Reepham (/ˈriːfəm/) is a small market town in the English county of Norfolk, situated on the B1145 road between the Bure and Wensum valleys. The B1145 runs between King’s Lynn and Mundesley. The town is 12 miles (19 km) northwest of Norwich. At the time of the 2001 census the civil parish (including Pettywell) had a population of 2,455 residents in 970 households, occupying an area of 1,909 hectares (4,720 acres). increasing to a population of 2,709 in 1,169 househoids at the 2011 Census.
The town is mentioned in the Domesday Book of 1086, in which it is listed as Refham meaning the bailiff’s or reeve’s manor from the Old English gerafa (bailiff) and ham (homestead). Reepham has had market town status since 1277; a sign to mark this has recently been erected. The town has undergone significant development throughout its life, with the housing in the area showing a mix of vintages, styles and purposes.
Recent housing developments have mostly been on brownfield land so have not significantly expanded the perimeter of the town.
The town has both a secondary school Reepham High School and College, which achieved the highest grade—Outstanding—in every category in its 2008 Ofsted inspection, and a primary school (containing over 300 pupils).
The Reepham Society is a registered charity, set up in 1976 to stimulate public interest in Reepham, Hackford, Kerdiston, Salle and Whitwell. The town was one of the filming locations of Agatha Christie’s Poirot episode The Tragedy at Marsdon Manor.
Reepham is one of only two places in Europe to have three churches on the same site. Reepham’s church of St. Mary is joined by its choir vestry to St. Michael’s. The third church belonged to Hackford but burned down in 1543 and now only a fragment of the tower wall remains on the left of the path leading towards the market place.
Shrine of Our Lady of Reepham
In medieval times, Reepham Church was an important place of pilgrimage. Although it was less famous than the shrine at Walsingham, people came on pilgrimage to Reepham to visit the image of Our Lady of Reepham, which had many miracles attributed to it. What form this image took is unknown. It may have been a statue, or perhaps a wood carving. There is evidence to suggest its importance and it is mentioned in the 15th-century will of Alice Cook of Horstead, who wrote that after her death, in order to smooth her passage from this world to the next, she would “Have a man goo a pilgrimage to our Lady of Reifham”.
The town sign was designed by the local high school and installed in 1992. Carved by the then head of Craft Design & Technology Mr. Geldard, and painted by male student Kerry Daniels, it depicts three of each of the following elements: churches, villagers, farm labourers, sheep, lambs and “sisters” and refers to a myth that three sisters were each responsible for building a church. In fact, the three churches were built over several generations.
By 1882, the town had two stations, located on different tracks and each managed by a separate railway company. Whitwell station was on the M&GN‘s Norwich City to Melton Constable branch line. Reepham station was on the GEN‘s Wroxham to County School station line. In 1960, the tracks were joined by the construction of the Themelthorpe Curve. The work was carried out by British Rail to facilitate the movement of concrete products from Lenwade. Today, the railway trackbed forms the Marriott’s Way long-distance footpath. Both former stations are notable stops on the footpath.
Sanders Coaches provide bus services to and from the town.