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Swaffham, Norfolk

Historical Description

Swaffham, a market and union town and a parish, the head of a county court district, and a seat of petty sessions in Norfolk. The town stands on a rising-ground amidst pleasant surroundings, 210 feet above sea-level. It is 12 miles W from Dereham, 14¼ SE from Lynn, and 96 by road and 113 by rail from London. It has a station on the Lynn and Dereham section of the G.E.R., a junction for the Thetford and Bury line, and a head post office. The town is not incorporated, but is governed by an urban district council of thirteen members. The water supply is obtained from a well 180 feet deep. The Corn Hall, which stands in the marketplace, is a fine substantial building, erected in 1858. A hexagonal temple, surmounted by a cupola, stands in the market-place as a monument to Sir Win. Bagge, Bart., M.P. 1837-57, inclosing bis statue, and furnished with a drinking iountain. Fairs are held the second Wednesday in May, the third Wednesday in July, and the first Wednesday in November for cattle, sheep, and horses. There are two banks, and iron-founding is carried on. A common of 2370 acres formerly existed, but this was inclosed in 1868 under the direction of the Inclosure Commissioners. The manor and much of the land belong to the Hamond family. The living is a vicarage in the diocese of Norwich; gross value, £411 with residence, in the gift of the Bishop of Norwich. The church, which was restored in 1853, 1877, 1888-89, and 1893, is an ancient cruciform building of flint chiefly in the Perpendicular style, consisting of chancel, nave, aisles, transepts, S porch, and an embattled western tower, surmounted by a spire. It has many interesting architectural features, a magnificent carved roof of Spanish chestnut, several ancient monuments, some armour, and a library of valuable books. Here are the legend and ancient carvings of John Chapman, the Swaffham pedlar. There is a church mission room at the North Pool, and in the town there are Baptist, Primitive Methodist, and Wesleyan chapels, and a Salvation Army barracks. The town possesses several valuable charities, which are divided between the poor, the church, and town improvements, and there are a cottage hospital which is maintained by voluntary contributions, and an endowed school. The workhouse, which stands in the Watton Road outside the town, is a building of brick, erected in 1836, with a detached infirmary. It can accommodate 300 inmates. The parish comprises 7592 acres; population, 3636.

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 parishSwaffham St. Peter and St. Paul 
HundredSouth Greenhoe 
Poor Law unionSwaffham 

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 Swaffham:


Directories & Gazetteers

We have transcribed the entry for Swaffham from the following:


Online maps of Swaffham are available from a number of sites:

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.

Postal districtPE37
Post TownSwaffham