1107 William d’Aubigny, King Henry I’s Chief Butler, founds a Benedictine priory on his lands at Wymondham. This is a daughter house of the great St. Alban’s Abbey, where the founder’s uncle is Abbot. They start building a new church near the site of an earlier Saxon church. The other monastery buildings are on the south side.
1150s The church is now complete. As the founder specified, the nave and north aisle of the new church serve as the town’s parish church; the south aisle, transepts and chancel are used by the monks.
1170 Murder of St. Thomas Becket in Canterbury Cathedral by King Henry II soldiers. In about 1190, William d’Aubigny III, the founder’s grandson, founds nearby Becket’s Chapel in his honour.
1376 The original square central tower of the church is found to be unsafe. The monks begin building a new octagonal tower in the centre of the church to house the monastery bells. They build a solid wall to separate the monks’ east end from the people’s nave.
1445 Local landowners purchase land at the west end of the church and begin building a massive west tower to house the town bells. This replaces the original two low Norman towers at this end. At about the same time, the nave roof is raised and decorated with carved angels.
1448 Following disputes between the monks of Wymondham and St. Albans, the King and Pope grant Wymondham the right to become an independent Abbey. The monks no longer have to take orders from the Abbot of St. Albans.
1534 The Act of Supremacy declares that King Henry VIII is now “the only supreme head on earth of the Church in England”. The monks of Wymondham agree to this by taking the Oath of Supremacy.
1538 Wymondham Abbey is closed during the Dissolution of the Monasteries. The monks surrender their lands and buildings to the king’s agent, John Flowerdew. The last Abbot, Elisha Ferrers, becomes Vicar of Wymondham. Most of the buildings are dismantled and the materials sold off during the following years. The nave and aisles remain as the parish church.
1547 King Henry VIII dies and his young son, the Protestant Edward VI, becomes king. The internal decoration and furnishings of the Abbey are simplified when the Book of Common Prayer replaces the Latin Mass. The changes are reversed under Queen Mary (1553-1558) but then restored again under Queen Elizabeth I.
1549 Kett’s Rebellion. Wymondham landowner Robert Kett leads a revolt against religious and social changes. The king’s forces defeat the rebels, and William Kett, Robert’s brother, is hanged from the Abbey west tower.
1573 Queen Elizabeth I visits Wymondham and grants money for improvements to the church including the rebuilding of the north side of the chancel. The nave arches are later squared off in a similar style.
1615 Arsonists start the Great Fire of Wymondham while the townspeople are in church. The Abbey escapes damage, but many buildings including the Vicarage are completely destroyed.
1788 – 1836 Revd. William Papillon serves as vicar of Wymondham. Papillon, a great benefactor of the parish, purchases the meadow, sets up a school in the churchyard and re-routes the roads round the church.
1793 Miss Anne Farmer “a maiden lady of the parish” leaves £630 for the purchase of the main Abbey organ. The organ, by James Davis, is brought by cart from London.
1833 The Oxford Movement, led by a group of High Church theologians, begins the rediscovery of the Catholic roots of the Anglican Church. By the late 19th century, Wymondham Abbey’s worship and furnishings increasingly follow these traditional Catholic lines.
1842 Holy Trinity Church, Spooner Row, opens as a daughter church of Wymondham Abbey, serving the people of the Wattlefield and Spooner Row areas of the parish. In 1893 this was followed by St. Edmunds, serving the northern edge of the town, and in 1913 St. Helens in Silfield. The latter two have now closed.
1903 The church is in poor repair, with a huge crack near the top of the west tower. A major restoration of the building takes place including the replacement of the old wooden gallery at the back of the church by a smaller stone gallery.
1919 Work on the gilded screen behind the high altar starts as a memorial to the 142 Wymondham people killed during the First World War. The screen, designed by Sir Ninian Comper, is finally finished and gilded in 1934.
2007 Wymondham Abbey celebrates its 900 years of history with a series of community events, including visits from the Archbishop of Canterbury and HRH Prince Richard, Duke of Gloucester.