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Map sources for Heacham at grid reference TF6837
Map sources for Heacham at grid reference TF6837

Heacham (52°54'25?N 00°29'24?E? / ?52.90694, 0.49) is a village of 4,611[1] inhabitants, located in north-west Norfolk, England, between King's Lynn, 14 miles to the south and Hunstanton, about 3 miles to the north, on The Wash.

Contents

[edit] History

Its name purportedly derives from a 12th-century Norman lord, Geoffrey de Hecham[2]. Although this is possible, it is unlikely as the name ‘de Hecham’ literally means ‘of Hecham’ implying the place name was already in existence. The name Hecham was in use at the time of the Little Domesday Book as part of the Smithdon hundred (Smetheduna) which was written around 1086.

Smethden HUNDRED. Of the fief of Frederick. Hecham was held by Toki, a free man, TRE. There have always been 7 ploughs in demesne and 70 bordars and 6 slaves, and 12 acres of meadow and 7 ploughs belonging to the men; woodland for 100 pigs, and 3½ mills; 1 fishery; always 1 horse, 30 head of cattle, 60 pigs, 600 sheep. Here belong 35 sokemen, 1½ carucates of land; always 6 ploughs, 4 acres of meadow. Then it was worth £12 , now 15. In the same place William de Warenne holds 2 carucates of land which Alnoth, a free man, held TRE. There have always been 26 bordars and 2 slaves and 6 acres of meadow, and 2 ploughs in demesne, and 1½ ploughs belonging to the men, and half a mill, and 1 salt-pan and 1 fishery, and 4 sokemen [with] 2 acres. Then [there were] 12 head of cattle, now 16. Then [there were] 30 pigs, now 40. Then [there were] 80 sheep, now 60;

Prior to the Norman Conquest, Heacham was controlled by two Saxons, Alnoth, and Toki the king's thegn whos estates were based around his hall in Castle Acre. After the conquest the lands passed to William de Warenne and his brother-in-law Frederick de Warenne who was later killed by Hereward the Wake.

The name itself however is more likely to have derived from the name of the river, The Hitch, in conjunction with the Old English word ham or hamm[3] which meant either "homestead, village, manor, estate" or “enclosure, land hemmed by water or marsh or higher ground, land in a river bend, river meadow, promontory."

There is evidence of settlement in the Heacham area, for around the last 5,000 years, with numerous Neolithic and latter Bronze Age finds throughout the parish. This is presumably due to the fact the local geology consists of primarily cretaceous sands and underlying chalk meaning that there is very little surface water for miles in any direction. This can also be seen along the banks of the Caudle Carr located just outside Dersingham where numerous archaeological sites have been found. Running water in conjunction with the fertile surrounding lands, made it an ideal settling location for early man. Evidence of habitation continues through the Iron age into the Romano-British[4] era. But the beginnings of the present village most probably did not occur until around the 5th century with the Anglo-Saxon invasion and the beginnings of present-day East Anglia.

Heacham church

[edit] Church

The Church of St Mary the Virgin is the most ancient building left in the village. It dates from 1230 and is Norman in design. In the cupola on the tower hangs a bell (circa 1100), the oldest in East Anglia, and the seventh-oldest in the country. The transepts have been lost as well as 12 feet from the east end, and the roof has been lowered.

The Oxford historian of science Robert Gunther is buried in the village.

[edit] Pocahontas

Village sign depicting Pocahontas

Heacham also has historic ties to Pocahontas, who married John Rolfe in 1614. The Rolfes are buried in the Heacham Church.

Sunset at Heacham beach

[edit] Beaches

Heacham started to become popular as a seaside resort with the Victorians due to the opening of the railway line between King's Lynn and Hunstanton in the early 1860s. This culminated in the building of the Jubilee Bridge in 1887 to replace an old wooden bridge as a result of oversubscriptions from parishioners in celebration of Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee. Heacham is still popular today as a seaside resort with both the North Beach (Jubilee) Road and South Beach Road being lined with caravan parks.

The beach at Heacham is situated on the east banks of The Wash; this means it is one of the few beaches in eastern England where the sun sets over the sea instead of over land. As such, with the right weather conditions, beautiful sunsets can be viewed.

On 29th July 1929 Miss Mercedes Gleitze became the first woman to swim the Wash. Originally aiming for Hunstanton she finally came ashore at Heacham after battling treacherous tides for over 13 hours.

Heacham was severely affected by the North Sea flood of 1953, where nine people died in the village, as a result of the sea breaking through its defences.

[edit] Norfolk Lavender

Lavender fields

Norfolk Lavender Ltd was founded in 1932. Linn Chilvers supplied the plants and the labour. Francis Dusgate of Fring Hall provided the land. The first lavender field was planted on Dusgate's land at Fring and in 1936 Dusgate acquired Caley Mill on the River Heacham and the ground around it, not for the building but for the land. Lavender has been grown there ever since. A kiosk was erected from which bunches of lavender were sold to passing pre-war traffic. By 1936 Caley Mill was already disused and no significant repairs were carried out until 1953/4 after the new road (the A149) had been put through cutting the lavender field in half. It was at that time that the new lay-by and kiosk were constructed. Further repairs and restoration work were carried out at the Mill in 1977-78 and in the late 1980s. From the early 1990s onwards it has broadened its range to include other typical English floral fragrances. These are sold all over Britain and exported all over the world.

[edit] See also

[edit] External links

[edit] References

  1. ,  Office for National Statistics & Norfolk County Council, 2001. 2001 Census
  2. ,  A Survey of the History of English Placenames Ham or Hamm
  3. ,  Aerial photo showing Iron Age or Romano British enclosures in Heacham English Heritage
  4. ,  Name believed to derive from Geoffrey de Hecham [5]

(Source: Wikipedia)
 
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