The Village Sign
The village sign is based on the emblems of the original four Pulham Market public houses – The Falcon, The Crown, The Ducks Foot (at Bush Green) and The Queens Head (on the A140). The illustration depicts the bible story of Mary Magdalene bathing Christ’s feet, in recognition of the parish church being dedicated to St Mary Magdalene. (Video of the unveiling from 1979)
A group of volunteers from Pulham Market decided to mark the dawning of the new Millennium in 2000 with a piece of work that would depict the village in all its glory. What started as a small project in February 2000 grew to a tapestry measuring 6ft 6ins by 4ft 6ins with work involving many members of the community, including children from the school. Research and design were carried out first and it was 15 months before the first stitch was worked. The tapestry is made up of nine panels depicting activities in the village over the centuries up to the present day. It is stitched using over 500 mixes of wool and includes 608,000 stitches. The basic design is enhanced with details top-stitched on the wool with silk. A magnificent English oak cabinet, designed and made by a local craftsman, displays the tapestry in three panels to form a triptych which is mounted in the Memorial Hall and is open to view on public occasions.
In 1912, land was purchased just south of Pulham St Mary to build a large base for the operation of airships, which were known locally as ‘Pulham Pigs’ because of their shape. RNAS Pulham (a Royal Navy base) was operational by 1915 and by 1918 there were more than 3000 men stationed there. At the end of the war, the base was transferred to the new Royal Air Force. At first, the Pulham station was used for small hydrogen-filled airships but in 1917, after the building of two large steel-framed sheds which were followed in 1919 by the erection of the first 120ft-high mooring mast to be built in Europe, Pulham became home to the large rigid framed airships which epitomised the glamorous age of airship travel. The base of the mooring mast can still be seen on the site today. In the 1920s, the station was home to the R33 which was blown across the North Sea after being torn from her mooring by a gale. Another famous airship based at Pulham was the R34 which made the first historic two-way crossing of the Atlantic in 1919, and the R36 and R38 also visited. The airship service was disbanded in 1921 due to lack of funds and one of Pulham’s large airship hangars was dismantled and re-erected at Cardington. Following several disastrous civilian flights and the tragic R101 accident in 1930, Britain’s airship programme was abandoned. During the Second World War, the Pulham base was used as a dump for crashed aircraft from all over the East of England and munitions were also tested there. The remaining large hangar was dismantled in 1948 and the station continued as an RAF site until 1958 when the land was sold at auction.
A photographic record and history of the Pulham Pigs can be viewed at the Pennoyer Centre in Pulham St Mary.
The history of the village of Pulham Market has been entwined through the centuries with that of its neighbour, Pulham St Mary. The village is built on high land to the north of a streamlet known as The Beck and, in fact, the name Pulham is thought to signify the ‘place of pools’, its earliest recorded spelling being Polleham. It is thought the Romans may have had a settlement here as pieces of Roman tile, coin and oyster shells have been found in the area. The earliest recording of the village dates back at least to the 10th century, when the land belonged to Ethelwold, the Bishop of Winchester, who later gave it to the abbey of St Etheldreda at Ely. The monks purchased the market, which became regularised by the Plea Rolls in 1249. The village prospered and became sufficiently wealthy to build its own church which was begun in the 14th century. It is thought The Crown pub was built to house the workers building the church.
In Tudor times the village became famous for its cottage industries, manufacturing hats, dornicks and coverlets. It had its own Guildhall (no longer standing). Eventually the market lost its appeal because of a larger market at Harleston, and many of the cottage industries were dispersed to other parts of Norfolk. Pulham Market was a stop on the Waveney Valley Line which ran from the the east coast to the main Norwich to London line at Tivetshall and which was closed in 1953 as part of the Beeching cuts. During the 20th century, the village boasted several shops, including a post office, a bank, a garage and four public houses. The village has always had strong links with agriculture and this has influenced the way Pulham Market has developed. Today visitors will see some changes, but the main structure of the village has been preserved.
Past and Present
For photos showing village locations during different periods in recent history.
LOCAL HISTORY PUBLICATIONS
A number of books are published by the Pulham Market Society and are available to purchase by post (with payment by cheque). In the first instance, please contact Brian Carr, Lands Farm, Ducksfoot Road, Pulham Market IP21 4YD, telephone 01379 676292 or Email.
Memories of Pulham Market – An Oral History of the 20th Century
This book is the fruition of the dedication of local farmer Peter Blackburn who, since the 1950s, had collected many hours worth of tape recordings capturing the recollections of local people for posterity. Over the years he had interviewed more than 70 people, each offering fascinating facts about life in this Norfolk village. The Pulham Market Society had his unique archive transcribed and with the help of an Awards for All (part of the Lottery Fund) grant, transformed the recordings into this interesting book. Cost including postage is £8.00 (£5.00 if collected).
Memories of Wartime – Taken from recordings made by local people
When transcripts of the tape recordings made by local farmer Peter Blackburn were turned into the book Memories Pulham Market, there were some interesting reminiscences which Mr Blackburn always thought merited a book in their own right – for they detailed the wartime experiences of men and women in the parish. These have now been brought together in Memories of Wartime. There are 17 people featured in the book, sadly all now passed away. They range from Mrs Frank Hawes who remembered evacuees coming to the village and George Sowter who talked about the American airmen based locally, to the Pulham Market men who went away to fight. Like so many servicemen from Norfolk and surrounding counties, there were a number who served in the Far East and were taken as prisoners-of-war, being put to forced labour on the notorious Thailand-Burma Railway (the Death Railway). One such man, Dr Harold Churchill, the doctor in the Pulham area before the war, came face to face for the first time with one of his patients from Pulham, Gerald Chapman, while both were serving as Japanese POWs. Cost including postage is £9.00 (£7.00 if collected).
A Walk Around Historic Pulham Market
Pulham Market Society recommends this interesting booklet which gives details of the many buildings of note in the village. Add an additional 50p to your payment if ordering with Memories of Pulham Market or pay £1.50 in total if ordering separately.
A history of the famous ‘Pulham Pigs’ airships and the story of the RNAS Pulham airship station.This book is no longer in print.
An Oral History of Pulham Market in the 20th Century
Also available to buy are CDs of the original recordings which were used to produce the Memories of Pulham Market book.Cost excluding postage is £5.00 per CD which will contain the memories of one of the listed speakers below – please state which speaker you require.
CDs of the following speakers are available:-
Alice Smith, Bessie Vyse, Bill Parfitt, Billy Crisp, Billy Dann, Clara Sandford, Clara & George Sandford, Derek Elvin, Dick Hibberd, Dr Pat Rawlence – 3 Vols, Dr Philip Leftley & Doc. Pat, Doris Allen, Dorothy Redit, Douglas Harvey, Edith Webb, Edna Moore, Elsie Browne, Ernie Grimmer, Fanny Hart, Fred Elliott (Snr), Fred Smith, Gladys & Vic Kent, Freda Hawes, Freddie Elliott, Freddie Gunton, Freddie Stannard, George Sanford, Mr & Mrs Richies, George Scott, George Sowter, George Walters, Gerald Banks, Gerald Chapman, Gladys Kent, Gray & Waterson, Herbert Richies, Irene Sowter, Ivy Bedingfield, Jimmy Moore, Jocelyn Rawlence, John Gray, John Hardy, John Hubbard, Ken Hawes, Mr & Mrs Sidney Webb, Kenneth Chapman, Lottie Targett, Louie Hibberd, Mac Hilton, Maurice Culham, Ken and Freda Howes, Olive Richies, Pauline Webb, Peter Blackburn – Vol 1 & 2, Peter Cook, Peter Snowling, Poppy Stannard, Rodney Turner, Ruby Culham, Ruby & Maurice Culham, Sally Scott, Sidney Webb, Stella Adcock, Vic Kent, Wally Newby, Wilfred Frary.
Payment can be made by post with a cheque email your requirements and address details to Fred Howard.