Elmham, North (St. Mary)

ELMHAM, NORTH (St. Mary), a parish, in the union of Mitford and Launditch, hundred of Launditch, W. division of Norfolk, 5¼ miles (N.) from East Dereham; containing 1219 inhabitants. On the division of the kingdom of the East Angles, which from its first conversion by Felix had been under one bishop, into two dioceses, about the year 673, one of the episcopal seats was fixed at Dunwich, and the other in this ancient town, which had a succession of ten bishops, till the martyrdom of Humbert by the Danes in 870. The sees were again united about 950, and the episcopal chair transferred to Thetford in 1075. Herbert, first bishop of Norwich, rebuilt the parish church, but the present seems to be of later date: from the altar ran a subterranean passage to a palace, situated on a neighbouring hill, and which Bishop Spencer, in the turbulent reign of Richard II., converted into a castle, and surrounded with a double intrenchment, the inner moat inclosing the keep; the moats remain, and there are some vestiges of the keep. The parish comprises 4623a. 2r., of which 2826 acres are arable, 1493 pasture, and 286 woodland and plantations; the village is pleasantly situated on the west bank of the river Wensum, and is spacious and well built. Petty-sessions are held on the first Wednesday in every alternate month; and fairs for cattle, sheep, and swine, on the 6th of April. The living is a discharged vicarage, valued in the king's books at £13. 15.; patron and impropriator, Lord Sondes: the great tithes have been commuted for £377. 7. 6., and the vicarial for £462, and the glebe comprises 16½ acres. The church is a cruciform structure, with a lofty tower surmounted by a slender spire, and is chiefly in the decorated and later English styles; remains exist of a beautiful screen, on the lower compartments of which are representations of saints, &c. There is a place of worship for Independents; also a school in union with the National Society, endowed with 13 acres of land. Various Roman urns, coins, and other relics, have been found.

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

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