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Southtown, Runham Vauxhall and Gorleston

These areas are now within the Borough of Great Yarmouth but they have not always been part of the borough – or even of Norfolk.

This guide gives some brief details of their history and suggests where the relevant archives may be found.


This is the settlement that grew up on the west bank of the river where the upper ferry crossed and where the Haven Bridge was put up in 1417.

It was also known as Little Yarmouth and was in the county of Suffolk, apart from the small area known as Runham Vauxhall which was in Norfolk.

Southtown had its own parish church - St Mary's – in the Middle Ages. However, in 1511 the parishes of Gorleston and Southtown were united.

The people of Southtown moved to the Gorleston church and therefore their baptisms, marriages and burials are recorded in the Gorleston parish registers.

St Mary's was pulled down in 1548 and the stone used in building the pier at the mouth of the Haven.

There were many disputes between Southtown and Great Yarmouth about harbour dues and related matters.

These were resolved finally in 1681 when Southtown became part of the Borough of Great Yarmouth.

Records about the administration of Southtown should appear in the archives of the Borough of Great Yarmouth from this date, rather than the Suffolk county archives.

However, Southtown still remained in the parish of Gorleston, so records of baptisms, marriages and burials will be found in the registers of Gorleston church.

Runham Vauxhall

This was the area bounded by the parish of Runham, the river Bure and Breydon Water. It is now largely occupied by the railway station and a supermarket.

It was part of the parish of Runham until 1890. In that year it was separated from the parish of Runham and brought into the Borough of Great Yarmouth.

It became an ecclesiastical parish of its own at the same time.

Runham Vauxhall had its own school board in spite of its small size (it only had one school).

The board existed from 1877 until 1891, when it was taken over by the Great Yarmouth school board. 

The Runham Vauxhall school board records can be found among the Yarmouth borough archives.

Runham Vauxhall was also outside Yarmouth for Poor Law purposes: it was part of the East and West Flegg Incorporation.


Gorleston is recorded in history before Great Yarmouth. The Domesday Book says that in 1066 the manor was held by Earl Guert.

He had 20 villeins and 24 fishermen and produced salt from salt-pans on the seashore.

Gorleston was originally in Suffolk, being on the west bank of the river. It became part of Great Yarmouth for electoral purposes from 1832 and three years later it became part of the Borough of Great Yarmouth.

Yarmouth cared for its poor as a Union under the Poor Law Act of 1834. The parish of Gorleston (including the hamlet of Southtown) was not part of this Union.

It was in the Mutford and Lothingland Hundred, which was incorporated for the maintenance of the poor in 1763 and by an amended act in 1833.

Records of this Union (including burial registers for the workhouse at Oulton from 1834-99) are at the Suffolk Record Office.

Gorleston has always been a separate parish from Great Yarmouth, with its own parish records: these are now with us at the Norfolk Record Office (NRO).

Bishop's and archdeacons' transcripts are at the Suffolk Record Office. We also hold the tithe maps for both Gorleston and Southtown at the NRO.

Copies of the Gorleston Inclosure map and award of 1813 are available from us.

Gorleston and Southtown came under the control of the Great Yarmouth School Board, formed in 1875 – its records are in Yarmouth’s borough archives.

Gorleston had two manors, the main manor of Gorleston and the small manor of Bacons.

Gorleston manor was purchased by Great Yarmouth Corporation in 1890 and the Court Books are now among the borough archives. Court books for the manor of Gorleston Bacons are at the NRO.

Census returns for Gorleston 1841-91 are available at the NRO, Great Yarmouth Borough Library and in all branches of the Suffolk Record Office.

Free Church (Nonconformist) registers, Gorleston Independent Church baptisms and deaths registers 1828-37 are at The National Archives (TNA) .

Microfilm copies of the registers are available at the Lowestoft and Ipswich branches of the Suffolk Record Office.

Gorleston Ebenezer Wesleyan Reform Church marriage registers from 1901-91 are held by us at the NRO (see list FC 48/72-75).

Wills were proved in church courts before 1858. Three courts had jurisdiction over Gorleston: the Archdeaconry Court of Suffolk (records at the Suffolk Record Office), the Consistory Court of Norwich (records at the NRO) and the Prerogative Court of Canterbury (records at TNA).

Wills have been proved in local Probate Registries since 1858. There are national printed indexes to all wills proved after 1858: these are available in good libraries including the Norfolk Heritage Centre (NHC) at the Norfolk and Norwich Millennium Library.