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Byways and an old Turnpike (Norwich to Caistor camp, Wymondham, and Thetford.) page 2


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In the middle of the sixteenth century Stanfield Hall was occupied by Sir John Robsart, who was twice High Sheriff of the county. He was the father of the unfortunate Amy Robsart, whose husband, Lord Robert Dudley, son of the Earl of Warwick, probably first met his future wife when he was Sir John Robsart's guest here at the time of the Kett Rebellion. He married Amy Robsart in the year following the Rebellion.

Although the village of Kimberley is rather more than three miles from the town, Kimberley Hall is in the parish of Wymondham. The Wodebouse family, into whose possession the estate came in the reign of Henry VI., and who trace their descent from the Fastolffs, is now represented by the Earl of Kimberley, who preserves in the hall a throne erected for Queen Elizabeth, who stayed here in 1578 when on her way from Norwich to Cambridge. The hilt of an old sword and a poniard, said to have been used by Sir John Wodehouse who fought at Agincourt, are among the family heirlooms. The present hall was built at the beginning of the eighteenth century, not far from the site of an earlier mansion, the demolition of which is described in some old verses quoted by Blomfield -

"First fell Elizabeth's brave lodging room,
Then the fair stately hall to ruin came;
Next falls the vast great chamber arch'd on high
With golden pendants fretted sumptuously.
Yet of four parts there still remained the seat
Unto that heir who first was baronet,
And to his son, till that long parliament
Nobles and gentry brought to discontent;
In which sad humour he lets all the rest
Of this fair fabric sink into its dust:
Down falls the chapel, then the goodly tower,
Tho' of material so firm and stower
Time scarce could uncement them: but, sad fate,
Now England suffers both in church and state.
But these may God rebuild and raise again
By the restoration of our sovereign."

The park at Kimberley, which comprises portions of four parishes, is well wooded and has recently been restocked with deer. A large lake, made by the widening of a small river, adds much to its beauty.

Leaving Wymondham by a south-westerly route yon enter upon that part of the Norwich and Thetford road which is said to have been the first turnpike road constructed in England, and about half-way to Attleborough you come upon the remains of an obelisk erected to the memory of Sir Edward Rich, who, in 1675, contributed what was then considered a large sum towards the repairing of Norfolk highways. A journey of a little more than five miles brings you to Attleborough, where there is little to detain you except the church, which contains two ancient chapels and some fine monuments and tablets of the thirteenth, fourteenth, and fifteenth centuries. Here, if you choose, you may leave the Thetford turnpike and make an excursion by way of Old Buckenham to Diss. Such an excursion, however, will scarcely be worth your while unless you decide to return through Kenninghall and Quidenham to the turnpike, when you will have the doubtful gratification of gazing at some mounds variously conjectured to mark the site of an ancient British settlement or a Roman camp, and the unquestionable pleasure of a glimpse of Quidenham Hall in the midst of its well- timbered park, and perhaps of enjoying a day's fishing in the lake in the park. True, there was once a palace at Kenninghall in which the Princess Mary lived until, on the death of Edward VI., she claimed the crown; but nothing is now left of it except some of its ornamental brickwork, which may be seen in some of the houses of the adjoining villages. If, however, you keep to the turnpike, you will, after a twenty miles' journey, find yourself at Thetford. Save for a more or less ruined church here and there, or old country house of no unusual interest, the journey is rather a barren one from the tourist's point of view, and you may prefer to make it by rail. You will then be able to devote more time to the ancient town of Thetford and the wild heathlands around it.

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Pictures for Byways and an old Turnpike (Norwich to Caistor camp, Wymondham, and Thetford.) page 2

Wymandham Church
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