Norfolk, a maritime county in the E of England, bounded on the NW by the Wash, which divides it from Lincolnshire; on the N and the NE by the North Sea; on the SE by Breydon Water and the river Waveney, which divide it from Suffolk; on the S by the river Waveney, a short artificial line, and the river Little Ouse, which divide it from Suffolk; on the SW and W by the rivers Old Welney and Nen, and a short artificial line, which divide it from Cambridgeshire and Lincolnshire. It is so nearly surrounded by its marine and river boundaries as to be almost an island. Its outline is somewhat ellipsoidal, but suffers indentation by the Wash. Its greatest length from E to W is 60 miles; its greatest breadth from N to S is 40 miles; its mean breadth is about 29 miles; and its circuit is about 200 miles. The area of the ancient county is 1,308,440 statute acres, and the population 454,516. The administrative county includes parts of Great Yarmouth and Thetford, in Suffolk, and has an area of 1,315,092 statute acres, and a population of 468,287. Only three English countiesYork, Lincoln, and Devon exceed it in size. The coast has an aggregate length of about 80 miles; presents over the most part a strictly continuous line, either straight or very slightly curved; has no deep bays, no sinuous creeks, no salient headlands; is everywhere monotonous and tame; lies for the most part so low as to be visible at but a remarkably brief distance at sea; has no greater diversities than some lumpish banks only a few feet high, some diluvial cliffs with a maximum of about 55 feet in height, and the cliff of Hunstanton nearly 80 feet in height; consists largely of continuous belts of sand, slenderly tumulated with pebbles and gravel thrown up by the violence of the waves; and is suffering abrasion by the sea on the N, but making advances on it in the E. The entire seaboard, at a very recent geological period, appears to have been merely a group of low islets; the tracts in the E, around Yarmouth, so late as the time of Edward the Confessor, were probably the basin of an estuary; the valleys of the Bure and the Yare, traversing the NE from above Aylsham, and the E from above Norwich, at even a later date, were extensively arms of the sea or shallow estuaries, and still retain "meres" or "broads" and marshy flats; and the greater portion of all the southern border, from the sea on the E up the valley of the Waveney, and down the valleys of the Little Ouse and the Nen, to the head of the Wash in the W, was also occupied at recent periods either by actual sea or by deep spongy marsh. The aggregate surface of the county is lower, flatter, and less diversified in feature than any other tract of country of equal extent in the kingdom. It has no mountains, no hills, no bold breaks except the few cliffs on the coast, not even considerable undulations except in parts of the N and NE; it boasts nothing better in the way of picturesqueness, in even the undulated portions, than series of green hills and fertile valleys, adorned with hedgerows, coppices, and woods, and worked by culture into forms of garden-beauty; and it may be summarily described as a great plain, not long ago a compound of estuary, marsh, sandy waste, and green common, now brought by geognostic changes and georgic operations into a condition of ornate fertility.
A narrow belt along the lower part of the Ouse and the upper and middle parts of the Wash, consists of oolitic rocks; another belt, immediately E of the former and extending southward to Downham Market and northward to Hunstanton, consists of upper green sand; vastly the greater portion of the county, eastward and south-eastward of the green sand belt, all the way to the eastern and the southern boundaries, consists of chalk; a large belt, from the neighbourhood of Gresham down both sides of the river Bure to a point below Acle, and a lesser belt parallel with the right side of the Yare below Norwich, south-eastward thence to the Waveney at the boundary with Suffolk, and up the Waveney to a point above Bungay, consist of crag or the lowest of the upper tertiary rocks; and a narrow belt of the N seaboard from Hunstanton to Salthouse, and all the tract W of the oolite, the green sand, and a line drawn southward from Stoke Ferry to the southern boundary, consist of alluvium or reclaimed marsh. The green sand, despite its name, is commonly of a dingy brown or whitish colour, and it abounds, in some places, with fossil shells which are used for manure. The chalk in some places is so hard and compact as to be fit for masonry, it yields in other places great quantities of black flints, which have been used for building and for exportation, and it is manufactured in many places into excellent manurial lime. A forest bed near Cromer has produced fossil teeth of elephants, and fossil remains of the walrus, the hippopotamus, the rhinoceros, the bear, the beaver, and the elk. Marl occurs in the valley of the Bure; phosphate of lime, possessing high manurial value, is found in the crag; excellent brick clay abounds in various places, some potters' clay is found; finely-pulverized sea-sand, suitable for glass-making, is obtained between Snettisham and Castle Rising; and peat, both for manure and for fuel, is plentiful in the fens. The principal rivers, besides those on the boundaries, are the Ouse, going northward to the Wash at Kings Lynn; the Wissey and the Nar, going westward to the Ouse; the Wensum, going south-eastward to the Yare at Norwich; the Yare, going eastward from Shipdam, past Norwich, to the boundary at the confluence with the Waveney, 4 miles WSW of Yarmouth; and the Bure, going south-eastward to the sea at Yarmouth. The principal "meres" or "broads " are Breydon Water, from the confluence of the Yare and the Waveney to Yarmouth; Hickling and Horsey Broads, near the E coast; Ormesby and Bollesby Broads, 5 miles NW of Yarmouth; Stalham, Barton, Filby, and Rockland Broads, near the places whence they are named; and Wroxham, Hoveton, Woodbastwick, Ranworth, and South Walsham Broads, in the valley of the Bure.
The soils for the most part are naturally light and poor, but have been artificially rendered very fertile. That of the hundreds of East Flegg, West Flegg, Blofield, Happing, Tunstead, the southern part of Walsham, and the greater part of South Erpingham and North Erpingham, is a loamy sand similar to the soil of the best parts of the Netherlands, easily worked and rarely damaged by moisture or drought; that of the hundreds of Loddon, Clavering, Henstead, Earsham, Diss, Depwade, Humbleyard, and some parts of Forehoe and Mitford, is sand with occasional mixtures of clay, often wet and abounding with springs, yet generally productive; that of the hundreds of Taverham, Eynsford, Holt, North Greenhoe, Gallow, Launditch, Brothercross, Smithdon, Freebridge Lynn, and part of Clackclose, though occasionally forming pendicles of very good land, is prevailingly a light sand of very inferior productiveness; that of the hundreds of Shropham, Guiltcross, Wayland, South Greenhoe, and part of Grimshoe, is a sand so very light as, in some parts, particularly in Grimshoe, to be much drifted by high winds; that of the hundred of Freebridge Marshland is a rich ooze formed by deposition from the sea, and for the most part highly fertile; and that of large parts of the hundreds of Clackclose and Grimshoe is fen, and consists of unimprovable marshy peat. Arthur Young, estimating the total area at 1830 square miles, classified it into 900 square miles of various loams, 148 of rich loam, 420 of good sand, 220 of light sand, 60 of marshland clay, and 82 of peat. A tract near the mouths of the Yare and the Waveney, and extending a considerable way toward Norwich, is usually flooded in winter, and used at other seasons for depasturing; and large tracts in the vicinity of Lodham are often laid under water by land-floods, and produce little else than aquatic plants. Woods are plentiful in the hundreds of Depwade, Humbleyard, Henstead, Eynsford, and Forehoe. They occur also, more or less, in most of the other hundreds, but they exist either sparsely or not at all in the heathy, fenny, and other unenclosed tracts.
Estates are of all sizes. Farms are large and farm buildings are good. Leases run from 7 to 14 and 21 years. The farmers have a high character for skill, experience, and energy. Vast improvements have been made by careful drainage, good manuring, the turnip husbandry, and garden cultivation. The four-shift rotation of crops has long been extensively followed, and the raising of turnips, mangelwurzel, beet, clover, and various grasses, has been increasingly connected with the feeding of sheep and cattle.
Agricultural implements have reached a degree of high perfection and are manufactured on a great scale, not only for home use but also for exportation. Sheep are chiefly of the Leicester and Southdown breeds. Oxen for fattening are chiefly of the Galloway, West Highland, Aberdeenshire, and other small Scottish breeds. Horses are partly an improved local breed of remote origin, partly a cross between that breed and the Suffolk punch, and they are a bony, active, hardy race, from 14 to 15 hands high, admirably adapted to both the fields and the road. Turkeys thrive on the sandy and loamy lands, geese are plentiful in the fens, rabbits abound near Winterton and Sheringham, and pheasants and other game are plentiful enough to be sent to market. The fisheries of Norfolk are of great importance, cod, mackerel, turbot, soles, crabs, and lobsters being caught in large numbers; but the most important fishery is that of herrings, the produce of which is about one-fifth of that of the entire kingdom.
Worsted manufactures were introduced by Flemings in the time of Henry I.; took their name from Worstead parish where they were first made; and were transferred thence to Norwich in the time of Richard II. Dormics, cambrics, and calicuts were long the principal textile manufactures; druggets, serges, shalloons, and duffields followed; and crapes, camblets, stuffs, tabinets, bombazines, poplins, damasks, shawls, and a great variety of fancy fabrics afterwards became prominent. The manufactures now are not aggregately so extensive as to prevent Norfolk from being classed as an agricultural county; they are confined chiefly to Norwich, Yarmouth, Thetford, Wymondham, and a few other towns; and they embrace a considerable variety of departments, including bombazine, crape, silk, woollen, and linen fabrics, boots and shoes, coarse pottery, and tobacco pipes. According to the census returns issued in 1893, the chief occupations of the people of the county were:Professional, 7340 males and 5492 females; domestic, 1334 males and 28,041 females; commercial, 14,704 males and 219 females; agricultural, 54,318 males and 1349 females; fishing, 2501 males and 27 females; industrial, 58,220 males and 21,843 females; and "unoccupied," including retired business men, pensioners, those living on their own means, and others not specified, 27,991 males and 126,058 females; or a total in the county of 166,408 males and 183,029 females. The number of men employed in the leading industries was as follows: agricultural labourers, 39,090; general labourers, 6748; boot and shoe makers, 6513; and farmers, 5258. The chief occupations of women weredomestic service, with a total of 22,112; millinery and dressmaking, 6749. There were also in the county 356 blind persons, 441 deaf, 226 deaf and dumb, and 1856 mentally deranged. A commerce with the Baltic, Holland, Portugal, and Spain, was at one time very great; the importation of timber, wines, spirits, fruit, and other commodities was so large as to make Norfolk an entrepôt for probably one-third of all England; and the coast trade, especially in the importation of coals, was excelled for some time only by the coast trade of the Thames and Bristol. The sea commerce now is comparatively small, yet includes much export of farm produce, live stock, and local manufactures, and is carried on chiefly at the ports of Yarmouth and Lynn. The inland commerce, however, through the medium of the Ouse and its associated rivers and canals, is considerable, and embraces a great variety of commodities.
The inland navigation, otherwise than by the Ouse and by dykes in the fens, comprises little more than deep river improvement up the Yare to Norwich, deep river improvement up the Waveney to Beccles, and cuts or deepenings for small craft up to Bungay, to Aylsham, to Heckling Broad, to Weyford Bridge, to Thetford, to Stoke Ferry, and to Castle Acre. A submarine telegraph goes from Cromer to the Continent at Emden, and is connected southward with the lines at Norwich. The Great Eastern railway system, comprehending various local amalgamations, is ramified through much of the county. The main line comes in from Suffolk in the neighbourhood of Diss, and goes north-north-eastward to Norwich, from whence a branch line passes northward by way of Wroxham and North Walsham to Cromer, with a branch passing in a north-westerly direction from Wroxham to a junction near Foulsham; a branch goes from Tivetshall station, first east-south-eastward to Harleston and then east-north-eastward along the Norfolk side of the Waveney to Beccles; a line, coming from Ipswich and going past Beccles, crosses a wing of the county 3f miles wide, on its way to Yarmouth; a branch passes from Beccles northward to a junction near Reedham, from whence lines branch out towards Yarmouth on the E and Norwich towards the W; aline, coming from Lowestoft, crosses the line from Beccles to Yarmouth at St Olave's Junction, and goes north-westward to the junction near Reedham; a line goes from Norwich south-westward to Thetford, passes thence along the S boundary to the W vicinity of Brandon, and departs there on its way to Ely; a long branch goes from the Wymondham station of that line, north-north-westward, past East Dereham and Fakenham, to the coast at Wells; a line goes from a junction at East Dereham, westward to Swaffham, and north-westward thence to Lynn; a line goes from Lynn, north-by-eastward along the Wash to Hunstanton, and thence eastward along the coast to Wells; another line goes from Lynn, south-by-westward past Downham Market and past Ouse Bridge, to proceed to Ely, with a short branch at Denver station to Stoke Ferry; another line goes from Lynn, westward, across the head of the Wash, to proceed to Holbeach and Spalding; and a branch goes from the Watlington station of the Lynn and Ely line, westward to Wisbeach. The Eastern and Midlands line, now known as the Midland and Great Northern Joint railway, enters the county at Walpole St Andrew station on the E, from whence it passes to Lynn. From Lynn it passes in an easterly direction to Fakenham, from whence one line branches out in a north-easterly direction to Cromer, another by way of North Walsham passes in a south-easterly direction to Yarmouth, while a third passes southwards to Norwich. The roads are everywhere plentiful and good.
The administrative county contains 692, the county borough of Norwich one, and the county borough of Great Yarmouth two, entire civil parishes; there are also three civil parishes which are partly in other administrative counties, and one which is partly in the administrative county of Norfolk, and partly in the county borough of Great Yarmouth. The ancient county contains 595 entire ecclesiastical parishes and districts, and parts of thirteen others. It is situated partly in the dioceses of Ely, Lincoln, and Norwich. The county is divided into the hundreds of Blofield, Brothercross, Clack-close, Clavering, Depwade, Diss, Earsham, North Erpingham, South Erpingham, Eynesford, East Flegg, West Flegg, Forehoe, Freebridge Lynn, Freebridge Marshland, Gallow, North Greenhoe, South Greenhoe, Grimshoe, Guiltcross, Hambleyard, Happing, Henstead, Holt, Launditch, Loddon, Mitford, Shropham, Smithdon, Taverham, Tunstead, Walsham, and Wayland, and the boroughs of Kings Lynn, Norwich, Thetford, and part of Yarmouth. The ancient county is divided for parliamentary purposes into the North-western, Southwestern, Northern, Eastern, Mid, and Southern divisions; it also includes the parliamentary boroughs of Kings Lynn and Norwich (city), and part of the borough of Great Yarmouth. For poor-law purposes it is divided into the unions of Aylsham, Blofield, Depwade, Docking, Downham, Erpingham, Freebridge Lynn, Guiltcross, Henstead, Kings Lynn, Loddon and Clavering, Mitford and Launditch, St Faith, Smallburgh, Swaffham, Thetford, Walsingham, and Wayland, and the incorporations of Flegg (East and West), Forehoe, and Norwich. The municipal and parliamentary boroughs are Norwich (city), population 100,970; Great Yarmouth, 49,318; and Kings Lynn, 18,360. Thetford is a municipal borough only, and has a population of 4247. Other towns are Aylsham (population, 2533), Dereham (5524), Diss (8763), Downham Market (3006), Fakenham (2900), Swaffham (3636), North Walsham (3612), Wells-next-the-Sea (2555), Walsoken (2771), and Wymondham (4764). There are about 770 smaller towns, villages, and hamlets.
The chief seats are Sandringham House, Houghton Hall, Raynham Hall, Holkham Hall, Quidenham Hall, Costessey Hall, Gunton Park, Honingham Hall, Kimberley House, Melton Constable, Merton Hall, Blickling Hall, Elmham Hall, Mannington Hall, North Repps Hall, Cranmer Hall, Gissing Hall, Ketteringham Park, Knapton House, Langley Hall, Ormesby House, Oxborough Hall, Rackheath Park, Salhouse Hall, Shadwell Court, West Harling Hall, Hillington Hall, Horstead Hall, Stanfield Hall, Stow Hall, Anmer Hall, Barningham Hall, Bawdeswell Hall, Bayfield Hall, Beeston Hall, Bixley Lodge, Blo-Norton Hall, Bolwick Hall, Booton Hall, Boyland Hall, Brandiston Hall, Bradenham Hall, Brinton Hall, Brooke House, Broome Place, Burgh House, Burlingham Hall, Burnley Hall, Carrow House, Catfield Hall. Catton Hall, Cavick House, Colney Hall, Coltishall Hall, Congham Hall, Congham House, Cromer Hall, Didlington Hall, Ditchingham Hall, Ditchingham House, Dudwick House, Dunham Lodge, Dunston Hall, Earsham Hall, Eccles Hall, Ellingham Hall, Elsing Hall, Felbrigg Hall, Felthorpe Hall, Feltwell Hall, Framingham Hall, Gawdy Hall, Gayton Hall, Gaywood Hall, Gillingham Hall, Gunthorpe Hall, Hackford Hall, Haddiscoe Hall, Hargham Hall, Heacham Hall, Hedenham Hall, Heydon Grange, Hilborough Hall, Hill House, Hockham Hall, Hoe Hall, Holme Hale Hall, Honing Hall, Horsey Hall, Hunstanton Hall, Intwood Hall, Kilverstone Hall, Letheringsett Hall, Letton Hall, Marham House, Melton Hall, Middleton Hall, Morley Hall, Morton Hall, Mount Amelia, Narborough Hall, Narford Hall, Necton Hall, Norwich Palace, Pickenham Hall, Plumstead Hall, Pulham Hall, Quebec House, Rainthorpe Hall, Ranworth Hall, Raveningham Hall, Riddlesworth Hall, Rippon Hall, Rollesby Hall, Rougham Hall, Roydon Hall, Runcton Hall, Ryston Hall. Scole Lodge, Sedgeford Hall, Sheringham Hall, Shottesham Park, Shropham Hall, Snarehill House, Spixworth Hall, Sprowston Lodge, Stanhoe Hall, Stoke Hall, Stradsett Hall, Stratton Strawless Hall, Stratton Manor House, Sunny Hill, Swanton Hall, Swanton House, Tacolneston Hall, Tasburgh Hall, Taverham Hall, Tharston Hall, Thornham Hall, Thorpe Abbotts, Thorpe Lodge, Thurning Hall, Thursford Hall, Wallington Hall, Walsingham Abbey, Wattlefield Hall, Weeting Hall, West Acre High House, West Acre Abbey, West Harling Hall, Weston House, Westwick House, Whitwell Hall, Wiveton Hall, Woodbastwick Hall, Worstead House, Wretham Hall, Wroxham Hall, and Wroxham House.
The county is governed by a lord-lieutenant and custos rotulorum, a high sheriff, and a county council consisting of 19 aldermen and 57 councillors. The council meets at Norwich. Norfolk is in the south-eastern circuit. The county and assize town is Norwich; quarter sessions are held at Norwich, and by adjournment also at Swaffham. The boroughs of Kings Lynn, Norwich (city and county borough), Thetford, and Great Yarmouth (county borough) have separate commissions of the peace, and separate courts of quarter sessions, and the county is divided into twenty-five petty sessional divisions. H.M. Prison, Mousehold Heath, Norwich, was erected in 1887, when the prisoners were transferred from Norwich Castle. The Norfolk County Lunatic Asylum is at Thorpe, near Norwich, and has accommodation for about 800 patients. There is also a naval lunatic asylum at Great Yarmouth.
The territory now forming Norfolk was anciently inhabited by the Cenomanni or Cenimagni tribe of the Iceni, was included by the Romans in their Flavia Cæsariensis, and afterwards formed part of the Saxon kingdom of East Anglia. The Danes made a descent upon it in 870, ravaged it during several succeeding years, made settlements in it, suffered repression by King Alfred, andon their receiving Christian baptism and limiting their residence to the eastern parts were allowed to retain their own chiefs in subordination to the Anglo-Saxon government. But they thirsted for complete mastery, and made a series of revolts to attain it. Ethelred II., in 1002, subjected them to a general massacre. Sweyn, King of Denmark, landed next year on the coast; burned Norwich, Thetford, and other towns; extended his ravages past Norfolk into other parts of England; and, after eleven years of various fortune, acquired complete ascendency, but died before being able to confirm it. His son Canute arrived with fresh forces in 1016, won several battles, wrested from Edmund Ironside first a division of all England, next the entire kingdom, and then committed East Anglia to the care of a Danish earl. Ralph de Guader was made Earl of Norfolk after the Norman Conquest, but he soon took up arms against the Conqueror and was banished for treason, and in 1074 his countess obstinately defended Norwich Castle but eventually surrendered it. The earldom was then given to Hugh Bigod, who had distinguished himself in the Battle of Hastings, it continued in the possession of his descendants till 1307, it was transferred to Thomas Brotherton in 1312, and it became extinct in 1399. A dukedom of Norfolk was created in 1397 in favour of Thomas Mowbray, it was afterwards associated with the title of Earl-Marshal, and it passed through a variety of striking vicissitudes, chiefly in connection with the distinguished family of Howard. The dukedom went speedily from the first duke, who was banished within a few months of his receiving it, and died of grief at Venice; it was held again by John Mowbray, who was beheaded in 1405; it continued with John's son and grandson till 1475; it was transferred in 1477 to Richard, Duke of York, who was murdered in the Tower; and it was held by John Howard, slain on Bosworth Field; by Thomas Howard in 1514; by his son Thomas, attainted in 1546; and by his grandson Thomas, beheaded in 1572. The earldom was recreated in 1644, and the dukedom restored in 1660, in favour of the Howards; and they have ever since ranked as premier earls and dukes, and as hereditary Earls-Marshal, of England.
In the time of William Rufus, Robert Bigod sided with Robert Curthace against the king, and drew considerable devastation upon Norfolk. During the struggle between Prince Henry and his father, Earl Bigod espoused the prince's cause, provoked a march of the king's troops upon Norfolk, and occasioned serious conflicts. In the time of King John, Earl Bigod took part with the barons, and while he and they were engaged in military operations at a distance, John marched across Norfolk with fire and sword, but was well received at Lynn, and thencewith the loss of his baggage crossed the Wash. In John's time, also, Louis the Dauphin captured Norwich Castle and Lynn, plundered the surrounding country, and forcibly levied from it heavy contributions. In 1348-49 a plague, locally called the Black Death, carried off so many as 68,000 persons in Norfolk. In 1381 a Norwich partisan of Wat Tyler's rebellion, with a body of insurgents called the Norfolk Levellers, besieged Norwich, but was defeated by Bishop Spencer. In 1395 great havoc was done by some Danish pirates cruising off the coast. In 1549 two Wymondham tanners of the name of Kett raised a powerful insurrection against the county landowners; committed outrages and made exactions, during several months, throughout the country; formed a camp in the neighbourhood of Lynn; attempted to besiege Yarmouth; were defeated, at the head of about 20,000 insurgents, on Mousehold Heath, near Norwich, by the Earl of Warwick; and were executed, the one on the top of Norwich Castle, the other on the steeple of Wymondham Church. In 1587, after the affair of the Spanish Armada, a progress was made through Norfolk by Queen Elizabeth. During the Civil Wars of Charles I., Norwich, Yarmouth, and other towns were garrisoned with Parliamentarian troops; the entire county declared strongly against the king; and, except for a short period at Lynn, it never anywhere, throughout the struggle, received any marked impression from the royal arms. Subsequent events of any note have been confined to Norwich, Yarmouth, Lynn, Thetford, and some other localities.
Ancient British relics have been found chiefly on what were the shores of the quondam estuaries of the Yare, the Waveney, the Wensum, and the Bure, and they have amounted to merely one or two flint arrow-heads, and a few flint and brass celts. Roman stations were at Tasburgh, Brancaster, Ickburgh, Thetford, and Caistor, and have left at two or three of these places distinct vestiges. Another Roman station, with extensive underground remains, was discovered in 1865, and several more Roman stations, or at least considerable Roman settlements of some kind, are believed to have existed. Roman antiquities of the minor class, including coins, utensils, and other objects, have been found in very great numbers, and in not a few localities. Several Roman roads, or roads so ancient as either to have been adopted by the Romans or to have been ascribed to them, have left traces. One, called the Pye Road, nearly coinciding with the main modern road from Norwich toward Ipswich, commenced at Caistor and left Norfolk in the vicinity of Diss; another, called Peddar Way, went from Holme-next-the-Sea, past Castle Acre, toward Ixworth in Suffolk; another, called by some antiquarians Stone Street, went from Caistor to Bungay, and passed there into Suffolk; another, called Icknield Street, went from Caistor to Thetford, and passed there into Suffolk ; another went from Caistor westward to the lower part of the Ouse and the Nen, and passed into Cambridgeshire; and three others went from Caistor respectively toward the coast near Cromer, toward Brancaster, and toward Whetacre Burgh. Saxon encampments are traceable at Burnham, Deepdale, Earsham, Narborough, South Creake, and Weeting; and two great Saxon earthworks are an eminence at Holkham and a dyke from Beechamwell to Narborough. A very large Danish camp is at Thetford, and a smaller one at Warham; and earthworks, called the Danes' Graves and Grime's Graves, are at Oxborough and Weeting. The very name Norfolk, a corruption of "North folk," is a memorial of Scandinavian occupation, and stands distinguished from Suffolk, a corruption of "South folk," indicating that the trans-marine settlers there came from parts of the Continent southward of those whence came the settlers to Norfolk. Certain features in the local topography also, such as the suffixes thorpe, signifying "a village," by, signifying "a farm " or "a hamlet;" sted, signifying "a place;" toft, signifying "a field;" oe, signifying "an island;" and holm, signifying "an insulated marsh," are memorials of Danish occupation. Remarkably old castles are at Castle Acre, Castle Rising, Elmham, Horsford, Mileham, New Buckenham, Norwich, Weeting, and Wormegay. Interesting old mansions, some of them in ruins, are in Blickling, Boyland, Bixley, Caistor, East Basham, Fincham, Gresham, Heigham, Hunstanton, Ox-borough, Stiffkey, Thorpe, Watlington, Winwall, Wereham, Arminghall, and Merton. Ancient ecclesiastical buildings are very numerous, and possess, aggregately, a vast interest for both the antiquary and the artist. The old churches are principally of flint; and very many of them, either as entire structures or in some of their details, present features strongly attractive to the architect and the sculptor; while no fewer than 120 have round towerssurmounted, in some instances, by late octagonal lanterns. Abbeys which have left remains, though in some instances very slight ones, are at Holrne, Langley, North Creake, Thetford, Wendling, West Dereham, and Wymondham. Priories which have left remains are at Beeston Regis, Binham, Broomholme, Castle Acre, Flitcham, Mendham, Norwich St Leonard, Old Buckenham, Thetford, Walsingham, and Yarmouth; and about twice as many other priories, nine or ten nunneries, twenty-two or twenty-three friaries, three preceptories, thirteen colleges, and forty hospitals and lazar-houses, existed in the Romish times.
According to the Redistribution of Seats Act of 1885, the following are the Parliamentary Divisions of Norfolk, each of which returns one member to the House of Commons:
North-Western Division (population, 51,188) includes the following:Smithdon and BrothercrossBarwick, Bircham (Great), Bircham Newton, Bircham Tofts, Brancaster, Choseley, Docking, Fring, Heacham, Holme-next-the-Sea, Hunstanton, Ingoldisthorpe, Ringstead, Sedgeford, Shernborne, Snettisham, Stanhoe, Thornham, Titchwell, Burnham Deepdale, Burnham Norton, Burnham Overy, Burnham Thorpe, Burnham Sutton, Burnham Westgate, Creake (North), Creake (South), Waterden; Freebridge Lynn Anmer, Ashwicken, Babingley, Bawsey, Bilney (West), Castleacre, Castle Rising, Congham, Dersingham, Flitcham-cum-Appleton, Gayton, Gayton Thorpe, Gaywood, Grimstone, Harpley, Hillington, Leziate, Massingham (Great), Massing-ham (Little), Middleton, Mintlyn, Newton (West), Pentney, Roydon, Runcton (North), Sandringham, Setchey or Setch, Walton (East), Westacre, Winch (East), Winch (West), Woolverton, Wootton (North), Wootton (South); Freebridge MarshlandClenchwarton, Emneth, Lynn (North, St Edmund), Lynn (West, St Peter), Terrington (St Clement), Terrington (St John), Tilney (All Saints), Tilney-cum-Islington, Tilney (St Lawrence), Walpole (St Andrew), Walpole (St Peter), Walsoken, Walton (West), Wiggenhall (St German), Wiggenhall (St Mary Magdalen), Wiggenhall (St Mary the Virgin), Wiggenhall (St Peter); GallowAlethorpe, Bagthorpe, Barmer, Basham (East), Basham (North), Basham (West), Broomsthorpe, Dunton-cum-Doughton, Fakenham, Fulmodestone-with-Croxton, Helhoughton, Hemp-ton, Houghton-in-the-Brake, Kettlestone, Pensthorpe, Pudding Norton, Rainham (East), Rainham (South), Rainham (West), Rudham (East), Rudham (West), Ryburgh (Great), Ryburgh (Little), Sculthorpe, Shereford, Snoring (Little), Stibbard, Syderstone, Tatterford, Tatterset or Gatesend, Testerton, Toftrees; King's Lynn, municipal borough.
South- Western Division (population, 46,560) includes the following: Clackclose Barton Bendish, Bexwell, Boughton, Crimplesham, Denver, Dereham (West), Down-ham Market, Feltwell (part of), Fincham, Fordham, Hilgay, Holme, Marham, Methweld (part of), Outwell, Redmore, Roxham, Runcton (South), Ryston, Shouldham, Shouldham Thorpe, Southery, Stoke Ferry, Stow Bardolph, Stradsett, Tottenhill, Upwell, Wallington-with-Thorpland, Watlington, Welney, Wereham, Wimbotsham, Wormegay, Wretton; Greenhoe (South) Beachamwell, Bodney, Bradenham (East), Bradenham (West), Caldecote, Cockley Cley, Cressingham (Great), Cressingham (Little), Foulden, Gooderstone, Hilborough, Holme Hale, Houghton-on-the-Hill, Narborough, Narford, Necton, Newton, Oxborough, Pickenham (North), Pickenham (South), Shingham, Southacre, Sporle-with-Palgrave, Swaffham; GrimshoeBrandon, Buckenham (Tofts), Colvestone, Cranwich, Croxton, Didlington, Feltwell (St Mary and St Nicholaspart of), Hockwold-cum-Wilton, Igborough, Langford, Lynford, Methwold (part of), Mundford, Northwold, Santon, Stanford, Sturston, Tofts (West), Weeting (All Saints); WayIandAshill, Breckles, Carbrooke, Caston, Ellingham (Little), Griston, Merton, Ovington, Rockland (St Peter), Saham Toney, Scoulton, Stow Bedon, Thompson, Threxton, Tottington, Watton; Thetford, municipal borough (the part in Norfolk).
Northern Division (population, 51,072) includes the following:Erpingham (North)Aldborough, Antingham, Aylmerton, Baconsthorpe, Barningham Norwood, Barningham Winter or Town, Beckham (East), Beckham (West), Beeston Regis, Beasingham, Cromer, Felbrigg, Gresham, Gimingham, Gunton, Hanworth, Knapton, Matlaske, Metton, Mundesley, Northrepps, Overstrand, Plumstead, Roughton, Runton, Sheningham, Sidestrand, Southrepps, Suffield, Sustead, Thorpe Market, Thurgarton, Trimingham, Trunch; Erpingham (Southpart of)Alby, Aylsham, Banningham, Barningham (Little), Blickling, Booton, Brampton, Burgh-next-Aylsham, Buxton, Calthorpe, Cawston, Colby, Corpusty, Erpingham, Hevingham, Heydon, Ingworth, Inningland, Itteringham, Mannington, Marsham, Oulton, Oxmead, Saxthorpe, Skeyton, Stratton, Strawless, Thwaite, Tuttington, Wickmere, Wolterton; EynsfordAlderford, Bawdeswell, Billingford, Bintree, Brandistone, Bylaugh, Elsing, Foulsham, Foxley, Guestwick, Guist, Hackford-next-Reepham, Haveringland, Hindolveston, Lyng, Morton, Reepham and Kerdistone, Ringland, Sail, Sparham, Swannington, Themelthorpe, Thurning, Twyford, Wcston, Whitwell, Witchingham (Great), Witchingham (Little), Wood Dalling, Wood Norton; Greenhoe (North)Barney, Binham, Cockthorpe, Egmere, Field Dalling, Hindringham, Holkham, Houghton-in-the-Dale, Quarles, Snoring (Great), Stiffkey, Thursford, Walsingham (Great), Walsingham (Little), Warham (All Saints), Warham (St Mary), Wells-next-the-Sea, Wighton; HoltBale, Blakeney, Bodham, Briningham, Brinton, Briston, Cley-next-the-Sea, Edgfield, Glanford-with-Bayfield, Gunthorpe, Hempstead, Holt, Hunworth, Kelling, Langham, Letheringsett, Melton, Constable-with-Burgh Parva, Morston, Salthouse, Saxlingham, Sharrington, Stody, Swanton Novers, Thomage, Weybourne, Wiveton.
Eastern Division, (population, 50,693) includes the following:Blofield and WalshamAcle, Beighton, Blofield, Bradeston, Brundall, Buckenham, Burlingham (St Andrew), Buriingham (St Edmund), Burlingham (St Peter), Cantley, Freethorpe, Halvergate, Hassingham, Hemblington, Limpenhoe, Lingwood, Moulton, Plumstead (Great), Plumstead (Little), Postwick, Eanworth-with-Panxworth, Reedham, Southwood, Strumpshaw, Thorpe-next-Norwich, Tunstall, Upton-with-Fishley, Walsham (South, St Lawrence), Walsham (South, St Mary), Wickhampton, Witton, Woodbastwick; East and West FleggAshby-with-Oby, Billockby, Burgh (St Margaret), Caister-next-Yarmouth, Clippesby, Filby, Hemsby, Martham, Mautby, Ormesby (St Margaret)-with-Scratby, Ormesby (St Michael), Repps-with-Bastwick, Rollesby, Runham, Somerton (East), Somerton (West), Stokesby-with-Herringby, Thrigby, Thirne, Winterton; Hap-ping and TunsteadAshmanhaugh, Bacton, Barton Turf, Beeston (St Lawrence), Bradfield, Brumstead, Catfield, Crost-wight, Dilham, Edingthorpe, Felmingham, Happisburgh, Hempstead-with-Eccles, Hickling, Honing, Horning, Horsey, Hoveton (St John), Hoveton (St Peter), Ingham, Irstead, Lessingham, Ludham, Neatishead, Palling, Paston, Potter Heigham, Ridlington, Ruston (East), Sco Ruston, Sloley, Smallburgh, Stalham, Sutton, Swafield, Tunstead, Walcott, Walsham (North), Waxham, Westwick, Witton, Worstead; TaverhamAttlebridge, Beeston (St Andrew), Catton, Crostwick, Drayton, Felthorpe, Frettenham, Hainford, Hellesdon, Hosham (St Faith's) and Newton (St Faith's), Horsford, Horstead-with-Stanninghall, Rackheath, Salhouse, Spixworth, Sprowston, Taverham, Wroxham; Erpingham (Southpart of)Belaugb, Coltishall, Hautbois (Great), Lammas-with-Little Hautbois, Scottow, Swanton Abbott; Great Yarmouth, municipal borough (the part in Norfolk).
Mid Division (population, 49,612) includes the following : Forehoe Barford, Barnham Broom, Bawburgh, Bowthorpe, Brandon Parva, Carleton Forehoe, Colton, Costessey, Coston, Crownthorpe, Deopham, Easton, Hackford, Hingham, Honingham, Kimberley, Marlingford, Morley (St Botolph), Morley (St Peter), Runhall, Welborne, Wicklewood, Wramplingham, Wymondham; Guiltcross and ShrophamAttleborough, Banham, Besthorpe, Blo Norton, Brettenham, Bridgham, Buckenham (New), Buckenham (Old), Eccles, Ellingham (Great), Garboldisham, Gasthorpe, Hargham, Harling (East), Harling (West), Hockham, Illington, Kenninghall, Kilverstone, Larling, Lopham (North), Lopham (South), Quiddenham, Riddlesworth, Rockland (All Saints), Rockland (St Andrew), Roudham, Rushford, Shropham, Snarehill (Great and Little), Snetterton, Wilby, Wretham (East), Wretham (West); Mitford and Launditch Beeston-with-Bittering, Beetley, Bilney (East), Brisley, Colkirk, Cranworth, Dereham (East), Dunham (Great), Dunham (Little), Elmham (North), Fransham (Great), Fransham (Little), Garvestone, Gateley, Gressenhall, Hardingham, Hockering, Hoe, Homingtoft, Kempstone, Letton, Lexham (East), Lexham (West), Litcham, Longham, Mattishall, Mattishall Bergh, Mileham, Oxwick-with-Pattesley, Reymerstone, Rougham, Seaming, Shipdham, Southbergh, Stanfield, Swanton Morley, Thuxton, Tittleshall, Tuddenham (East), Tuddenham (North), Weasenham (All Saints), Weasenham (St Peter), Wellingham. Wendling, Westfield, Whinbergh, Whissonsett, Woodrising, Worthing, Yaxham.
Southern Division (population, 49,723) includes the following:Clavering and LoddonAldeby, Alpington, Ashby, Bedingham, Bergh Apton, Brooke, Broome, Burgh (St Peter), Carleton (St Peter), Chedgrave, Claxton, Ditchingham, Ellingham, Geldestone, Gillingham (All Saints and St Mary), Haddiscoe, Hales, Hardley, Heckingham, Hedenham, Hellington, Howe, Kirby Cane, Kirstead, Langley, Loddon, Mundham, Norton Subcourse, Raveningham, Seething, Sisland, Stockton, Thorpe-next-Haddiscoe, Thurlton, Thurton, Thwaite, Toft Monks, Topcroft, Wheatacre (All Saints), Woodton, Yelverton; DepwadeAshwellthorpe, Aslacton, Bunwell, Carleton Rode, Forncett (St Mary), Forncett (St Peter), Fritton, Fundenhall, Hapton, Hardwick, Hempnall, Morningthorpe, Moulton, Shelton, Stratton (St Mary), Stratton (St Michael), Tacolnestone, Tasburgh, Tharston, Tibenham, Wacton; DissBressingham, Burston, Dickleburgh, Diss, Fersfield, Giasing, Roydon, Scole-with-Frenze and Thorpe Parva, Shelfanger, Shimpling, Thelveton, Tivetshall (St Margaret), Tivetshall (St Mary), Winfarthing; EarshamAldburgh, Billingford, Brockdish, Denton, Earsham, Mendham, Needham, Pulham (St Mary the Virgin), Pulham (St Mary Magdalen); SwainsthorpeArminghall, Bixley, Bracon Ash, Bramerton, Caistor (St Edmund), Carleton (East), Colney, Cringleford, Dunston, Flordon, .Framingham Earl, Framingham Pigot, Hethel, Hethersett, Holverstone, Intwood, Keswick, Ketteringham, Kirby Bedon, Markshall or Mattishall Heath, Melton (Great), Melton (Little), Mulbarton, Newton Flotman, Poringland (Great and Little), Rockland (St Mary), Saxlingham Nethergate, Saxlingham Thorpe, Shottesham (All Saints), Shottesham (St Mary and St Martin), Stoke Holy Cross, Surlingham, Swainsthorpe, Swardeston, Trowes-with-Newton, Witlingham, Wreningham.
Archives and Libraries
We have a database containing transcripts of marriage records for some parishes in Norfolk.
Ancestry.co.uk, in association with Norfolk Record Office, have images of the Parish Registers for Norfolk online.
For general information about Civil Registration (births, marriages and deaths) see the Civil Registration page.
List of Registration Districts in Norfolk from 1837 to 1974.
Directories & Gazetteers
The Historical Directories web site have a number of directories relating to Norfolk online, including:
Kelly's, Pigot, Slater, etc.
We have transcribed the entry for Norfolk from the following:
- Samuel Lewis' A Topographical Dictionary of England, by Samuel Lewis, seventh edition, published 1858. (Norfolk)
- Kelly's Directory of Norfolk, 1912
Old map of Norfolk circa 1848 (Samuel Lewis)
Old map of Norfolk circa 1895 (Gazetteer of England and Wales)
Newspapers and Periodicals
The British Newspaper Archive have fully searchable digitised copies of the following Norfolk newspapers online:
- Norwich Mercury
- Norfolk Chronicle
- Diss Express
- Thetford & Watton Times and People's Weekly Journal
- Norfolk News
Parishes & places
The population of Norfolk was in 1801, 273,479; in 1811, 291,947; in 1821, 344,368; in 1831, 390,654; in 1841, 412,664; in 1851, 442,714; in 1861, 434,798; in 1871, 438,656; in 1881, 444,749; in 1891, 468,287; and in 1901, 476,553, of which the males were 228,429, females, 248,124.
The population in 1911 of the county and county boroughs of Norwich and Great Yarmouth was 499,116, viz.:-Males, 241,159; females, 257,957.
The Visitations of Norfolk 1563, 1589, and 1613 is available on the Heraldry page.