SWAFFHAM TRAIL The Pedlar of Swaffham Home

One night John Chapman had a dream, a man in a red coat stood by him and said ‘Go to London Bridge, go and be quick, good will come of it’

‘Cateryne, wake up, I’ve had a dream’ said John.

‘What?’ said his wife.

‘I’ve had a dream’

‘Go to sleep John’ she replied.

John tried to sleep but the man came back again and said, ‘Go to London Bridge, go and be quick, good will come of it’

John woke his wife again.‘Cateryne, wake up, I’ve had the same dream’

‘You, you will believe anything’ she said.

The next morning, the pedlar told his children about the dream.

‘Forget it’ they all said

So John went to work on his stall in Swaffham Market Place but he still could not forget his dream. That evening he went to see the priest in his tumble down church.

‘What is it?’ said Master Fuller the priest.

John replied, ‘I had a dream. A man in a red coat told me to go to London and good would come of it.’

‘I dream, you dream, everyone dreams. If you must dream find out how to get some gold to rebuild our church,’ said the priest.

‘I wish I could,’ said John.

When he got home Cateryne said, ‘You’ve talked and talked about your dream. Perhaps you had better go to London.’

‘I’ll go and be quick,’ said John.

Next day John set off early for London.

‘Don’t tell anyone where I’ve gone. I don’t want them to laugh,’ he told his family.


‘Bye! Come back soon!’ shouted his family.

John walked for four days on the Gold Road to London.

After five days he reached London.

‘There it is!’ said John.

John walked up and down London Bridge for three days. Nobody noticed him and nothing happened. He felt silly and lonely and lost.

Then a man said to him, ‘For three days you’ve stood on this bridge.’

‘How do you know?’ asked John.

‘I’m a shopkeeper and I’ve seen you. What are you up to? What are you waiting for?’

John said, ‘I had a dream that if I came to London Bridge good would come of it.’

‘Goodness! What a waste of time!’ said the shopkeeper.

‘Only fools follow dreams. Last night I had a dream about a pedlar in a town called Swaffham who found a pot of gold in his garden.’

John gasped. ‘A pot of gold! A pedlar!?’

The shopkeeper said, ‘You see? Nonsense! Go home.’

‘I will!’ said John.

So John went home.

‘Welcome back! We are glad to see you!’ called his family.

‘So what of the dream John?’ said Cateryne.

John told his wife about his journey and the shopkeeper on London Bridge.

Cateryne said, ‘How strange! Can it be true?’

John said, ‘Let’s dig in the garden.’ So they did.

‘Look! Look! A pot of gold!’ they all cried.

‘What’s this? It’s writing,’ said one of the children.

‘Yes, it’s words,’ said John.

‘I’ll hide the gold here and find someone to read the words.’

Next morning John went to his stall in the market place.

‘Where have you been? I missed you!’ said Master Fuller.

John replied, ‘Here and there. Please can you tell me what this says?’

‘Hmmm…..It says, ‘Under me lies another richer than I.’ said the priest.

‘Thank you.’ Said John.

‘Well I must go,’ said Master Fuller.

The pedlar hurried back home and said to his family ‘We need to dig again. This time you children can dig.’

‘Another pot of gold!’ they cried.

‘It’s like a dream. Who put it there? Why? What shall we do with it?’

John said, ‘We’ll keep some for ourselves. We must give the rest to Master Fuller to build a new church.’

So that evening John went to the priest and said ‘I would like to give gold for the new church!’

The people of Swaffham and the priest watched as John turned the pot upside down.

So Swaffham Church was rebuilt with the gold given by John Chapman.

It is still here in Swaffham today.