Holiday Cottages near North Walsham
North Walsham is an attractive market town, just seven and a half miles from Happisburgh. Every Thursday, and on the last Sunday of each month, North Walsham becomes a hive of activity, as town residents, holiday makers, and residents of neighbouring towns make a beeline for the busy, picturesque market place. This vibrant little town, packed with history, is well worth a visit.
In the Domesday survey of 1086, North Walsham was cited as a large settlement of 71 households; two hundred years later, as a result of its flourishing weaving industry, the town was still growing in prosperity and importance. Immigrant Flemish weavers had settled in North Walsham – and neighbouring town, Worstead – bringing with them their weaving trade, and establishing these Norfolk towns as leaders in the industry. Worsted cloth takes its name from Worstead, and North Walsham was the name’s sake of the light-weight Walsham cloth, rarely heard of nowadays.
On June 25 1381, North Walsham played host to the last major battle in the famous Peasants’ Revolt. Geoffrey Litster, a dyer from nearby Felmingham, about four miles from North Walsham, led this battle, but the peasants were overpowered by the armed forces of the Bishop of Norwich, Henry le Despenser; according to some accounts, there was heavy bloodshed in the parish church, where the defeated rebels had taken refuge. Geoffrey Litster was executed (hung, drawn, and quartered) at Bryant’s Heath; according to the 15th century historian, John Capgrave, from Bishop’s Lynn (now King’s Lynn), the kind-hearted Bishop of Norwich was good enough to support Litster’s head as he was dragged to the hanging, “lest it should be bruised by the ground.”
The Battle of North Walsham is commemorated by a mosaic, depicting the Peasants’ Revolt, in North Walsham’s town sign, and also by three stone crosses – one by the town’s water towers, one on Toff’s Loke (off Norwich Road), and the third on private land.
North Walsham’s parish church of St Nicholas began life in 1330, dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary. The town was expanding, on the back of its successful weaving industry, and the existing Saxon church just didn’t meet the needs of this fast-growing community. Interrupted by two attacks of the Black Death plague, and then the Battle of North Walsham, construction was not completed until the end of the 14th century, when it was consecrated by Bishop le Despenser. After the English Reformation, the Church of the Blessed Virgin Mary became the Church of St Nicholas.
St Nicholas’s tower, originally one of the tallest in the locality – second only, in fact, to that of Norwich Cathedral – is now quite a well-known landmark by virtue of its state of ruin. One Saturday morning in May 1724, the steeple, having suffered the vibrations of a long session of bell-ringing for the Feast of Ascension Fair, collapsed. Fortunately (as Vicar Thomas Jeffery logged in his journal), the event took place without anyone “getting any mischief thereby”.
Although North Walsham is not the flattest of Norfolk towns, it’s still very accessible to those with limited mobility. When you’re staying at Boundary Stables, we heartily recommend a visit.
At Boundary Stables, we extend a warm welcome to dogs. But to all those holiday-making dogs out there – don’t forget to bring your humans!