Wymondham is an attractive market town with a long and interesting history. Mentioned in the Domesday Book, it can be traced back to Saxon times. During the Norman period a Benedictine Priory (circa 1107) was established in the river meadows. The site was later granted Abbey status in 1448. The town grew up around the monastic buildings and during the medieval period great wealth was made from the wool trade - which remained active here right up until the early 1980s. The town's narrow winding medieval street pattern is still extant today.
The attractive town centre has a good range of independent stores and specialty shops selling antiques, bric-a-brac and craft goods. Monthly farmers markets are held near the old Market Cross, offering local produce, along with weekly street markets. The Market Cross is late 16th century and originally stood in front of a fine market hall, which unfortunately burnt down.
Wymondham Abbey originally dedicated to the Virgin Mary and St Alban was later rededicated to St. Mary and St. Thomas. After the dissolution in 1538 the Abbey Church was saved and gifted to the people. The church stands in extensive grounds near the river, along with the ruins of other monastery buildings. Regular Sunday and weekday services are held, see website for details.
The monastery church, Beckett's Chapel, (founded in 1174) became a Guild Chapel during the Middle Ages. It fell into disrepair following the dissolution and was later rebuilt and converted to a grammar school, and then a library. It is now the town's arts centre.
Wymondham's historic Victorian railway station was constructed in 1845 as part of the Norwich to Ely line. The station still provides a link with Norwich, London and Cambridge, and has been restored to its original condition.
One of the towns most famous inhabitants was Robert Kett who led a rebellion in 1549, when peasants and farmers were in protest concerning the enclosure of common land. The rebellion was eventually put down and Robert was hanged in Norwich Castle, with his brother William. The tree at Kett's Oak is believed to be a key meeting point for the Rebellion.
The River Tiffany runs just to the south of the town, through a number of pleasant nature reserves and attractive open spaces, which together form a beautiful green corridor. Herons and kingfishers can often be spotted along its picturesque riverside trails.
Wymondham is host to a number of annual events including a popular music festival, a riverside jazz picnic, a literary festival and a Christmas fair.
The bridwell or house of correction has been on this site since 1619. The current building was constructed as a prison in 1785 under the prison Reform Act. The building now houses a museum that tells the story of the Bridwell with displays of local history.
Opening times: March
to November, daily 10am to 4 pm (Sun 1pm to 4pm) - Admission
Location: The Bridewell, Norwich Rd, Wymondham NR18 0NS
Tel: 01953 600205
East Anglia's longest heritage railway extends some 11 miles through the lovely Norfolk countryside to the market town of Dereham. Run entirely by volunteers, it operates heritage steam and diesel services at weekends and other days. A tea room, shop and a small Museum are situated in the headquarters at Dereham. Regular events are run throughout the season, including Santa Specials.
Opening times: see
website for train times
Location: Abbey Halt, Cavick Road / Becketswell Road, Wymondham, NR18 9PH
Tel: 01362 851723 (Dereham Station)
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