Cromer (St. Peter and St. Paul)

CROMER (St. Peter and St. Paul), a parish, and formerly a market-town, in the union of Erpingham, hundred of North Erpingham, E. division of Norfolk, 21 miles (N.) from Norwich, and 130 (N. N. E.) from London: containing 1240 inhabitants. This place, originally of much greater extent, included the town of Shipden, which, with its church and a considerable number of houses, forming a parish, was destroyed by an inundation of the sea in the reign of Henry IV. Of the numerous ravages of the ocean the last occurred in 1837, when a large portion of the cliffs and houses of Cromer, with part of the jetty was washed away. In 1838, on the eastern side, a groin about 150 yards in length was laid down, running out from the cliff to the north, and which, aided by a sea-wall there erected, it is expected will prevent the recurrence of a similar catastrophe in that quarter; the security of the cliffs immediately below the town was provided for by a breast-work of stone and flint, with winding approaches to the beach and jetty. An act for the erection of other works, was passed in 1845.

The town commands a fine view of Cromer bay, which, from its dangerous navigation, is by seamen called the "Devil's Throat." It was formerly inhabited only by a few fishermen, but, from the excellence of its beach, the salubrity of its air, and the beauty of its scenery, it has become a bathing-place of some celebrity; many of the houses are badly built and of mean appearance, but those near the sea are commodious and pleasant, and there are several respectable lodging-houses and inns for visiters. The town has a circulating library and a subscription news-room; and a regatta is occasionally celebrated. Attempts have often been made to construct a pier, but the works have invariably been carried away by the sea: the jetty of wood, about 70 yards long, erected in 1822, forms an attractive promenade, as well as the fine beach at low water, which, on account of the firmness of the sand, and its smooth surface, affords also an excellent drive for several miles. Cromer is within the limits of the jurisdiction of the port of Cley: vessels of from 60 to 100 tons' burthen discharge their cargoes of coal and timber on the beach, and there are 18 large vessels and 20 herring-boats belonging to the place, besides about 40 boats employed in the taking of lobsters and crabs, which are abundant and of superior flavour. A fair, chiefly for toys, is held on Whit-Monday. The county magistrates hold a meeting every alternate Monday. The living is a discharged vicarage, valued in the king's books at £9. 4. 9.; patron and appropriator, the Bishop of Ely. The church was built in the reign of Henry IV., and was in ruins from the time of Cromwell till about 50 years ago, when it was newly roofed and repaired: it is a handsome structure of freestone and flint, in the later English style, with a lofty embattled tower; and the western entrance, the north porches, and the chancel, though much dilapidated, are fine specimens. There is a place of worship for Wesleyans. A free grammar school was endowed in 1505 by Sir Bartholomew Read, and further by the Goldsmiths' Company in 1821; but no application being made for classical instruction, it was remodelled by the company on the national plan. Roger Bacon, a mariner of Cromer, is said to have discovered Iceland in the reign of Henry IV.

Transcribed from A Topographical Dictionary of England, by Samuel Lewis, 7th edition, published in 1848.