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MARKET TOWNS OF NORFOLK (from SDUK Penny Cyclopedia)

Wymondham in 1839

Wymondham (pronounced and occasionally written Windham) is in Forehoe hundred, 100 miles from London. The parish comprehends six divisions, having an aggregate area of 11,240 acres, with a population, in 1831, of 5,485. A priory of Black or Benedictine monks was established here before A.D. 1107, by William de Albini, chief butler to Henry I. It was at first a cell to St. Alban’s abbey, but was separated from it and erected into an independent abbey about A.D. 1448. It had ten or twelve monks : the yearly revenue at the dissolution was £211, 16 shillings, 6 pence gross, or £72, 5 shillings, 4 pence clear. The only part of the conventual buildings now remaining is a portion of the church, which is now used as the parish church. The town grew into importance through the monastery. Ket the Tanner, who raised a rebellion in the county in the reign of Edward VI, was a native of this town.

The town of Wymondham is of considerable extent, and has been much improved of late years. The church was originally cruciform, consisting of a nave with side aisles, the south aisle having the monks’ lodgings over it, two chapels forming transepts, a choir, with Lady chapel on the north side, and a tower rising from the intersection of the nave and transepts. There were a chapter-house and other conventual buildings. Between the years 1410 and 1476 the inhabitants built another tower at the western end. The part now remaining consists of the nave with the side aisles (the south aisle having been rebuilt), the western tower, a considerable portion of the central tower, and some fragments of the walls of other parts. The architecture is of different styles and periods ; the Norman arches of the nave may be regarded as belonging to the original building. There are several dissenting meeting-houses at Wymondham, and a house of correction. The bombazine manufacture is carried on to a considerable extent ; the whole number of persons employed in it is probably near 1,000. There are a market on Friday, two yearly fairs for horses and cattle, and occasional statute fairs for hiring servants. The living is a vicarage, of the clear yearly value of £515, with a glebe-house. There were, in 1833, two day-schools, partly supported by an endowment, with 140 children ; three other day-schools, with 110 children ; and five Sunday-schools, with 599 children. There is an endowment for a free grammar-school, but the Report in 1833 states that ‘there had been no child instructed therein for many years.