Little Walsingham, Norfolk Genealogy

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Guide to Little Walsingham, Norfolk ancestry, family history, and genealogy: parish registers, transcripts, census records, birth records, marriage records, and death records.

Little Walsingham, Norfolk
Type Ancient Parish
Civil Jurisdictions
Hundred North Greenhoe
County Norfolk
Poor Law Union Walsingham
Registration District Walsingham
Records begin
Parish registers: 1558
Bishop's Transcripts: 1600
Ecclesiastical Jurisdictions
Rural Deanery Walsingham
Diocese Norwich
Province Canterbury
Legal Jurisdictions
Probate Court Court of the Archdeaconry of Norwich
Location of Archive
Norfolk Record Office

Parish History[edit | edit source]

WALSINGHAM, LITTLE (St. Mary), a parish, the head of a union, and formerly a market-town, in the hundred of North Greenhoe, W. division of Norfolk, 28 miles (N. W.) from Norwich, and 114 (N. N. E.) from London. [1]

Little Walsingham St Mary is an Ancient Parish in the Walsingham deanery of the Diocese of Norwich.

From the 12th century, when organised pilgrimage began to the “Holy House”, until 1538 the village of Little Walsingham saw huge amounts of building activity including an Augustinian Priory and a Franciscan Friary and dozens of cottages; all this in response to the thousands of pilgrims (including every monarch from Henry III (c.1226) to Henry VIII (1511)) who flocked to the Shrine. In 1252 a charter had been granted to hold a weekly market and an annual fair.

The destruction of the religious houses and the burning of the image of Our Lady of Walsingham on Henry VIII’s orders should have led to the collapse of the village. But Walsingham, still the largest town in north Norfolk, continued to prosper. Many of the old Priory buildings were adapted and put to new use. The monks’ adjoining lands became the ‘Estate’. A ‘new’ Georgian Shirehall (formerly a priory hostelry) was created and from 1773 both Quarter (until 1861) and Petty Sessions later Magistrates (until 1971) were held in the village. Many timber-framed cottages were given brick Georgian facades. A fine Methodist church was built. The Elizabethan ‘House of Correction’ was replaced in 1787 by a  ‘model’ prison for eight prisoners; five tread wheels were added in 1823. The prison eventually closed in 1861.

In 1921 in a radical move Albert Hope Patten brought to Little Walsingham Church an image of Our Lady of Walsingham. Within the Anglo-Catholic movement of the Church of England this was a bold move and the Anglican Bishop of Norwich was outraged and demanded its removal. Hope Patten did so by creating an Anglican shrine to Our Lady of Walsingham on another site.When workmen were excavating the site a well was discovered and this well is part of the shrine. Built in the twentieth century the Shrine Church is where the Holy House is located - a replica of the home in Nazareth of Joseph, Mary and Jesus (the Holy Family)

Within the Holy House is the image of Our Lady of Walsingham, carved in 1922 and copied from the seal of the medieval Priory which was suppressed in 1538.

Walsingham Norfolk Shrine Churches describes and links to the Shrine churches of the village

Resources[edit | edit source]

Civil Registration[edit | edit source]

Birth, marriages and deaths were kept by the government, from July 1837 to the present day. The civil registration article tells more about these records. There are several Internet sites with name lists or indexes. A popular site is FreeBMD.

Walsingham 1837-1938
Fakenham 1939-1974

The Register Office, Fakenham Connect, Oak Street, Fakenham, NR21 9SR.
Tel: 01328 850111. E-mail:

Church Records[edit | edit source]

Little Walsingham, Norfolk Genealogy parish registers of christenings, marriages and burials are available online for the following years:

FREG = FreeREG - free[2]
FS ATs = England, Norfolk Archdeacon's Transcripts, 1600-1812 (FamilySearch) - free[3]
FS BTs = England, Norfolk, Bishop's Transcripts, 1685-1941 (FamilySearch) - free[4]
FS PRs = England, Norfolk, Parish Registers, 1538-1900 (FamilySearch) - free[5]
TGEN = TheGenealogist - (£)[6]
TIN = Tinstaafl Transcripts - free[7]
Little Walsingham, Norfolk Genealogy Online Parish Records


Indexes Images Indexes Images Indexes Images
FREG 1559-1734, 1802-1807, 1813-1880
1558-1733, 1754-1901
1558-1678, 1802-1811, 1885-1900
FS ATs 1600-1812 1600-1812 1600-1812
FS BTs Undefined Undefined Undefined Undefined Undefined Undefined
FS PRs Undefined 1558-1733, 1873-1877 Undefined 1558-1733, 1788-1832, 1837-1901 Undefined 1558-1733, 1855-1901
TGEN 1558-1733 1558-1733 1558-1733 1558-1733 1558-1678 1558-1678
TIN 1813-1880

Norfolk Record Office reference PD 582

Non-Conformist Records[edit | edit source]

Poor Law Unions[edit | edit source]

Walsingham Union was incorporated under the terms of the 1834 Act, and the union workhouse was built at Great Snoring, but not completed until 1838. The Walsingham Union Workhouse at Great Snoring was opened in 1838. It was situated close to the boundary between the parishes of Great Snoring and Thursford and was sometimes known as Thursford Workhouse. Poor Law Unions were abolished in 1930 and the responsibilities of Walsingham Union Board of Guardians were taken over by Norfolk County Council Guardians' Committee No. 7. From 1930 the former Workhouse became known as Walsingham Public Assistance Institution. On 26 and 27 June 1934 the remaining thirty inmates (including two infants but no children) were transferred to West Beckham and Gressenhall Institutions and Walsingham Institution officially closed on 30 June 1934. The building was subsequently adapted for use as a smallpox hospital. By 1976 the building was derelict and was demolished in the early 1990s.
Acquisition Received by the Norfolk Record Office on 26 February 1982 (C/GP 19/192-198) and on unknown dates.

Copies C/GP19/1-6, 131, 133-135, 137, 141, 143-146, 148, 150-151, 173-181 are on microfilm.
RelatedMaterial For records of Guardians Committee No. 7 (including the administration of Red House Children's Home in Little Snoring and the boarding-out of children), see C/GC 7. See Public Assistance Sub-Committee minutes, 11 July 1934 and 12 September 1934, C/C 10/455. The records of the County Architect's Department include plans of the alterations for use as a smallpox hospital dated February 1937, see C/AR 1/29-31. The one inch to one mile Ordnance Survey Map of 1954 designates the building 'smallpox hospital'.

Norfolk Poor Law Unions

Census Records[edit | edit source]

Census records from 1841 to 1911 are available online. For access, see England Census Records and Indexes Online. Census records from 1841 to 1891 are also available on film through a Family History Center or at the Family History Library.

Probate Records[edit | edit source]

Records of wills, administrations, inventories, indexes, etc. were filed by the court with jurisdiction over this parish. Go to Norfolk Probate Records to find the name of the court having primary jurisdiction. Scroll down in the article to the section Court Jurisdictions by Parish.

Maps and Gazetteers[edit | edit source]

Maps are a visual look at the locations in England. Gazetteers contain brief summaries about a place.

Websites[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]

  1. Lewis, Samuel A., A Topographical Dictionary of England (1848), pp. 444-449. Date accessed: 22 April 2013.
  2. 'Norfolk Coverage', FreeREG, accessed 26 February 2014.
  3. 'England, Norfolk Archdeacon's Transcripts, 1600-1812,' FamilySearch, accessed 31 March 2014.
  4. 'England, Norfolk, Bishop's Transcripts, 1685-1941', FamilySearch, accessed 31 March 2014.
  5. 'England, Norfolk, Parish Registers (County Record Office), 1538-1900', FamilySearch, accessed 17 March 2014.
  6. 'Subscription Coverage Catalogue', TheGenealogist, accessed 11 January 2016.
  7. 'Norfolk Baptism Project 1813 to 1880,' Tinstaafl Transcripts, accessed 10 April 2014.