Dereham – Town Sign

Dereham has a town sign which hangs over the High Street which was placed here in 1954, to mark the 1,300th birthday of when the town was founded. Realistically, this is probably a bit of a made-up date as there’s no historic evidence for this, but it’ll do as a best guess until someone can prove otherwise.

The story goes that the settlement of Dereham was founded by St. Withburga and there’s a tale that goes alongside this that the Virgin Mary guided her towards a stream where there were deer who provided milk to sustain her. Sounds about as likely as the more recent Castle Barnard story, but I won’t go there……

The next bit of the story, which explains the town sign, is that an evil local man didn’t like the deer being so generous to St. Withburga, so he tried to kill the lovely deer. Unfortunately, he was a bit inept and he fell off his horse and broke his neck. It’s not exactly a fairy tale story you’d tell to children, but that’s the imagery that Dereham wanted on its sign.

And here’s how it looked in 1960.