Introduction

The Stiffkey river, about a mile before it reaches the marshes and the sea, flows through the village of Warham, a place whose history goes back 2,000 years. South of the village is Warham Camp, an iron age and Roman encampment with a double line of grassy walls, in some parts nearly 30 feet high. Between the Camp and village the river runs through a beautiful park-like landscape with fine trees where a Tudor manor house once stood – Warham Old Hall. Within the village there are two ancient churches (All Saints and St Mary Magdalen), and a fine Victorian Reading Room.

300 AD

Warham Camp

Warham Camp is a large and very well-preserved iron age fort sitting within agricultural land, and is a scheduled monument. It is arguably the best earthwork of this period in the region. It has been repeatedly surveyed by aerial photography, and is a circular structure with an overall diameter of 212m. The course of the River Stiffkey cuts across the south western edge of the earthworks but this is an 18th century alteration and the original river ran in a curve to the west. There are outer and inner ditches and banks 3m high, and excavations in 1914 and 1959 produced evidence of a timber palisade and platform at the rear, and a timber revetment on the inner face. Iron age and Roman pottery shards have been recovered.

1061

Warham Churches

In the early Middle Ages there were certainly three churches in Warham: All Saints, the towerless one near to the Camp; St Mary Magdalen, set amongst the trees to the west of the village; and St Mary the Virgin, of which only the foundations remain in a field to the west of St Mary Magdalen. Much piety was to be expected in the neighbourhood, not only due to the Benedictine Abbey at Binham, but also because of the famous Shrine of Our Lady at Walsingham, where the Blessed Virgin Mary appeared in a vision to the Lady Richeldis de Favraches in 1061 and told her to build a replica of the Holy House at Nazareth. Pilgrims from all over the world came to Walsingham, some arriving by sea at Wells (as Edward III did), and these might well have passed through Warham on their way to the Shrine.

1709

Warham Old Hall

The Turners, a family of Kings Lynn merchants, bought Warham Old Hall and the surrounding estate in 1709 from a Mr Berney, who had it from the D’Oyly family, who in their turn had acquired it from Thomas Howard, Earl of Surrey in 1604. Coke of Norfolk purchased the Old Hall 1785, and he pulled it down shortly afterwards, merging the land with his estate at Holkham.

1892

Warham Reading Room

In the last decade of the 19th century the Rector of Warham, the Reverend Charles Digby, decided that he would like to build a Reading Room for the use of the people of Warham. He approached the Earl of Leicester who generously gave a piece of land for the purpose. The building was erected at the personal expense of the Rector (not from public subscription) and opened in 1892.

1920

The Village Hall

Reading Rooms were popular in late Victorian times as they enabled older generations to learn to read and write and hence to “catch up” with their children, who were now undertaking compulsory education. By the 1920/1930s this deficiency in education no longer existed, and the Reading Room (like many others) evolved into “the village hall”.

2015

Warham Reading Room

The Reading Room requires considerable updating to enable it to be attractive as a centre for various activities in the village. It has secured Lottery Funding and building work is scheduled to commence in late 2015.

2016

Warham Reading Room

The keys were handed over on the 18th April 2016 after the project was completed

PRESENT
TOP

A wonderful serenity has taken possession of my entire soul, like these sweet mornings of spring which I enjoy with my whole heart. I am alone, and feel the charm of existence in this spot, which was created for the bliss of souls like mine.

I am so happy, my dear friend, so absorbed in the exquisite sense of mere tranquil existence, that I neglect my talents. I should be incapable of drawing a single stroke at the present moment; and yet I feel that I never was a greater artist than now.

When, while the lovely valley teems with vapour around me, and the meridian sun strikes the upper surface of the impenetrable foliage of my trees, and but a few stray gleams steal into the inner sanctuary, I throw myself down among the tall grass by the trickling stream; and, as I lie close to the earth, a thousand unknown plants are noticed by me: when I hear the buzz of the little world among the stalks, and grow familiar with the countless indescribable forms of the insects and flies, then I feel the presence of the Almighty, who formed us in his own image.

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