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MARKET TOWNS OF NORFOLK (from SDUK Penny Cyclopedia)

Cromer in 1839

Cromer is on the east coast, in Erpingham hundred, 132 miles from London. There was anciently a town or village on this part of the coast called Shipdem, which was destroyed by the sea about the commencement of the fifteenth century. The sea continues to gain on the land, and several houses in Cromer have been destroyed within the memory of those now living. At very low tides large masses of wall may still be seen, which are called by sailors ‘Shipdem steeple.’

The town of Cromer is situated at the top of the cliffs (‘the mud cliffs’ as they are termed), and consists of houses for the most part badly built and of mean appearance. The area of the parish is 800 acres ; the population in 1831 was 1,232. The town was formerly a fishing-place, but the pleasantness of the surrounding country and the fine sea view have attracted visitors in the bathing season. There are some good inns, and a subscription library and news-room.

The bay of Cromer is very dangerous, and most of the fences and outhouses in the neighbourhood are constructed from timber obtained from wrecks ; yet the place carries on some trade in coals, timber, tiles, oil-cake, and other goods. Vessels discharge their cargoes on the beach at ebb tide into carts, by which the goods are carried by a road up the cliff.

Fishing is actively carried on, and the crabs and lobsters are of excellent flavour. All attempts to erect a pier have failed. The market has been discontinued ; but there is a yearly fair. There is a lighthouse on the cliff, a short distance from the town. A life-boat and Manby’s apparatus for saving men from wrecks are kept. There are some batteries, erected during the last war, for the defence of the place.

The church is a building of great beauty, in the perpendicular style ; the tower is nearly 160 feet high, and is remarkably fine ; and some other portions of the church have very excellent details. The west entrance, the chancel, and the north porch are in ruins. The living is a vicarage, of the clear yearly value of £99.

There were in the parish in 1833, one infant school with 60 children ; two endowed day-schools, with 70 boys and 20 girls; five other day-schools with 59 children ; one boarding-school with about 20 boys, and two Sunday-schools, with 100 children.