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Page last updated at 16:02 GMT, Tuesday, 3 November 2009
Ten Town Tour: North Walsham

Market Place, North Walsham
North Walsham became wealthy through its textiles industry

The traditional market town of North Walsham has become an important hub in the centre of north Norfolk's agricultural economy.

Existing from the Anglo Saxon period, North Walsham survived Viking and Norman invasions, but in the Medieval era welcomed an invasion of Flemish weavers.

The weavers arrived in the 12th Century and two important textile settlements began at North Walsham and neighbouring Worstead, producing the 'Walsham' a summer-weight cloth, and the heavier 'Worstead'.

The 14th Century 'wool churches' portray the wealth that the trade generated for the towns.

North Walsham, now with a population of around 12,000 people, was involved in the Peasants' Revolt of 1381, where local leader John Litester led a rebellion of thousands against the Poll Tax and seized Norwich, then the second most important city in England.

The King's forces, led by the Bishop of Norwich, Henry De Spenser, drove the rebels from the city, with the final confrontation at the Battle of North Walsham at nearby Bryant's Heath. Two stone crosses marking the battle site exist on Norwich Road in the town.

A fire which ripped through the town in June, 1600, destroyed 118 houses, 70 shops and many other buildings.

The rebuilding of the town was encouraged by Sir William Paston, who also bought up land to build a grammar school, founded in 1606. The rebuild was to shape the town centre to how it looks today.

The grammar school, now part of Paston College, resides behind the town's Market Place. For two years from 1769, it was attended by brothers William and Horatio Nelson who boarded there.

North Walsham is now known for its rugby union team who play in the National League against local rivals Diss. They train and play in the nearby village of Scottow.

BBC Norfolk drives into North Walsham QD department store on Monday, 23 November, 2009.


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