North Walsham & District Community Archive

Wroxham 1875 - 1975

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

WROXHAM 1875-1975

Wroxham a hundred years ago was a small parish having 420 inhabitants (almost 100 of whom were children) mainly living in the area close to St. Mary's Church and Castle Street with few houses on the Norwich Road. The largest houses were Wroxham Hall occupied by William and Edward Sigis-mund Trafford and Wroxham House occupied by Robert Blake Humfrey (the deputy lieutenant for Norfolk) - both of these have been demolished comparatively recently and a number of the smaller cottages have also disappeared.

The majority of the men in the village were employed in agriculture; wages were very low - with unemployment and little Poor Relief in bad seasons. Most of the married women found it necessary to take in washing or dressmaking and some did domestic work to supplement their incomes.

In 1875 Henry Stevenson occupied the village smithy on the Norwich Road and John Fish was licencee at the Old Castle Inn (destroyed by fire early this century). There were two shopkeepers, one vermin destroyer, two maltsters, one shoemaker and one tailor.

The Church was in a good state of repair having been extensively renovated in 1848/9 and services in the second half of the century were held on Sundays at 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. having an average attendance of over a third of the parishioners; Sunday School was also well attended. Communion took place once a month. During 1875 there were ten baptisms - fathers of the children included a maltster, a gentleman's servant and a wherryman; there were three weddings and eight burials - three of those buried were very young children and two were teenagers.

The Vicar, the Rev. Thomas Boddington, lived at Sal-house Vicarage and took a keen interest in Parish affairs. He was Chairman of the School Board formed in 1875 and gave religious instruction at the school which at that time was carried on in a small room believed to be in part of a house in Park Road. Fifty-seven pupils were supervised by a Miss Benstead and an assistant.

The coming of the railway to Wroxham in 1874 must have made a great impact on the lives of the villagers and gradually changed the character of the parish. By the end of the seventies day trippers and holiday makers began to arrive and the first of the boatyards opened. Pleasure wherries became numerous and could be hired far £7.10s. a week. Wroxham was described by the Great Eastern Railway tourist guide as "the heart of Broadland" - a description still apt today.