|"Unlikely as it might seem, the poppy-strewn county of Norfolk, with its ruined abbeys, breeze-blown windmills, flint cottages and patchwork fields, was once one of Britain’s most heavily populated regions.|
That was in the market-led Middle Ages when many of East Anglia’s inhabitants earned their wages through the burgeoning trade in wool, an industry sparked by the skills of Flemish émigrés.
|Today, however, this fertile, low-lying county that juts out into the North Sea like the head of a tonsured monk, is concerned far more with tourism than clothing.
It certainly possesses some of East Anglia’s finest landscapes and within its boundaries lie the misty Fens, beautiful Breckland and the glorious waterways and rare wildlife of the stunning Norfolk Broads.
|The county has all the ingredients of a typically English holiday experience, a package that includes some of Britain’s best beaches - with traditional resorts such as Sheringham, Cromer and Great Yarmouth - and a huge number of attractions, from a lavender centre to cider breweries, steam trains and great gardens.
No visit would be complete without a trip to the most famous of Norfolk’s ‘stately homes’, the royal hideaway of Sandringham House. Equally impressive is the superb Norman Cathedral of the Holy Trinity at Norwich, built using Caen stone brought on barges from France.
|The countryside encompasses heaths, grassland, marshes, mudflats and wetlands and is the perfect environment for all manner of activities, from windsurfing and sailing to cycling, horse riding, birdwatching – and walking; the Peddars Way trail, the Angles Way and the Weavers Way are just three of the county’s scenic long-distance walks.|
At the heart of Norfolk lies its capital city combining the amenities of a modern metropolis with the allure of living history. An architectural masterpiece, Norwich is Britain’s most complete medieval city, full of museums, historic pubs, cobbled streets, half-timbered houses and medieval lanes. It has its own Norman castle and more than 30 medieval churches within old city walls.
King’s Lynn’s guildhall museum contains some of the greatest treasures in Britain, including one of the oldest paper books and the 700-year-old silver and enamel King John. On the outskirts is Houghton Hall, former home of England’s first Prime Minister, Robert Walpole.
|North of the Broads is the pretty village of Burnham Thorpe, birthplace of the region’s most famous son, Vice Admiral Horatio Nelson. He spent his childhood in the village, joining the Royal Navy when he was only 12.
Luckily for his country, he learned to sail at nearby Brancaster Staithe and it was while receiving the Freedom of the Borough at Great Yarmouth that he met Lady Hamilton. This occasion is recorded at the town’s Nelson Museum – just one of Norfolk’s many momentous moments.