North Elmham

Coordinates: 52°44′55″N 0°56′23″E / 52.74856°N 0.93972°E / 52.74856; 0.93972
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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
Location within Norfolk
Area19.20 km2 (7.41 sq mi)
Population1,433 (2011)[1]
• Density75/km2 (190/sq mi)
OS grid referenceTF985208
Civil parish
  • North Elmham
Shire county
Sovereign stateUnited Kingdom
Post townDEREHAM
Postcode districtNR20
Dialling code01362
AmbulanceEast of England
UK Parliament
List of places
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 7.41 sq mi (19.2 km2) and had a population of 1,428 in 624 households at the 2001 census,[2] including Gateley and increasing slightly to 1,433 at the 2011 Census. For the purposes of local government, it falls within the Elmham and Mattishall division of Norfolk County Council and the Upper Wensum ward of Breckland District Council. The village is located along the B1145[3] a route which runs between King's Lynn and Mundesley.

The village is about 5 mi (8.0 km) 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.


St Mary's church, North Elmham

The name North Elmham comes from the Old English, meaning "village where elms grow" and is first mentioned in 1035.[4] Only ruins now survive of a Norman Chapel which is now looked after by English Heritage.[5] The chapel is on the site of an earlier Anglo Saxon timber cathedral which housed the episcopal throne of the bishops of Elmham from around 672 until the episcopal see was moved to Thetford in 1071. A mid 9th-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 11th-century episcopal church and the late 14th-century double-moated castle built on this by Henry le Despenser, Bishop of Norwich. Henry came from a powerful family who had strong links with the House of Plantagenet and the notorious 'favourites' of King Edward II.

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.[citation needed] The fine buildings have now been demolished. The village is also the birthplace of the actor John Mills.[6] The County School railway station served the school, and today is preserved by the Mid-Norfolk Railway as a small visitor centre. The village once had its own railway station, North Elmham railway station, on the line from Wymondham to Fakenham. The building still exists but is now a residential home, although the railway line remains and is under restoration to use. A section of the line, between North Elmham and County School station, includes a permissive footpath.

North Elmham Mill, known locally as Grint Mill, had two breastshot waterwheels until the early 20th 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 20th century.[7]

Notable residents[edit]

See also[edit]

Anglo-Saxon cinerary urn with swastika motifs from North Elmham, 5th or 6th century, British Museum


  1. ^ "Civil Parish population 2011". Neighbourhood Statistics. Office for National Statistics. Retrieved 4 August 2016.
  2. ^ Census population and household counts for unparished urban areas and all parishes Archived 2017-02-11 at the Wayback Machine
  3. ^ County A to Z Atlas, Street & Road maps Norfolk, page 230 ISBN 978-1-84348-614-5
  4. ^ Ekwall, E. Concise Dictionary of English Place-names
  5. ^ "Find events near you".
  6. ^ "John Mills". BFI (British Film Institute). Retrieved 15 May 2021.
  7. ^ "Norfolk Mills - North Elmham watermill". Retrieved 15 May 2021.
  8. ^ "Sir John Mills". The Independent. 23 October 2011. Archived from the original on 21 June 2022. Retrieved 15 May 2021.

Other sources[edit]

  • 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]

Media related to North Elmham at Wikimedia Commons