Facts about Swaffham
Swaffham is a market town and civil parish in the Breckland District and English county of Norfolk. It is situated 12 miles east of King’s Lynn and 31 miles west of Norwich. Swaffham is one of the many locations for The Man Who Became Rich through a Dream folk tale. The tale tells of a pedlar from Swaffham who dreamed for several consecutive nights that if he waited on London Bridge he would eventually hear good news. He travelled to London and waited for several days on the bridge.
The name of the town derives from the Old English Swǣfa hām = “the homestead of the Swabians”; some of them presumably came with the Angles and Saxons. By the 14th and 15th centuries, Swaffham had an emerging sheep and wool industry. As a result of this prosperity, the town has a large market place. The market cross here was built by George Walpole, 3rd Earl of Orford and presented to the town in 1783. On the top is the statue of Ceres, the Roman goddess of the harvest.
On the west side of Swaffham Market Place are several old buildings which for many years housed the historic Hamond’s Grammar School, as a plaque on the wall of the main building explains. The Hamond’s Grammar School building latterly came to serve as the sixth form for the Hamond’s High School, but that use has since ceased. Harry Carter, the grammar school’s art teacher of the 1960s, was responsible for a great number of the carved village signs that are now found in many of Norfolk’s towns and villages, including Swaffham’s own sign commemorating the legendary Pedlar of Swaffham, which is in the corner of the market place just opposite the old school’s gates.