West Dereham

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West Dereham
West Dereham-g1.jpg
St Andrew's, West Dereham
Grid reference: TF656009
Location: 52°34’51"N, 0°26’38"E
Population: 440
Post town: King's Lynn
Postcode: PE33
Local Government
Council: King's Lynn and West Norfolk
West Dereham village sign

West Dereham is a village in Norfolk, found some 4 miles east of the town of Downham Market, 12 miles south of the major local centre, King's Lynn. The county town, Norwich is 37 miles distant.

The parish of West Dereham covers an area of over 5 square miles but in 2001 is was recorded as having a population of just 440, in 176 households.

The village was once named simply Dereham, but was open to confusion with the larger Norfolk town of the same name, which is named Dereham or East Dereham, in the middle-most of the shire, fully 25 miles away from its namesake.

While East Dereham claims to have been the burial place of St Withburh, or Withburga, all that the books say is that she was buried in "Dereham", and West Dereham might have been meant, as some scholars believe.[1]

Parish Church

The church of West Dereham St Andrew is one of 124 existing round-tower churches in Norfolk, and is a Grade I listed building.[2]

West Dereham Abbey

West Dereham Abbey was an abbey founded in 1188 by Hubert Walter, Dean of York, at his birthplace, West Dereham. It was to be a daughter house of Welbeck Abbey, Nottinghamshire, for canons regular of the Premonstratensian order, who were to pray for the souls of the founder and his parents, his brothers and sisters and all his relatives and friends. The abbey was surrounded by a moat and was to become one of the larger religious houses in Norfolk, with extensive estates.[3]

The last recorded Bishop's visitation took place 10 August 1503 and made an unfavourable report of the brethren. In preparation for the Dissolution of the Monasteries, Sir John Prise reported in 1536 that the canons were all lacking self-restraint, and were ready to confess themselves as such, longing to marry, and believing that the king had been divinely sent on earth to bring this about. The Abbey was dissolved and in 1539 the site and its lands were granted by Henry VIII to Thomas Dereham of Crimplesham.

A house built on the site in the later 16th century was altered and extended in the 1690s by a Sir Thomas Dereham on his return from Italy, where he had been envoy to the court of the Grand Duke of Tuscany. This house was largely demolished in around 1810, the remaining part being converted to a farmhouse, the ruins of which were restored in the 1990s. Almost all the abbey buildings have been demolished, but buried foundations survive and can be seen as cropmarks on aerial photographs, as can other earthworks and fishponds.[4]


  1. cf. Garmondsway, notes to translation of the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle
  2. "Images of England". English Heritage. http://www.imagesofengland.org.uk/details/default.aspx?id=221718. 
  3. British History Online
  4. P. Aldridge (NLA) 2007

Outside links

("Wikimedia Commons" has material
about West Dereham)