Holiday Cottages near North Walsham

Holiday Cottages near North Walsham

 

North Walsham is an attractive market town, just seven and a half miles from Happisburgh. Every Thursday, and on the last Sunday of each month, North Walsham becomes a hive of activity, as town residents, holiday makers, and residents of neighbouring towns make a beeline for the busy, picturesque market place. This vibrant little town, packed with history, is well worth a visit.

 

In the Domesday survey of 1086, North Walsham was cited as a large settlement of 71 households; two hundred years later, as a result of its flourishing weaving industry, the town was still growing in prosperity and importance. Immigrant Flemish weavers had settled in North Walsham – and neighbouring town, Worstead – bringing with them their weaving trade, and establishing these Norfolk towns as leaders in the industry. Worsted cloth takes its name from Worstead, and North Walsham was the name’s sake of the light-weight Walsham cloth, rarely heard of nowadays.

 

On June 25 1381, North Walsham played host to the last major battle in the famous Peasants’ Revolt. Geoffrey Litster, a dyer from nearby Felmingham, about four miles from North Walsham, led this battle, but the peasants were overpowered by the armed forces of the Bishop of Norwich, Henry le Despenser; according to some accounts, there was heavy bloodshed in the parish church, where the defeated rebels had taken refuge. Geoffrey Litster was executed (hung, drawn, and quartered) at Bryant’s Heath; according to the 15th century historian, John Capgrave, from Bishop’s Lynn (now King’s Lynn), the kind-hearted Bishop of Norwich was good enough to support Litster’s head as he was dragged to the hanging, “lest it should be bruised by the ground.”

 

The Battle of North Walsham is commemorated by a mosaic, depicting the Peasants’ Revolt, in North Walsham’s town sign, and also by three stone crosses – one by the town’s water towers, one on Toff’s Loke (off Norwich Road), and the third on private land.

 

North Walsham’s parish church of St Nicholas began life in 1330, dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary. The town was expanding, on the back of its successful weaving industry, and the existing Saxon church just didn’t meet the needs of this fast-growing community. Interrupted by two attacks of the Black Death plague, and then the Battle of North Walsham, construction was not completed until the end of the 14th century, when it was consecrated by Bishop le Despenser. After the English Reformation, the Church of the Blessed Virgin Mary became the Church of St Nicholas.

 

St Nicholas’s tower, originally one of the tallest in the locality – second only, in fact, to that of Norwich Cathedral – is now quite a well-known landmark by virtue of its state of ruin. One Saturday morning in May 1724, the steeple, having suffered the vibrations of a long session of bell-ringing for the Feast of Ascension Fair, collapsed. Fortunately (as Vicar Thomas Jeffery logged in his journal), the event took place without anyone “getting any mischief thereby”.

 

Although North Walsham is not the flattest of Norfolk towns, it’s still very accessible to those with limited mobility. When you’re staying at Boundary Stables, we heartily recommend a visit.

 

At Boundary Stables, we extend a warm welcome to dogs. But to all those holiday-making dogs out there – don’t forget to bring your humans!

Self catering accommodation near Wroxham

Hoveton and Wroxham: Capital of the Broads

 

Situated less than 15 miles from Happisburgh, the area around Wroxham Bridge is a popular destination for visitors to Boundary Stables.

 

Divided only by the River Bure, the neighbouring towns of Hoveton and Wroxham are old friends, supporting one another by shared amenities, including a post office, hotel, shopping centre, and railway station. In the 1870s, with the arrival of the East Norfolk Railway, Wroxham became home to the first boat hire business on the Broads, owned by John Loynes, the pioneer of an incredibly successful river-based leisure industry. Wroxham is often referred to as the ‘Capital of the Broads’, but it is only in partnership with its symbiotic pal, Hoveton, that Wroxham can really be credited with this accolade.

 

The thoroughfare connecting the two towns passes over Wroxham Bridge. A wooden bridge over the River Bure at this location was replaced, in 1576, by a sturdier structure. In 1619, the bridge was rebuilt in brick and stone, and this is the bridge we use today.

 

Roys of Wroxham – ‘the world’s largest village store’ – has been in Hoverton since 1899, and the firm owns a great deal of the property in the area, dominating the local shopping centre.

 

Close to Hoveton and Wroxham Railway Station is the Wroxham terminus of the Bure Valley Railway, Norfolk’s longest narrow-gauge railway, which stretches nine miles to the attractive market town of Aylsham. The little train (powered in the main by steam, but occasionally by diesel) makes three to eight round trips (18 miles) every day during August and September, alongside the meandering River Bure. With intermediate request stops at Brampton, Buxton, and Coltishall, you can get off, go for a walk or a picnic, and jump back on to continue your journey when the train is next going your way. A single ride between Wroxham and Aylsham takes 45 minutes; if you’re heading straight back, there’s not long to wait, but of course this is an ideal opportunity to explore Aylsham.

 

The giant in the world of Broads river trips is Broads Tours, established by Charles Hannaford in 1935. Broads Tours, now owned by the Greasley family, comprises five passenger boats, forty standard diesel dayboats, six day-cruisers, and two large, electric dayboats. Every day, throughout August and September, there are between four and seven river trips. The shortest of these trips is a tour of Wroxham Broad, which takes an hour; a slightly longer trip, lasting an hour and a half, takes in both Wroxham Broad and Salhouse Broad; the two-hour tour goes on from Wroxham and Salhouse Broads to Horning Reach.

 

The Broads Tours craft are well equipped to cope with wheelchairs. If you are a wheelchair user, crew members will assist you onto the boat via a hydraulic lift. However, the capabilities of these lifts are subject to a maximum weight and the turning ability of the wheelchair. If your mobility scooter is unable to board the boat, one manual wheelchair is available for use during the trip, on a first-come-first-served basis.

 

The crime writer, Alan Hunter (1922-2005), was born in Hoveton, and went to school in Wroxham. This is an excerpt from his poem, Saturday at Wroxham.

 

So many boats upon the river!

So many pennants all a-quiver!

So many yachts about the quays,

So many sails amongst the trees;

So many people everywhere,

So much holiday in the air!

 

Hoveton and Wroxham provide a super day out – just a 25-minute drive away from Happisburgh and Boundary Stables.

Self catering cottages near Norwich Cathedral

The Two Cathedrals of Norwich

 

When you’re staying at Boundary Stables, in Happisburgh, there are so many interesting and picturesque places to visit. Norwich, situated on the River Wensum, is just 20 miles away from Happisburgh, and it’s one of very few UK cities that can boast two cathedrals. In the Domesday Book of 1086, Norwich had 25 churches (or thereabouts), and a population of between five and ten thousand; it was one of England’s largest cities.

 

Norwich Cathedral, dedicated to the Holy and Undivided Trinity, is the cathedral church for the Church of England Dioceses of Norwich. The cathedral is constructed from flint and mortar, and faced with Caen stone, an aesthetically pleasing, creamy-coloured limestone, quarried near to the city of Caen, in France. Caen stone was formed in the middle Jurassic period (about 166 million years ago), and because of its homogeneity (uniformity of composition), it’s particularly suitable for carving.

 

It took 49 years – from 1096 to 1145 – for this beautiful giant to be built. The spire, at 96 metres high, is the second tallest in England. It was built in 1480 to replace the spire that was struck by lightning in 1463, which, in turn, replaced the original Norman spire that was blown down in 1362.

 

Norwich Cathedral is the burial place of Edith Cavell, the Norfolk-born nurse who helped to save the lives of many soldiers at the beginning of WW1. She was executed by a German firing squad on October 12 1915, at the age of 49. Also buried in the cathedral is 12-year-old William of Norwich, who acquired the status of martyr, and then saint, after being murdered in 1144 on Mousehold Heath; it was believed that Jews were responsible for the boy’s death.

 

The cathedral grounds are also home to a statue of Horatio Nelson, a Norfolk boy who grew up to be Britain’s most famous naval hero. Nelson attended the Norwich School, which is also located in the cathedral grounds.

 

A lot of effort has been put into making the cathedral accessible to everyone, so you’ll find ramps and lifts available, as well as disabled toilet facilities. Parking permits and free loan of a wheelchair are available for disabled visitors on a first-come, first-served basis. Because all of our cottages at Boundary Stables are suitable for wheelchair users, with level access and wet-room showers, we’re keen to recommend places to visit that provide convenient access. Norwich Cathedral is certainly one of those places.

 

Norwich’s second cathedral is the Roman Catholic Cathedral of St John the Baptist. Construction of this gorgeous church began in 1882, commissioned and funded by philanthropist Henry Fitzalan-Howard (1847-1917), 15th Duke of Norfolk, as part of a personal campaign to aid the reconstitution of Roman Catholic dioceses in Britain. The original architect was a converted Catholic, George Gilbert Scott; after he became ill, his brother, John Oldrid Scott, another talented architect, took the project over.

 

The building plot was situated over medieval chalk mines, and it took two years to make the site secure and safe. The foundation stone was at last laid in 1884, but it was not until 1910 that the church was completed. When the Roman Catholic Dioceses of East Anglia was re-established in 1976, this magnificent church was consecrated as its cathedral church.

 

Less than a century before the completion of Howard’s church, practice of the catholic faith had been against the law, resulting in extreme discrimination and violent attacks. Now, standing peacefully within walking distance of the Church of England cathedral, this beautiful building can be seen as a celebration of tolerance.

 

 

 

 

Self-Catering Holiday Cottages near to Norwich Castle Museum and Art Gallery

Self-Catering Holiday Cottages near to Norwich Castle Museum and Art Gallery

 

Just 19 miles from Happisburgh is the beautiful, historic city of Norwich and its rich assortment of heritage sites, known as the Norwich 12. These include the lovely Church of England Cathedral, completed in 1145, and the Great Hospital, built in 1249. The oldest of the Norwich 12, though, is the Norman castle, built in the latter part of the 11th century.

 

In the Domesday survey of 1086, Norwich was shown to be a very large settlement of 1,358 households. Norwich castle, built for King William soon after his conquest of England, was one of 48 castles mentioned in the Domesday Book. The castle was originally constructed in the motte-and-bailey style, and the stone keep, built in the early 12th century, is still in existence today, although, after many reconstructions and repairs, very little of the original material remains.

 

During the years 1220 to 1887, Norwich Castle served as a gaol, but in 1887, Norwich prison was moved to the new Britannia Barracks on Mousehold Heath. In 1894, Norwich castle became the home of Norwich Museum, which had, until then, comprised several premises, scattered around the city.

 

The lovely thing about Norwich Museum is that its premises are an exhibit in their own right. Not only can you see ancient artefacts – for example, the 3,000-year-old Egyptian mummy, or the Iron Age jewellery – and learn about amazing historical events – such as the Iceni tribe’s revolt against the Romans in the first century AD, and the 20th century world wars – but you can embrace the experience of being in a Norman castle, built more than 900 years ago. From the 12th century carved stone arch, which leads into the keep, to the dungeons, to the garderobes (store cupboards that also housed toilets), the castle itself is a fascinating part of your tour.

 

Because we make every effort to ensure that Boundary Stables cottages are accessible to guests with limited mobility, we like to recommend places to visit that provide a high standard of disabled facilities – or at least to offer some information regarding the availability of such facilities.

 

Norwich Castle Museum is dedicated to providing access to as many areas of the museum as possible, and there is plenty of assistance available to visitors with visual or hearing impairment. Facilities include: portable hearing loops for guided tours and gallery talks; large print labels, magnifying sheets and braille labels; wheelchair hire, and assistance with manoeuvring wheelchairs through heavy doors. There are several disabled toilets throughout the castle, and guide dogs are welcome.

 

Because it’s only a short drive from Happisburgh, Norwich is a wonderful place to visit during your stay at Boundary Stables. Take a stroll around the old, unspoilt streets, and pop into some of those magnificent buildings that make up the famous Norwich 12 – including, of course, the very old and very lovely Norwich Castle Museum.

 

There are some marvellous places to explore in Norfolk, especially on the coast. At Boundary Stables, we welcome dogs. So if you’re thinking of bringing your pets on holiday with you, get in touch – we’d love to hear from you.

 

 

Self catering cottages near wildlife reserves.

Norfolk Wildlife Trust: Hickling Broad

 

When you’re staying at Boundary Stables, in Happisburgh, there are so many wonderful places to visit. Hickling Broad, managed by Norfolk Wildlife Trust, is less than seven miles from Happisburgh, and well worth a visit.

 

Norfolk Wildlife Trust (NWT) – where the future of wildlife is protected and enhanced through sympathetic management – was the pioneer of UK wildlife trusts. It has provided a model for effective and economical conservation that has since been replicated all over the country. Now 91 years old, the NWT has more than 35,500 members and cares for over 50 nature reserves and protected sites in Norfolk.

 

Covering an area of 1.4 km2, the slightly brackish Hickling Broad has a greater surface area than any other of the broads, although it’s a very shallow body of water. Hickling Broad’s reed-bed, which is the largest in England, supports a wide range of flora, including several rare species of Charales, an order of freshwater algae, also known as stoneworts; this name is possibly due to the fact that Charales can become encrusted in calcium carbonate (lime).

 

When it comes to birds, some true Norfolk residents, such as the marsh harrier and the bittern, can be seen almost all year round at Hickling Broad, and during the winter, they’re joined by many species of migrants. As winter approaches, we can look forward to spying on the raptors at sunset. Stubb Mill, which is owned by NWT, and is just 1 km from the carpark, is an ideal viewpoint from which to observe red kite, sparrowhawk, barn owl, common buzzard, peregrine, and common crane returning home to roost. It’s not unusual to see between 40 and 90 individual birds of prey of a winter evening.

 

Rare insects to be seen at Hickling include the Emperor dragonfly and the swallowtail butterfly. An endangered species of dragonfly, the green-eyed hawker (Aeshna isosceles), which thrives at Hickling Broad and throughout Norfolk generally, is known in the UK as the Norfolk hawker. This insect’s wings are completely clear, and it has a yellow triangular mark on its back; as you would expect, its eyes are green.

 

Norfolk Wildlife Trust has a no-dog policy, so Hickling Broad is, unfortunately, not a destination to head for with your dogs. However, there are several footpaths close to the reserve boundaries, and dogs may also be taken to the raptor roost. (At Boundary Stables, we positively welcome dogs.)

 

NWT Nature Reserves are not suitable for wheelchairs. All five cottages at Boundary Stables, though, are specially adapted for people with restricted mobility, with level access, wet-room showers, and disabled parking close to the cottage entrances.

 

 

 

 

Holiday Cottages Near Bewilderwood

Bewilderwood

 

Bewilderwood, at Horning, is just a 14-mile drive from Happisburgh. Suitable for children of all ages, this exciting fairy-tale world is open every day during the summer, from 10 a.m. to 5.30 p.m., offering hours of fun and excitement for the whole family. There’s a certain amount of disabled play equipment and plenty of free parking, including bike sheds and designated disabled parking.

 

Bewilderwood is fashioned on the magical world inhabited by Swampy and his friends, including the Twiggles, who happen to be afraid of dogs, which means that dogs are not permitted at Bewilderwood. However, because many people bring their dogs on holiday with them, a couple of kennels are recommended. Details can be found on the Bewilderwood website (http://www.bewilderwood.co.uk/).

 

At Bewilderwood, you’ll find zip wires, slippery slopes, jungle bridges, boat rides, and lots of other dare-devil activities. Children can also dress up and join in the enchanting daily storytelling. A wide variety of snacks can be purchased from The Munch Bar, Cosy Cabin, and Snack Shack – all supervised by the esteemed Master of Mud Stew. Alternatively, you could enjoy a picnic on Leaflette’s Lawn.

 

Pleasurewood Hills Theme Park

 

Approximately 40 miles from Happisburgh, set within 52 acres of enclosed parkland in Lowestoft, is the famous Pleasurewood Hills Theme Park (http://pleasurewoodhills.com/). There’s loads of fun to be had here, from thrill rides such as The Jolly Roger, Fireball, and Timber Falls, to kiddie rides like Flying Elephant, Big Train, and Safari. Family rides include Pirate Ship, Carousel, and Go Karts.

 

When it comes to refuelling, there’s something to please everybody. Drinks and snacks of all kinds are available from Smokey Joe’s, Sharky’s Fish and Chip Shop, and Bear Grill; and there are several pleasant picnic areas around the Park. Toilets, including disabled toilets, are available throughout the Park, and wheelchairs can be hired.

 

Other popular attractions at Pleasurwood Hills are the Sea Lion Show and the Parrot Show, which showcase the charm and intelligence of these delightful animals. Pleasurewood Hills Theme Park is open every day during July and August from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.; from July 22nd to the end of August, the complex will sometimes remain open for another hour. There is free parking, including designated disabled parking close to the Park entrance.

 

Dinosaur Adventure

 

Open daily from 9.30 a.m., with the exception of Christmas Day and Boxing Day, Dinosaur Adventure (http://www.dinosauradventure.co.uk/), in Lenwade, near Norwich, is just 26 miles from Happisburgh. In addition to a dinosaur trail, a palaeontologist camp, and animatronic dinosaurs, this 85-acre complex boasts sheep dog displays, a deer safari, and several play areas, including Dippy’s Splash Zone – an exciting 755m2 water play park with 31 water features.

 

There are several places to eat and drink, including Snack Shacks and Gardener’s Cottage Tea Room. At Dinomite Café and Dippy’s Café, food warming facilities are available for your tiny tots, with baby changing facilities at the Dinomite Indoor Play Area. Wheelchairs and pushchairs are available for hire by the day.

 

For families staying at Boundary Stables, Dinosaur Adventure is a great place to visit. Children can play in the playgrounds and get close to the resident animals, and everyone can learn a little more about some creatures that have long been extinct.

 

 

 

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East Ruston Old Vicarage Gardens

East Ruston Old Vicarage

 

East Ruston Old Vicarage is the home of Graham Robeson and Alan Gray. Their magnificent 32-acre garden is one of the most spectacular horticultural attractions in the UK. But the best news is, it’s less than a mile from Boundary Stables (just 15 minutes’ walk), and you can actually see the gardens from the courtyards of Fieldfare and Kestrel, and also from the Paddock.

 

In 1973, when Graham and Alan bought East Ruston Old vicarage, the house had been standing empty for two years, and the two-acre garden was just a wasteland of wild grass. By the time the lovely old house became a permanent home to Graham and Alan, in the mid-1980s, the garden was looking pretty good, due to lots of TLC during the pair’s weekend visits from London, over the intervening years. Gradually, as beautiful and rare plants thrived under the green fingers of Graham and Alan, the garden itself grew, and it has become home to many animal species that had been lost as a result of modern farming methods.

 

Belts of Italian alders (Alnus cordata), Monterey pine (Pinus radiata), and eucalyptus (Eucalyptus, of which there are hundreds of species) provide shelter for many other plant species. The garden’s microclimate is so successful, and the variety of flora so diverse, that it was among the first six gardens to be approached by the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) with an invitation to be a Partnership Garden. Graham and Alan were delighted to be in a position to raise money for this charity, and East Ruston Old Vicarage is the only private garden to be asked by the RHS to carry out plant trials.

 

The garden is divided into themed sections, including the Woodland Garden, where the fun starts early in the year with aconites, snowdrops, and primroses. The Desert Wash is designed to resemble parts of Arizona; the Apple Walk is planted with old-fashioned varieties of eating apple; and the Winter Garden offers a cheeky glimpse of Happisburgh Lighthouse through a porthole cut in the shelter belt. Other areas of the garden include the Dutch Garden (featuring, of course, tulips!), King’s Walk (an immaculately kept lawn, bordered by ten obelisks of yew), Tree Fern Garden, Rose Garden, Exotic Garden, Mediterranean Garden, and Diamond Jubilee Walled Garden.

 

East Ruston Old Vicarage is also the home of many types of birds, including the common kingfisher (Alcedo atthis), the barn owl (Tyto alba), the goldfinch (Carduelis carduelis), and the long-tailed tit (Aegithalos caudatus) – a tiny bird, vulnerable to hypothermia, that takes sanctuary in the sheltered garden. Another resident of the garden is the endangered hazel dormouse (Muscardinus avellanarius). The avellanarius (meaning ‘hazel’) is the only extant species of the genus Muscardinus (one of 11 genera of the dormouse family), and it is protected in the UK under the Wildlife and Countryside Act.

 

After a gentle stroll around the gardens, you can relax in the cosy tearoom or in the pretty Tea Garden with a cuppa and a slice of cake, or maybe a delicious home-made lunch, prepared with produce grown at the Old Vicarage. Before leaving, why not have a look at the Nursery Garden, where there are plants for sale – all propagated from Graham and Alan’s own stock.

 

The Old Vicarage Gardens are easily accessible to wheelchair users, there are disabled toilet facilities, and for RHS members, entrance to the garden is free.

 

Our five single-storey cottages at Boundary Stables, each with level access and convenient wet-room showers, are ideal for couples, young families, dogs (accompanied by their humans), and those with restricted mobility.

 

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William Marriott and The North Norfolk Railway (Poppy Line)

William Marriott and The North Norfolk Railway (Poppy Line)

 

The Poppy Line is a remnant of the Midland & Great Northern Joint Railway (M&GN), established in 1993 when the Eastern & Midlands Railway was jointly purchased by the Midland Railway and the Great Northern Railway. At this time, the Locomotive Superintendent of the Eastern & Midland Railway was William Marriott (1857-1943), who had taken on the role in 1884, making him one of the youngest ever engineers of a public railway. He retained this position until 1919, when he was promoted to Traffic Manager. He retired on the last day of 1924.

 

The North Norfolk Railway runs between Sheringham and Holt – a 10 ½-mile round trip through lovely Norfolk countryside, stopping at Weybourne Station along the way. At Holt Station, you can visit the William Marriott Museum and learn some of the history of the Midland & Great Northern Joint Railway. Also at Holt Station, there’s the super 300 square-foot model railway, Broad Sidlinch, which has been featured in numerous modelling magazines. In June 1999, it was named Model Railway of the Month.

 

The North Norfolk Railway offers more than just a ride in a steam train – although that, in itself, is very exciting! You could enjoy a four-course meal and licensed bar on an Evening Dining Train (hauled by an engine named The North Norfolkman) on Saturday August 19th or Friday August 25th. The North Norfolkman will be hauling the dining coaches on Saturday August 12th for a 1970s-theme murder mystery, including a three-course meal and coffee; on Saturday September 30th, another mystery will be played out in the style of the 1940s, as part of the annual 1940s Weekend.

 

The North Norfolk Railway’s 1940s Weekend is one of the biggest and most popular event of its kind in the country. People return year after year to this event, booking accommodation for the following September as they leave. This year, the event will be held on Saturday and Sunday September 16th and 17th, with music and dancing from the era, re-enactment groups, and an exhibition of vehicles from the 1940s.

 

If you fancy a Driver Experience Steam Day, hurry up and book your place for either October 6th or 13th – both Fridays. Enjoy a whole day’s work preparing, driving, and firing the train, guided and instructed by qualified railway personnel. There are also four Signalling Experience Days; these are: Friday August 18th, Saturday August 19th, Sunday August, and Friday September 15th.

 

William Marriott was a very influential man in Norfolk, and he is still held as a figurehead of our all-but-extinct steam railway network. Marriott’s Way, a 24 ½-mile-long footpath, bridleway and cycling path, is the track-bed of the Norwich to Themelthorpe and the Themelthorpe to Aylsham lines. The path passes through a residential development called Thorpe Marriott, which was built in the latter half of the last century; both Thorpe Marriott and Marriott’s Way were named, of course, after that great Norfolk railway man.

 

CROMER has a lot to boast about: there’s the museum, the crabs, the pier, the Seaside Special shows at the Pavilion theatre … and, of course, the fact that it’s only 16 miles from Happisburgh.

Cromer

 

Cromer has a lot to boast about: there’s the museum, the crabs, the pier, the Seaside Special shows at the Pavilion theatre … and, of course, the fact that it’s only 16 miles from Happisburgh.

 

Shipden-juxta-Felbrigg was a village separated from the sea by its neighbour, Shipden, whose remains lie buried in the North Sea. By the end of the 14th century, Shipden-juxta-Felbrigg had edged a little closer to the coast and was better known by the name of Cromer, a derivation of crows’ mere, meaning a shallow lake or marsh frequented by crows. In the late 19th century, the Cromer area became popular with tourists, thanks to Clement Scott, the influential journalist from London, who coined the term Poppyland.

 

Cromer pier, in its present form, was built in 1901. In 1905, the original bandstand was converted to an enclosed pavilion, where concert parties were performed. In 1907, the roller-skating craze of the late 1800s was revived, and the rink in Cromer Pier’s pavilion was one of around 500 that opened up in Britain.

 

Cromer Pier is one of only five seaside piers in the UK with a working theatre. For the last 40 years, there’s been a traditional end-of-pier show – now the only one of its kind in the world – at Cromer’s Pavilion Theatre, running this year from June 24 to September 23. It’s not surprising that Cromer Pier has twice been named Pier of the Year by the National Piers Society.

 

If you haven’t seen the 2013 movie, Alan Partridge: Alpha Papa, starring Steve Coogan, then it’s worth watching it just for the copious views of Cromer and neighbouring towns. Throughout the film there are many shots of Cromer town and the pier, as well as a car ‘chase’ through Sheringham.

 

Cromer is perhaps best known internationally for the crabs that thrive on the Cromer chalk reef. For generations, crab fishing has been vital to the local economy, and there are many fishermen in Cromer and Sheringham who were born into fishing families and have been fishermen all their lives. No holiday at Boundary Stables would be complete without at least one crab sandwich – unless you’re allergic to seafood, of course.

 

Cromer is a well-known seaside resort, and many celebrity artists in the media of literature, film, and music have ‘taken the air’ here. And we’ve seen royalty, too. One very famous guest was the Empress Elizabeth of Austria (known as Sisi), wife of Emperor Franz Joseph. Defying the confines of her royal position, Sisi was in the habit of ‘escaping’, and it was in 1887, when she was fifty years old, that she escaped to Cromer and the Lower Tucker’s Hotel, on the promenade. Constantly afraid of assassination, particularly by poisoning, Sisi insisted on eating food that had been prepared under supervision. This is the reason that, during her two-month stay in Cromer, a cow would be milked on the prom, under the Empress’s window! Despite her efforts to avoid assassination, Sisi was murdered in 1898, whilst staying in Geneva.

 

North Norfolk’s Defence of the UK

 

He who would all England win should at Weybourne Hope begin.

 

For centuries, Weybourne, on the North Norfolk coast, has been recognised as England’s Achilles heel when it comes to invasion from abroad. The steep rake of the beach creates a deep basin of water close to the shore, allowing vessels to come in close. During WWII, Weybourne beach was intensively protected by scaffolding barriers, barbed wire, and landmines.

 

Weybourne Camp, located just a little inland, at the foot of Muckleburgh Hill, was a busy anti-aircraft artillery base, surrounded by an anti-tank ditch. On the site today is The Muckleburgh Collection – a museum of military artefacts, located chiefly in the original NAAFI (Navy, Army and Air Force Institutes) building. The NAAFI was established in 1921 by the British government for the provision of recreational services to servicemen and their families.

 

The Muckleburgh Collection, open every day from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. between March 25th and October 30th, offers an exciting and educational day out for the whole family. Admission prices are: adults £11.00 and children £7.00; there is no charge for children under four or for carers (on presentation of a Local Authority or CRESS Carer’s Card). Although dogs are not permitted in the museum, there are kennels available, with dog beds and water, where visitors can leave their dogs.

 

Weybourne is on the Poppy Line, a steam railway route that runs between Sheringham and Holt, and the Muckleburgh Collection is just a short walk from Weybourne Station. The Coasthopper bus, which runs between King’s Lynn and Cromer, stops at Weybourne hourly (every two hours on Sundays), and for those using Satnav, the postcode is NR25 7EH.

 

Muckleburgh, the largest privately owned military museum in the UK, was established in 1988 by Squadron Leader Berry Savory and his son, Sir Michael Savory, who served as Lord Mayor of London in 2004 and 2005. Exhibits include uniforms, medals, documents, weapons, photographs, and many examples of military vehicle. For just £3 per person, you can enjoy a ride around the old Royal Artillery Camp in a military lorry or a tank – and with advance booking, you can even drive one! (http://www.muckleburgh.co.uk/drive-a-tank)

 

During the summer, there’ll be entertainment for the whole family. On Tuesday May 30th and on Friday August 25th, you can enjoy a Children’s Magic Show, and on July 26th, there’ll be a lot of fun and learning for children with Mad Science in the Café. If you happen to be visiting Muckleburgh on August 13th, you can enjoy live music from a Brass Band by the Café. At the museum, there is a full-service café, designated picnic areas, and disabled toilets.

 

Another interesting landmark in Weybourne is the tower mill, now privately owned and in residential use. Many painters and photographers have immortalised this lovely building in their artwork, and on a trek along the clifftop from Sheringham, the windmill is in sight for a good deal of the way, looming larger as walkers approach. But during WWII, Weybourne Mill was home to a pair of spies!

 

In 1942 (or maybe ’43), a local man called Billy Read witnessed, on more than one occasion, a flashing light at the top of Weybourne Mill, facing out to sea. The tenants were a Mr and Mrs Dodds, and everyone in the village could not help but notice Mrs Dodds’ accent, described as German or Austrian, and the lady’s obvious interest in the Weybourne Camp. Mrs Dodds was always to be seen on her bicycle, and everywhere she went, she carried with her a large carpet bag that she was careful to keep close by her. One day, Mrs Dodds left her bicycle – and, unusually, her bag – unattended at the tennis court, where she gave tennis lessons to the local children. Billy Read took this opportunity to peep inside the bag, and he discovered a radio transmitter. A couple of days later, Mr and Mrs Dodds were taken away by the authorities.

 

Approximately four miles to the East of Weybourne is Beeston Bump, one of the five Norfolk Y-stations that were set up to intercept enemy radio signals for decoding at Bletchley Park in Buckinghamshire. These signals were taken down by hand onto paper and were driven by motorbike dispatch riders to Bletchley. Before the end of the war, the information was being conveyed by teleprinter. The other Y-stations in Norfolk were in Cromer, South Walsham, North Walsham, and Gorleston.

 

At the top of Beeston Bump, there is the octagonal concrete base of a WWII pillbox. In Norfolk, these little concrete observation points are plentiful. The producers of WWII pillboxes were given pretty stringent design guidelines, but, given the variation in local materials, and the personal preferences of those who built these mini fortresses, WWII pillboxes are far from uniform.

 

WWI pillboxes were mainly hexagonal or circular in shape. Several slots (called loopholes), through which soldiers could shoot, sloped inward, thereby creating more scope for aiming a gun outward, but less opportunity of firing into the loophole. The concrete walls were up to a metre thick.

 

In recognition of WWI’s centenary (2014-2018), North Norfolk District Council has concocted a bit of challenging fun for locals and visitors. It’s the North Norfolk WWI Pillbox Trail Challenge. For more information, have a look at the leaflet – it might be fun! (https://www2.north-norfolk.gov.uk/files/NNDC_PillBox_Trail_Leaflet.pdf)