236 – King's Lynn, Downham Market & Swaffham. ISBN 0-319-21867-8.
- Office for National Statistics & Norfolk County Council (2001). Census population and household counts for unparished urban areas and all parishes. Retrieved December 2, 2005.
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