Wells and Neighbourhood……….1839
Wells is a sea-port town and parish, in the hundred of North Greenhoe, 118 miles N.N.E. from London and 32 N.W. by N. from Norwich, seated on a creek that runs into the German ocean; it consists chiefly of two principal streets leading into the quay, and some smaller ones, the whole of which are very narrow, badly paved, and the houses composing them indifferently built. The harbour, formerly much better than at present, has sustained great injury from the accumulation of sand, which, continually shifting, renders the channel difficult of access; and when a north or north-east wind blows violently, the safety of the ships at its mouth is imminently endangered: considerable improvements have, however, of late years been accomplished by the harbour commissioners. The trade of the port is of some importance in the exportation of grain and malt, and importation of coal, tiles and deals; a large proportion of the inhabitants are employed in the fisheries, and the oysters taken from the beds here are of excellent quality. The parish of Wells comprises four manors, all of which are the property of the Lord of Leicester; his steward holds courts leet and baron annually, and the magistrates of the hundred sit here once a fortnight. The custom-house is a brick building, situated on the quay, and the establishment consists of a collector, comptroller, and land and tide waiter. The church, dedicated to St.Nicholas (or, as some say, to St.Peter), is rather a handsome structure of flint, with a lofty embattled tower; the living is a rectory, in the gift (or lately was) of the Rev.John Hopper; the Rev. Valentine Hill is the present incumbent. There are places of worship for the society of friends, independents and Wesleyan methodists; and a school for infants, supported by Lady Leicester. The only seat of distinguished note in this neighbourhood is Holkham Hall, the residence of the Earl of Leicester; the mansion is about two miles hence, but the park may be gained within the distance of a mile. The annual fair, now of little or no benefit to the inhabitants, is held on Shrove-Tuesday. Population of parish, in 1831, 3,624.
From Pigot's Directory of 1839.
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