Our nominated charity

Wheatfen – Norfolk Cottages' Nominated Charity

It is one of Norfolk’s best kept secrets; Wheatfen is peaceful at all times of the year and is a true haven for wildlife, as well as a wonderful place in which to contemplate the wonders of nature. It’s also home to the Ted Ellis Trust and – thanks to the generous donations of Norfolk Cottages customers – a fabulous new visitor centre. The Trust runs a number of nature courses throughout the year for adults and children. These will certainly enhance your knowledge and promise to be a great deal of fun. Normally starting in April and running through to November they are reasonably priced and popular, so booking is recommended.

A small piece of history…

Ted Ellis (Edward Augustine Ellis DSc FLS 1909-1986) the well-known writer and broadcaster died in 1986 after a lifetime devoted to natural history. Born in Guernsey to Norfolk parents who returned to Great Yarmouth in 1920, he was Keeper of Natural History at the Castle Museum, Norwich from 1928-1956. For forty years he lived with his family at Wheatfen Broad, Surlingham in a remote cottage amongst 130 acres of woodland and fen. He was one of the great characters of East Anglia. Although he was a naturalist with a national reputation and his research work was meticulous and highly respected by the academic world, he was a man who had the ability to communicate his enthusiasm to everyone.

Such a man deserves to be remembered and the Ted Ellis Trust was founded to do just that – by preserving Wheatfen. This is a strange primitive area recognised as a Site of Special Scientific Interest and is one of the last tidal marshes of the Yare Valley. The Trust wants to preserve its rich and fragile ecology, but above all, it wants to keep this land and its wildlife accessible for the enjoyment and education of children, students and everyone interested in Nature. That is what Ted would have wanted too.

About Wheatfen

Wheatfen Broad is one of the few remaining areas of the once extensive Yare Valley swamp. It is, undoubtedly, one of the most important sites of its kind in Britain. As the patron of the Trust, David Bellamy said, "Wheatfen Broad is, 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. That is purely because one man gave his life trying to understand it – Ted Ellis".

Wheatfen is now managed as a nature reserve and consists largely of open fen, reed beds, sallow carr and the small broads Wheatfen and Deep Waters. The house and adjacent land are still owned by the family who permit The Trust to extend the nature trails into Surlingham Wood and The Carr.

There is no charge for entry but contributions towards the upkeep of the reserve are always very welcome.