Dereham is steeped in history and was originally established as a religious community by Withburga, daughter of a Saxon king. The churchyard is where St Withburga’s well can be found. It is said that Withburga’s body was laid to rest here and that a well sprang from her tomb when her remains were stolen by the Abbott of Ely.
The market place and High Street are full of Georgian buildings and there is still a sense of days gone by behind the modern facades of the shop windows. Every Friday there is a large market offering a good variety of merchandise; a smaller market is held on Tuesdays and a monthly farmers’ market is held at the railway station.
Dereham has a wide choice of restaurants, pubs and tea-rooms and a good selection of shops. There are sports facilities for tennis, golf, swimming and bowls and an abundance of picturesque spots to take a walk like the Neatherd Moor or the Vicarage Meadow. Other places of interest are Dereham’s 19th century windmill and also Bishop Bonner’s Cottage, which is the home of the town museum.
The Church of St Nicholas was built by the Normans in the 13th century and, during the 16th century, a separate bell tower was added. This was used as a prison during the Napoleonic wars.
Dereham has been home to some famous inhabitants including William Cowper, the 18th century poet, and author George Borrow who mentioned the town in his work ‘Lavengro’.
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