Visiting Wymondham, Norfolk, England, and its Market Cross: a remarkably well preserved 17th century building

Flag of England
Flag of England | Source
Market Cross, Wymondham.
Market Cross, Wymondham. | Source
King John of England
King John of England | Source
Map location of Norfolk
Map location of Norfolk | Source

Conspicuous for its octagonal shape

This striking, octagonal, timber framed building in Wymondham (1), in England's Norfolk, dates from the 17th century.

Some history and features

It was financed by a local man named Philip Cullyer; the structure was commenced in 1617 and completed in 1618.

Although in a tradition that goes back to the Middle Ages, many market towns in England have market crosses, the one in Wymondham is more unusual in that its main building material is wood.

The immediate cause of the need for the Market Cross building, as perceived at the time of its commissioning, was the effects of a fire in 1615 which caused considerable destruction in Wymondham, especially to a previous structure, dating from Medieval times. Evidence for lively, local commerce in Wymondham since the Middle Ages is seen in the fact that in 1204 King John gave the town a market charter.

It is thought that the original market cross at Wymondham consisted of an upper chamber over an arcaded area used for commerce; the upper chamber would have served as a town hall. This basic idea seems to have been preserved in the existing structure.

Originally, market crosses in some English towns might have had the image of an actual cross displayed, where in the Medieval scheme of things, commercial deals pledged between traders would have taken on an element of asserting one's trustworthiness in the light of divine awareness.

If you want to find out more about Wymondham's Market Cross, the place to go is...to the Market Cross! Today, this fine and quaint structure serves as a tourist information centre.

July 14, 2012

Note

(1) If you think you have pronounced Wymondham correctly, think again! Local people pronounce it: Windham . (This is merely one of many place-name pronunciations in Norfolk which visitors find odd; for example, by local people, Norwich is pronounced: Norridge ; Happisburgh is pronounced: Haysboro , and so forth.)

Also worth seeing

In Wymondham itself, Wymondham Abbey is a partly ruined structure, founded by William d'Albini Senior in 1107. Becket Chapel in the town was founded by William d'Albini Junior in 1174.

Norwich (distance: 15 kilometres) has numerous visitor attractions, including Norwich Castle, Norwich Guildhall, Pull's Ferry, Elm Hill, and many others.

...

How to get there: United Airlines flies to London Heathrow Airport, where car rental is available. Wymondham 's rail links to London include those to Liverpool Street Station, via Cambridge. Wymondham is 206 kilometers from Heathrow Airport. Some facilities may be withdrawn, without notice. You are advised to check with the airline or your travel agent for up to date information.

MJFenn is an independent travel writer based in Ontario, Canada.

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