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East Dereham, Norfolk

Historical Description

Dereham, East, a market-town and a parish in Norfolk. The town stands on a rivulet between two branches of the Wensum, 16 miles W by N from Norwich, and it has a junction station for the Lynn branch of the G.E.R. It was a seat of the East Anglian kings, and it suffered severely from fire in 1581 and 1679, and from plague in 1646. A nunnery was founded at it about 570 by Withburga, daughter of King Anna, destroyed by the Danes, and refounded as an abbey. The present parish church was the church of the abbey; is a large cruciform structure with a central tower; has Norman parts and various forms of columns; includes four chapels and a singular porch; and contains a large, rich figured font of 1468, a curiously worked ancient chest, brought from the ruins of Buckenham Castle, a monument to the poet Cowper, who died in the town and was buried here, and tablets to Cowper's friends, Mrs Unwin and Miss Perowne. A Norman arch over St Withburga's Well, and a large tower of the time of Henry VII., called the New docker, are in the churchyard. There is also a mission cimrch erected in 1880. and there are Baptist, Congregational, Primitive Methodist, and Wesleyan chapels. The Congregational chapel is called the Cowper Memorial Church, and is built on the site of the house in which he died. The town is sometimes called Market-Dereham, and it is a seat of petty sessions. It is one of the handsomest towns in Norfolk, has undergone much recent improvement, and is especially busy on market days. The assembly room in the market-place was built about 1755. The corn exchange was built in 1856, and cost upwards of £3000. The town has a head post office, which is located in a fine red brick building with an illuminated clock. It has four banks, some manufactories of agricultural steam engines and implements, iron foundries, a shoe factory, breweries and maltings, coach works and sawmills. A weekly market for cattle, corn, and provisions is held on Friday, and there are fairs on the Thursdays before 6 July and 29 Sept. The parish includes the hamlets of Dillington, Dumpling Green, Etiing Green, North Hall Green, South Green, and Toftwood. Acreage, 5313; population of the civil parish, 5524; of the ecclesiastical, 5709. Quebec House, a Gothic mansion erected in 1759, is a chief residence. The living is a vicarage, with the vicarage of Hoe annexed, in the diocese of Norwich; joint net yearly value, £380, in the gift of the Lord Chancellor. The charities amount to about £400 a year, and there are 84 acres of fuel allotment.

Transcribed from The Comprehensive Gazetteer of England & Wales, 1894-5


The following is a list of the administrative units in which this place was either wholly or partly included.

Ancient CountyNorfolk 
Ecclesiastical parishEast Dereham St. Nicholas 
Poor Law unionMitford and Launditch 

Any dates in this table should be used as a guide only.

Church Records, in association with Norfolk Record Office, have images of the Parish Registers for Norfolk online.

Findmypast, in conjunction with Norfolk Record Office have the following parish records online for East Dereham:


Civil Registration

For general information about Civil Registration (births, marriages and deaths) see the Civil Registration page.

Directories & Gazetteers

We have transcribed the entry for East Dereham from the following:

Newspapers and Periodicals

The British Newspaper Archive have fully searchable digitised copies of the following Norfolk newspapers online:

Visitations Heraldic

The Visitations of Norfolk 1563, 1589, and 1613 is available on the Heraldry page.