All Saints Church, Hilgay
 Hilgay shown within Norfolk
Area  33.38 km2 (12.89 sq mi)
Population 1,341 (2011)
    density  40/km2 (100/sq mi)
OS grid referenceTL621983
Civil parishHilgay
DistrictKing's Lynn and West Norfolk
Shire countyNorfolk
Sovereign stateUnited Kingdom
Postcode district PE38
Police Norfolk
Fire Norfolk
Ambulance East of England
EU Parliament East of England
List of places

Coordinates: 52°33′30″N 0°23′23″E / 52.55839°N 0.38978°E / 52.55839; 0.38978

Hilgay is a civil parish in Norfolk, England, 4 miles (6.4 km) from Downham Market. It covers an area of 33.38 km2 (12.89 sq mi) and had a population of 1,341 at the 2011 Census.[1] For local government purposes, it falls within the district of King's Lynn and West Norfolk.

Other places nearby are Fordham, Ryston, Southery and Denver.

Hilgay village sits on a raised isle, some 66 feet (20 m) above the surrounding fenland. Its elevation has become more pronounced as the draining of the fenland has caused the ground to shrink. It was notable in Saxon and early Norman times for the large numbers of fish and eels found there. Hilgay Old Bridge still crosses the river, but the newer A10 road bypass crosses just below it.[2]

The scholar and poet Phineas Fletcher (1580 -1650) became chaplain to Sir Henry Willoughby, who presented him in 1621 to the rectory of Hilgay, Norfolk, where he married and spent the rest of his life.

George William Manby, who lived for much of his life in Hilgay, is buried in the churchyard, and his memorial celebrates his invention of a rocket to send a line to ships in distress. Prototypes were tested from the roof of the church tower, and he was awarded £2,000 by Parliament, as use of the device had saved 230 lives by 1823.[3]

There was once a Hilgay railway station on the Fen Line.


Hilgay is part of the electoral ward of Hilgay with Denver. The population of this ward at the 2011 Census was 2,409.[4]


  1. "Parish population 2011". Retrieved 28 August 2011.
  2. "Hilgay, a village and a parish in Downham district, Norfolk. The village stands on the river Wissey, 2 miles (3.2 km) from the Ouse, 3 NE of Hilgay fen . station, and Market-Downham and has a post office under Downham Market. The parish comprises 7,860 acres (31.8 km2) of which 5,908 are in the Fens. Real property, £13,492. Pop., 1,624. Houses, 365. The property is much subdivided. The hall about ½ a mile from the village, belonged to the abbots of Ramsey, went at the dissolussion to James Howe, belonged now to the Jones family and was rebuilt in the Tudor style in 1840."
  3. Blair (2006)
  4. "Hilgay with Denver population 2011". Retrieved 28 August 2015.


  • Andrew Hunter Blair (2006). The River Great Ouse and tributaries. Imray Laurie Norie and Wilson. ISBN 978-0-85288-943-5. 

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