Heritage > Counties > England
The county of Norfolk is one of the most sparsely populated of all English counties with a size of 2,069 square miles and a population of 740,000.
The administration centre for Norfolk is in the quaint city of Norwich with the town of Kings Lynn and the resorts of Great Yarmouth, Cromer and Hunstanton being other places of note.
Physical attributes of the county include the rivers Ouse, Yare, Bure and Waveney and the Norfolk Broads, a series of waterways which are famous for their varied birdlife and natural tranquility.
Traditional reed thatching is still practised to maintain a link with the past. Fen jumping is also a traditional pursuit which is kept up to this very day.
In Norfolk a shrine exists to Our Lady of Walsingham which has been visited by thousands of pilgrims over the centuries. Probably the most famous estate to be found in the county is that of Sandringham, the home of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth.
As befits a rural county such as Norfolk agriculture dominates it's production with cereals, root crops and poultry being high up the list along with offshore natural gas production and refinement (there are many drilling rigs to be seen off the coast).
Famous sons and daughters from Norfolk include Horatio Nelson, the hero of Trafalgar, Rider Haggard, author of 'She' and 'King Solomon's Mines' and Thomas Paine.
Facts on the region
Origin of name: Anglo-Saxon origin, meaning 'the place of the North folk'.
Name first recorded: 1043
County Town:NORWICH A medieval treasure house, excellent museums - Bridewell, once a prison, houses rural crafts - tea rooms and theatre, and the perfect base to explore the surrounding countryside.
County Rivers: Bure, Yare, Tas, Thet, Waveney, Little Ouse, Wissey, Nat, Ouse, Wensum, Burn Stiffkey, Chet, Ant.
Highest point: Roman Camp at Sheringham at 336 feet.
Norfolkís local government:The County of Norfolk has a two-tier local government system: Norfolk County Council and the seven district councils of Breckland, Broadland, Great Yarmouth, Kingís Lynn & West Norfolk, North Norfolk, Norwich and South Norfolk.
The local landscape
'Very flat, Norfolk' is the terse comment awarded to this large county in East Anglia by Noel Coward in his play Private Lives, but in fact the land rises steadily from east to west, with an abrupt fall to the fenland bordering.
Cambridgeshire and Lincolnshire, while reaching its highest point (and thatís only a few hundred feet) at Roman Camp at Sheringham.
East of Norwich are the shallow waters of the Norfolk Broads, which resulted from medieval digging for peat.
Local Towns and Villages
BLAKENEY Attracts yachtsmen and women and has a lively quayside scene.
CLEY-NEXT-THE-SEA Is actually inland from the sea. It has a fabulous windmill dating from 1713.
CROMER A classic Norfolk holiday town with a memorable end-of-pier show.
DOWNHAM MARKET Small market town awash with pubs and inns.
EAST DEREHAM Is in poultry-rearing country and supplies some of the finest turkeys and geese for the Christmas market (Norfolk turkeys ring a bell?).
GREAT WITCHINGHAM Norfolk Wildlife Park founded by Philip Wayre in the grounds of his home.
GREAT YARMOUTH Great rival to Lowestoft over the Suffolk border. Donít miss the Britannia Pier.
KINGS LYNN Once called Bishopsí Lynn, the town got its royal accolade because Henry VII confiscated the bishopsí land. St Georgeís Guildhall houses a fascinating history of the town.
SWAFFHAM The lavish church in this market town is said to have been paid for by the so-called Pedlar of Swaffham (John Clapham) who, according to folklore, met a man who told him of a dream in which a treasure has been found in the Pedlarís garden. The Pedlar went home and found riches just as he had been told and built the north side of the church.
THETFORD Once the most important cathedral city in East Anglia. The prioryís remains are still worth investigation. The Ancient House Museum shows off flint-knapping: shaping tiny flints for use as firearms. It was the capital of the Saxon kingdom of East Anglia.
WELLS-NEXT-THE-SEA A must for wildlife enthusiasts and walkers. Much of the land is National Trust property and there are seal colonies to see as well as plenty of rare waders.
Places to Visit
Holkham Hall, Wells-next-the-sea, Norfolk
Berney Arms Windmill, Southtown, Gt Yarmouth
Binham Priory, Binham-on-Wells, Norfolk
Bircham Windmill, Norfolk
Blickling Hall, Norwich, Norfolk
Castle Rising Castle, Kings Lynn, Norfolk
Felbrigg Hall, Norwich, Norfolk
Caister Castle, Caister-on-Sea
1st Sunday in August: Blessing of the Broads amid the ruins of St Benetís Abbey at Horning.
Whit Monday: Cromer Fair.
July: lively street carnival in Cromer.
Easter & Christmas: Norwich Fairs.
4th week in May: Norwich Carnival and Lord Mayorís Procession.
4th week in June: Royal Norfolk Show at New Costessey.
July: Cottage Horticultural Society Flower Show at Sandringham Estate.
1st week in September: English Bowling Association Menís Open Tournament at Great Yarmouth.
August: Regatta Week at Oulton Broad.
August: Heacham Lavender Harvest, introduced by the Romans and now the centre of the lavender industry.
Christmas Day: Sponsored Swim at Hunstanton.
Famous names from the region
The countyís most famous son, Lord Horatio Nelson, was born in the rectory at Burnham Thorpe.
Fanny Burney was born at nearby Kingís Lynn six years earlier in 1752.
Anna Sewell, author of Black Beauty was born in Great Yarmouth.
Anne Boleynís childhood home was at Blickling Hall, and the red-brick Jacobean building is said to be haunted by her ghost.
The 17th-century Melton Constable Hall, now divided into several homes, was the setting for the film The Go-Between, with other scenes filmed at Norwichís Thorpe Station.
Sandringham contains the country home of the Queen.