Wymondham

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Wymondham
Cmglee Wymondham Market Place.jpg
Wymondham Market Place in September 2017
Wymondham is located in Norfolk
Wymondham
Wymondham
Location within Norfolk
Area44.31 km2 (17.11 sq mi)
Population14,405 (2011 census)[1]
• Density325/km2 (840/sq mi)
OS grid referenceTG1101
District
Shire county
Region
CountryEngland
Sovereign stateUnited Kingdom
Post townWYMONDHAM
Postcode districtNR18
Dialling code01953
PoliceNorfolk
FireNorfolk
AmbulanceEast of England
UK Parliament
List of places
UK
England
Norfolk
52°34′12″N 1°06′58″E / 52.570°N 1.116°E / 52.570; 1.116Coordinates: 52°34′12″N 1°06′58″E / 52.570°N 1.116°E / 52.570; 1.116

Wymondham (/ˈwɪndəm/ WIN-dəm) is a market town and civil parish in the South Norfolk district of Norfolk, England, 9.5 miles (15.3 km) south-west of Norwich off the A11 road to London. The River Tiffey runs through.[2] The parish, one of the largest in Norfolk, includes rural areas to the north and south of the town, including the hamlets of Suton, Silfield, Spooner Row and Wattlefield.[3] It had a population of 14,405 in 2011,[4] of which 13,587 lived in the town.[5]

Development[edit]

The town developed during the Anglo-Saxon period. With the establishment of a priory in 1107 and a market in 1204, it began to expand. Industrially, Wymondham became known as a centre of woodturning and brush making, retaining its brush factories until the late 20th century.[6] New housing to the north and east of the town centre brought rapid expansion.[7] Dual carriageways for the A11[8] and the development of rapid rail links to Norwich, Cambridge means Wymondham is now a commuter town.[9] Major local employers include the headquarters of Norfolk Constabulary and the Lotus Cars factory at nearby Hethel.[10]

The ancient centre, much damaged in a fire of 1615, contains landmarks and listed buildings that include the twin-towered Wymondham Abbey. Modern Wymondham continues to grow. The current local-authority action plan assumes building 2,200 new homes by 2026, while promoting it as "a forward-looking market town which embraces sustainable growth to enhance its unique identity and sense of community."[7]

History[edit]

Topynomy[edit]

The uncertain, Anglo-Saxon origins of the name probably consist of a personal name such as Wigmund or Wimund, with hām meaning village or settlement, or hamm meaning a river meadow.[10][11]

Early history[edit]

The site where Wymondham stands shows evidence of occupation from the earliest period of human settlement in Norfolk. Pot boilers and burnt flint have been found in nearby fields, as have flint axe-heads, scrapers and many other objects.[3] Evidence of the Bronze Age appears in a number of ring ditches, enclosures and linear crop marks. Objects found include an arrowhead, fragments of rapiers, assorted metal tools and pottery sherds.[3]

Iron Age artefacts were investigated systematically while the A11 bypass was being built in the early 1990s. There are postholes, quarries and evidence of iron smelting and bone working.[12] Objects from the period include coins, jewellery and pottery.[3]

Roman remains include an aisled structure[13] and a copper-alloy metal-working site. A Roman road from Venta Icenorum to Watton and beyond is visible as cropmarks. Large numbers of coins and pottery sherds have been found, as have personal items such as brooches, cosmetic tools and a duck figurine.[14][3]

Few Saxon buildings survive, although excavations showed a sunken-feature building with Early and Middle Saxon pottery. Remains of a possible Late Saxon church were discovered during excavations at Wymondham Abbey in 2002.[3][15]

Middle Ages[edit]

By 1086, Wymondham had 376 households (an estimated total population 1,880), putting it among the top 20 per cent of settlements recorded in Domesday. The land was held by two feudal Lords: William the Conqueror and William de Warenne.[16]

The Saxon church made way for a new priory in 1107, which evolved over the centuries into the Wymondham Abbey seen today.[15][17]

Earthworks at Moot Hill are probably a medieval ring-work dating from between 1088 and 1139.[18] It is on the Historic England's Heritage at Risk register.[19]

The first market charter came from King John in 1204, although an earlier market was probably held. The charter was renewed by Henry VI in 1440 and a weekly market is still held on Fridays.[10]

Early modern period[edit]

Wymondham Market Cross in September 2017

Wymondham Abbey was dissolved in 1538. Elisha Ferrers, the last Abbot, became Vicar of Wymondham, and the remaining church buildings remained in use as the parish church.

Robert Kett led a rebellion in 1549 of peasants and small farmers against enclosure of common land. His force of almost unarmed men held the city of Norwich for six weeks until defeated by the King's forces. He was hanged at Norwich Castle.[20] 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 an earlier main road to London.[21]

Bridewell Street in September 2017

The town suffered a great fire beginning on Sunday, 11 June 1615. Major losses included the Market Cross, the vicarage, the Town Hall and the schoolhouse. Buildings that survived include the Green Dragon inn. Thereafter, 327 inhabitants made claims for lost goods and houses: an estimated 55 per cent of residents at the time.[22] The register of St Andrew's Church in Norwich records that John Flodder and others were executed for arson on 2 December 1615.[23] Rebuilding varied in pace. A new Market Cross was completed in 1617, but in 1621 there were still some 15 properties to be rebuilt.[24]

In 1695, the Attleborough Road was the second British turnpike built, pre-dated only by the Great North Road.[25]

Modern Wymondham[edit]

In 1785, a prison was built in line with the ideas of the prison reformer John Howard.[26] The first in England to have separate cells for prisoners, it was widely copied there and in the United States.[10][27] It now serves as Wymondham Heritage Museum.

Collapse of the woollen industry in the mid-19th century led to great poverty. In 1836 there were still 600 hand looms, but by 1845 only 60. The town became a backwater in Victorian times, unaffected by development elsewhere.[28]

The Norwich & Brandon Railway opened in 1845 and a branch north to Dereham and Wells-next-the-Sea in 1847. Another branch opened in 1881 ran south to the Great Eastern Main Line at Forncett.

The Murders at Stanfield Hall occurred on 28 November 1848.

In 1943, a military hospital at Morley was handed to the United States Army Air Forces. Over 3,000 patients were treated there after D-Day. It was later converted for use by Wymondham College.[29]

For much of the 20th century, two brush factories together employed up to 1,000 people. They both closed in the 1980s and the land was turned over to housing.[30]

Governance[edit]

Wymondham has a Town Council responsible for local matters laid down by law, including a role in urban planning.[31] It has 14 members elected every four years. The next local elections are due in May 2023. Wymondham divides into four wards: North,[32] East,[33] Central[34] and South.[35] Spooner Row, though within the parish of Wymondham, elects its own community council.[36][37]

Wymondham civil parish falls within the district of South Norfolk, returning six district councillors. Currently there are two Liberal Democrat District councillors Julian Halls and Suzanne Nuri, the remainder are Conservatives. In County Council elections, the north part, including the Town Centre, returns one county councillor to Norfolk County Council as the Wymondham electoral division.[38] The southern part elects a county councillor as part of the Forehoe electoral division.[39]

For much of the 20th century, Wymondham belonged to the South Norfolk parliamentary constituency. After a boundary review, Wymondham was moved to the Mid Norfolk constituency.

Geography[edit]

Wymondham
Climate chart (explanation)
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Average max. and min. temperatures in °C
Precipitation totals in mm
Source: Met Office, Morley St Botolph UK climate averages, www.metoffice.gov.uk, retrieved 15 October 2019

At 52°34′12″N 1°6′57.6″E / 52.57000°N 1.116000°E / 52.57000; 1.116000 (52.57°, 1.116°), and 91 miles (146 km) north-north-west of London, Wymondham stands 134.5 feet (41 m) above sea level, 9 miles (14.5 km) south-west of Norwich, at the confluence of two small rivers. The largely rural parishes around it include Hethersett, Hethel, Ashwellthorpe, Bunwell, Wicklewood, Crownthorpe and Wramplingham. The market town of Attleborough lies to the south-west. Wymondham has a temperate maritime climate, like much of the British Isles, with relatively cool summers and mild winters. There is regular but generally light precipitation throughout the year.[40] Wymondham was struck by an F1/T2 tornado on 23 November 1981, as part of the record-breaking nationwide tornado outbreak on that day.[41]

Wymondham's topography is marked by its river meadow and low-lying, flat agricultural landscape, much like the rest of East Anglia. The parish has an area of 17.11 square miles (44.31 km2).[4] The geology is based on chalk, with a layer of boulder clay laid down in the last ice age.[42] The River Tiffey, flowing north, forms a boundary between the built-up town centre and the rural southern part of the parish.

The built environment of Wymondham's town centre is marked by early-modern town houses and a number of earlier buildings that survived the 1615 fire, including Wymondham Abbey. Much of the centre forms a conservation area with numerous listed buildings.[3][15] Beyond the centre lie 20th and 21st-century housing estates of mainly detached and semi-detached properties. There are trading and industrial estates along the route of the A11, which passes north-east through the south of the parish. The heavy rail Breckland line crosses the parish in the same direction. The rest of the parish is largely arable farmland.

The parish has one of the largest areas in Norfolk and includes swaths to the north and south of the town itself, including the hamlets of Suton, Silfield, Spooner Row and Wattlefield.[3]

Demography[edit]

Wymondham compared
UK Census 2011 Wymondham England
Total population 14,405 53,012,456
Foreign born 5.6% 17.57%
White British 94.5% 85.4%
Asian 1.1% 7.8%
White Irish 0.5% 1%
Black 0.3% 3.5%
Christian 60.3% 59.4%
No religion 29.9% 24.7%
Muslim 0.5% 5%
Buddhist 0.3% 0.5%
Hindu 0.2% 1.5%
Over 65 20.2% 16.33%
Unemployed 2.9% 4.4%

The United Kingdom Census 2001 gave Wymondham a total resident population of 12,539 and a population density of 733 per square mile (283 per km²). By 2011, the population had risen to 14,405, with a density of 840 per square mile (325 per km²). Wymondham has an average age of 41.8.[4]

In 2011, 94.5 per cent of the population were White British, 1.1 per cent Asian, 0.5 per cent White Irish and 0.3 per cent Black.[4]

Christianity accounts for 60.3 per cent of the population, while 29.9 declare no religious affiliation. There are small populations of Muslims (0.5%), Buddhists (0.3%) and Hindus (0.2%).[4]

The 2011 census showed 72.6 per cent of the adult population economically active, 2.9 per cent unemployed and 16.8 per cent retired. The population is well-educated: 27 per cent have post-18 qualifications.[4]

The following table outlines the population change in the town since 1801, showing slow growth, then decline in the 19th century, followed by recovery and rapid growth by the end of the 20th century.[43][44]

Year 1801 1811 1821 1831 1841 1851 1881 1891 1901 1911 1921 1931 1939 1951 1961 1971 1981 1991 2001 2011
Population 3,567 3,923 4,708 5,485 5,179 5,177 4,566 4,764 4,733 4,794 4,814 5,017 5,957 5,665 5,904 8,513 9,759 10,869 12,539 14,405
Sources: A Vision of Britain through Time: Civil Parish[45] A Vision of Britain through Time: Urban District[46] Wymondham - A Century Remembered[47]

Economy[edit]

Wymondham is a commuter town mainly to Norwich, Cambridge and London. The 2011 census reports that the commonest employment sectors wholesale and retail trade (15.4%), health and social work (13.6%) and education (11.3%).

A major employer is Norfolk Constabulary. There is a retail area centred on the market square, with national-chain branches and numerous independent shop and businesses.

Traditionally, Wymondham was a centre of woodturning and brush-making; a spigot and spoon feature on the town sign to commemorate this.[48][49] Major brush factories were located there, with railway sidings, saw mills, and engineering workshops. These closed in late 20th century and were developed as housing.[6][50][51][30]

Landmarks[edit]

Wymondham Heritage Museum in September 2017

War memorial[edit]

Wymondham war memorial is a 7.5 metres (8 yd) stone obelisk above an octagonal three-stepped base, at the junctions of Vicar Street, Town Green and Middleton Street. Unveiled on 24 July 1921, and updated after World War II, it commemorates 189 military and civilian deaths in the two World Wars.[52] It is a Grade II listed feature.[53]

Wymondham Abbey[edit]

Wymondham Abbey, founded in 1107, is a Grade I listed building.[54] Originally a Benedictine priory, it became an independent abbey in 1449. During this period the two-tower design evolved. The east tower was built first to an octagonal design (1409), while the west tower was completed in 1498.[55]

The abbey was dissolved in 1538, after which many of its buildings were demolished. Their remains, including the surviving arch of the chapter house, are scattered around the church.[56] The open land to the south of the church, above further remains of the medieval abbey, is a scheduled monument.[57] The east end of the church was demolished at the dissolution. The surviving 70 metres (77 yd)-long building is about half the original length.

The remainder survived the dissolution and continued in use as the local Church of England parish church. Some elements of the original Norman architecture are visible externally, while internally a 15th-century hammerbeam roof and a reredos by Ninian Comper can be seen.[55][58]

Cavick House[edit]

Cavick House, a Grade I listed building, was built in the early 18th century.[59][60] It is a red-brick building with painted quoins and some original interior decoration. It had fallen into disrepair by 1999 but has since been restored.[61] The nearby Cavick House Farmhouse, built in the early 18th century, is a Grade II listed building.[62][63]

Beckett's Chapel[edit]

Beckett's Chapel is thought to have been founded in the late 12th century by the son of William d'Aubigny and founder of Wymondham Abbey. The current chapel dates largely to around 1400, when it was rebuilt. In the post-Reformation period it was converted into a school and also used for a period as a lock-up for remand prisoners. Restoration was carried out in 1873, after which it was used as a public hall, a school and Wymondham's library. In 1999, a plaque was attached to mark the 450th anniversary of Kett's Rebellion.[64] In 2008, it became Wymondham Arts Centre. Inside, the original elements of the chapel, including an arch-braced hammerbeam roof are still visible. It is a Grade I listed building.[65] In 2018, it was placed on Historic England's Heritage at Risk register, as it suffers from damp and is slowly decaying.[66][67]

The Market Cross[edit]

The Market Cross was built in 1617–1618 after the original was destroyed in the fire of 1615. It is a timber-framed octagonal building with an upper floor raised above an open undercroft. It served as the centre of administration of the town's weekly market. In the late 19th century it was converted into a subscription reading room.[68] After restoration in 1989, it reopened as the town's Tourist Information Centre. It is a Grade I listed building.[69]

Grade II* listed buildings[edit]

There are six Grade II* listed buildings in Wymondham: The Green Dragon pub,[70] Kimberley Hall,[71] Priory House,[72][73] Stanfield Hall,[74] The Chestnuts[75] and 3 Market Street.[76]

Other landmarks[edit]

The former jail, known as Wymondham Bridewell, was built in 1787. It houses the Wymondham Heritage Museum. having once been a police station and a law court.[77] It is a Grade II listed building.[78]

Wymondham railway station, built in 1844, retains much of its atmosphere, including a timber signal box for semaphore signalling from 1877, in use until 2012.[79][80][81] Almost derelict by 1988, the site was transformed by the local businessman and railway enthusiast David Turner, who restored the buildings and ran a Brief Encounter-themed restaurant on Platform 1 before retiring in 2011. The station was voted Best Small Station in the 2006 National Rail Awards.[82] Both station and signal box are Grade II listed buildings.[79][83]

Toll's Meadow is a local nature reserve and wildlife site with accessible footpaths along the River Tiffey. Wildlife spotted include kingfishers, herons, roe deer and water voles.[84][85] The Lizard is a conservation area and wildlife site managed by a local charity as a "piece of informal, natural countryside for the general benefit and enjoyment of the people of Wymondham."[86] The Tiffey Trails offer accessible walking paths, interpretation boards, wood-carvings, benches and waymarkers.[87]

Transport[edit]

Flint was used in many types of buildings around Wymondham, including this 19th-century crossing keeper's hut on the Mid-Norfolk Railway.

The Breckland line runs through the parish, with stations at Wymondham and Spooner Row. A typical daytime service is one train an hour east to Norwich and west to Cambridge.[88] Two services a day run to Liverpool Lime Street. Direct services to Stansted Airport were due to begin in December 2019.[89]

The Mid-Norfolk Railway operates a station at Wymondham Abbey and runs heritage services to Dereham along a closed branch to Wells. The town once had a third station, Spinks Lane, but this closed shortly after opening in the 19th century.

Buses operated by First Norfolk and Suffolk run up to every 30 minutes to Hethersett, Norwich and Attleborough.[90][91] Konectbus run buses to the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital, Norwich and Watton.[92] National Express coach services are available to London.[93]

The A11 trunk road from Norwich to London used to run through the centre of the town. Improvements rerouted it along the road now known as Harts Farm Road and Norwich Road. Finally, a dual-carriageway bypass was opened in 1996. Sections of the old A11 were reclassified as the B1172 and now link Wymondham and Hethersett. A cycle path along the B1172 connects Wymondham to Norwich.[94][95] The B1135 passes the northern edge of the town on its way to Dereham.

Sport[edit]

Wymondham Town Football Club, founded in 1883, is based at Kings Head Meadow.[96] The senior men's team plays in the Anglian Combination Division One which it has topped five times, most recently in 2017/2018. The club last won the Norfolk Senior Cup in 1888/1889. Ian Gibson MP played for the club in the 1965/1966 season.[97] The senior women's team plays in the Eastern Region Women's Football League which it won in 2017/2018. In the same season it won the County Cup, which it successfully defended in 2018/2019.[98][99]

Wymondham Town United Football Club, based at Kett's Park, is one Norfolk's largest youth football teams, with over 600 players across 22 teams.[100]

Wymondham Rugby Club, founded in 1972, was based at the Foster Harrison Memorial Ground on Tuttles Lane.[101] A new ground, Barnard Fields, was opened in 2018.[102] The senior men's team plays in the London 2 North East league. It won the Norfolk Plate in 2015/2016.[103] The senior women's team, Wymondham Wasps, plays in the Championship 2 Midlands League.[104]

Wymondham Dell Bowls Club was a founder member of the Norfolk Bowls Association in 1936. It has won the Bales Cup and the County League more often than any other club in Norfolk: twelve and fifteen times respectively.[105] The 2002 Commonwealth Games gold medallist, John Ottaway, is a member.[106]

Education[edit]

Browick Road School, Wymondham

Wymondham Grammar School was founded in 1567 by Norwich-born Archbishop of Canterbury, Matthew Parker. It was originally housed in Beckett's Chapel before moving to Priory House.[72][73] It closed in 1903.[42][107] Silfield School opened in 1876 and closed in 1993. It is now a private dwelling.[108]

Wymondham High Academy is located near the town centre.[109][110] Wymondham College, one of 36 state boarding schools in England and the largest of its type, is located just outside the parish in Morley.

There are four state primary schools in the parish: Ashleigh Primary School and Nursery,[111][112] Browick Road Primary and Nursery School,[113][114] Robert Kett Primary School[115][116] and Spooner Row Primary School.[117][118]

Public services[edit]

Policing in Wymondham is provided by Norfolk Constabulary, which has its headquarters in the town. Statutory emergency fire and rescue service is provided by the Norfolk Fire and Rescue Service, which has a station in London Road.[119]

The nearest NHS hospital is the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital in Norwich administered by Norfolk and Norwich University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust. In the town itself are Wymondham Health Centre[120] and Wymondham Medical Centre[121] providing general practice care. Ambulance services are provided by East of England Ambulance Service.[122]

Waste management is co-ordinated by South Norfolk Council. Locally produced inert waste for disposal is processed into fuel for use in combined heat and power facilities in Europe.[123] Wymondham's Distribution Network Operator for electricity is UK Power Networks;[124] there are no power stations in the town. Drinking and waste water is managed by Anglian Water.[125] There is a water treatment plant to the north-west of the town.[2]

Culture and community[edit]

Culture[edit]

A plaque on Wymondham Town Hall (Norfolk, UK) commemorating links with Votice in the Czech Republic.
Plaque commemorating links with Votice

Wymondham Heritage Museum, in the former prison, has permanent displays on Robert Kett, brush-making and on the museum building.[126] Occasional displays are renewed every season.[127] Wymondham Arts Centre, in Beckett's Chapel, runs a summer programme of free exhibitions by local and regional artists.[128] Regular arts and theatre events take place in Wymondham Central Hall.[129]

The town's several pubs include The Green Dragon, one of the oldest in England, in business since about 1371.[130] The Cross Keys Inn in the Market Place occupies an early 17th-century Grade II listed building.[131]

Wymondham Music Festival began in 1996[132] and runs mostly free musical events at several venues in the summer.[133] The festival runs a Midsummer Jazz Picnic at Becketswell every June.[134] Occasional events include a carnival[135] and a winter Dickensian Evening, run by the local Lions Club.[136]

Wymondham currently has no twin town. Links were developed in the 1990s with Votice, under which time local dignitaries from the Czech Republic visited Wymondham. A plaque on the town hall commemorates the links between the two towns.

Community facilities[edit]

The numerous parks and playgrounds,[137] include Toll's Meadow and Kett's Park. An artificial 3G pitch, part-funded by South Norfolk Council and the Premier League, was opened in 2019 by Norwich City player Grant Holt.[138] The public library moved from Beckett's Chapel to purpose-built premises in 2008.[139] The library hosts events to encourage learning and reading, such as weekly Bounce and Rhyme sessions.[140]

Religious sites[edit]

Wymondham Methodist Church

The two Church of England churches in the parish are Wymondham Abbey – originally dedicated to the Virgin Mary but after the murder of St Thomas Becket in 1170, his name was added – and a chapel-of-ease, Holy Trinity Church, in Spooner Row.[141][142]

The building of a 17th-century Quaker meeting house Chapel Lane survives as a private residence.[143] The Fairland United Reformed Church was founded in 1652.[144] The current facade dates from 1877.[145] It has regular Sunday services.[146]

A Primitive Methodist chapel built in Silfield Street in 1867 is now a private residence.[147] A Wesleyan Methodist chapel was built in Damgate Street in 1879.[148] It is now used by the Freemasons.[149] Wymondham Methodist Church was built in 1870.[150][151] Wymondham Baptist Church has been at its current site in Queen Street since 1910.[152] It holds regular Sunday services and a daily community café.[153][154]

The Roman Catholic Church of Our Lady and St Thomas of Canterbury, built in 1952, contains a memorial to the World War II prisoners and internees of the Japanese who did not survive their imprisonment. An annual memorial service is held every May. A digital and print archive of 61,000 names of those who died is maintained by the church.[155]

The two churches of the Evangelical Alliance are Hope Community Church in Ayton Road[156] and Alive Church which meets at Central Hall.[157] There is a Kingdom Hall of Jehovah's Witnesses in Harts Farm Road.[158]

Notable people[edit]

People from Wymondham are occasionally known as Wymondhamers.[159]

Cultural references[edit]

The Murders at Stanfield Hall were depicted in the 1948 film Blanche Fury.

The now-closed Brief Encounter-themed restaurant at Wymondham railway station featured in Mark Greenstreet's 1996 comedy film Caught in the Act, starring Sara Crowe, Annette Badland and Nadia Sawalha.[183][184]

The eighth in C. J. Sansom's Shardlake series of novels, Tombland (2018), sees the series' protagonist become embroiled in Kett's Rebellion.[185]

References[edit]

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