On this day from the Norfolk Annals

19th November, 1841
Nov 19 all-day

A meeting of landowners and others was held at Yarmouth, to consider a scheme proposed by Mr Robert Stephenson for constructing a railway from Yarmouth to Norwich. Mr Stephenson’s railway, first known as the Valley Line, pursued a route avoiding crossing the river, but included a plan for diverting the course of the stream at Thorpe for a distance of about 50 chains.

The scheme, estimated to cost £150,000, was adopted, and the line, the first to be opened in Norfolk three years later, was afterwards called the Yarmouth and Norwich Railway.

20th November, 869
Nov 20 all-day

Edmund, last King of independent Anglo-Saxon East Anglia, was martyred. He had been defeated in battle by Danish Viking invaders, and captured. According to legend, Edmund refused to abandon Christianity, and was tortured, tied to a tree, then killed by Danish archers and beheaded.

There has long been argument about where he was killed. The likeliest spot seems to be Hoxne, in Suffolk. The site of Edmund’s eventual burial became venerated by Christian pilgrims, and an abbey was built at Bury St Edmunds. The abbey was one of the richest in medieval England until it was destroyed during the Reformation of the 1530s.

Edmund himself was to be England’s patron saint until replaced by the (probably) mythical St George in the 14th Century.

29th November, 1530
Nov 29 all-day

Cardinal Thomas Wolsey died. Born in 1471 in Ipswich, he rose from humble origins to be King Henry VIII’s right hand man, only to die in disgrace, abandoned by his monarch and accused of treason.

Wolsey was a boy prodigy, an Oxford bachelor of arts at the age of 15. Like many talented churchmen of his day, he was a leading civil servant. As Chancellor to the young King Henry he was the leading figure in the country, becoming a Cardinal as well as Archbishop of York and Lincoln.

This rapid rise made him many enemies. When, in the late 1520s he was unable to get a divorce for Henry from his wife Katharine of Aragon, they turned on him. Wolsey lost the king’s favour and it all turned sour.

An ailing Wolsey was arrested while in the north, and charged with treason. He died at Leicester, while en route to London.

30th November, 1813
Nov 30 all-day

A wrestling match took place at Barford between “the noted Game Chicken” and the “East Tuddenham champion”. There was a vast concourse of spectators, and the odds were seven to one on the Game Chicken, who won with the greatest ease and was offered to be backed for 100 guineas against any 11 stone man in England”.

5th December, 1791
Dec 5 all-day

The eccentric George Walpole, Earl of Orford, died. Grandson of Robert Walpole, Britain’s first Prime Minister, he was the owner of the magnificent Houghton Hall in Norfolk.

Orford, born in 1730, was a profligate rake who squandered much of his family’s fortune on good living. On the other hand, he was a generous and much-loved local patron, and dedicated himself to country pursuits.

He founded Swaffham Coursing Club for greyhounds in 1776 as well as a Falconers’ Society. As Lord Lieutenant of Norfolk, he was the monarch’s representative in the county.

To help pay off his stupendous debts, he sold off his grandfather’s renowned art collection to Empress Catherine the Great of Russia in the late 1770s. Norfolk’s loss was Russia’s gain, as many of these works are on show at The Hermitage in St Petersburg.

Sadly, Orford was diagnosed insane. He died, without legitimate heirs, aged 61.