Barely big­ger than a vil­lage, Hingham has claims to na­tional and in­ter­na­tional fame

EDP Norfolk - - INSIDE - WORDS: Rowan Man­tell

Eleven fas­ci­nat­ing facts about the his­toric town


Hingham has so many grand houses it was once known as Lit­tle Lon­don. Hingham Mar­ket Place boasts some par­tic­u­larly fine Ge­or­gian build­ings. Some are even older be­hind fine fa­cades, in­clud­ing the The White Hart Inn, with its im­pres­sive white hart statue stand­ing guard above a columned porch. The town has long-stand­ing royal con­nec­tions too. More than 1,000 years ago it was the prop­erty of King Athel­stan and from 1066 was owned by Wil­liam the Con­queror.


When some of the 17th cen­tury res­i­dents of Hingham, Nor­folk, got fed up with what they saw as the god­less ways of their coun­try they sim­ply cre­ated an­other Hingham more than 3,000 miles away across the At­lantic. So many left Hingham, Nor­folk, for Hingham, USA, in the 1630s ABOVE:

The plaque that is un­der the bust of Pres­i­dent Abra­ham Lin­coln in Hingham’s Parish Church that res­i­dents who stayed in the orig­i­nal Hingham wrote to Par­lia­ment to com­plain that the town had been dev­as­tated by the ex­o­dus of ‘most of the able in­hab­i­tants.’ These in­cluded the rec­tor Robert Peck and half his con­gre­ga­tion, Ed­ward Gil­man, an­ces­tor of one of the men who signed the US con­sti­tu­tion and Sa­muel Lin­coln, an­ces­tor of Pres­i­dent Abra­ham Lin­coln.


The most fa­mous son of Hingham is Abra­ham Lin­coln, 19th cen­tury pres­i­dent of the USA. Ap­pren­tice weaver Sa­muel Lin­coln left Eng­land for New Eng­land more than 200 years be­fore his great, great, great,

great grand­son Abra­ham be­came pres­i­dent, but his roots are re­mem­bered in Nor­folk. The town hall in Nor­folk’s Hingham is called Lin­coln Hall and ex­actly 100 years ago a bust of the Amer­i­can pres­i­dent, who led the US through the civil war and abol­ished slav­ery, was un­veiled in the parish church by the Amer­i­can am­bas­sador.


The church in Hingham, Nor­folk, was re­built 700 years ago. Over the pond in Hingham, Mas­sachusetts, the church built 338 years ago is the old­est church in con­tin­u­ous use in the United States and the only sur­viv­ing 17th-cen­tury Pu­ri­tan meet­ing house in Amer­ica. Known as the Old Ship Church be­cause its huge ham­mer-beam roof makes it look like an up­side-down ship, the car­pen­ters would have learned their trade in Nor­folk. Its chris­ten­ing bowl was prob­a­bly brought from Nor­folk’s Hingham, and the con­gre­ga­tion’s first min­is­ter was the Rev Peter Ho­bart, also orig­i­nally from the town. The cur­rent min­is­ter is one of his descen­dants.


The fam­ily which boasts Jeeves and Wooster au­thor PG Wode­house within its ti­tled ranks has Hingham links. The stained glass in the vast east win­dow of the parish church (one of the largest east win­dows in the coun­try) was a gift from the Wode­house fam­ily, earls of nearby Kim­ber­ley. And Ad­mi­ral’s House in the Mar­ket Place is named for Ad­mi­ral Sir Philip

Wode­house, who lived there two cen­turies ago.


Hingham is not just his­toric. Along­side all the usual shops of a thriv­ing mar­ket town are a post of­fice in a tea­room, the fas­ci­nat­ing and ever-chang­ing ar­chi­tec­tural sal­vage and an­tiques to be dis­cov­ered at Mon­gers, which was also fea­tured on TV’s Sal­vage Hun­ters; the Bond Street Shop where more than 40 artists and mak­ers ex­hibit any­thing from cards to clothes and paint­ings to plants, and Hingham An­tiques Fair, one of Nor­folk’s old­est and largest an­tique fairs held on the last Sun­day of each month. It also has tea shops pop­u­lar with lo­cal cy­clists and the White Hart Ho­tel, with its im­pres­sive stag.


Two years ago Hingham Ten­nis was named the Lawn Ten­nis As­so­ci­a­tion’s na­tional Club of the Year after vol­un­teers raised £90,000 for new courts and a club­house and boosted mem­ber­ship to more than 230 in a town of just 1,000 homes.


Em­ber Films was set up near Hingham by Emmy award­win­ning wildlife cam­era­man Jonathan Jones. Its film-mak­ers have worked with broad­cast­ers around the world in­clud­ing Dis­ney, Net­flix and the BBC. Jonathan worked with David At­ten­bor­ough to bring wildlife from the Hi­malayas to the deserts into our liv­ing rooms in Planet Earth II and he and his tal­ented col­leagues have shot ad­ver­tise­ments for multi­na­tion­als in­clud­ing Pepsi and Jaguar, pho­tographed in­ter­na­tional stars and worked on ma­jor films.


Sea Mere is a Hingham farm in­clud­ing a 20 acre cir­cu­lar lake formed by a re­treat­ing ice sheet 10,000 years ago. Now the lake and an­cient wood­land around it are a site of Spe­cial Sci­en­tific In­ter­est.

Sea Mere gar­dens, laid out more than 120 years ago, are home to a na­tional col­lec­tion of gun­nera plants (with one clump be­lieved to be 100 years old.)

The gar­dens are oc­ca­sion­ally open to vis­i­tors by ap­point­ment only and in­clude an or­na­men­tal veg­etable gar­den, win­ter gar­den, or­chard, rose gar­den, wild­flower mead­ows and five ter­raced lawns lead­ing to the wet­land gar­den and lake.


Hingham’s wa­ter­mill is dou­bly unique in Nor­folk. In­stead of be­ing fed by a river it was driven by springs, bub­bling up from un­der­ground. And the build­ing it­self, now a home, is the only three storey build­ing made en­tirely of clay lump (clay, straw, mud and dung formed into large blocks.)


Hingham might be one of the smaller towns in Nor­folk, but it has man­aged to hide a cas­tle and an air­field. A 1610 map of the area shows a cas­tle in Hingham and in the First World War the Royal Fly­ing Corps flew from a grass air­field, but the gov­ern­ment data­base of his­toric sites re­ports its ex­act lo­ca­tion has been lost. Run­ways re­main at nearby Deopham Green Air­field, used by Amer­i­can Fly­ing Fortress air­craft dur­ing the Sec­ond World War.

Hingham Ru­ral Life. Hingham vil­lage sign.

Hingham church

ABOVE:Judy Wat­son has some gi­ant gun­nera plants in her gar­den at Hingham

ABOVE LEFT TOP RIGHT: Em­ber, the com­pany owned by cin­e­matog­ra­pher Jonathan JonesThe stag at the White Hart Ho­tel in Hingham

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