Yarmouth, Norfolk, England - Encyclopedia

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YARMOUTH (GREAT YARMOUTH), a municipal, county and parliamentary borough, watering-place, and seaport of Norfolk, England (with a small portion in Suffolk), 121 m. N.E. from London by the Great Eastern railway, served also by the Midland & Great Northern joint line. Pop. (1901) 51,316. It lies on a long and narrow peninsula of sand, between the North Sea and the Breydon Water (formed by the rivers Yare and Waveney) and the river Bure. The neighbouring country is very flat, but the Bure affords access to the Norfolk Broads, which give the district its well-known individuality. The old town of Great Yarmouth was built chiefly along the E. bank of the Yare, but the modern town has extended beyond its ancient walls, of which some remains exist, to the seashore, where there are a marine drive and three piers. On the landward or Suffolk side of the estuary is the suburb of Southtown, and farther S. that of Gorleston. The principal features of Yarmouth are the N. and S. quays, and the straight narrow lanes called ` Y rows," 1 4 5 in number, running at right angles to them. These rows were at one time inhabited by the wealthy burgesses, and many of the houses, now tenanted by the poorer classes, have panelled rooms with richly decorated ceilings. The old town is connected with Little Yarmouth by a bridge across the Yare of stone and iron, erected in 1854. The Bure is crossed by a suspension bridge. The church of St Nicholas, founded in trot by Herbert Losinga, the first bishop of Norwich, and consecrated in 1119, is one of the largest parish churches in England. It is cruciform, with a central tower, which perhaps preserves a part of the original structure, but by successive alterations the form of the church has been completely changed. The Transitional clerestoried nave, with columns alternately octagonal and circular, was rebuilt in the reign of King John. A portion of the chancel is of the same date. About fifty years later the aisles were widened, so that the nave is now the narrowest part of the building. A grand W. front with towers and pinnacles was constructed in 1330-1338, but the building was interrupted by a visitation of the plague. In the 16th century the monumental brasses were cast into weights and the gravestones cut into grindstones. Within the church there were at one time eighteen chapels, maintained by gilds or private families, but these were demolished by the Reformers, who sold the valuable utensils of the building and applied the money to the widening of the channel of the harbour. During the Commonwealth the Independents appropriated the chancel, the Presbyterians the N. aisle and the Churchmen were allowed the remainder of the building. The brick walls erected at this time to separate the different portions of the building remained till 1847. In 1864 the tower was restored, and the E. end of the chancel rebuilt; in1869-1870the S. aisle was rebuilt; and in 1884 the S. transept, the W. end of the nave and the N. aisle underwent restoration. The width of the nave is 26 ft., and the total length of the church is 236 ft. St John's is a noteworthy modern church, and the Roman Catholic church is a handsome Gothic building erected in 1850. A grammar-school was founded in 1551, when the great hall of the old hospital, founded in the reign of Edward I. by Thomas Fastolfe, was appropriated to its use.

XXVIII. 29 a It was closed from 1757 to 1860, was re-established by the charity trustees, and settled in new buildings in 1872. Among the principal public buildings are the town hall and public offices (1883); a picturesque toll-house of the 14th century, carefully preserved and serving as a free library; assembly rooms, museum, drill hall, custom house, barracks at Southtown and theatres. Among charitable and benevolent institutions are a royal naval lunatic asylum, three hospitals, and fishermen's hospital, the North Sea Church Mission and various homes and minor charities. To the S. of the town, on the part of the peninsula known as the South Denes, are a race-course and a Doric column erected in 1817 to commemorate Lord Nelson. To the N. (on the North Denes) are golf links. Winter gardens were opened in 1904. The municipal and parliamentary borough became coextensive by the inclusion in the former of Gorleston in 1890. The parliamentary borough, returning one member, falls between the E. division of Norfolk and the Lowestoft division of Suffolk. Yarmouth is governed by a mayor, 12 aldermen and 36 councillors. Area, 3568 acres.

Yarmouth Roads, off the coast, afford excellent anchorage except in E. or N.E. winds. The channel to the quays was made by Joost Jansen, a Dutch engineer, in 1567, and affords a depth at the bar of 12 ft. at low water. The herring and mackerel fisheries are most important, and fish-curing is an extensive industry, Yarmouth bloaters being widely famous. The fishing fleet numbers some 500 vessels of 20,000 tons, and employs about 3000 hands. The principal imports are coal, timber and seeds, and exports are grain and fish. Other industries are ship and boat building, rope, twine and trawlnet manufactories, silk-crape works and maltings.

Yarmouth (Gernemwa, Yernemuth), which lies near the site of the Roman camp of Gariannonum, is believed to have been the landing-place of Cerdic in the 5th century. Not long afterwards, the convenience of its situation having attracted many fishermen from the Cinque Ports, a permanent settlement was made, and the town numbered seventy burgesses before the Conquest. Henry I. placed it under the rule of a reeve. The charter of King John (1208), which gave his burgesses of Yarmouth general liberties according to the customs of Oxford, a gild merchant and weekly hustings, was amplified. by several later charters asserting the rights of the borough. against Little Yarmouth and Gorleston. In 1552 Elizabeth granted a charter of admiralty jurisdiction, afterwards confirmed and extended by James I. In 1668 Charles II. incor-, porated Little Yarmouth in the borough by a charter which with one brief exception remained in force till 1703, when Anne replaced the two bailiffs by a mayor, reducing the aldermen and common councilmen to eighteen and thirty-six. By the Boundary and Municipal Corporation Acts of 1832 and 1855, Gorleston was annexed to the borough, which became a county borough in 1888. Yarmouth returned two members to parliament from 1300 to 1868, when it was disfranchised until 1885. From the 11th to the 18th century the herring trade, which has always been the main industry of Yarmouth, was carried on at an annual fair between Michaelmas and Martinmas. This was regulated by the barons of the Cinque Ports, and many quarrels arose through their jurisdiction and privileges. Yarmouth has had a weekly market at least from the 13th century.

See Victoria County History, Norfolk; H. Swinden, History of Great Yarmouth (1772); C. J. Palmer, History of Great Yarmouth (1854).

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