St. Withburh, or Withburga, established a monastery at Dereham in the year 653 or thereabouts. Tradition remembers her as the youngest of King Anna’s sainted daughters. Her older siblings – St. Etheldreda and St. Sexburh of Ely, and St. Ethelbuga and St. Sethryth of Faramoutier – also followed the religious life.
In 10th Century the Withburga’s body was stolen from Dereham by monks of Ely and laid to rest beside her sisters. Whereupon, though some doubt this, a miraculous spring appeared in the churchyard!
A spur to connect East Dereham with the Walsingham Way would allow pilgrims to start, finish, or break the journey at Dereham. Dereham has an express bus service linking the town with Norwich and Kings Lynn.
In the future, it would be good to establish a Withburga Trail linking Holkham (where she is said to have grown-up); via North Elmham the site of Norfolk’s first cathedral, to Dereham; and on to Ely.