North Walsham & District Community Archive

Thorpe Market 1875 - 1975

"North East Norfolk Country Churchman Centenery Magazine 1875-1975"


The village is noted for its picturesque Green surrounded as it is by thatched cottages, an Elizabethan house with stepped gables and the 17th century almshouses, built by Sir Thomas Rant. A hundred years ago this Green would have been the scene of numerous village events and leisurely gossips on summer evenings. During the Peasants' Revolt in 1381 it had been the gathering place for the Norfolk Rebels led by fohn Litester before their defeat at North Walsham by Henry Despenser.
However, by the 19th century the inhabitants showed rather more respect for royalty, for the parish could boast of a royal waiting room at Gunton Station which in fact lies in Thorpe Market. Edward VII when he was Prince of Wales was a frequent visitor to Gunton Hall and the station's red carpet must have been well used.
In 1875 the Parish Church of St. Margaret was nearly new by Norfolk standards. It had been built in 1796 by Lord Suffield. Walter Rye writing in the last century had this to say about it: "This church is perhaps the best specimen in England of the well-known 'Churchwarden's Gothic', and is certainly the ugliest place of worship I ever entered - Description of it would be painful". John Betjeman on a recent visit was, we are glad to say, rather more favourable in his comments.
The population in 1875 was 196; 206 at present.
The Vicar was John Dolphin, James Bensley was the tailor, George Earl was the shoemaker. Robert Gibbons kept the shop and Elizabeth Golding was the Market Gardener. Mr. Wiggett was the bricklayer and he is remembered for his duties in Church when he would sit in the gallery at the west end with a long stick which he used liberally to keep the boys below in order. The bakery was next door to the almshouses and was run by Charles Mays. John Golding sold beer at what is now Green Farm and the men of the village would sit drinking and talking on the Green and playing quoits on the piece of land where the telephone box stands now.