Wander through Wymondham and you you could be forgiven for thinking that it's always been a quiet little place where nothing has ever happened. You'd be wrong of course.
I've written before about Robert Kett and how he led a rebellion against the wealthy landowners of these parts. How he and his followers took over the City of Norwich, only to be defeated by an army of mercenaries hired by the king. Kett was hanged from the battlements of Norwich Castle, but his brother was brought back to Wymondham and hanged from the Abbey tower as a warning to the town to mind its ways in the future. Kett is remembered on the town sign.
In the centre of the town stands this rather strange-looking octagonal building which is known as the Market Cross. King John issued a charter proclaiming the market in 1204 though it may have been in existence before that date. This building dates from 1617 and cost £16 7s 0d, money which had to be borrowed from a prominent citizen.
The reason the Market Cross had to be rebuilt in 1617 was because, in 1615, the previous building had been burned down along with a large part of the town. Such fires were not uncommon in the days of open fireplaces, candles and oil lamps, straw mattresses, rush matting, wooden beams, thatched roofs.....It's a wonder it didn't happen more often!
But this fire was no accident and three gypsies and a local woman, all of whom held a grudge against the town, were arrested, found guilty and hanged for the crime. Some buildings such as the Green Dragon pub (below), which dates from the late fifteenth century, survived the inferno.
Like many towns in this part of the world Wymondham relied on the wool-trade for its wealth and when the market for wool went through one of its periodic troughs in the nineteenth century the town hit very hard times. The number of hand looms in the town fell from over 600 in 1836 to about 60 in 1845. The town did not recover which is why the buildings of that era still stand today.
There were also other industries associated with Wymondham in the past, particularly the making of small wooden objects such as spoons. This is commemorated on the reverse of the town sign and in the name of the nearby settlement of Spooner Row. On top of the sign, incidentally, is a monk behind whom is a representation of the Abbey as it must have looked before its east end was destroyed.
However it's not a town that has been completely by-passed by the modern world. Just down the road is the headquarters of Lotus sports and racing cars, all of which are well out of my price range. I'll take the train!
Gee, hanging seems to have been a popular pastime back then. I like the red and blue door photo.ReplyDelete
Not only that but a top spectator sport too!Delete
Definitely not a quiet history! It's oddly comforting to know the town has not been completely bypassed in our modern day, I enjoyed the vivid door photo too, but enjoyed them all really.ReplyDelete
They must get a lot of tourists in season, as well as film crews.ReplyDelete
Seldom overrun with tourists, Jim; there are many small market towns like this but most tourists only go to the bigger cities - London, York, Oxford, Cambridge. Though as you'll see from the comment below the more discerning visitor might venture here.Delete
It hasn't changed one little bit, just how I remember it from the late 1980s though of course it's the abbey that is stuck in my brain. I didn't recall all the details though, so thanks for the wonderful history lesson. And yes, I always wonder how buildings didn't burn down every other day...ReplyDelete
Charming town and interesting history too. I guess we should be glad that the town fell on hard times so that many of the buildings have remained the same for so many years. I love the street scenes.ReplyDelete
the market cross building is indeed unusual. It is always awe inspiring to see the dates you relate to certain buildings; the history is amazing.ReplyDelete
I love looking at these photos of a place I know I will never get to see. Such a colorful and charming place, even with a bit of grim history. The winding streets and old buildings have so many stories to tell. What a lovely place to visit.ReplyDelete
Beautiful looking city.ReplyDelete
If it wasn't for the photo with the train it does certainly look like time has stood still in Wymondham.ReplyDelete
I'm a sucker for alliteration, but not such a sucker as to think nothing much ever happens in quiet country towns!! The Market Cross is amazing, but the RED door takes my vote, as anything red usually does!!ReplyDelete
Thanks to everyone who has taken the time to comment. I love to hear from you.ReplyDelete
Much more fun to take the train than brave the roads. A delightful town, I don't precisely know she but the old pub reminds me of Georgette Hayer's novels, don't laugh, I am a devoted fan. I love her humour and use of language as well as development of plot.ReplyDelete
I do hope the current storms have not impacted too drastically on your part of England. We were travelling in the Cotswolds and Wales just after a great storm had toppled so many ancient trees, it was a devastating sight.
Just because someone sells lots of books it doesn't make them a bad writer! Read what you enjoy; I certainly do. The "storm" here lasted about fifteen minutes! Mind you it did bring a few trees crashing down. The real damage was done along the east coast by a storm surge coupled with a high tide.Delete
It amazes me that so much of Old England still remains. I could barely move because everything seemed worthy of my attention--so much to see and learn. Your photos and narrative capture it well.ReplyDelete
I’ll put Wymondham on my place-to-go list if/when I travel to England and will definitely go there by train.ReplyDelete
Can't say I've ever heard of Wymondham before. My lose it seems. It looks an interesting and picturesque town with a grand abbey. I'll certainly be watching out for it on signposts as I wander about now. How many more places have I not heard of?ReplyDelete
I have a tattoo of the cross. Great place to grow up.ReplyDelete