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Heritage Spotlight of Norfolk

Written by Georgia Dawson on

Baconsthorpe Castle, Norfolk

With a wide range of museums and historical sites, Norfolk is a thriving city of heritage and culture. From fascinating castles to spectacular stately homes, there's an amazing heritage to discover in Norfolk. Below are some of Norfolk's heritage spotlights...

Halls, estates and gardens:

Blickling Estate

Blickling Hall is a breath-taking Jacobean mansion with ancient yew hedges. The hall sits at the heart of a glorious garden and historic park in the stunning Bure meadows. Anne Boleyn was born at Blickling Estate and during the Second World War, the estate’s owner, Lord Lothian, influenced the actions of Churchill while RAF air crew were billeted there. The mansion was built 1616-24 and its owners have included Sit John Fastolf and Geoffrey Boleyn, who was the grandfather of Anne Boleyn. 

 

 

Felbrigg Hall, Garden and Park

Felbrigg Hall is one of the most elegant houses in East Anglia. Accompanied by a lake, 520 acres of woodland and walk trails, Felbrigg Hall, Garden and Park is a fantastic place to explore nature, wildlife and discover the true beauty of Norfolk. The hall is full of surprises and really feeds the imagination.

Holkham Hall 

In the heart of the 25,000 acre estate on the north Norfolk coast lies the spectacular Holkham Hall. The hall is an 18th century Palladian style house, based on designs by William Kent and built by Thomas Coke, 1st Earl of Leicester. The house remains privately owned and is lived in by the Earls of Leicester. The Coke family have lived in Holkham Hall since the 1750s, although at Holkham since 1612. 

 

Historic sites:

Walsingham Abbey Grounds at Walsingham Abbey Grounds & The Shirehall

The garden and grounds surrounding Walsingham Abbey are renowned for the fascinating ruins of the medieval Priory of the Lady of Walsingham. In the late 17th century, a county house, known as Walsingham Abbey, was built over part of the ruins. The house was enlarged in the 19th century, and a landscaped park was created around it. The Shirehall, which until the late 18th century was Walsingham’s Georgian Courtroom, is now a local museum where you can discover the stories of local law and order, view interesting historic photographs and artefacts and learn about the history of the pilgrimage in Walsingham since medieval times.

The Langham Dome

The Langham Dome was built in 1842-43 on the edge of RAF Langham. The Dome was used to teach trainees how to shoot down enemy aircraft during World War II. Moving images were projected onto the inside of the Dome and is one of only a few anti-aircraft domes remaining in the UK. The Dome was officially opened as a visitor attraction on 19th July 2014 and its mission is to teach the public about the significance of the dome and RAF Langham in the defence of Britain during and after World War II. It also allows the public to remember and pay respects to the service personnel who made sacrifices during the war.

Grime's Graves Prehistoric Flint Mine

Grime’s Graves is the only Neolithic flint mine open to the public in Britain. The grassy lunar landscape represents the visible remains of 433 mines and pits, which was first named Grim’s Graves by the Anglo-Saxons. In 1870, one of them was excavated and that lead to the discovery of their age – the flint mines were dug over 5,000 years ago. When visiting the graves, you can learn about the history of the fascinating site, as well as descend 9 metres by ladder into one of the excavated shafts to see the flint. Since the 1850s, at least 28 mines and pits have been excavated.

Castles:

Baconsthorpe Castle 

The site of Baconsthorpe was first acquired from the Bacon family by William Baxter in the early 15th century. The inner gatehouse, the earliest castle building, was begun by William’s son, John, a lawyer who had risen to prominence as a supporter and agent of William de la Pole, 1st Duke of Suffolk. He changed the family name to Heydon to disguise his lowly origins. John’s son, Sir Henry Heydon, completed and extended the castle, which involved adding a garden court in the early 16th century. The castle became their main residence in around 1450 and the Heydon family lived there foe 200 years. The Heydon family initially made their money from being lawyers, but the main source of their income came from the wool industry. The family accumulated large debts however, and this results in the castle being demolished in 1650.

Castle Rising Castle 

Castle Rising is one of the most famous 12th century castles in England. Built in around 1140AD, the stone keep is amongst the finest surviving examples of its kind in the country. The castle was started in 1138 by William d’Albini for his new wife, the widow of Henry I. William d'Albini was one of the Norman barons who supported William the Conqueror in his conquest of England in 1066. In return for his support, William gifted d'Albini vast estates in Norfolk. In the 14th century, the castle became an exile-place to Queen Isabella, following her alleged participation in the murder of her husband Edward II. The castle was passed to the Howard family in 1544 and it remains in their possession today. Over the years, the castle has also served as a hunting lodge and housed a mental patient in the 18th century. 

New Buckenham Castle

The New Buckenham Castle was built by William d’Albini, the Norman baron who also built Castle Rising. To defend his estates in south Norfolk, he built a castle at Buckenham, a Saxon settlement south of Attleborough. The ringwork contains the oldest, and maybe the largest, Norman circular keep in the country. The castle has two baileys; the east bailey is the oldest and was reached via an east gateway which was destroyed in the 13th century. The second bailey was constructed to the southwest, alongside a gatehouse and barbican-like defensive enclosure. The casle was besieged twice in the 13th and 15th centuries, before the Parliament ordered the castle destroyed in 1649.
 

Georgia Dawson

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