The Best Guide To Village Hopping in Norfolk
If you weren’t already aware, Norfolk is pretty old. So old in fact, that archaeologists have discovered evidence that suggests peoples and communities existed in our Eastern county since the last Ice Age – about twenty-two thousand years ago. As the Anglo-Saxon period rolled around, Norwich began its transformation into becoming a defined region in Great Britain – serving as the home for tribes like the Iceni, led by their rebel, Boudica. If you find yourself thinking that after all that time there should be some historic remnants of this time capsule of a county – and you’d be right, and they’re everywhere, you just have to explore…
Here at ABC Taxis, exploration is our M.O, if you’ve followed our dedicated blog for any amount of time, you’d know that we try to offer you, our intrepid traveller’s inspiration for your next adventures and hopefully tie in a bit of local history along the way. This time we want to take a step out of Norwich, and offer some of the county’s ancient villages a spot in the limelight! There are more than seven hundred towns and parishes in Norfolk – far too many to wrap up nicely in one blog, but we’re sure we can offer a handful of exciting ‘village hopping’ destinations to excite the traveller in you!
Great and Little Snoring
The image of the picturesque English village is known all over – and while many towns and villages promote themselves as such when the real thing comes along, there is no comparison. These two villages stand only a mile from one another just northeast of Fakenham, and while their names do hint at their sleepiness, it seems only right that somewhere so historical should remain so untouched.
Ironically, Little Snoring is the larger of the pair. Although with a population of under six hundred, it’s hardly metropolitan – although its hidden nature is truly made up by its rich history. William the Conqueror’s Domesday Book has Little Snoring being listed as a village as early as 1085.
The Snorings in some way act as a sort of time capsule for listed buildings and churches. Little Snoring is home to St Andrew’s Church – a “round-tower” church, of which only 124 exist in the county. Great Snoring is home to even more ancient artefacts, including the 13th century Church of St Mary, and the Manor House, a 14th-century gothic manor house built by the Shelton family.
We understand that the quaint lifestyle of some of the smaller villages in Norfolk might not pique everyone’s interests – but don’t think we don’t have you covered! There are a plethora of towns and villages that balance their cultural and historical importance with a busy town mentality, and active tourist industry. As much as Norfolk is known for its agricultural heritage – driving into Norwich from the south should show you as much – its coastal heritage is still very much a major part of the county, with Cromer leading the way.
Originally Cromer was simply another fishing town, but over decades became one of the East of England’s most treasured year-long fisheries, with the iconic Cromer crab and lobsters in summer periods, and herring and later cod throughout the remainder of the year. If the English seaside and all the roll-mops and dressed crabs that come with it are your passion, then the gem of Norfolk’s Coast is definitely a must-see.
Back to our favourite tome – the Domesday Book! Happisburgh is first noted as a location in 1086 as Hapesburc, or ‘Hæp’s fort’ as a translation. Exactly who Hæp was is still widely unknown – yet what his fortification transformed into over nine hundred years later is something worth finding out.
This hidden gem of Norfolk’s coastline is the perfect balance of the quiet lifestyle of smaller village living, and the lifestyle dictated by the sea that those familiar with Cromer, or any other coastal town for that matter, would appreciate.
The village is also home to St Mary’s Church, a structure from 1087 that was demolished and rebuilt in the 15th century, the oldest independently operational lighthouse in East Anglia dating from 1790, and the first-ever lifeboat house built by the RNLI in 1866.
Often, what attracts folk to certain villages and towns in the seclusion of them – often many of these locations have been left largely untouched for centuries, and what major changes have been made, have taken place over long stretches of time, as the community moulded around certain changes. Ringstead, in many ways, is emblematic of the serene seclusion. Ringstead is in the northwest of Norfolk, quite a ways out of the bustle of the more central and northern parishes.
Technically, Ringstead should be called Great Ringstead, as to differentiate it from the deserted medieval village of Little Ringstead. This deserted community appears as no more than a grassy mound, yet its round shape and surprisingly large stature are eerily recognizable as a forgotten community! Ringstead is also home to over sixteen listed buildings, which may pale in comparison to larger communities, yet for a village of around three hundred, we think that’s a pretty exciting feat!