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Wednesday, April 14, 2010
Dating back to Saxon times, Downham Market is one of Norfolk's oldest market towns
Where is Downham Market?
Turn off the A10 about 10 miles south of King's Lynn, or head along the A1122 from Swaffham or Wisbech. Downham is also one of the major stops on the Lynn-London railway line, a crucial factor in its growth in recent years.
About Downham Market
The eye-catching Clock Tower in the Market Place is one of Downham Market's most well-known landmarks.
The clock was presented to the town in 1878 by local draper, grocer and clothier James Scott - for the princely sum of 450. Made by Benson of London, it boasted what was at the time a novel feature - the automatic illumination of the dials by a gas supply.
While the Market Place - home of the weekly Friday and Saturday markets - remains at the historic heart of the community, the feature occupying arguably the most commanding position in the town is St Edmund's Church. The church stands on the rise of land from which Downham, meaning "settlement on a hill" takes its name.
Downham Market's St Edmund's Church
Don't miss the market on Fridays and Saturdays.
History of Downham Market
Charles I went to Downham after the Battle of Naseby and Lord Horatio Nelson spent part of his schooldays there.
A look at the town's history throws up some surprises. It was once the home of a flourishing bell founding industry which became established in the town in the mid-18th century, at a time when agriculture would have dominated the commercial life of the community.
And for two days in 1816, following the end of the Napoleonic Wars, the peace of the town was disrupted by riots. Agricultural workers from Downham and neighbouring villages like Southery and Denver joined a widespread protest about the increasing difficulties they faced in scraping a living - fuelled by a recent rise in the price of flour.
The opening of the railway in 1846 was to have a far-reaching effect on local trade and prosperity.
Downham Market directory
Local Authority: King's Lynn and West Norfolk Borough Council, King's Court, Chapel Street, King's Lynn, Norfolk PE30 1EX 01553 692722. Local office: Priory Road, Downham Market, 01366 384474
Town Council: Town Council offices, Paradise Road, 01366 387770.
Tourist Information Centre: Town Hall, 01366 387440
What to see in the area around Downham Market