Great Yarmouth History

The Wall Goes Up

The strategic importance of Great Yarmouth and Gorleston was also recognised in the thirteenth century by Henry III. The town of Great Yarmouth had grown in importance to such an extent that Henry III sanctioned the building of a town wall to protect its inhabitants. Some sections of the wall survive to this day. The most magnificent remnant being the North West Tower which still "protects" North Quay. The wall protected Great Yarmouth on 3 sides, the 4th side being the River Yare. The wall, which was started in 1285 took over 100 years to complete. All the people of Great Yarmouth had to work on the wall. However, it was possible to pay someone to do your share of the work, this was known as murage.

The construction of the wall had the effect of restricting the growth of the town for over 400 years as no one was allowed to live outside the walls. Indeed, houses that were outside the walls during the construction stage were demolished. The town fathers decreed that "Great Yarmouth" should remain firmly within its wall, which it did until the 19th century. Once built nothing much was done to improve the protection offered by the wall. The threat of the Spanish Armada of 1588 saw the defenses strengthened and the garrison increased as fear of the Spanish grew. However, throughout its history the wall never had to withstand a major attack, which is partly the reason so much of the wall still survives. Road and town planners being by far the biggest danger to its existence.