A dominant feature on the North Walsham skyline is the ruined tower of the Parish Church. Dedicated to St. Nicholas it is a large church for which the proper technical description is hall church. Over the centuries many changes have taken place both outside and inside the church. Repairs would be carried out and alterations made to meet changes in the form of worship although the tower, which partly collapsed in 1724 and again in 1835, has never been reinstated.
From 1799 - 1800 a Mr. T. Shepherd and a Mr. C. Neave were churchwardens and in that year the wall of the churchyard, adjoining the Vicarage was raised: this work cost the parish £7. 3s.6d. The church itself, however, seems to have fallen into a bad state of repair, for early in the 19th century it was recorded that the roof leaked badly allowing water to run down the interior walls, which, in turn caused green moss to grow on them. Other repairs and improvements were also necessary internally, some form of heating was required and the organ needed repairing.
The principal maintenance and repairs to the church were usually borne by the parishioners in the form of a church rate; in addition donations and subscriptions were relied upon. The duties of the churchwardens, who were elected annually at the Easter Vestry Meeting, included the collection of the church rate. This was a compulsory rate paid by each household, regardless of whether they belonged to the Church of England or not. The rate was, understandably, resented by Nonconformists, who were forced to pay towards the maintenance of a church to which they did not belong. The amount of rate was set each year and the sum depended upon the running costs of the church and what maintenance work needed to be done. The sum paid by householders was based upon the annual rental value of the home, thus better-off families, living in larger houses, paid more in church rates than poorer families.
In 1817 - 1818 fairly extensive alterations and repairs were undertaken. A higher than usual rate of 6d. in the £ was set to pay towards the cost of the work (the church rate, between 1801 and 1817, had varied between l^d and 3d., except in 1810 when it was 6d in the £). A Faculty was applied for from the Bishop of Norwich and details of work to be done were submitted together with payment of £10.13s.9d for the Faculty. The main task was to enlarge the 'singing gallery', on both the north and south sides. Several local firms were involved in the work who agreed to carry this out 'in a workmanlike manner'. The gallery was paved, pews were removed and new ones installed. Most of those in the North gallery were offered for sale at between £5 and £6.10s each. Messrs. W. Reilly, J. Lacey and J. Mace agreed to pave the extra space now obtained in the gallery, remove the remaining pews and make new ones without any charge to the Parish on condition that they could sell the old pews for their own benefit. This agreement seems to have been earned out.
Entering the church today one may wonder exactly where the gallery was positioned. It was situated in the west end of the church and comprised a raised platform, about nineteen inches from the ground running across the church. A curtain separated it from the baptistry and the vestry on the north side. There were small seats at the front and larger seats at the rear, with a centre aisle reached by three small steps between the church wardens' pews, one of which is now on the north side. The three steps on the south side led to the baptistry with small steps at the back to reach the bell ropes. After several years of discussion the gallery was removed round about 1950 when a new heating system was installed in the church.
St Nicholas Parish Church, North Walsham (J. B. Ladbroke, c1823) Colman Collection N.L.S.L.
In the past the majority of pews were rented by particular families and in the early 19th century, these were frequently box pews. It is very likely that a number of the pews were box pews in North Walsham church at this time. According to the incumbent, the Rev. W. F. Wilkinson, the private pews were floored in wood and the free sittings in brick. In the 1840's there were about 300 free sittings, which, it seems, were insufficient for the number of poor in the town. These pews were almost certainly benches and situated in a less convenient position, probably with a restricted view of the pulpit. Alterations carried out in 1844 increased the number of free sittings. The pulpit was moved to a more central situation by the north pillar, between the nave and the chancel and the pews re-arranged so that most of the congregation could both see and hear the sermon being preached. There was, in the Victorian period, a greater emphasis on preaching; sermons became longer and singing also played a more important role in the service. The vicar recorded that there was an organ in the church and that there was 'tolerably good singing' by the congregation. Other work carried out included restoration of the screen and ornamental work in the church; the galleries were painted and grained for the first time and other paintwork was renewed.
The Gallery in North Walsham Church.
Two significant features of the church were revealed when the alterations were carried out. A case, which had surrounded the pulpit was removed, showing it to be beautifully carved and the finely painted screen was fully displayed having previously been hidden by pews.
Money for the work was again raised from the church rates (on this occasion it was set at only 2d. in the £) and from donations. The Norfolk Chronicle advertised:-
Will be preached in the Parish Church of North Walsham
on Sunday Morning November 17th 1844, by the Right
Reverend the Lord Bishop of Norwich.
After which a Collection will be taken in aid of
the Fund for the Repairs and more Commodious
Arrangements of the Pews.
N. B. Divine Service will commence at 11 o'clock.
The amount collected on this occasion amounted to £28.13s.3d.
Following these alterations there were 470 free sittings and 686 'others' thus there seems to have been ample room for the congregation which regularly attended the church. According to the Curate's report the average attendance in 1850 - 1851 was 300 at the 11 a.m. Sunday service and 450 at the 2.30 (or 3 o'clock ) afternoon service. On Sunday the 30th March 1851, when the Religious Census was taken, 275 attended morning service and 413 the afternoon service. As might be expected, the congregation was said to be much larger during the summer months than in the winter.
Gifts were sometimes presented to the Church. A Mr. W. Foster of Aylsham gave a communion table of carved oak, with an embroidered velvet cover and gas standard lamps in 1874. (His connection with the church is not known). It was also in 1874 that Mrs. Martin Shepheard paid for a new roof for the chancel in English oak covered with lead costing £510 in memory of her husband, the late lay proprietor. New oak doors for both the north and south entrances were provided by Mrs. Robinson Cornish and Mr. John Gaymer costing £80 who also inserted a memorial window in stained glass to Matthew Neave and Robinson Cornish, former churchwardens.
Church rates were abolished by an Act of Parliament in 1868 but further work was carried out to the church during the late 19th century from money raised by church collections, donations and from several other sources. The work included the building of a new organ, costing £520, a new heating system £256 and £2,800 was spent on re-roofing the remainder of the church. The church, at the end of the century, could seat over 1,100 people but pew rents still remained and only 500 sittings were free.
Following the renovations of the church in 1844 the Vicar, the Rev. William Wilkinson, wrote to his superiors saying that the church was 'much improved by the recent alterations and in good order' but he expressed concern regarding the neglect of the churchyard. He also reported that due to the lack of adequate fencing the doors from houses surrounding the churchyard opened directly into it and families used the ground as if it was their own gardens; some of them regularly hung their washing out to dry in the churchyard, a practice which he felt was profane. This suggests that washing lines were put up in the churchyard!
Whether steps were taken to stop this is not known since no further reference to this has been found amongst the parish papers but it seems extraordinary that it should have been allowed in the first place.
The vicar also reported that, more serious, was the increasing problem of burying the dead decently due to the growth of the population of the town and lack of space in the churchyard. Graves had to be dug out far too close to one another and there was no ground nearby to which the churchyard could be extended. Three years later, in 1847, a committee was set up to find a suitable piece of land in the town for a cemetery. The committee included the churchwardens, William Mower the parish clerk, the vicar himself and the Rev. Thomas Dry, Master of Paston School, as chairman. A letter sent by the committee to the Poor Law Commissioners, regarding the purchase of a piece of land, dated the 22nd September of that year, explained that it was difficult for the grave-digger to dig out a grave in the churchyard which had been left undisturbed for ten years and that he had to frequently 'turn-over undecayed remains. The letter went on to state that the committee themselves had frequently witnessed the macabre sight of the disinterment of 'portions of a body, more especially the head, with pieces of flesh adhering to the bones'. They emphasised that such disturbing scenes could only be prevented by the purchase of an additional piece of burial ground. Eventually 21 acres of land was acquired on the Mundesley Road and a cemetery opened in 1856; two mortuary chapels and a caretaker's lodge were built. In 1896 almost another 5 acres of ground was added thus those interred earlier in the churchyard could now rest undisturbed.
It was not until the end of the century that the churchyard was properly fenced, paths were also cleared and shrubs were planted. The work cost £200, the money being raised by the parishioners.
Kelly's & White's 19th century Norfolk Directories.
'North Walsham in the 18th Century', N. Walsham W.E.A., 1983.
'The Parson and the Victorian Parish', Peter C Hammond. Hodder & Stoughton,
Religious Census Return 1851, N.L.S.L. Articles of Enquiry, Diocesan Records, N.R.O.. Churchwardens Books. N. Walsham Church Chest Norfolk Chronicle, 1844
Photograph by kind permission of Miss W. Smith
THE RELIGIOUS CENSUS 1851
A Census was taken of all those attending a place of worship in England and Wales on Sunday 30th March 1851.
North Walsham attendance on 30th March 1851
Place of Worship Morning Afternoon Evening Sunday School
St Nicholas am. 139
Parish Church 274 413 - pm. 131
Methodist (Wesleyan) 120 - 180 70
(Primitive) 60 150 82 12
Congregational 183 - 160 90
Quakers 6 - - -
643 563 422 442
The Church of England had, by far, the largest congregation in the town. Of the Nonconformist groups, Methodism had the largest following, although the Congregational church was well supported. There was an attendance of 1,628 worshippers at church or chapel in North Walsham on Sunday, the 30th March 1851 and 442 attended the Sunday Schools, giving a total attendance of 2,070. As the Census was carried out by taking a count at each service those who attended a place of worship more than once that day were included in the count again. Bearing this factor in mind and also that some were too old, sick or too young to attend, the figure is quite significant as the total population amounted to 2,911 at that date. The Census figures suggest that church or chapel played an important role in the lives of many families in North Walsham in the middle of the nineteenth century.
Religious Census 1851, N.L.S.L.
The Congregationalists are one of the earliest Nonconformist groups in the area. There is evidence of their activity in Southrepps and Trunch in the early part of the 17th century and it is believed the North Walsham and Bradfield Congregationalists were meeting together by 1657. According to the 1851 Religious Census a chapel was built at Bradfield in 1699. This was still supported in the 19th century and a larger church was built in 1871 - 72; this closed in 1967 although the burial ground is still used.
John Reynolds was minister at the beginning of the nineteenth century and after he resigned in 1807 James Browne was called to take his place in October of that year. He accepted the position on condition that a church would be opened in North Walsham as most members of the Bradfield congregation lived in the town. It is said that he wept because of the low spiritual condition of the church and believed he would be there no more than one month; in fact, he stayed for almost fifty years, dying in the town. A Congregational church was built in North Walsham in 1808, this was situated in the area which was re¬developed in the 1960's which includes the St. Nicholas precinct in Vicarage Street. James Browne preached at the church on Sunday mornings and on Sunday afternoons he went over to Bradfield to take the service there.
By the middle of the century a larger building was needed in North Walsham and plans were put forward for a new church in the Cromer Road; this was first suggested in 1856, although not all members agreed to this proposal. William Clipperton, a harness maker in the town, had the first option on a piece of land in Cromer Road, which he bought and gave to the church for the new building. Eventually, plans were approved by the Chapel Building Society although the Society's architect said the plans were 'wretchedly drawn' and full of mistakes. Moreover, the builder didn't like the flints to be used, stating 'they were a load of rubbish'. Nevertheless, the stone-laying ceremony was held on May 4th 1857 when several addresses were given by ministers of the Nonconformist church. Sadly, James Browne, who had served his congregation for so long, was too ill to attend. He died soon after, on the 26th June. Once building began, the new church was soon completed and an opening ceremony was held on the 3rd February 1858. It is reported that eight sermons were given that day! Those who attended were rewarded with a sumptuous tea. The previous church continued to be used as a Sunday School and meeting hall. By 1862 the borrowing incurred for the building was repaid achieved by various fund-raising events and donations and in 1875 an organ was bought for £300.
Throughout the nineteenth century there were only five ministers serving the Congregational Church.
James Reynold 1785 -1807 James Browne 1807 -1857
Wm. Courtnay, co-paster, 1855 -1857 ( he left to join the Church of England, but decided to return to the Congregational Church). Charles Goff (or Gough) 1862 -1892 James Mercer 1893 -1901
Papers of J. Creasey, Dr. Williams Library, London. Religious Census 1851.
"By one Spirit we were all Baptised into one Body" N. Walsham Council of Christian Congregations, 1971.
Congregational Minute Books (by kind permission of M.C. Tidy and H. Melrose).
It seems that there was no place of worship in the town for Baptists in the 19th century and it is very likely that most worshipped at Meeting Hill, which was situated about two miles away. A Baptist church was first built there in 1717 in what was called Orpley Street. The graveyard still remains today but the church was replaced by another which was built nearby in 1829. Money for this was raised by the congregation and the minister, the Rev. Richard Clarke, contributed £250. The chapel cost £650, in addition £232. 10s. was spent to enclose the new graveyard, supply stabling and a gig house. Stabling for about 40 horses was provided since a number of families from the surrounding countryside - and even further afield - formed part of the congregation. It is often forgotten that, in the past, considerable accommodation was needed for horses and carriages wherever there were large gatherings just as today space is required for the motor car.
In January 1836 Mr. Clarke tried to set up a place of worship in North Walsham. He applied for a licence from the Bishop of Norwich, to use what was described as a schoolroom belonging to Widow Powell and situated near the Cross Keys Inn in the town, for worship by Protestants but there are no records of this being granted or that the room was ever used for this purpose nor has any reference been found of a school held there.
William Clipperton, who gave the land for the Congregational Church in North Walsham and who was a deacon there for many years, is buried in the graveyard at Meeting Hill. He died in 1860 and remembered both the Baptist Missionary Society and the North Walsham Congregational Church in his will.
In 1844 a 'British' school was set up by members of Meeting Hill Chapel and the minister paid for a school-house for the master. A room was added to the building for teaching 100 boys and girls. Parents who could afford it paid 5s a quarter in fees and poorer parents paid 2d a week. Six almshouses close by were built and endowed by Samuel Chapman in 1820, for poorer members of the Chapel. In the mid 19th century the occupants received £8 a year which was divided between them.
Manual of the Baptists at Worstead, 1859; White's 1845 Directory; Norfolk Archdeaconry Wills, N.R.O.; Diocesan Records FC42/8., N.R.O;
Deeds of the White House, Meeting Hill, by kind permission of Mrs. A. Edwards.
The Friends Meeting House is situated on the North Walsham By-Pass where it joins what were the former Mundesley and Swafield Roads. It was built in 1772 replacing an earlier building erected in 1692 which had been burnt down. In the eighteenth century the Meeting in North Walsham seemed to flourish but in the nineteenth century there were many 'ups and downs'. In fact, one of the 'downs' was in 1851 when the Religious Census was taken. On the day of the Census, 30th March that year, only six people were present in a building which could hold almost 200. Nevertheless, under an Act of Parliament requiring Dissenters to register buildings used for worship, the Meeting made a request to register a "building on the Swafield Road, North Walsham....by the Denomination called Quakers" on the 5th May 1854...the application being signed by a Francis Dix as trustee. It seems that by the end of the century the Meeting had dis-continued and it was not until after the Second World War that it revived.
From several sources the deaths of 21 Quakers in the North Walsham area are found recorded between 1800 - 1836, which would, in part, account for a decline in members. It is not known if they are buried in North Walsham Quaker Burial Ground although it is quite likely. Quaker gravestones were plain and uniform with one another so that none looked grander than the rest. Inscriptions would give only minimum details such as the name of the deceased, the date of death and age. There are nine gravestones to eleven persons in the North Walsham Burial Ground, all of whom died between 1856 and 1896; the number and not the name of the month is inscribed on these as is the usual Quaker practice.
One of the gravestones records the death of Kirby Bransby who died in 1865, at 71 years of age. He was a brewer in the town and lived in The Butchery, no doubt serving some of the local inns. Another is to John Jackson and his wife; John Jackson was a grocer in Cock Street and died in 1858 when he was 46 years old. In 1851 these two men together with George Durrell, a currier in the Market Place, refused to pay their Church Rate. As already mentioned elsewhere in this chapter, the rate was compulsory and was opposed by many Nonconformists, although only rarely did they refuse to pay. In August of that year the three men received a Summons issued by the Justices of the Peace, meeting at the King's Arms in North Walsham. They were ordered to pay the rate and the costs incurred by the Summons. In each case the costs were more than the rate itself. Kirby Bransby was ordered to pay his rate amounting to ls.9d. and 9s.6d costs, John Jackson 3s. 2d in rates and 9s.6d. costs and George Durrell, his rate of 2s.lid and 7s 6d costs. They were informed that if the order was not complied with by the 4th September they would be sent to the House of Correction for 21 days. It seems from the Churchwardens' Book the three men eventually paid; they presumably accepted that the law had to be obeyed and that imprisonment would have served little purpose. Sadly, neither Kirby Bransby nor John Jackson lived to see the abolition of church rates in 1868.
There was a wedding at the Meeting House in 1897. Weddings were often referred to as "handfasts" as the couple held hands whilst making their solemn declarations to be loving and faithful partners. All those present sign the certificate. It seems that it was not until 1973 that another wedding took place there.
Quaker Monthly 1980
Womens' Institutes Graveyard Recording, N.R.O. Norfolk Parish Studies No.6. Files SF44; SF516/6; N.R.O. Summons, MS4423,5744, N.R.O.
Sincere thanks to Mr. and Mrs. E. Rutter for their time and information.
>>>> The North Walsham Methodists <<<<
It is generally known that Methodism had two main strands until 1934, the Wesleyan and Primitive Methodists. North Walsham had churches representing both of these two branches. Three years before the end of the 18th century Richard Colls, a grocer in the town, applied to license a building described as 'Methodist' for worship; the situation of this is unknown. A John Reynolds was licensed as a minister in May 1802. The Wesleyans had formed a circuit in 1813 and the Primitives by 1826.
A Wesleyan church was built in 1820 in Church Street and enlarged a few years later in 1828, although the 1851 Religious Census describes the church as 'new' in 1828, replacing the former building. Today, the building consists of two shops.
It seems, from the Religious Census, that a Primitive Methodist church was built in 1827 and enlarged soon after, when a gallery was added, costing £35. Gas lighting was later installed. By 1841 the Primitives had 420 members and numbers continued to increase thus the church became inadequate. A new one was built in Hall Lane in 1873. This, too, eventually became too small and in 1890 the present church in Grammar School Road was built. The Hall Lane church has been used for various purposes since its closure; as a venue for meetings, for example, and as a jam factory run by A. W. Loveless from 1909 -1920's. Today it is used as a printing works.
With a growing membership the work of the North Walsham Circuit increased considerably and after only six years of being set up Mattishall was formed as a separate circuit in 1832. The Primitive Methodist Magazine reported in 1833 that the Circuit was in a prosperous state and it is seen from a summary of the 1851 Religious Census in this chapter that both the Primitive and Wesleyan churches in the town were well supported in the middle of the century. Moreover, as the population of North Walsham continued to increase until the end of the century so, too, did the membership of these two groups.
From 1813 - 1899 there were 42 Wesleyan Senior or Superintendent Ministers and 61 others serving the church, most served for only a year or two. The Primitive Ministers generally seem to serve only a year each and there were 73 from 1826 - 1899. In 1836, 1844 and 1845 there was a lady minister, named Elizabeth Baltitude. George Tetley who was a minister in 1830 and again in 1853 became President of the Conference two years later, in 1855. Some of the reports to the Primitive magazine were signed by ministers no longer in office, thus it would appear that they often acted in a senior capacity although their term of service had ceased. It would seem from these reports that members were helped in various ways and in 1857 North Walsham members were assisting to pay off a sum of £20 which someone had loaned to Rougham Church.
The following obituaries of members in the area have been reproduced from the North Walsham Circuit Primitive Methodist Magazine as they will be of interest to any descendants who may live in the locality.
Joseph RICE of Aylsham, died 6/10/1828 aged 39 years.
Hannah AMISS of Edingthorpe. died 13/10/1828 aged 19yrs "brought to God" at a Camp Meeting at Witton (37 yrs before there was a church there).
Rhoda GREEN of Dilham died 5/8/1833 aged 27yrs. was a member for 5 years, moved to Dilham on marriage where she was then a member. Contracted tuberculosis as a result of 'flu.
William WATTS of North Walsham died 13/11/1834 aged 30 yrs. He was a back slider for a time but returned.
Robert FROST of North Walsham but latterly of Ingham died 22/11/1845, aged 45yrs; he was a preacher on the North Walsham Circuit for 16 years.
Nathaniel HINDLE born North Walsham 29/5/1796, died Reedham 30/10/1860. He joined the Primitives in 1837 but after a short time joined the Church of England. In 1857 he rejoined the Primitives.
Sarah CHARLTON widow of Thomas Charlton (minister of N. Walsham) of N. Walsham, died 3/4/1875 aged 71 yrs. At 20 she joined the Wesleyans but after 2 years joined the Primitives and worked with her husband wherever he was sent.
When the centenary of the present church in Grammar School Road was celebrated in 1990 the foundation stones were moved. Amongst the items found underneath was a bottle containing the names and occupations of seven men who had worked on the building of the church; each name was written on a separate sheet of paper. Perhaps they wished to be remembered as well as the officials who laid the foundation stones. Their names are set out below.-
Albert Allcock Builder Stalham
William Laycock Builder North Walsham
James Abigalle Labourer North Walsham
Harry Mace Builder North Walsham
John Christmas Labourer North Walsham
George Abigale Builder North Walsham
Robert Sun-Moore? Builder North Walsham
A Century of Service: N. Walsham Methodist Church. Primitive Methodist Magazines 1829 -1877. Norwich Diocesan Archives, N.R.O. 1851 Religious Census, N.L.S.L. North Norfolk News ,23.3.1990
Sincere thanks to Mr. J. Creasey of Dr. Williams's Library,
Miss J. East for information & research at the John Ryland Library, Manchester; Dr. E. Grahame; Mr. E. Loveless; Mrs. P. West, World Methodist Society.
It appears that only 20th century records of the Salvation Army activities in the area are held at the Captain's official residence and earlier records have either been destroyed or accidentally taken away, when a former Captain moved.
It is well known that the Salvation Army was founded by William Booth, who was born in Nottingham in 1829 of a poor family. He began his working life in a pawn shop and perhaps this influenced his desire to help the poor. By hard work and determination he became a Wesleyan Minister and organised campaigns but was refused permission to cam; on this work. Thus, he resigned and with his wife, Catherine, started a Christian Mission. By 1870 this had a democratic constitution and an annual conference. Eventually he changed the name to The Salvation Army. Modelled on the British Army with military ranks and a magazine called The War Cry'. Sunday Schools began in 1880. Social work also developed in the 1880's, such as prison-gate homes, food depots, etc., and by 1891 the work was legally established by a trust deed. Hostels, childrens homes and eventide homes run by the Army took on an impetus during the last decade of the century. 'Corps' had been formed outside Gt. Britain by 1882 and work abroad also increased in this period. Their bands and songsters are a familiar sight today and the Army is much respected. This wasn't always so, earlier they met much hostile opposition and mud and other filth were thrown at them.
The North Walsham Corps (No.666) began in the 1880's in what was called the Park Hall which was situated on the site of Park Court, New Road. The building had previously been used as British Army hall and later, a canning factory. The present Citadel, in Hall Lane, was opened in 1899. One of the first captains was a woman, named Eleanor Kelly - there was no sexual bar to any position in the Salvation Army from the beginning.
One of the best known Salvationists in North Walsham is Mildred Duff. She was the eldest daughter of one of the Petre daughters of Westwick Hall, who had married a James Duff. The family lived in part of the Hall with Mrs. Duff's widowed brother, J. B. Petre. Mildred was born in 1860 and eventually there were two sons and two more daughters. They were a wealthy family having a shooting lodge in Scotland and a house in Upper Brooke Street, London. As Mildred grew up she took part in all the things in which rich young people of the day indulged; she was a good horsewoman and was a debutante and presented at Court.
Mildred attended church although she was ill at ease and for some time avoided 'good people'. However after attending a tea-meeting she felt she understood what being a Christian meant. She first came into contact with the Salvation Army through a friend of her mother's, Pleasance Burroughes. Soon things began to change, J. B. Petre died and Mildred's mother inherited Westwick Hall. Mrs Duff, on taking over the Hall, reverted to her maiden name, Petre and her eldest son also now took the name of Petre.
Mildred made up her mind to join the Salvation Army. When she told her family her brothers were disgusted and her mother, though a Christian, felt she need 'not have gone that far. Mildred was first sent to Sweden, in 1886, where the 'Army' was only five years old. In turn, she trained cadets in London; she then worked in the slums, did young peoples' work, edited the childrens' paper and much else besides all this.
Eventually, Mrs. Petre handed over Westwick Hall to her eldest son. She then needed to find somewhere to live herself. On one of Mildred's visits they were driving around the area looking for a site when they came to a small gorse-covered height on the outskirts of North Walsham. Mildred said to her mother. "I should build here. Mother". Thus, Furze Hill on the Happisburgh Road was built. When Mildred retired she, herself, lived there. She died in December 1932. The British Army occupied the house during the war, leaving it in a bad state of repair. Following this the house became a home for boys but for a good many years now it has been a Salvation Army Eventide Home.
'By one Spirit we were all Baptized into one Body'. N. Walsham Council of Christian Congregations 1971.
The Biography of Mildred Duff, Madge Unsworth, Salvation Army Pub. Co. 1956.
Roman Catholics were denied the freedom given to Nonconformists under the Toleration Act of 1689 and it was not until 1791 that they could build chapels for public worship.
There appears to be little information regarding the worship of Roman Catholics in North Walsham during the 19th century. It is assumed they were small in number as there was no place of worship for them in the town. A census taken in 1828 records only six places in Norfolk where there were Roman Catholics worshipping at that date. These were King's Lynn, Gt. Yarmouth, Norwich St. Swithin's and St. John's parishes, Oxborough and Costessey. 1,353 Roman Catholics are recorded in Norfolk, the largest concentration being at Norwich and at Costessey. The influence of the Jerningham family at Costessey Hall, no doubt accounts for the larger numbers there. Likewise, the Roman Catholics found at Oxborough were due to the Bedingfeld family at Oxborough Hall.
Later in the century a Directory of 1880 lists the above places and shows Mass Centres at Lynford and Wroxham Hall at that date. Places such as Cromer and Aylsham were served by Norwich and the Fakenham area by King's Lynn. It would seem that Roman Catholics living in and around North Walsham may have travelled either to Norwich for worship or to Wroxham Hall which was much nearer. Both places could be reached more conveniently after the connection of the railway to North Walsham in 1874. The Mass Centre at Wroxham Hall was established by the Trafford family who welcomed Roman Catholics in the area to attend worship there. The Traffords cared for the priest and provided him with a house near to the Hall. The Mass Centre eventually led to a church. By 1894 Cromer had its own resident priest thus it is possible that some made the journey regularly to Cromer to worship, towards the end of the century.
However distance was not necessarily a problem to worshippers and certainly not to some visiting priests. In the previous century Father Galloway wrote that he was going to ride from Norwich to Oxborough on his new horse in January 1773 - if the weather was good - he was then 66 years old.
A small Mass Centre was set up in North Walsham round about 1912 behind what was then Mr. Load's shop in the Market Place, Mr. Loads himself being a convert. The shop is today a Barnardo's Shop. However, It was not until 1925 that a Roman Catholic church was built and in 1926 there was a resident priest in the /town.
Sources and acknowledgements:-
Great Gothic Fane, No.282, N.L.S.L.,
Help and information is much appreciated from Mrs. M Osborne, Mrs. K. Trafford, Mr. N. Walmsley, Mr. F. Devaney and Mr. Anthony.