Living in West Norfolk
West Norfolk is a truly special place of unspoilt charm and natural beauty. Set against a backdrop of stunning coastline and beautiful countryside, this wonderful part of Norfolk is a sheer pleasure to explore.
Below West Norfolk’s coastline, and the bustling seaside resort of Hunstanton, is West Norfolk’s gently rolling countryside of farmland and forest. Dotted with pretty flint and carrstone villages; Brancaster, Old Hunstanton, Castle Rising and – further south – Great Massingham and the three ‘Acres’, are typically charming.
As one of the larger villages along the coast, Burnham Market and the surrounding area has become very popular with second home owners from London, with the nickname Chelsea-on-Sea.
The most famous house in the area is Sandringham, now with public access to the house, gardens, museum (seasonal) and park. The personal nature of the public rooms provides a charming insight into the off-duty life of the royal family, and at any time of year the museum, country park and gardens are a delight. Nearby the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and their young family have made their home in the hamlet of Anmer.
On the banks of the River Great Ouse is the Hanseatic town of King’s Lynn, brim full of maritime heritage and amazing historic buildings. King’s Lynn was one of England’s most important ports in the 12th Century and this maritime past is still very much in evidence today.
Dating back to Saxon times, Downham Market is one of Norfolk’s oldest market towns. The town retains a really intimate feel, characterised by many fine historic buildings and also provides an ideal base from which to explore the fascinating open landscape of the Fens. A refreshing sense of space and a haven for lovers of wildlife, peace and tranquillity.
History seekers can step back in time and discover West Norfolk’s rich heritage, nature lovers can take advantage of the great outdoors, wildlife enthusiasts will enjoy seeing animals in their natural habitats, walkers and cyclists can roam till their hearts content.
Visit the regular craft and collectables market and unique independent shops, this friendly town is also host to many places to eat which will satisfy all appetites.
West Norfolk is brim full of history and heritage throughout the borough from stately homes to ruins and priories. Other stately homes include Houghton Hall, built in the 1720s by Sir Robert Walpole, is one of the finest Palladian houses in the country, set in over 350 acres of parkland, walled garden and formal rose garden.
King’s Lynn is by far the largest town in West Norfolk and has a lot to offer. The town has a long history and much of this shows in its current architecture and its abundance of museums. The town’s history revolves around the old port, and the Customs House which controlled the import of goods is an iconic example of this, and is now home to tourist information. A modern new port was built closer to the sea to the north of the town and its large white tower can be seen from miles away.
To the south of town a huge swathe of brown-field land is being transformed into a housing development (including contemporary apartments lining the River Nar), a business park, parkland, shops and a new relief road in a £300 million+ scheme. A 250-berth marina, surrounded by apartments, hotel, shops, bars and restaurants is also planned.
The Vancouver Centre was refurbished and reopened in 2005 and is now a modern pedestrianised shopping centre in the heart of King’s Lynn. There’s plenty on offer for all at Vancouver Quarter, with a vast range of shops offering everything from fashion and lingerie to gifts and toy, with many large chains as well as independent traders.
Following a major £1.2 million redevelopment, the Lynn Museum tells the history of West Norfolk and is home to Seahenge, Norfolk’s astonishing Bronze Age timber circle.
A whole gallery is devoted to telling the story of these unique 4,000 year old timbers which includes a life size replica of the Bronze Age circle. Around half of the original timbers are housed in a display which echoes their beach findspot. The gallery reveals information about the people who created the monument and the details revealed by a study of the timbers. There are now more objects on display than ever before!
The Arts Centre is an intimate venue hosting a wide programme of comedy, drama, music, dance, cinema and visual arts. Housed in the 15th century Guildhall of St George, one of England’s oldest surviving Guildhalls, the centre brings this historic building to life with its varied range of presentations in the main auditorium.
A National Trust Property, King’s Lynn Arts Centre stages a wide range of performances, exhibitions, education and community activities. The auditorium seats an audience of 349.
The town holds two festivals each summer, King’s Lynn Festival and Festival Too. The a is one of the top three largest free music festivals in Europe and is held on Tuesday Market Place: it has attracted crowds of more than 12,000. Past performers include Blue, Midge Ure, Deacon Blue, Suzi Quatro, 10CC, Mungo Jerry, The Human League, The Buzzcocks, M People, Atomic Kitten, S Club and Beverley Knight. The King’s Lynn Festival is primarily classical music; it is held in historic venues throughout town, and attracts big names from orchestras to opera and stage-plays.
Getting to King’s Lynn and Downham Market
Direct trains leave from London King’s Cross every 30 minutes in the morning and take no more than 1 hour and 40 minutes to King’s Lynn, and even less to Downham Market. In the evening trains are every hour and take approximately 2 hours.
Trains from Cambridge to King’s Lynn are every half hour in the morning and every hour in the evening and take no longer than 50 minutes.