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Yarmouth sands since the reign of Elizabeth.
About Cromer way, the earth is yielding to
the sea in all directions; here at Yarmouth
the earth is conquering. The theory (and it
gives a curious notion of the vast agencies
at work in reshaping the outer surface of the
earth) is this: only a portion of the great tidal
wave of the Atlantic passes up the channel
through the Straits of Dover; the great mass
moving more swiftly up the west, sweeps
round the Orkneys, and pours down southward
between Norway and Scotland. Wherever,
therefore, a river stream breaks a passage
through this southward-beating pulsation of the
great ocean's heart, there sand-banks are
deposited at the angle where the two forces meet.

Yarmouth, first mentioned in 1081, was
originally a mere cluster of tarry fishermen's huts
on a sand-bank at the mouth of the Yare.
Its first charter, establishing Yarmouth as a
sort of herring kingdom, was granted in 1108,
and confirmed by successive sovereigns until
1702; the year before Queen Anne came to
the throne. Henry the Second allowed a wall
to be built, enclosing the houses on the land
side. The serviceable old rampart is still to
be traced through the quaint narrow streets of
Yarmouth. At Ramp Row the wall is supported
within by arched recesses seven feet deep. The
poor people, who here live in tumble-down
tenements, use the recesses as pantries or
bedrooms. "A Ramp Row goose," is the
Yarmouth metonym for a herring. Close by
the Priory national schools, there is more of
the wall, while a ruined tower is to be found
in an adjoining nursery garden. Southward it
runs to a third tower, now used as a dwelling-
house. The wall appears again in solid,
unimpaired flintwork facing the North Denes. It
is cut in two by a street, but reappears in
the rear of a yard where anchors are stored;
and presently the versatile rampart forms one
side of a rope-walk. It turns up often again
behind hovels, sheds, stables, and smoke houses:
such are the crow's flying glimpses of it.

French and Flemish Protestant refugees,
escaping from the Guises and from Spanish
Philip, established themselves at Yarmouth
during the reigns of James and Charles, and
gave to the crowds in the lanes of this Norfolk
Genoa, a republican and anti-state church tone.
Bradshaw, the Puritan law sergeant, who
presided at King Charles's trial, and who declared
with his dying breath that if the deed were to
do again he would do it, resided for some time
at the Star Inn, Yarmouth.

On July 9, 1642, Yarmouth had declared
openly for the Parliament, and was thenceforward
harassed by the Lowestoft Cavaliers'
cruisers. The consequence was that when the
tide turned Yarmouth had to turn, and within
a few days of each other presented enthusiastic
addresses to Richard Cromwell and Charles the
Second. The swarthy "mutton-eating" king
came to the town for some reason or other in
1671, and having received a present of three
golden herrings, dubbed three of the richest
herring sellers knights.

At various periods all sorts of great men
embarked and disembarked at Yarmouth.
But the most honoured name among them
is that of Nelson. He landed on this Norfolk
coast close to his own birthplace, November 6,
1800, after the great victory of the Nile, when
he had captured all the French fleet except
four ships, and blown up L'Orient in spite
of the batteries of Aboukir. The memory of
the great admiral is treasured at the Star
Hotel, once the residence of the Howards, then
of Bradshaw. "The Nelson Room" is still the
palladium of the building. In this oak-panelled
chamber, with its arched fillets and diaper
work, its quaint female figures with animals'
heads, and its scroll- bordered ceiling with
pendants, Nelson once dined; and his portrait
painted by Keymer, a quaker admirer, still
hangs on the wall.

Yarmouth has been often compared to Genoa,
and a writer, by no means unknown to the
public, has named the many-alleyed town "the
Norfolk Gridiron." The five principal streets
are crossed at right angles by one hundred and
fifty-six rows or narrow lanes, which are, on
an average, about eight feet wide. The reason
of this minute subdivision of street way is
that in the old time the teeming city was
pressed in by a wall on the north, south, and
east sides two hundred and forty yards long,
and on the west by a wall two thousand and
thirty yards long. Within this box the
population lay, to use a simile not inappropriate
to the herring town, like herrings in a barrel.
These little lanes are so narrow that you can
touch both walls by stretching out your hands
while passing. They necessitated a special
low, long, narrow vehicle, first introduced in
Henry the Seventh's time, and hence popularly
known as "Harry-carries." These Dutch-
looking trolley carts are sledges twelve feet
long by three feet six inches broad; are mounted
on wheels two feet nine inches high; and are
drawn by one horse, the driver standing on the
cross-staves. A topographical writer of 1777
shows how simple Norfolk society was at that
era, when many of these Harry-carries, painted
red, green, and blue, plied for hire, and were
let out to visitors wishing to drive to the Fort,
the Quay, or the Denes.

Yarmouth quay has been compared to the
Boompjes at Rotterdam, with its commingled
trees, masts, and houses. The Dutch Clock,
the quaintest spot on the banks of the Yare, is
an old sixteenth-century building, now used as
a public library and an office for toll receivers
and Haven commissioners; it was formerly a
place where Dutch and Flemish refugees
celebrated in quiet and phlegmatic gratitude their
morning prayers; and here Brinsley, the
non-conformist, when driven from St. Nicholas
church, preached the tenets of toleration. In
olden times the town waits assembled on the
roof on summer Sunday evenings. The old
clock, that has seen out many generations, still
counts the hours; and the ancient carved stone
mariner's compass, three feet in diameter,
remains in front of the old building.