Wymondham invites both visitors and locals to explore its historic streets, where the echoes of the past harmonize with the vibrant present. This guide is your passport to unveiling the enchanting layers of Wymondham, where you’ll encounter historical landmarks, culinary delights, cultural treasures, and natural beauty.
Whether you’re a history enthusiast, a food lover, an adventurer, or someone seeking a tranquil escape, Wymondham offers a diverse range of activities to captivate your senses. Join us on a journey through the best things to do in Wymondham and let the town’s unique character capture your heart.
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How do you pronounce Wymondham?
Wymondham is one of several places in Norfolk where the pronunciation deviates significantly from its spelling. Through the passage of time, the pronunciation of Wymondham has shortened into “win-dm.”
What is Wymondham famous for?
Wymondham, a historic market town in Norfolk, is best known for its impressive Abbey and iconic Market Cross. Established in 1107, the Abbey stands as a timeless symbol of the town, drawing in visitors from across the globe with its breathtaking architecture. Meanwhile, the Market Cross, initially constructed in the 17th century and meticulously restored in the 19th century, has long been the vibrant hub of the town’s marketplace for generations.
Where is Wymondham?
Wymondham is located approximately 10 miles southwest of Norwich just off the A11.
History of Wymondham
Wymondham’s history is a tapestry woven with threads from prehistoric times to the present. Evidence of human occupation, from flint tools to pottery sherds, bears witness to its ancient roots. The town’s story also includes Bronze Age, Iron Age, and Roman settlements that have left their mark.
During the Middle Ages, Wymondham blossomed, earning a place of significance. It became the site of a priory and obtained a coveted market charter, reflecting its growth in both size and importance.
Intriguingly, Wymondham played a pivotal role in the historic Kett’s Rebellion, which ignited on its streets in 1549. Rebels rallied against the enclosure of land, their discontent stemming from fences erected by wealthy landowners. The rebellion was sparked by the town’s annual feast, held in honor of St. Thomas Becket, even though such celebrations had been declared illegal by Henry VIII in 1538. The movement culminated with a march to Norwich.
Wymondham’s history also bears the scars of a devastating fire in 1615. The fires, set by unknown arsonists, tore through the town, reducing its timber-framed, thatched houses to ashes. The enigmatic motive behind the arson, possibly fueled by anti-Catholic sentiments, remains a historical mystery.
In the late 18th century, Wymondham embraced progress by housing a pioneering prison featuring individual cells for inmates. Economic shifts reshaped the town in the mid-19th century, as the woollen industry declined and railway branches emerged.
World War II brought a military hospital to the vicinity, later transformed for use by Wymondham College. The town’s brush factories, once bustling with a workforce of up to 1,000, closed their doors in the 1980s, paving the way for housing developments.
Today, Wymondham stands as a vibrant town, steeped in history and graced with a collection of remarkable landmarks that tell the captivating tale of its enduring legacy.
Things to Do in Wymondham
Now, let’s dive into the heart of Wymondham and uncover the wealth of experiences it has to offer. From captivating history to delectable dining, cultural treasures, and scenic beauty, Wymondham’s got it all. Let me share a few things to do in Wymondham.
#1 Visit Wymondham Abbey
Wymondham Abbey stands as the town’s cherished Anglican Parish Church, a place of deep historical and spiritual significance dedicated to St Mary and St Thomas of Canterbury. With a rich history spanning over nine centuries, it has been a steadfast center of Christian worship and a testament to Wymondham’s illustrious past. Today, it remains not only a place of prayer but also a cherished site of pilgrimage within our community.
Established in the 12th century, the twin towers of Wymondham Abbey are iconic, visible for miles around and serving as enduring symbols of the town. Initially, Wymondham Priory accommodated a modest twelve Benedictine monks but gradually expanded in both influence and prosperity over the centuries. It was a unique shared space, welcoming both monks and parishioners.
The aftermath of the Dissolution marked a transformative era for the priory. The monastic buildings were gradually dismantled, with their stones repurposed. The eastern end of the church, separated from the nave by a solid wall since around 1385, was demolished, resulting in the church’s present length, which is approximately half of its original size. In 1573, Queen Elizabeth I’s visit left a lasting mark on the church, with her date and initials still visible on the exterior stonework.
Wymondham Abbey boasts several notable architectural features, including the Norman nave, a resplendent 15th-century angel roof adorning the nave, and an exquisite north-aisle roof.
#2 Go to the Wymondham Heritage Museum
The Wymondham Heritage Museum offers a captivating journey into the rich history of Wymondham and Norfolk, with a diverse collection of exhibits and displays. Their permanent collection delves into various aspects of the region’s heritage, including agriculture, the charming Old Wymondham storefronts, the tale of Robert Kett, the historical significance of the Wymondham Bridewell, and the art of brushmaking in Wymondham.
This extraordinary collection finds its home in The Bridewell, a nationally significant structure that redefined the concept of incarceration during its time. Visitors can explore the very rooms that once housed prisoners, served as courtrooms, and functioned as police stations. The museum even allows guests to venture into the dungeons beneath the cells, offering a vivid glimpse into the history of confinement and punishment.
The origin of the term “Bridewell” can be traced back to 1553 when one of Henry VIII’s palaces underwent a transformation, becoming a “House of Correction” to manage vagrants. This palace was located near the Holy Well of St. Bride in London, thus earning the name “Bridewell Palace.” Subsequently, other houses of correction adopted the title “Bridewells.”
Wymondham’s first Bridewell was established in 1619, utilizing the basement of an old medieval house situated on the same site as the present-day Bridewell and museum. This historical site serves as a captivating window into the evolution of penal systems and the town’s heritage.
The museum is typically open late-March to late-October and there is a small admission fee. Find out more here.
#3 See the Wymondham Market Cross
Wymondham’s iconic Market Cross is an unmissable landmark in the town centre. Erected in 1617-1618 to replace its predecessor, which fell victim to destruction in 1615, this timber-framed structure holds a distinctive charm.
It stands as an octagonal building, uniquely supported over an open ground floor by eight timber buttress-like posts and a central post. The upper floor features subtle carved decorations and can be accessed via an exterior stair at the back, while the building is crowned by a striking pyramidal roof.
Today, the Market Cross serves as the home to the Tourist Information Centre, although its opening hours are limited. If you happen to visit when it’s open, do step inside, as you can obtain a free map and mini-guide for exploring Wymondham.
Additionally, you’ll discover an array of Wymondham-themed gifts available for purchase, including postcards, local books and booklets, maps, tea towels, mugs, magnets, pencils, badges, greeting cards, and a charming parish poster. Please note that the Tourist Information Centre only accepts cash.
#4 Meet the Wymondham Alpacas
In the tranquil Wymondham countryside, a group of friendly alpacas has found their new home. You can join these lovable creatures and their owner, Tom, for an experience of a lifetime.
Get up close and personal to discover the endearing personalities of these alpacas and gain insights into their care. Then, let these gentle creatures set the pace as you enjoy a relaxing walk in their company. Along the way, you’ll be an active participant during feeding time, and there’s no limit to the questions you can ask!
At Centre Paws Norfolk, the Alpaca Experience is a unique and captivating outing that typically spans between one to one and a half hours.
Find out more here.
#5 Ride the Mid-Norfolk Railway
Note: Unfortunately, urgent Track and bridge repairs are required at Wicklewood before passenger trains can run through to Wymondham Abbey again.
From Wymondham, you can ride the region’s longest standard-gauge heritage railway to Dereham. From the Wymondham Abbey Halt station, you can board a diesel or steam train and enjoy a trip back in time to the 1950s and 1960s.
The railway also hosts special events, including the popular Polar Express service during the Christmas season and afternoon tea on select days. It’s a unique attraction for railway enthusiasts and history buffs.
Get more information here.
#6 Check out Wymondham Arts Centre
A visit to the Wymondham Arts Centre promises a vibrant and ever-changing experience for art enthusiasts and the creatively curious alike. Housed within the charming Becket’s Chapel, this former place of worship has been beautifully transformed into an exhibition and events space.
One of the unique aspects of the Wymondham Arts Centre is its commitment to showcasing local artistic talent. Frequently, you’ll find the works of talented local artists featured, and the best part is that many of these captivating pieces are available for sale. This provides an excellent opportunity to not only admire but also to acquire pieces of art that resonate with you.
The exhibitions within the center change regularly, ensuring there’s always something fresh and inspiring to discover. In addition to exhibitions, the center often hosts workshops, allowing visitors to engage more deeply with the artistic process. These workshops provide a hands-on experience that can be both educational and a source of personal enrichment.
When workshops are not in session, the Wymondham Arts Centre has a special treat for young artists in the making. A dedicated children’s drawing area is made available, encouraging the younger generation to explore their creative talents and imaginations.
Find out more here.
#7 Visit a Pub
Visiting a pub in the heart of Wymondham is a delightful way to immerse yourself in the town’s charm and hospitality. Here are some of the best options in the town centre:
The White Hart: At The White Hart, you’ll experience warm and attentive service from their caring and friendly team. They offer delectable food daily, including a Sunday Carvery, and their fabulous bar boasts a wide variety of drinks. Don’t miss the chance to relax in their sunny beer garden. This beautiful establishment is steeped in history, with references to the pub dating as far back as 1526.
The Green Dragon: The Green Dragon is a beautiful14th-century pub located in the shadow of Wymondham Abbey. Here, you can enjoy great beers, delightful food, and the company of friendly staff, all while enjoying the ambiance of their fabulous garden.
Queens Head: The Queen’s Head is a charming 17th-century timber-framed inn, perfectly situated among Wymondham’s historic streets. With its abundance of original features, it offers a truly authentic experience. Whether you’re there to sample their fine ales, relish a meal in the restaurant, or unwind in the bar area, Victoria and her team extend a warm welcome to all, including well-behaved children and dogs.
#8 Go Antiquing
In Wymondham, the art of antiquing finds a special place with two unique options to explore. First, the Wymondham Antiques Centre beckons with a captivating collection of antique, bespoke, and refurbished furniture. It’s not just about furniture; here, you’ll also discover an eclectic range of vintage and antique collectibles, each with a story to tell.
Alternatively, the Wymondham Furniture Warehouse offers a treasure trove for antique aficionados. Their diverse inventory includes both modern and antique furniture, and they deal in a wide array of items, from antiques and retro pieces to collectables and architectural salvage. With ever-changing stock that evolves daily, a visit is always worthwhile to uncover unique finds from pre-loved, antique, vintage, retro, and more.
#9 See Kett’s Oak
Located alongside the B1172 road between Wymondham and Hethersett, stands an ancient and historically significant oak tree, known as Kett’s Oak (Quercus robur). This venerable oak is steeped in history, serving as the very spot where, in 1549, Robert Kett and his brother William addressed a gathering of men during the infamous Kett’s Rebellion.
Their grievances were fuelled by concerns over the enclosure of common lands and the soaring cost of living. Unfortunately, the rebellion met its downfall, resulting in the execution of several rebels, including Robert and William Kett. Remarkably, nine of the rebels met their fate here at this tree.
Kett’s Oak’s age and historical importance are evident in its weathered condition, bearing visible signs of wear. A split in the trunk has been filled with cement, and iron bands are used to support and protect the tree.
Recognizing the need to preserve this symbol of historical resistance and resilience, in August 2020, Norfolk County Council took steps to improve the oak’s health by applying biochar to its roots.
#10 Visit the Farmers Market (Third Saturday of Each Month)
The farmers’ market in Wymondham is a beloved local tradition, eagerly anticipated by regular customers who have made it a monthly ritual. Held on the third Saturday of each month, this market is not just about shopping; it’s a delightful social occasion. If you’re new to the town, you might not have yet discovered this excellent local asset, which has been a part of Wymondham for over 23 years.
Wandering through the market stalls, you’ll find that farmers’ markets here are all about celebrating and supporting local produce. They exclusively feature items grown or produced nearby, so while you may not find bananas here, you will discover a bounty of homegrown and homemade treasures. It’s an opportunity to connect with local farmers, to know where your food comes from, and to savor the exceptional flavors that often surpass supermarket offerings.
The market opens its gates from 9:00 to 13:00, but seasoned shoppers know to arrive early to secure the best picks of fresh meat, vegetables, and bread.
How to Get to Wymondham
Wymondham is conveniently located just a short drive away from Norwich via the A11. Alternatively, you can opt for the train (for pricing and schedules, please check here) or the bus for an equally convenient journey (get the details here).
Where to Stay In Wymondham
You may not find any hotels in Wymondham but that doesn’t mean it isn’t a fabulous place to base yourself when you visit Norfolk. Wait until you see how lovely some of the self-catering holiday cottages are in Wymondham.
Check out the options here.
Is Wymondham Worth Visiting?
Absolutely, Wymondham is worth visiting! This historic Norfolk town offers a delightful blend of rich heritage and modern charm. Explore its ancient streets, where echoes of the past resound, and discover historic landmarks like Wymondham Abbey and the Market Cross. Immerse yourself in its lively community, try the delicious local cuisine, and hunt for treasures in its antique shops. Whether you’re a history enthusiast, a foodie, or simply seeking a peaceful escape, Wymondham has something to offer. It’s a hidden gem in Norfolk that’s well worth a visit.
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