Historical overview

Village name

The name ‘Pulham’ is generally thought to mean ‘Village of Pools’ and is taken from the Anglo-Saxon words – ‘Pul or ‘Pol’, meaning a pool, and ‘Ham’ meaning a settlement.  An alternative Theory as to the origin of the name ‘Pulham’ is that it was derived from the name of an Anglo-Saxon chieftain.

Roman origins

The history of Pulham goes back many centuries.  It is thought that it was once occupied by the Romans.  There is a wall, near to The Hall, that contains material thought to be Roman.  In the garden of The Croft, a considerable quantity of oyster shells were found during excavations.  Oysters were considered to be a great delicacy by the Romans.  Garlic Street is also thought to have been a Roman road, and may have been so called because of the garlic grown there for use by the Spanish soldiers serving in the Roman army.


Records show that after various Anglo-Saxon owners the area came into the possession of Aethelword, Bishop of Winchester who gave it to the Abbey of Etheldreda at Ely.  The See of Ely still owned Pulham at the time of the Domesday survey.  It covered an area two miles long and one mile wide at this time.  A market had been established, this was regularised in 1249 and the settlement that was established around it formed the nucleus of what is now Pulham Market.

Parts of the present Church in the village date back to the the 13th century,  whilst a chapel was established in Pulham Market, which led to the two parishes developing  their own parochial identities. The act of complete separation was carried out in 1849 but was  reversed in 1980.  However, the two Pulhams still retain their separate civil identities, including their own Parish Councils.

The first Parish Council

The first Parish Council in Pulham St. Mary was elected at a Parish Meeting on 4th December 1894 and held its first meeting in Pennoyer’s School on 13th December 1894. The school was ‘home’ for Parish Council meetings for many years and has now come full circle as meetings are now be held in the Pennoyer’s Village Centre.

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