A visitors guide to Wymondham the largest
town in South Norfolk, a handsome historic thriving market town dominated
by the massive towers of its Abbey Church.
For three centuries Wymondham was noted for its wood turning trade then
for its craftsmen making satin and bombazine. Many of its buildings are of
architectural and historic interest and date from the 1600s, the result of
a great fire, which destroyed much of the town in 1615. The town has a
monthly farmers' markets a weekly Friday market as well as a good range of
shops, cafes, places to eat and stay. Annual events include Fun Day, Music
Festival, Riverside Jazz Picnic and Dickensian Evening.
Of interest in the town is Bridewell prison
dating from 1785 and built using the ideas of John Howard the prison
reformer who advocated for separate cells for the prisoners. Becket's
Chapel founded in 1174 by the son of the founder of the Abbey. It has
had many uses during its lifetime - a guild chapel, a grammar school and
in the early 1800s a coal store, then the towns lock up. It now houses
the town's library. Visit the Wymondham Heritage Centre, which contains
many exhibits that trace the history of this ancient market town.
The award-winning Railway Station - built
in 1845, situated on the main Norwich to Cambridge railway line, has
been fully restored and houses a railway museum, Hornby railway
collection, gift shop, restaurant and tea room.
The mid-Norfolk Railway which re-opened
in 1999 is an eleven mile single line that runs through the countryside
past unchanged village stations all the way to Dereham
The timber octagonal Market Cross houses the town's Tourist Information
Centre and dates from the late 13th century. Though the present building
is said to date from 1618. The oldest inn in the town is the Green
Dragon dating from the late fifteenth century with Tudor shop windows at
the front. In 1622 the town had thirty three inns and taverns most of
which have now closed. However, they are still recognisable by their
names and frontages.
The magnificent Abbey was founded in 1107 by William d'Albini, Chief
Butler to Henry I as a Priory. Its massive bell towers one at each end
preside over the skyline. The building we see today is only about half
the size of the abbey before its dissolution. The interior is Norman
with a wonderful hammer beam roof complete with carved angels. Amongst
its colourful history is the story of monks who used a secret
underground passage to visit the local inn
Wymondham is well-served by public transport, with regular bus services
and trains to Norwich,
Cambridge and London.
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