Heacham shown within Norfolk
|Area||17.66 km2 (6.82 sq mi)|
|Population||4,707 (2001 census)|
|– density||267/km2 (690/sq mi)|
|OS grid reference|
|District||King's Lynn and West Norfolk|
|Sovereign state||United Kingdom|
|Post town||KING'S LYNN|
|Ambulance||East of England|
|EU Parliament||East of England|
|UK Parliament||North West Norfolk|
There is evidence of settlement in the Heacham area, for around the last 5,000 years, with numerous Neolithic and later Bronze Age finds throughout the parish. This is presumably because the local geology consists of primarily cretaceous sands and underlying chalk, meaning that there is very little surface water for miles in any direction. This can also be seen along the banks of the Caudle Carr located just outside Dersingham, where numerous archaeological sites have been found. Running water in conjunction with the fertile surrounding lands made Heacham an ideal settling location for early man. Evidence of habitation continues through the Iron age into the Romano-British era. But the beginnings of the present village most probably did not occur until around the 5th century, with the Anglo-Saxon invasion and the beginnings of present-day East Anglia.
The name of the village purportedly derives from a 12th-century Norman lord, Geoffrey de Hecham. Although this is possible, it is unlikely as the name 'de Hecham' literally means 'of Hecham', implying the place name was already in existence. The name Hecham was noted in the Little Domesday Book which was written around 1086 as part of the Smithdon hundred (Smetheduna). Prior to the Norman Conquest, Heacham was controlled by two Saxons, Alnoth, and Toki the king's thegn whose estates were based around his hall in Castle Acre. After the conquest the lands passed to William de Warenne and his brother-in-law Frederick de Warenne who was later killed by Hereward the Wake.
|“||Smethden HUNDRED. Of the fief of Frederick. Hecham was held by Toki, a free man, TRE (Tempore Regis Eduardi). There have always been 7 ploughs in demesne and 70 bordars and 6 slaves, and 12 acres of meadow and 7 ploughs belonging to the men; woodland for 100 pigs, and 3½ mills; 1 fishery; always 1 horse, 30 head of cattle, 60 pigs, 600 sheep. Here belong 35 sokemen, 1½ carucates of land; always 6 ploughs, 4 acres of meadow. Then it was worth £12 , now 15. In the same place William de Warenne holds 2 carucates of land which Alnoth, a free man, held TRE. There have always been 26 bordars and 2 slaves and 6 acres of meadow, and 2 ploughs in demesne, and 1½ ploughs belonging to the men, and half a mill, and 1 salt-pan and 1 fishery, and 4 sokemen [with] 2 acres (8,100 m2). Then [there were] 12 head of cattle, now 16. Then [there were] 30 pigs, now 40. Then [there were] 80 sheep, now 60;||”|
The name Heacham is more likely to have derived from the name of the river, The Hitch, in conjunction with the Old English word ham or hamm which meant either homestead, village, manor, estate or enclosure, land hemmed by water or marsh or higher ground, land in a river bend, river meadow, promontory.
In 1085 the manor of Heacham was given by William de Warenne to a cell of Cluniac monks from the Priory of St Pancras of Lewes to pray for the soul of his late wife Gundreda. After the dissolution, around 1541, the manor passed to Thomas Howard, 3rd Duke of Norfolk.
The Church of St Mary the Virgin is the oldest surviving building in the village. It dates from 1230 and is Norman in style. In the cupola on the tower hangs a bell dating from about 1100, making it the oldest in East Anglia, and the seventh oldest in the country. The transepts have been lost as well as 12 feet (3.7 m) from the east end, and the roof has been lowered.
Heacham has historic ties to Pocahontas, who married John Rolfe, a native of this village on April 5, 1614 at a church in Jamestown, Virginia. Rolfe took his wife, Rebecca (Pocahontas), and their two-year-old son, Thomas, to visit his family at Heacham Hall in 1616, but settled in Brentford. A year later, Rebecca died in Gravesend when John was going to return her to Virginia. She was laid to rest at St George's Parish churchyard. After that, John returned to Virginia with Tomocomo. Samuel Argall commanded the ship. Thomas was guarded by Lewis Stukley and later adopted by John's brother, Henry. John married Jane Pierce two years later. They soon had a daughter named Elizabeth. Perhaps John lost his life in the 1622 Native American massacre near Jamestown. The Rolfe family home, Heacham Hall, burned down in 1941.
Heacham started to become popular as a seaside resort with the Victorians due to the opening of the railway line between King's Lynn and Hunstanton in the early 1860s. This culminated in the building of the Jubilee Bridge in 1887 to replace an old wooden bridge, using unspent subscriptions from parishioners to the celebrations for Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee. Heacham is still popular today as a seaside resort, with both the North Beach (Jubilee) Road and South Beach Road being lined with caravan parks.
North Beach has an amusement arcade "Showtime Amusements", Silversands Cafe and Putting Green Fish Bar. There are beach huts for hire. Both beaches have public toilet facilities. South Beach has its own cafe, Heacham Halt, which serves meals throughout the year and sells beach goods. The beaches at Heacham are situated on the east banks of The Wash; this means it is one of the few beaches in eastern England where the sun sets over the sea instead of over the land.
On 29 July 1929, Mercedes Gleitze became the first woman to swim The Wash, completing the crossing on her third attempt. Originally aiming for Hunstanton, she finally came ashore at Heacham after battling treacherous tides for over 13 hours. Heacham was severely affected by the North Sea flood of 1953, where nine people died in the village, as a result of the sea breaking through its defences, In early 2013, an exhibition of the North Sea Flood was held at St Mary's Church, with contributions from Heacham infant and junior schools and from other villagers.
Norfolk Lavender Ltd was founded in 1932. Linn Chilvers supplied the plants and the labour. Francis Dusgate of Fring Hall provided the land. The first lavender field was planted on Dusgate's land at Fring and in 1936 Dusgate acquired Caley Mill on the River Heacham and the ground around it, not for the building but for the land. Lavender has been grown there ever since. A kiosk was erected from which bunches of lavender were sold to passing pre-war traffic. By 1936 Caley Mill was already disused and no significant repairs were carried out until 1953/4 after the new road (the A149) had been put through cutting the lavender field in half. At that time a new lay-by and kiosk were constructed. Further repairs and restoration work were carried out at the Mill in 1977–78 and in the late 1980s. From the early 1990s onwards it has broadened its range to include other typical English floral fragrances. These are widely sold at home and abroad. 
In birth order:
- William de Warenne, 1st Earl of Surrey (died 1088), held land in the village.
- John Rolfe (1585–1622), early settler in Virginia and husband of Pocahontas, was born in this village.
- Charles Atmore (1759–1826), Wesleyan evangelist, was born in the village.
- Robert Gunther (1869–1940), historian of science at Oxford University, is buried in the village.
- John Metcalfe (1891–1965), novelist, was born in the village.
- Patrick Hadley (1899–1973), composer and conductor, retired to the village.
- Moss Evans (1925–2002), general-secretary of the Transport and General Workers' Union, died in the village.
- Mary Mackie (living), prolific writer of romance and non-fiction, lives in the village.
- Judy Cornwell (born 1940), actress, went to school in the village.
- Colin Garwood (born 1949), professional footballer, was born in the village.
- James Donaldson (born 1957), professional basketball player, was born in the village.
- Trisha Goddard (born 1957), TV presenter, went to primary school in the village.
- Census population and household counts for unparished urban areas and all parishes. Office for National Statistics & Norfolk County Council (2001). Retrieved 20 June 2009.
- "Heacham ward". Norfolk Data Observatory. Retrieved 2008-11-17.[dead link]
- "Aerial photo showing Iron Age or Romano British enclosures in Heacham". English Heritage. Retrieved 2008-11-17.
- "About Heacham". Heacham On-line. Retrieved 2008-11-17.
- Wareham, Andrew (2005). Lords and Communities in Early Medieval East Anglia. Boydell & Brewer. p. 108. ISBN 978-1-84383-155-6.
- Harper-Bill, Christopher (1999). Anglo-Norman Studies. Boydell & Brewer. p. 318. ISBN 978-0-85115-796-2.
- Rye, James (1991). A Popular Guide to Norfolk Place-names. Lark Press. p. 24. ISBN 978-0-948400-15-5.
- Mills, Anthony David (1998). A Dictionary of English Place-names. Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-280074-9.
- "13 Hours' Battle with the Currents". Nottingham Evening Post (British Newspaper Archive). 21 June 1929. Retrieved 27 June 2014. (subscription required (. ))
- Norfolk lavender Retrieved 26 October 2011
- The Domesday Book: England's Heritage Then and Now, ed. Thomas Hinde (UK: Coombe Books, 1996).
- Robert S. Tilton, "Rolfe, John (1585–1622)". In: Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (Oxford: OUP, 2004). Retrieved 28 June 2014.
- John A. Vickers, "Atmore, Charles (1759–1826)". In: Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (Oxford: OUP, 2004). Retrieved 28 June 2014.
- Roger Hutchins, "Gunther, Robert William Theodore (1869–1940)". In: Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (Oxford: OUP, 2004) Retrieved 28 June 2014.
- Brian Stableford: "Metcalfe, John". In: David Pringle: St. James Guide to Horror, Ghost and Gothic Writers (London: St. James Press, 1998), pp. 405–6. ISBN 1558622063
- Eric Wetherell, "Hadley, Patrick Arthur Sheldon (1899–1973)". In: Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (Oxford: OUP, 2004). Retrieved 28 June 2014.
- Goodman, Geoffrey (14 January 2002). "MEO". The Guardian (London).
- Author site. ; blog site. . Retrieved 19 November 2013.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Heacham.|
- Heacham – Community website
- Heacham Online
- William White's History, Gazetteer, and Directory of Norfolk 1845
- 1891 Census of Heacham
- Norfolk Lavender