Wymondham

Infobox UK place
official_name= Wymondham
country= England
region= East of England
shire_county= Norfolk
shire_district= South Norfolk
constituency_westminster= South Norfolk
population= 12,539 (2001)
os_grid_reference= TG1101
latitude= 52.56
longitude= 1.11
post_town= WYMONDHAM
postcode_area= NR
postcode_district= NR18
dial_code= 01953

Wymondham (pronEng|ˈwɪndəm) is an historic market town and civil parish in the English county of Norfolk. It lies 9 miles (14 km) to the south west of the city of Norwich, on the A11 road to Thetford and London. [Ordnance Survey (1999). "OS Explorer Map 237 - Norwich". ISBN 0-319-21868-6.]

History

Before The Great Fire

Wymondham's most famous inhabitant was Robert Kett (or Ket), who in 1549 led a rebellion of peasants and small farmers who were protesting the enclosure of common land. He took a force of almost unarmed men, and fought for and held the City of Norwich for six weeks until defeated by the King's forces. He was hanged from Norwich Castle. Kett's Oak, said to be the rallying point for the rebellion, may still be seen today on the road between Wymondham and Hethersett.

The Great Fire of 1615

The Great Fire of Wymondham broke out on Sunday 11 June 1615. Two areas of the town were affected implying there were two separate fires. One area was in Vicar Street and Middleton Street and the other in the Market Place, including Bridewell Street and Fairland Street. About 300 properties were destroyed in the fire. Important buildings destroyed included the Market Cross, dating from 1286; the vicarage in Vicar Street; the 'Town Hall' on the corner of Middleton Street and Vicar Street; and the schoolhouse. However, many buildings such as the Green Dragon pub did survive and many of the houses in Damgate Street date back to 1400, although this is now masked by later brickwork.

The fire was started by three Gypsies, William Flodder, John Flodder and Ellen Pendleton (Flodder) and a local person, Margaret Bix (Elvyn). The register of St Andrew's Church in Norwich records that John Flodder and others were executed on 2 December 1615 for the burning of Wymondham. Rebuilding of the destroyed buildings was quick in some cases and slower in others. A new Market Cross, the one we see today, was started and completed by 1617. However by 1621 there were still about 15 properties not yet rebuilt. Economic conditions in the 1620s could have been a contributory factor to the delay in rebuilding.

After the Great Fire

Kett's Rebellion spoke to the undercurrent of ferment beneath the tranquil surface of Wymondham. That same ferment manifested itself in the seventeenth century when a number of Wymondham citizens, including Thomas Lincoln, John Beal and others emigrated to Hingham, Massachusetts in the wave of religious dissent that swept England in the years preceding Cromwell's Commonwealth.

In 1785 a prison was built using the ideas of John Howard, the prison reformer. It was the first prison to be built in this country with separate cells for the prisoners, and was widely copied both in the United Kingdom and the United States of America.

The collapse of the woollen industry in the mid-nineteenth century led to great poverty in Wymondham. In 1836 there were 600 hand looms, but by 1845 only 60. During Victorian times the town was a backwater, escaping large-scale development, and the town centre remains very much as it must have been in the mid-seventeenth century, when the houses were rebuilt after a great fire. These newer houses, and those which survived the Great Fire, still surround shoppers and visitors as they pass through Wymondham's narrow mediaeval streets.

Governance

The civil parish of Wymondham has an area of 44.31 km² and in the 2001 census had a population of 12,539 in 5,477 households. This relatively large parish includes one nearby village, Spooner Row.

Wymondham is governed by a town council of 15 councillors. The town is split into five wards each of which returns three members. Since the last election (2007) fourteen councillors are members of the Conservative Party and one is from the Liberal Democrats. The current mayor is Len Elston.

For the purposes of local government, Wymondham civil parish falls within the district of South Norfolk returning five district councillors, one for each ward. [Office for National Statistics & Norfolk County Council]

Buildings

In the town centre there is a market cross, which is now used as a Tourist Information Centre and is owned by the Town Council. The original building was destroyed in the Great Fire of Wymondham in 1615; the present building was rebuilt between 1617-18 at a cost of £25-7-0d with funds loaned by local man, Philip Cullyer [cite web|url=http://wymondhamtc.norfolkparishes.gov.uk/town-history/|title=Wymondham Town History|accessdate=2008-08-28] .

Wymondham Abbey is the Church of England parish church.

A large housing development has just commenced in Wymondham near the Hethersett road. Construction of this housing estate began after much opposition and, more recently, plans for a new housing estate on a green-field site on the Wicklewood-side of Wymondham. There is opposition to this development as much wildlife may be damaged and the buildings will be on a flood plain.Fact|date=March 2008

A further, much larger development of 3,000 homes, has been proposed for the South of Wymondham and has attracted tremendous local opposition. A campaign group known as "Fight for Wymondham" has been formed by local residents to oppose this development, on the grounds that it will destroy Wymondham's character as a historic market town and potentially overwhelm local services and pose a threat to wildlife.

Transport

The Wymondham railway station (voted Best Small Station in the 2006 National Rail Awards), is sometimes, albeit wrongly, believed to have been used in the classic film "Brief Encounter".Fact|date=May 2008 It has been restored by David Turner, and now houses a museum and themed restaurant. The station was featured, along with Weybourne station on the North Norfolk Railway, as the "Walmington-on-Sea" station in the popular BBC comedy series "Dad's Army". Wymondham station is the junction for the Mid-Norfolk Railway, although their trains, running 11.5 miles (19 km) north to Dereham operate from the separate Wymondham Abbey station.

The town once had another station Spinks Lane but this closed only a short time after opening in the 19th century.

Famous Residents

As of 2008, living in the town and it's immediate vicinity are some noteable residents. George Szirtes a prize winning poet and Clarissa Upchurch live on Damgate Street. Oliver Winterbottom, one of Britain's car designers, lives off Barnham Broom Road. John Ottaway, commonwealth a gold medalist bowls player is a long term member of the Wymondham Dell Bowls Club. Perhaps most widely known is Bill Bryson, Iowa native, journalist, novelist and travel writer.
Edwin Gooch, MP and President of the National Union of Agricultural and Allied Workers and Malcolm Arnold, composer are also residents.

See also

*Wymondham College
*Wymondham Abbey
*Kett's Rebellion
*Mid-Norfolk Railway

References

External links

* [http://www.wymondham-norfolk.co.uk/ Wymondham Website]
* [http://www.origins.org.uk/genuki/NFK/places/w/wymondham/ Information from Genuki Norfolk] on Wymondham.
* [http://www.aboutwymondham.co.uk Wymondham Forum] – Discussion Forum about Wymondham, Norfolk.


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