“History with its flickering lamp stumbles along the trail of the past, trying to reconstruct its scenes, to revive its echoes, and kindle with pale gleams the passion of former days” (Winston Churchill )

The story of Sheringham stretches back over many centuries and is built around tales of ordinary folk who settled below the glacial moraine (the Cromer Ridge) left by the last Ice Age. The fossil record of the area has pointed to a marshland once inhabited by Mammoths, Wild Boar and Tigers to mention but a few species.

Examples of flint Neolithic axes and arrow heads have been found on the beach with many good examples of the flint knappers work being seen in Sheringham and other Norfolk Museums. The area now occupied by our town was wandered by nomadic hunter gatherers, following the herds of mammoths that gave food and skins for tents and clothing.

coastal arts

David Barber, a local artist, has caught this period on the wall mural facing out to the North Sea, below the Two Lifeboats Hotel and The Crown Inn. Evidence in the form of fossilized bones has come out of the Cromer Forest Bed, with an almost complete skeleton of a Mammoth being recovered in 1990 from near West Runton and other bones from the cliffs below Beeston.

Examples of flint Neolithic axes and arrow heads have been found on the beach with many good examples of the flint knappers work being seen in Sheringham and other Norfolk Museums. The area now occupied by our town was wandered by nomadic hunter gatherers, following the herds of mammoths that gave food and skins for tents and clothing.

Research by local historians points to an early settlement being that of Scira’s people. “ham” is an Anglo Saxon word for “small village”, so we have the ham of Scira’s people. Scira being of Danish origin possibly being linked with the Danes who came to settle in this part of East Anglia in approximately 750AD.

Evidence of of the possibility of early Roman settlement was discovered in 1956, when a domestic kiln was discovered whilst excavating at the Upper Sheringham Council Depot. Greyware Roman pottery was recovered.


The Domesday Survey completed in 1086 is the first real mention of Sheringham . In the survey the settlement is recorded as Silingham and tells us that it was made up of a population of 28 (10 villagers, 12 smallholders, 5 slaves and 1 freeman.) The Survey also mentions a 4 acre meadow, woodlands, 100pigs, a church and church lands. The Lord of the Man in 1086 was William of Ecouis.

The mention of a church is probably that of the wooden structure that is thought to stand on the site prior to that of the current one of All Saints, Upper Sheringham being erected about 1400.

Moving through history chronologically, a Guild Chapel dedicated to St. Nicholas (the patron saint of sailors and fishermen) was built in Lower Sheringham in 1200. Part of the chapel was still standing in the area of Wyndham Street as late as 1880.Some of the arched stone remnants from the chapel ruins can be seen in the museum at The Mo.

In 1216 Margery de Cressy founded the Augustinian priory of St. Mary in the Meadow at nearby Beeston. The Priory stood on the pilgrimage route to Walsingham. It survived for more that 300 years until the monks were turned out in 1538/39 during the disillusionment of Henry Vlll.


The ruins still stand in a beautiful location and in 2016 the Bishop of Norwich visited the ruins during the 800th anniversary celebrations. The current Church of All Saints at Beeston stands in an isolated position thought to be the result of the plague (Black Death) reaching the area in 1348. There is mention in manuscripts of 1358 of Sheringham Merchants dealing in fish. In 1558 Elizabeth l granted permission for the building of a pier and breakwater.

Built of wood this pier within but a few decades suffered from storm damage and was finally destroyed in 1601. There is no further mention of repair or petitioning for rebuilding. In 1588 the folk of Sheringham asked for protection against the possibility of invasion and a gun appeared to help. This gun is possibly that which is found against the wall of The Lobster at the top of Gun Street.

Records of the 17th and 18th centuries record storms that ripped into the cliffs taking chunks of land away (1789 and 1795). The storm of 1795 damaged land in front of the Crown Inn. Five years later in 1800 the Crown finally succumbed and crashed onto the beach.

In the wake of the Industrial Revolution 1760 – 1830 when we saw the transition from hand production methods to that of machines, new chemical manufacturing and iron production processes, the incrase use of stream power, the development of steam power, the development of machine tools and the rise of the factory system.

Although this had no immediate impact on Sheringham the foundations were being laid for a century of change and development in Sheringham, reflecting that which was happening in other parts of the country. In 1805 a House of Industry, Workhouse, was built in Upper Sheringham. This was followed in 1811 by the Enclosure Award.


Just over 200 years ago, in 1812, the owner of the Manor of Sheringham, Cook Flower, sold it to Abbot Upcher.

So began the relationship of the Upcher Family with the folk of Sheringham.

The family’s benevolence and impact on the life and development of Sheringham had begun and would be transformational.

Railways had started to join towns and cities and the coast. From the 1840s a national railway network started to develop. It was on 16th June 1887 that the biggest factor in promoting growth in the town happened – the railway came to Sheringham.

Now there was a direct line to London (3 hours 13 minutes) which in it’s heyday had 64 trains a day passing in and out of the station. With this came the development of what had been arable land. The Upcher family sold blocks of land for building – The Sheringham Building Estate – which included what we now know as Augusta Street; The Boulevard; North and South Streets; St Nicholas Place and Links Road to mention some.

At the same time the Upcher family gave land for the building of a church with St Peter’s being completed in 1897 at a cost of £8000. This last decade of the 19th century saw rapid development and the changing from a small fishing village, just down the coast from fashionable Cromer, into a thriving seaside town in its own right!


The following dates help to highlight some of the developments and changes:
1889 – Sheringham Hotel built and opened.
1890 – Gurney’s Bank opened in the High Street (later to become Barclays)
1892 – Golf Course opened
1894 – Caroline Upcher gave the fishermen a new lifeboat, the Henry Ramey Upcher
1896 – Salvation Army Hall opened
1897 – St Peters Church built at a cost of £8000
1898 – The Grand Hotel
1899 – The Burlington
1901 – Sheringham became a town with the creation of Sheringham Urban District Council.
1902 – St Josephs Church, designed by Giles Gibert Scott, was built.
1903 – Mary Pym gave money for the erection of a clock on top of the reservoir (1862)
1904 – The lifeboat J.C.Madge came into service
1906 – Sheringham Council School Opened
1914 – Sadlers Cinema on Cromer Road
1915 – first Zeppelin bomb to drop on British mainland
1916 – National Children’s Home opened
1919 – Holiday makers started to return after the hostilities of WW1
1920 – The War Memorial in St Nicholas Place was dedicated
1926 – The Regent Hall was erected
1927 – SUDC purchased Pretty Corner
1933 – There were 75 boats fishing from the beach.
1935 – Council Flint Picking started, with flints being sent to the Potteries to make porcelain
1936 – Sheringham’s first engine driven lifeboat The Forester’s Centenary arrived on station
1939-45 – During the 2ndWW there were many troops in town
1950 – Sheringham UDC took over the running of the Recreation Ground.
1951 – Only 17 full time fishing boats and 5 part time.
1953 – The formation of the ecclesiastical parish of St. Peter Lower Sheringham.
1953 – The Grant of Arms to the town “ The Sea Enriches and the Pine Adorns”
1955 – Diesels introduced on local railway line
1958 – Sheringham Secondary School opened.
1959 – At a cost of £3460 the model yacht pond was opened
1960 – The Little Theatre
1961 – A new lifeboat, The Manchester Unity of Oddfellows came on to station.
1963 – New Library opened in New Road.
1968 – St Andrews Methodist Church built
1974 – SUDC was dissolved, wth a new Town Council being forms and the NNDC
1974 – The Grand Hotel demolished
1982 – Sheringham won the award for Best Kept Town.

In the early 20th century Sheringham attracted the wealthy and famous. People came to Sheringham for the benefits of the sea and coastal climate, as well as to visit friends and join house parties arranged by those who had built holiday homes or taken lodgings for the season. The internationally reknowned photographer, Olive Edis, who had her studio in Sheringham and was not just famous for her portraits of local fishermen and local people, but also photographic portraits of Celebrities and Royalty.

Amongst those who visited and stayed in the town were Captain Robert Scott, Ernest Shakleton, Arthur Conan Doyle, Vaughan Williams, Albert Einstein, together with politicians, literary figures and the celebrities of the first two decades of the 20th century.

Much more can be found out about those people to came to stay and live in the town by following the Blue Plaque Trail that is being installed within the Museum.


Today Sheringham is known as the Premier Seaside Town on the North Norfolk Coast with 1000s of people flocking here to holiday during the year. Often car parking places are at a premium. Alas the main line railway closed in the 1960s as part of the Beeching report hit the future of many rural lines and stations. Today part of the line is run as a heritage steam railway by the NNR.

This alone attracts 1000s of visitors to the town. The wonderful floral displays that have given Sheringham Britain in Bloom awards, the golden sandy beaches and the extensive walks along the cliffs and through the woods of Sheringham Park and Pretty Corner, together with a nationally acclaimed Museum on the sea front are all great attractions. The Museum has just been awarded the accolade of ‘Hidden Gem’ by Visit England!

The fascinating story of Sheringham can’t be done justice to in these few introductory words. For those of you who want to find out more please visit Sheringham Museum.

Sheringham is a unique place with a very special atmosphere. Residents and visitors alike make the most of the variety of shops and attractions and the friendly welcome that always awaits one and all.

Tim Groves
Sheringham Museum.