Norfolk Tourist Information
Norfolk Tourist Information
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    Norfolk Tourist Information / Towns & Villages

    Swaffham
    Today Swaffham has a population in excess of 6,000 and is a lively bustling town, but still retains its charm.

    Swaffham is famed for its market Place, surrounded by many fine Georgian buildings and dominated by the parish church, has been the focal point of life in Swaffham for centuries.

    Swaffham as a permanent settlement did not exist until Saxon times, after the Romans left this country to defend Rome from the barbarians. There is evidence, such as stone implements and tools dug up in this area to suggest that it was inhabited 300,000 years ago. Further discoveries of weapons and tools excavated which give evidence of human existence in the area during the Bronze Age and the Iron Age. Some of these artifacts can be seen today in Swaffham Museum.

    Through the ages, the church dominated everyone’s life. Not only did it provide spiritual guidance, it was also part of the government (local & national) of this country. Swaffham has a splendid church dating back to 1454. It was built to replace one, which collapsed, but was not finished until 1510. Its most striking feature is the finely carved hammer-beam roof. It is an elegant building, full of light and atmosphere, beautifully proportioned, a real joy to the eye.

    The financing of the building of the church is the stuff of legend. The story of the part played by John Chapman is well known, of how a pedlar from Swaffham had a dream that if he went and stood on London Bridge he would meet someone who would tell him where a treasure was buried.

    The pedlar, John Chapman, with his dog, walked to London Bridge, waited there for 3 days, was about to return home, when a man came up to him and asked him what he was doing there. John Chapman gave him a brief account of his dream without giving away where he came from. The man was astonished; he told John that he too had had a dream. It was one of finding a treasure under a pear tree in a garden of a house in Swaffham.

    John walked back to his home, dug under his pear tree and found 2 pots of gold. It was this gold that was used to build at least part of the church. There is no doubt that John Chapman, almost certainly a wool merchant, donated a large amount of money to the church.

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    AddressSwaffham
    Norfolk
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