Heritage and culture in Norfolk's Countryside and Villages
Norfolk's vast and gently rolling countryside gives way to a plethora of hidden historic gems and galleries. Be sure to have a good old snout about and discover as much as you can...
Hidden near Dereham, you'll find Gressenhall Farm and Workhouse. A rare treat, it always entertains little ones with the outdoor climbing area and traditional farm - including piglets, Shire horses, sheep, cart rides and more. Everyone will enjoy the new, interactive displays in the Workhouse, as they will the excellent array of events. Our favourites are The Apple Day in October and Village at War on the last bank holiday weekend in August. Also part of the Norfolk Museums group is Ancient House Museum of Thetford Life, which has just undergone a £1.6m refurbishment and tells the history of life in the Brecks.
Stately homes and heritage sites
How could we start with anything other than the Jacobean splendiferous gem of Blickling Hall near Aylsham. It's one of the most impressive and referenced of the National Trust houses, and with its grounds and parklands offers something for everyone. The moated Oxburgh Hall with its priest hole is a great day out too. The private residence of Raynham Hall near Fakenham is also worth attention. Dating back to 1618, its program of recitals guarantees to amaze. Head to Reepham and not only can you revel in the splendour of Salle church and its links to families including the Boleyns, the Brewes, the Mautebys, the Briggs, the Morleys, the Luces and the Kerdistons. Nearby, too, is Whitwell Station - offering nostalgic steam train rides and walks and cycling along the Marriott's Way. Head west and you'll find Castle Acre, a walled 12th century castle built by the Normans. We'd recommend finishing with a tasty lunch in the pub afterwards!
Theatres and galleries
Aylsham boasts a National Trust marketplace, as well as winding streets lined with shops and galleries. Reepham, too, has the Rushlight gallery - which you can visit teamed with lunch at the formidable Dial House. If you're heading Swaffham way, we'd recommend a browse around The Old School Antiques, and then a bite to eat at Strattons. But if theatre's your thing, be sure to visit Westacre Theatre, which is only 20 minutes from Swaffham and dons Stephen Fry and Sir Antony Gormley as its patrons. Need we say more?
Festivals & events
Fakenham is home to a weekly auction and also to Fakenham Racecourse, which has a full calendar of events year-round - especially during the colder months when horseracing is at its prime. The small hamlet of Corpusty is renowned for its Pagan firework celebration each year, and is a favourite of celebrities and acclaimed journalists. And we finish with Aylsham again, which is becoming a real foodie capital with its agricultural show each August and Slow Food Festival each September. Visit and ensure you have a very large shopping basket indeed!