To celebrate our 250th issue we have put together 250 reasons to love, and be proud of, Norfolk
We choose 250 great things and places about Norfolk
Some of the most lavish homes in Britain were built in Norfolk. Ten fabulous examples include:
Mansions which are still family homes too at:
• Holkham Hall near Wells.
• Houghton Hall near Fakenham.
• Raynham Hall near Fakenham.
• Sennowe Hall near Fakenham.
• Raveningham Hall near Loddon.
Stately homes looked after by the National Trust at:
• Blickling Hall near Aylsham.
• Felbrigg Hall near Cromer.
• Oxburgh Hall near Swaffham.
• Then there is the majestic home, loved by generations of royals, at Sandringham.
• And Earlham Hall which was once home to the Gurney family and is now part of the University of East Anglia.
Norwich is a Unesco city of literature – here are 10 people who have helped put Norwich and Norfolk on the literary map:
• Anna Sewell was born in Yarmouth in 1820 and wrote the children’s novel Black Beauty in Old Catton, near Norwich.
• Charles Dickens set part of David Copperfield in Yarmouth.
• Emma Healey, who wrote Elizabeth is Missing, arrived in Norwich to study creative writing at the University of East Anglia, and fell in love with the city
• Sarah Perry’s novels include The Essex Serpent and Melmoth.
• Philip Pullman wrote the worldfamous His Dark Materials trilogy. He was born in Norwich in 1946.
• Henry Rider Haggard, born in Bradenham, near Dereham in 1856, wrote adventure novels set in Africa.
• Luke Hansard, was a printer, born in Norwich in 1752. His company produced the record of Parliamentary debates which is still known as Hansard’s.
• Julian of Norwich’s account of her religious visions was the first book by a woman to be published in English. Another 14th century Norfolk mystic and author, Margery Kempe, wrote the first known autobiography by an English woman.
• Arthur Ransome set some of his Swallows and Amazons children’s books on the Norfolk Broads.
• Jack Higgins was based in Blakeney while researching his novel The Eagle Has Landed.
Norfolk has the greatest concentration of medieval churches in the world. They are an architectural, engineering, historic, artistic and spiritual marvel. Visit all 650-plus, or start with these treasures.
• Grand St Peter Mancroft, Norwich, with its medieval stained glass and famous bells.
• Twin-towered Lynn Minster which dates back to Norman times and once had a spire too.
• The flight of pinnacled fancy that is Booton church, near Reepham.
• Tiny Houghton-on-the-Hill church, near Swaffham, with its world-famous wall-paintings.
• Pilgrims once flocked to Bawburgh to pray at the shrine and holy well of St Walstan who spent most of his life as a farm labourer, renowned for his charity and piety.
• Norfolk has more roundtowered churches than anywhere else, many dating back more than 1,000 years, like St Mary’s, Haddiscoe, near Loddon.
• The flights of angels soaring high in the rafters of many of our churches are some of the finest in the world. At Cawston, near Aylsham, the feathered angels are 700 years old.
• Magnificent Wymondham Abbey was once cross-shaped. Today it is half its original length with towers at either end and a sensational glittering 1920s war memorial screen.
• The ziggurat tower at St Mary’s, Burgh St Peter is a mausoleum for the Boycott family (a land agent son once tried to enforce a rent rise for an absentee landlord and was, well, boycotted.)
• Generations of royals have worshipped and have memorials at pretty Sandringham church.
WALKS AND TRAILS
• The magnificent Norfolk Coast Path stretches from Hunstanton to Hopton-on-Sea and is a wonderful challenge to complete in a week, or in sections throughout the year. Once you have ticked that off your list, there are plenty more long distance trails by water, through woods, and in the footsteps of our ancestors.
• Boudicca’s Way runs from Norwich to Diss.
• The Nar Valley Way, from King’s Lynn to Gressenhall, follows the river for much of its route.
• The Wensum Way continues from Gressenhall to Lenwade, and is part of a 96-mile walking route right across Norfolk, following the Nar, Wensum and Yare.
• The Wherryman’s Way follows the River Yare between Norwich and Yarmouth.
• Peddar’s Way, between Knettishall Heath, near Thetford, to Holme, near Hunstanton, is part of one of the most ancient routes in Britain.
• The 61-mile Weavers Way links Cromer and Yarmouth, via Aylsham, Stalham and Acle.
• A new pilgrimage route is planned from Norwich to Walsingham.
• Get on your bike for the Marriott’s Way, following former railway lines from Norwich to Reepham and then Reepham to Aylsham, and linking with the footpath and cycle track beside the Bure Valley Railway between Aylsham to Wroxham.
• And for some inspiration for shorter walks follow our Ramblers walk every month in Norfolk magazine.
• Eighteenth century landscape gardener Humphry Repton went to school in Norwich and designed estates across the country. See his first ever commission as a landscape gardener, for free, at Catton Park in north Norwich. He worked on several more of
the great gardens of Norfolk and is credited with inventing the term landscape gardener. Other glorious gardens of Norfolk include:
• The Old Vicarage, East Ruston.
• Bressingham Gardens, near Diss.
• Mannington Gardens, Mannington Hall, near Aylsham.
• The Plantation Garden, Earlham Road, Norwich.
• Peter Beales Roses in Attleborough.
• The lavender fields at Norfolk Lavender, Heacham.
• Gooderstone Water Gardens, near Swaffham.
• The Bishop’s Garden in Norwich Cathedral Close.
• Elsing Hall Garden, near Dereham.
• Robert Marsham founded the science behind Springwatch by recording when trees budded and flowers bloomed on his estate at Stratton Strawless, near Aylsham, from 1736 into the 19th century.
• See snowdrops throughout February at Walsingham Abbey.
• By April our ancient woods, such as those at Fairhaven Woodland and Water Garden in South Walsham, glow blue with bluebells.
• More than 20 types of orchid occur in Norfolk and the common spotted orchid is still widespread on commons and at the edge of fens.
• The only place in Britain to see swallowtail butterflies is the Norfolk Broads from May to July.
• See thousands of pink footed geese flying in V-shaped skeins at dawn and dusk in autumn and winter, along Norfolk’s west coast.
• Take a boat from Morston or Blakeney to see the seals. Or walk from Winterton to Horsey to see the colony which raises its young here every winter.
• Find Britain’s biggest spider, the fen raft spider, near Diss.
• Marvel at a murmuration of tens of thousands of crows at dusk at Buckenham.
• Hear a bittern boom across the marshes at Strumpshaw.
Cley Marshes is the oldest of many hundreds of Wildlife Trust reserves across Britain. It it attracts more than 110,000 visitors a year and is one of the best birdwatching sites in the country. It also hosts walks, performances, exhibitions and festivals. The Norfolk Wildlife Trust (NWT) now has 34 reserves, including several of the following:
• Hethel Old Thorn, near Wymondham, protects just a single tree and is the smallest reserve in the country.
• Blakeney Point is owned by the National Trust and home to England’s largest grey seal colony. More than 3,000 seal pups are born here every winter.
• Sculthorpe Moor, near Fakenham, is run by the Hawk and Owl Trust and has woodland, fen, reedbeds and water plus boardwalks and bird-hides.
• Snettisham RSPB Nature Reserve is renowned for the wading birds on its saltmarshes and mudflats, which take to the skies as the tide races in.
• Hickling Broad is home to a significant proportion of Britain’s common crane, bittern and marsh harrier as well as the magnificent swallowtail butterfly and Norfolk hawker dragonfly.
• Narborough Railway Line is an embankment along the disused Lynn to Dereham line and alive with butterflies every summer, including the rare, and rather tragically named, dingy skipper.
• Strumpshaw Fen RSPB reserve, beside the river Yare, east of Norwich, is packed with waterloving wildlife, and orchid-rich meadows in the summer.
• Titchwell Marsh RSPB reserve is a watery wonderland where avocets, bearded tits and marsh harriers nest.
• Ranworth Broad Nature Reserve includes a floating visiting centre and a packed programme of activities for all the family.
• Weeting Heath is the best place in the country to see the rare stone curlew – also known as the Norfolk plover and goggle-eyed plover. It’s actually a wading bird, rather than a curlew, and the only European representative of the thick-knee family. Plus the knobbly-kneed avian’s huge googly eyes are bright yellow.
• BeWILDerwood .
• Get muddy slipping and slopping in the coastal creeks.
• Camp out under Norfolk’s big skies and do some star gazing.
• Enter a cart in the Cromer soap box rally.
We can’t boast any mountains, but that doesn’t mean we can’t mountain bike in Thetford Forest.
• Go Dippy – see the famous dinosaur at Norwich Cathedral this summer.
• Spot birds from finches to flamingos at Pensthorpe – and enjoy a paddle in the stream which links its play areas and ponds .
• See exotic animals including crocodiles, tigers and monkeys at zoos and wildlife collections including Thrigby Hall, Amazonia and Banham Zoo.
• Libraries run free song, story and craft sessions for toddlers.
• Ride the miniature railway at Eaton Park, Norwich.
AN APPETITE FOR NORFOLK
Hungry? You’re in the right place. Here are 10 ways to get a taste of Norfolk food.
• Eat samphire from the saltmarshes.
• Buy a fresh dressed crab in Cromer.
• Feast on chips and mushy peas from Great Yarmouth market.
• Norfolk can still lay claim to Colman’s mustard – the seeds are still grown here, even if production has moved away.
• Fill a cheeseboard with Norfolk cheeses including Wensum White, Norfolk Dapple, Norfolk White Lady, Norfolk Tawny, Norfolk Mardler, Walsingham, Baron Bigod, Deopham Blewe, Binham Blue...
• Norfolk ice cream makers include Lakenham Creamery, Ronaldo, Parravani and Danns.
• Norfolk black and bronze turkeys are not necessarily just for Christmas, although they are obviously ideal for the festive lunch.
• Half of all the sugar in the UK comes from sugar beet, and most of that starts life in Norfolk. The first sugar beet factory in the UK opened at Cantley in 1912.
• Dine out at Socius in Burnham Market, which holds the EAT Norfolk Food and Drink Awards top restaurant award.
• Eat at Brasted’s in Framingham Pigot, near Norwich, which won our EAT Norfolk outstanding front of house category.
PUBS AND DRINKS
• The English Whisky Company opened the first whisky distillery in England for 100 years at East Harling and has been producing award-winning whisky since 2006.
• Take a tour of one of Norfolk’s vineyards – try Winbirri in Surlingham or EAT Norfolk award-winning Flint vineyard.
• Treat yourself to a sample of beer from all our local breweries. Norfolk has the most microbreweries of any county in the country and produces England’s best malting barley.
• Try an apple juice or cider made from some of the scores of different apple types in Norfolk orchards.
• Boadicea, Black Shuck, Archangel, Bullards, St Giles and Norfolk are all gins made in the county.
• Deduce which ale is locally brewed at the Hill House Inn in Happisburgh. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle took a sabbatical here in 1905 and was inspired to write The Adventure of the Dancing Men.
• Enjoy a pint at The Norfolk Lurcher, Colton, near Norwich, which won our EAT Norfolk beer quality award.
• Enjoy a meal at the Wildebeest, Stoke Holy Cross, where chef Fabio Miani won the EAT Norfolk chef of the year prize.
• Visit the Brisley Bell in Dereham to find out why it was named pub of the year in our EAT Norfolk Food and Drink Awards.
• Visit the White Horse Upton – run by the community for the community.
Love shopping? Try these Norfolk institutions and inspirations:
• Jarrold – 250 years old this year.
• Bakers and Larners of Holt – also celebrating its 250th.
• Norwich Market.
• The Norwich Lanes, including treasures ranging from Thorns to The Book Hive.
• Our EAT Norfolk Food and Drink Awards winner Back to the Garden in Holt.
• Lots more independents in the Holt Yards.
• And in the Diss Heritage Triangle .
• Dalegate Market, Burnham Deepdale.
• Farmers Markets across the county.
• Our market towns with their range of shops and traditional market stalls. Swaffham Market is more than 800 years old, then there’s Downham Market, Fakenham, Dereham, Yarmouth, Thetford, Watton...
• For our seafaring past –
Time and Tide Yarmouth.
• For the country’s only surviving town gas works – The Fakenham Museum of Gas and Local History.
• For brushmaking and a model prison Wymondham Heritage Museum.
• For everything from Celtic, Viking and Roman treasures to the last Maharaja of the Punjab and wartime pulpware – The Ancient House Museum, Thetford.
• For nationally important artefacts and art in a royal palace - Norwich Castle Museum.
• For a recreation of some of our rural past – Gressenhall.
• For the finest seashell collection in the UK – The Shell Museum, Glandford, near Blakeney.
• For fishing boats and lifeboats, gansey jumpers, the photographs of pioneering Olive Edis, and art collections - Sheringham Museum at the Mo.
• For the story of Howard Carter who discovered the tomb of Tutankhamun in 1922 – Swaffham Museum.
• For an idea of the astonishing variety of products once made in Norwich – the Museum of Norwich at the Bridewell.
HEROES AND HEROINES
• “I am a Norfolk man and glory in being so,” said Horatio Nelson who was born at Burnham Thorpe, in 1758 and died while leading one of Britain’s greatest naval victories in 1805.
• Boudicca, Queen of the Icenis, who led an uprising against Rome. Her forces destroyed Colchester, London and St Albans and the Emperor Nero considered withdrawing from Britain.
• Elizabeth Fry, the 18th century prison and social reformer and Christian philanthropist campaigned for more humane treatment of prisoners, opened a night shelter for the homeless, and inspired Florence Nightingale.
• Robert Kett of Wymondham led 16,000 people in a rebellion against the seizing of common land in 1549. He was hanged for treason at Norwich Castle but is now recognised as a hero of the poor and dispossessed.
• Edith Cavell was the nurse born in Swardeston and executed by the Germans in 1915 for helping Allied servicemen escape.
• The most decorated lifeboatman in British history was Henry Blogg of Cromer who helped save more than 800 lives.
• Ted Ellis was keeper of natural history at Norwich Castle Museum. He lived at Wheatfen Broad, Surlingham, near Norwich, which
David Bellamy called “In its way, as important as Mount Everest or the giant redwood forests of North America. It is probably the best bit of fenland we have because we know so much about it...because one man gave his life trying to understand it – Ted Ellis”.
• Thomas Erpingham led Henry V’s archers to victory against France at the Battle of Agincourt.
• Thomas Browne was the Norwich philosopher, writer, scientist, doctor and historian and inventor of words. Approximate, coma, disruption, electricity, exhaustion, ferocious, gymnastic, hallucination, mucous, precocious, pubescent, ultimate – all his.
• Thomas Paine helped inspire both American independence from Britain and the French revolution. Born in Thetford, he worked as a corset-maker and tax collector before writing some of the most influential works on human rights ever published.
There are more archaeological and treasure finds in Norfolk than any other county in Britain including:
• The Snettisham treasure including Iron Age gold torcs.
• The Thetford hoard of Roman jewellery and table-ware.
• The Honingham hoard of Iceni coins.
• The mysterious timber circle which appeared on Holme beach, near Hunstanton, in 1998. Dubbed Seahenge turned out to be more than 4,000 years old. It is believed to have been used for ceremonial purposes and you can see the remarkable timbers at Lynn Museum.
• Look out to sea at Holme at low tide – another Seahenge still lies beyond the shore.
• The earliest evidence of humans outside Africa are the footprints of five people from 850,000 years ago. They were found at Happisburgh, near the oldest hand axe in north west Europe.
• The Sedgeford Historical and Archaeological Research Project (Sharp) is one of the UK’s largest and longest-running digs, training archaeologists in excavation and recording. The west Norfolk dig has unearthed Iron Age jewellery, 2,000-year old coins hidden in a cow’s horn and a 4,000-year-old burial.
• More than 4,000 years ago people were mining flints from beneath Thetford Forest at Grimes Graves.
• Warham Camp, near Wells is a huge Iron Age fort.
• Bloodgate hill fort, near South Creake, was once surrounded by four metre high banks.
HISTORY AND GEOGRAPHY
• The ruins of Burgh Castle, near Yarmouth, were once a Roman fort. See more Roman remnants at Brancaster and at Caistor St Edmund, near Norwich.
• Letters written by the Paston family, who lived around Paston, near North Walsham, from the 14th century, have been called the richest historical source for researching the lives of English medieval gentry.
• For several years in the 19th century Norwich MP Samuel Peto is said to have employed more people than anyone else in the world. He helped bring railways to Norfolk, build the Houses of Parliament, rebuilt Somerleyton Hall, and financed London’s Great Exhibition – before being made bankrupt.
• Norfolk’s castles range from picturesque ruins to homes, and from Castle Rising in the west to Caister Castle in the east.
• Ruined abbeys, priories and friaries still dominate landscapes in villages including Castle Acre, Binham, Langley, North Creake, Pentney and Walsingham, revealing the extent of Henry VIII’s destruction 500 years ago.
• Many of the world’s lowland chalk streams are in Norfolk, including the Mun, Hun, Burn, Ingol, Babingley and Gaywood.
• The longest chalk reef in the world stretches for 20 miles just off the north coast of Norfolk.
• The spectacular red and white striped cliffs of Hunstanton were named in the top 10 geosites of the country.
• A nine-mile ridge behind Cromer was probably the leading edge of an ice sheet.
• The Great Eastern Pingo trail near Watton is a walk through some of Britain’s best pingos – or small lakes, formed as ice sheets retreated.
BELOW: Blickling Hall near Aylsham
ABOVE: Happisburgh Lighthouse is painted in traditional red and white colours BELOW: King’s Lynn Minster
The Plantation Garden, Norwich
RIGHT: The Towering Treetop Tangles at BeWILDerwood
Two of the Norfolk beers ready for the 2019 Great British Winter Beer Festival at St Andrews Hall.
Cantley Sugar Factory