1902 Encyclopedia > Yarmouth (Great Yarmouth), Norfolk, England

(often known as: Great Yarmouth)
Norfolk, England



north-east of London. The old town of Great Yarmouth was built chiefly along the eastern bank of the Yare, but within recent years the town has extended beyond its ancient walls, of which some remains still exist, to the seashore, where there are a marine drive and three piers - two of them 700 feet long. The principal features of Yarmouth are the north and south quays, and the straight narrow lanes, 145 in number, called "rows," 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 curiously panelled rooms, with richly decorated ceilings. The market place of Yarmouth is one of the most spacious in the kingdom, its area being about three acres. The old town of Great Yarmouth 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 1101 by Herbert Losinga, the first bishop of Norwich (who removed the see from Thetford), and consecrated in 1119, is one of the largest parish churches in England. Originally it was in the form of a Latin cross, but only the tower of the ancient building remains ; and by successive alterations the form of the church has been completely changed. The clerestoried nave in the Early English style, with columns alternately octangular 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 west front with towers and pinnacles was constructed in 1330-38, but the building was interrupted by a visitation of the plague. Within the church there were at one time eighteen chapels, maintained by guilds 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 chance], the Presbyterians the north aisle, and the Episcopalians 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 east end of the chancel rebuilt ; in 1869-70 the south aisle was rebuilt ; and in 1884 the south transept, the west end of the nave, and the north aisle underwent restoration. The width of the nave is 26 feet, and its length to the tower 11 I, that of the tower 27 feet, and of the chancel 92, - total 236 feet. The Roman Catholic church is a handsome Gothic building erected in 1850. In 1551 a grammar school was founded, the great hall of the dissolved hospital, founded in the reign of Edward T. by Thomas Fastolfe, being appropriated as the building. The school was closed from 1757 to 1860, when it was re-established by the charity trustees ; and in 1872 new buildings were erected. In the hospital school a number of boys and girls were formerly boarded and educated, but since 1850 the charity has been administered as a place of free education only. Among the other principal public bniklings are the town-hall and public offices, of red brick and red sandstone in the Queen Anne style of architecture, with a tower 125 feet in height, erected in 1883 ; the aquarium, erected in 1877 and extended in 1882 ; the old toll-house, formerly the town-hall, a building of the 14th century, which has been carefully preserved as a relic of antiquity ; and the assembly and reading rooms, the drill-hall, the custom-house, the barracks at Southtown, the bathhouse, the workhouse, the public library, and two theatres. A Doric column, 141 feet in height, was erected on the downs in 1817 to the memory of Nelson. Among the charitable and benevolent institutions are the royal naval lunatic asylum, originally founded as a lunatic hospital in 1811 ; the sailors' home (1859), the boys' home (1870), the Wairond memorial smack-boys' home (1875), the fishermen's hospital (1702), and Warne's and various minor charities.

Yarmouth Roads, except in east or north-cast winds, afford excellent anchorage. The present channel to the quays was made in 1567 by Joost Jansen, a Netherlands engineer. It affords a depth of water at the bar of 12 feet, and at high water of 18 to 20 feet. The town owes its origin to the fisheries, and is now one of the chief fishing stations on the cast coast of England, being specially famed for its herring and mackerel fisheries (see FISHERIES, VOL ix. pp. 251-252), while cod and other white fish are also caught in great quantities. The number of boats registered under the Fisheries Act in December 1886 was 439, employing from 4500 to 6100 men and boys. The boats engaged in fishing are mostly trawling smacks. The curing of fish is an important industry, Yarmouth bloaters being celebrated throughout the kingdom. A great stimulus was given to the fishing trade by the erection of a fish wharf in 1869, having a length of 2257 feet. There is a considerable inland trade on the rivers by means of lighters and wherries. In 1883 the value of the imports of foreign and colonial produce reached £285,742, and, although in 1886 it sank to £173,636, the average for the five years preceding 1888 was about £235,000. The value of the exports in 1882 was £3399 and in 1886 £14,706. The principal imports are coal, timber, and provisions. The trade is chiefly with the Baltic ports, France, Portugal, Spain, the Channel Islands, the United States, and British North America. The number of vessels engaged in the foreign and colonial trade that entered in 1886 was 191 of 38,134 tons, that cleared 99 of 18,299 tons. The number in the coasting trade was 1033 of 110,312 tons entered, and 1083 of 124,527 tons cleared. Steam-packets ply between London, Hull, and Newcastle. Ship-building and boat-building are carried on chiefly in connexion with the fisheries, the number built in 1886 being 11 of 781 tons. There are also rope, twine, and trawl-net manufactories, silk-crape works, and extensive maltings. Yarmouth is frequented in summer as a seaside resort. It is governed by a mayor, twelve aldermen, and thirty-six councillors. The corporation act as the urban sanitary authority. Water is obtained from one of the " broads " at Ormesby. The borough has a separate commission of the peace and court of quarter-sessions. The population of the municipal borough (area 3685 acres) was 41,819 in 1871 and 46,159 (9008 being in Gorleston in Suffolk) in 1881.

At the close of the 5th century Yarmouth is said to have been the landing-place of a Saxon invader Cerdie. At an early period it was resorted to by fishermen from the Cinque Ports and from the Continent for the herring-fishing, who dried their nets on the dents or downs, and also erected tents where they sold their fish to merchants from London and elsewhere. At Domesday the place is described as the king's demesne, and as having seventy burgesses. Henry I. appointed a provost as governor, and in the 9th year of John it received a charter of incorporation. It received another charter from Henry III., who permitted the inhabitants to enclose the borough with walls and moats. In 1338-39 the town suffered severely from the plague, during which 7000 persons are said to have died. In 1381 the rebels under Wat Tyler were defeated by the inhabitants of Yarmouth. The town also rendered considerable assistance when England was threatened by the Spanish Armada ; in recognition of this Elizabeth empowered the "bailiffs, burgesses, and commonalty" to hold an admiralty court, and extended their liberties in other ways. In 1588 a castle was built in the centre of the town, and a mound called the south mound raised and crowned with Heavy ordnance. The castle was demolished in 1621 and new fortifications thrown up, having a circuit of 2i miles. On account of the hardship experienced by the town from the levying of ship-money by Charki; I., it declared for the Parliament. At the close of the war the fortifications were demolished. From an early period the Cinque Ports had the power of sending bailiffs to Yarmouth to govern the town during the herring-fishing season, from Michaelmas to Martinmas, their jurisdiction being concurrent with that of the bailiffs of Yarmouth ; but on account of the jealousies that were thus created the privilege was abolished in the reign of Charles II. Until the Act of William IV. the town was governed by a charter of Queen Anne. It sent two members to parliament from the reign of Edward I. till 1867, when it was disfranchised ; but by the Act of 1885 it was again allowed to return one member. (T. F. H.)

About this EncyclopediaTop ContributorsAll ContributorsToday in History
Terms of UsePrivacyContact Us

© 2005-19 1902 Encyclopedia. All Rights Reserved.

This website is the free online Encyclopedia Britannica (9th Edition and 10th Edition) with added expert translations and commentaries