Watton, Norfolk

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Watton Town Sign.JPG
Watton town sign
Norfolk UK location map.svg
Red pog.svg
Location within Norfolk
Area7.20 km2 (2.78 sq mi)
Population7,202 (2011 census) [1]
  Density 1,000/km2 (2,600/sq mi)
OS grid reference TF916008
Shire county
Country England
Sovereign state United Kingdom
Post town Thetford
Postcode district IP25
Dialling code 01953
Police Norfolk
Fire Norfolk
Ambulance East of England
EU Parliament East of England
UK Parliament
Website http://www.wattontowncouncil.gov.uk/
List of places
52°34′17″N0°49′33″E / 52.57127°N 0.82586°E / 52.57127; 0.82586 Coordinates: 52°34′17″N0°49′33″E / 52.57127°N 0.82586°E / 52.57127; 0.82586

Watton is a market town in the district of Breckland within the English county of Norfolk. The A1075 Dereham-Thetford road and the B1108 Brandon-Norwich Road meet at a crossroads here, where the town developed, about 20 miles (32 km) west of Norwich. [2]

Market town European settlement with the medieval right to host markets

A market town is a European settlement that obtained, in the Middle Ages, the right to host markets, which distinguished it from a village or city. In Britain, small rural towns with a hinterland of villages are still commonly called market towns, as sometimes reflected in their names.

Non-metropolitan district Type of local government district in England

Non-metropolitan districts, or colloquially "shire districts", are a type of local government district in England. As created, they are sub-divisions of non-metropolitan counties in a two-tier arrangement.

Norfolk County of England

Norfolk is a county in East Anglia in England. It borders Lincolnshire to the northwest, Cambridgeshire to the west and southwest, and Suffolk to the south. Its northern and eastern boundaries are the North Sea and to the north-west, The Wash. The county town is Norwich. With an area of 2,074 square miles (5,370 km2) and a population of 859,400, Norfolk is a largely rural county with a population density of 401 per square mile. Of the county's population, 40% live in four major built up areas: Norwich (213,000), Great Yarmouth (63,000), King's Lynn (46,000) and Thetford (25,000).


The civil parish covers an area of 7.2 km2 (2.8 sq mi) with about 6,800 inhabitants in 3,000 households, [3] increasing to a population of 7,202 in 3,226 at the 2011 Census. The Domesday Book recorded that Watton (or Wadetuna) featured a church, manor house and Anglo-Saxon settlement.

Domesday Book 11th-century survey of landholding in England as well as the surviving manuscripts of the survey

Domesday Book is a manuscript record of the "Great Survey" of much of England and parts of Wales completed in 1086 by order of King William the Conqueror. The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle states:

Then, at the midwinter [1085], was the king in Gloucester with his council .... After this had the king a large meeting, and very deep consultation with his council, about this land; how it was occupied, and by what sort of men. Then sent he his men over all England into each shire; commissioning them to find out "How many hundreds of hides were in the shire, what land the king himself had, and what stock upon the land; or, what dues he ought to have by the year from the shire."

Anglo-Saxons Germanic tribes who started to inhabit parts of Great Britain from the 5th century onwards

The Anglo-Saxons were a cultural group who inhabited Great Britain from the 5th century. They comprise people from Germanic tribes who migrated to the island from continental Europe, their descendants, and indigenous British groups who adopted many aspects of Anglo-Saxon culture and language; the cultural foundations laid by the Anglo-Saxons are the foundation of the modern English legal system and of many aspects of English society; the modern English language owes over half its words – including the most common words of everyday speech – to the language of the Anglo-Saxons. Historically, the Anglo-Saxon period denotes the period in Britain between about 450 and 1066, after their initial settlement and up until the Norman conquest. The early Anglo-Saxon period includes the creation of an English nation, with many of the aspects that survive today, including regional government of shires and hundreds. During this period, Christianity was established and there was a flowering of literature and language. Charters and law were also established. The term Anglo-Saxon is popularly used for the language that was spoken and written by the Anglo-Saxons in England and eastern Scotland between at least the mid-5th century and the mid-12th century. In scholarly use, it is more commonly called Old English.

A station at Watton, on the Thetford & Watton Railway, opened in October 1869 and closed in June 1964. The line itself was closed in April 1965. [4]

Watton railway station was located in Watton, Norfolk. It was on the Great Eastern Railway line between Swaffham and Thetford, and closed for passengers in 1964 and freight in 1965 as part of the Beeching Axe.

Bury and Thetford (Swaffham Branch)

The Bury and Thetford, also known as the Crab and Winkle Line, was a railway line in England. It was formed of the Watton and Swaffham Railway, founded in 1866 as an independent venture by the Thetford and Watton Railway Company. Freight services commenced in January 1869, with passenger services in October 1869. The line ran from Thetford, via Watton to a junction with the Lynn and Dereham Railway at Swaffham and was completed in 1875. The extension to Swaffham cost £72,000,

In 1984 Watton was twinned with the Lower Rhine (Niederrhein) town of Weeze, Germany, with the subsequent twinning charter being formally signed in 1987. [5]

Lower Rhine river

The Lower Rhine flows from Bonn, Germany, to the North Sea at Hoek van Holland, Netherlands ; alternatively, Lower Rhine may refer to the part upstream of Pannerdens Kop, excluding the Nederrijn.

Weeze Place in North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany

Weeze is a municipality in the Lower Rhine (Niederrhein) region, in the northwestern part of North Rhine-Westphalia in the district of Kleve in the region of Düsseldorf.

Wednesday market

Watton town centre Watton Town Centre.JPG
Watton town centre

A market is held every Wednesday, between 9.00am and 1.00pm, although stalls are often kept open on the high street well after this time. Like many Norfolk markets, Watton market always has a wide variety of fresh sea produce available, usually caught the previous day. It often has available such regional delicacies as samphire and fresh water crayfish. The Lord of Watton Hall, John de Vaux, obtained a charter for a market to be held on Fridays. But, the people of nearby Saham Toney complained to the King that the market was harming their own held on the same day. Their complaints were upheld and the charter was withdrawn.


Samphire is a name given to a number of succulent halophytes that tend to be associated with water bodies.

Charter Grant of authority or rights

A charter is the grant of authority or rights, stating that the granter formally recognizes the prerogative of the recipient to exercise the rights specified. It is implicit that the granter retains superiority, and that the recipient admits a limited status within the relationship, and it is within that sense that charters were historically granted, and that sense is retained in modern usage of the term.

Saham Toney village in the United Kingdom

Saham Toney is a village and a civil parish in the English county of Norfolk. The village is 14.5 miles (23.3 km) North of Thetford, 27.3 miles (43.9 km) west of Norwich and 101 miles (163 km) north-east of London. The village lies 13.1 miles (21.1 km) west of the town of Attleborough.The nearest railway station is at Attleborough for the Breckland Line which runs between Cambridge and Norwich. The nearest airport is Norwich International Airport. The civil parish has an area of 16.51 km2 (6.37 sq mi) and in 2001 had a population of 1565 in 680 households, reducing to 1,507 in 679 households at the 2011 Census. For the purposes of local government, the parish falls within the district of Breckland.

John de Vaux conveyed the manor to his brother Oliver, who was evidently on better terms with the King since he immediately obtained a new charter for a Wednesday market. The market centred on Market Square in front of Wayland Hall, and as it grew it spread westwards along High Street. A market cross stood in the square supported by eight oak pillars. This cross was demolished in 1820 and replaced by a milestone showing the distances to neighbouring towns. [6]

High Street generic primary business street of towns or cities

High Street is a metonym for the concept of the primary business street of towns or cities, especially in the United Kingdom and Commonwealth of Nations. To distinguish it from "centres" of nearby places it is frequently preceded unofficially by the name of its settlement. In a town it implies the focal point for business, especially shops and street stalls in town and city centres. As a generic shorthand presupposed upon linear settlements it may be used to denote more precise concepts such as the urban retail sector, town centre sectors of employment, all small shops and services outlets and even wider concepts taking in social concepts.

Market cross structure marking a market square

A market cross, or in Scots, a mercat cross, is a structure used to mark a market square in market towns, where historically the right to hold a regular market or fair was granted by the monarch, a bishop or a baron. Market crosses were originally from the distinctive tradition in Early Medieval Insular art of free-standing stone standing or high crosses, often elaborately carved, which goes back to the 7th century. Market crosses can be found in most market towns in Britain. British emigrants often installed such crosses in their new cities, and several can be found in Canada and Australia.

Milestone Numbered marker along a road or boundary

A milestone is one of a series of numbered markers placed along a road or boundary at intervals of one mile or occasionally, parts of a mile. They are typically located at the side of the road or in a median or central reservation. They are alternatively known as mile markers, mileposts or mile posts. Mileage is the distance along the road from a fixed commencement point. Commonly the term "milestone" may also refer to markers placed at other distances, such as every kilometre.

Wayland Wood

The nearby Wayland Wood is the setting of the old English ballad "Babes in the Wood". First published in 1595, it tells the tale of two Norfolk children abandoned and left to die in the woods by their uncle. The legend is also depicted on the town sign, which occupies a prominent position in High Street in front of the clock tower.

Wayland wood is a popular dog walking and relaxation spot (although dogs are banned, this rule is unenforced). The wood is now a nature reserve owned by the Norfolk Wildlife Trust.

Clock tower

Watton Clock Tower Watton Clock Tower - Norfolk.jpg
Watton Clock Tower

The clock tower of Watton was built in 1679 by Christopher Hey, a wealthy mercer. The tower was built to hold a fire warning bell following the 'Great Fire of Watton' that destroyed more than sixty properties in 1674. [7] This early warning bell, known as 'Ting-Tang,' is hung in an ornate cupola on top of the tower. [6] The brick tower was rendered with cement and a new clock, donated by a local citizen, was installed in 1827. To commemorate the silver jubilee of King George V and Queen Mary in 1935, a new clock face was installed.
The clock is still working in the 21st century. The building is now home to a tourist and local information centre.

Watton Airfield

RAF Watton runway RAF Watton runway.JPG
RAF Watton runway

Watton hosted a large RAF station for many years, namely RAF Watton, which stimulated the town's economy. After the Second World War and later changes, the RAF station was used as a Transport Command airfield and as a radar station, as well as providing housing for many RAF personnel and their families. [8] Most of the station has been developed as part of the Blenheim Grange housing estate. The runway is being returned to agricultural land. Part of the old military land was developed as Wayland Prison.

Before housing construction, the base was used by the USAF from the nearby RAF Mildenhall for training, using C130s for refuelling exercises and parachute training. It was also part of the Stanford Training Area (STANTA) and used for army training purposes.

Wayland Show

The annual Wayland Show is one of Norfolk's oldest agricultural events, having been held for more than 140 years. Held on the first Sunday in August, the show attracts crowds of more than 5,000 people [9] to see displays of livestock; cattle, pigs, sheep and fur & feather and the many marquees and trade stands. The event also features displays of classic cars, vintage tractors, gun dogs, falconry and horse and carriage rides, and many equestrian events. It is held at the western side of Watton, with the show ground being accessed off Brandon Road.

Sports and social club

Watton's Sports Centre was built in three separate stages between 1973 and 1984. The first stage was officially opened by Sir Edmund Bacon, Lord Lieutenant of Norfolk in 1974, and consisted of a main games hall, bar area, committee rooms, changing rooms and a car park. The second stage contained two squash courts and a meeting room and was opened by the chairman of the National Playing Fields Association in 1976. The third phase was completed in 1983 using profits generated from stages one and two and provided facilities for five-a-side football, cricket nets, badminton and basketball. The centre is home to Watton United F.C., who play in Division Four of the Anglian Combination. There is also a hockey club who play on the astro there. Currently, they are needing a new one as it is becoming too old to play on.

Watton and Griston link
Website http://www.sustransconnect2.org.uk/schemes/project_detail.php?id=74
Cost estimate£250,000

As part of the Sustrans Connect2 project Stan's Walk has created a cycling and walking route between Watton and the village of Griston. The new route follows the eastern boundary of Watton airfield and provides a shorter, traffic free alternative to the A1075. [10] Norfolk County Council have allocated a £40,000 contribution towards funding of the scheme. [11] A schematic map of the scheme has been published online. [12]

See also

Related Research Articles

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Babes in the Wood traditional childrens tale

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Wayland Wood

Wayland Wood is a 31.7-hectare (78-acre) biological Site of Special Scientific Interest near to Watton in Norfolk. It is a Nature Conservation Review site, Grade 2, and it is managed by the Norfolk Wildlife Trust

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Carbrooke village in the United Kingdom

Carbrooke is a village and civil parish in the Breckland district of mid-Norfolk, East Anglia, England in the United Kingdom. It is 3 miles (4.8 km) from the centre of Watton, 8 miles (13 km) from Dereham and 17 miles (27 km) from its postal town of Thetford. It has an area of 12.66 km2 (4.89 sq mi) with an estimated population of 1,310 in 2007. The measured population at the Census 2011 was 2,076.

Redenhall with Harleston

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  1. "Civil Parish population 2011". Neighbourhood Statistics. Office for National Statistics. Retrieved 14 August 2016.
  2. Google Maps
  3. Office for National Statistics & Norfolk County Council (2001). Census population and household counts for unparished urban areas and all parishes Archived 11 February 2017 at the Wayback Machine .
  4. "Station Name:Watton (Norfolk)". Disused Stations. Retrieved 20 December 2017.
  5. A History of Watton. http://www.watton-norfolk.org.uk/ahistoryofwatton.html
  6. 1 2 Watton through the Ages by George Jessop – The History of Watton, Norfolk
  7. The Watton & Swaffham Times
  8. RAF Watton History
  9. Watton and Swaffham Times – Text Only
  10. "Watton and Griston Link". Sustrans . Retrieved 7 July 2009.
  11. "Planning Obligations Monitoring Statement" (PDF). Norfolk County Council. February 2009. Retrieved 7 July 2009.
  12. "Watton and Griston Link Schematic Map" (PDF). Sustrans. Archived from the original (PDF) on 21 October 2007. Retrieved 7 July 2009.