North Elmham

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North Elmham
North Elmham chapel ruins.jpg
Remains on site of Saxon cathedral
North Elmham is located in Norfolk
North Elmham
North Elmham
 North Elmham shown within Norfolk
Area  19.20 km2 (7.41 sq mi)
Population 1,428 
   – density  74/km2 (190/sq mi)
OS grid reference TF985208
Civil parish North Elmham
District Breckland
Shire county Norfolk
Region East
Country England
Sovereign state United Kingdom
Post town DEREHAM
Postcode district NR20
Dialling code 01362
Police Norfolk
Fire Norfolk
Ambulance East of England
EU Parliament East of England
UK Parliament Mid Norfolk
List of places

Coordinates: 52°44′55″N 0°56′23″E / 52.74856°N 0.93972°E / 52.74856; 0.93972

North Elmham is a village and civil parish in the English county of Norfolk. It covers an area of 19.20 km2 (7.41 sq mi) and had a population of 1,428 in 624 households at the 2001 census.[1] For the purposes of local government, it falls within the district of Breckland. The Village is located along the B1145[2] a route which runs between King's Lynn and Mundesley.

The village is about 8 km (5.0 mi) north of East Dereham on the west bank of the River Wensum. North Elmham was the site of a pre-Norman cathedral, seat of the Bishop of Elmham until 1075.


The name North Elmham comes from the Old English, meaning "village where elms grow" and is first mentioned in 1035.[3] Only ruins now survive of the Saxon cathedral (now designated a 'chapel' by English Heritage[4]). It housed the episcopal throne of the bishops of Elmham from around 672 until the episcopal see was moved to Thetford in 1075. A mid-ninth century copper-alloy hanging censer was discovered at North Elmham in 1786. The earthworks and ruins at North Elmham stewarded by English Heritage are thought to be the remains of Bishop Herbert de Losinga's late eleventh-century episcopal church and the late fourteenth century double-moated castle built on this by Henry le Despenser, Bishop of Norwich.

To the north of the village was the Norfolk County School which on closing in the 1890s was taken over for the Watts Naval School. The fine buildings have now been demolished. The village is also the birthplace of the actor John Mills. The County School Station on branch line served the school, and today is preserved as a small visitor centre. The village once had its own station, North Elmham railway station, on the Mid-Norfolk Railway line from Wymondham to Fakenham. The building still exists and there are plans to re-open the building as a station or build a new one. This would be needed to connect the County School station described above to the rest of the Mid-Norfolk railway.

North Elmham Mill, known locally Grint Mill, had two breastshot waterwheels until the early twentieth century when they were replaced by two turbines. By the 1970s the milling machinery was driven by mains electricity while the turbines were used to drive a sack hoist and two mixing machines. The mill continued to produce animal feed into the late twentieth century.

Notable residents[edit]


  1. ^ Census population and household counts for unparished urban areas and all parishes. Office for National Statistics & Norfolk County Council (2001). Retrieved 20 June 2009.
  2. ^ County A to Z Atlas, Street & Road maps Norfolk, page 230 ISBN 978-1-84348-614-5
  3. ^ Ekwall, E. Concise Dictionary of English Place-names
  4. ^


  • Bede, Ecclesiastical History of England
  • Rainbird Clarke, R. East Anglia (London, 1960)
  • White, William. History, Gazetteer, & Directory of Norfolk, (1845)
  • Whitelock, Dorothy. 'The pre-Viking Church in East Anglia', Anglo-Saxon England, 1 (1972), doi:10.1017/S0263675100000053

External links[edit]