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History and Heritage

Romans, Boudicca and Iceni in Norfolk

6 September 2021

Norfolk has a rich and varied history of invasion and conquest, but it was the Romans who came here first and put their stamp on the county, much of which you can still see today in some beautiful and diverse locations. Their story includes Queen Boudicca, the original exponent of Girl Power, and her Iceni tribe, the magnificent Roman Burgh Castle at Great Yarmouth and Roman regional capital at Venta Icenorum at Caistor St Edmund near Norwich.

Norfolk's 'Downton Abbeys'

23 August 2021

Norfolk’s history of wealthy landowners means a legacy of magnificent stately homes that are open to the public. Our very own Downton Abbeys include Sandringham, the Royal family’s country retreat, Holkham Hall, Houghton Hall, the home of Britain’s first Prime Minister, and the National Trust owned Blickling Hall, Felbrigg Hall and Oxburgh Hall.

Our Low Country and Dutch links

17 August 2021

Norwich has long been a busy cultural capital, heavily settled by those who had come over the North Sea, including the Dutch and Huguenots escaping religious persecution, and even emigres from the French Revolution. Yes, the North Sea has always been a carrier, not a barrier, and even today it's quicker to get from Norwich to Amsterdam than it is London!

History of Norfolk seaside holidays

15 June 2021

The seaside holiday is a great British tradition dating back to the 1700s and with such stunning coastline it is easy to understand why people have always loved to holiday in Norfolk by the sea. From beautiful stretches of soft golden sands to characteristic pebbled beaches, quaint beach huts lining the coastline to the buzz of activity at the family resorts, there is something for all ages to enjoy in Norfolk.

Explore Nelson in Norfolk

29 March 2021

'I am a Norfolk man, and glory in being so,' said Admiral Horatio Nelson. We’re very proud here in Norfolk that we gave our country its greatest naval commander. And here’s how you can discover Horatio Nelson in his home county, taking in Great Yarmouth, Norwich and his birthplace at Burnham Thorpe on the beautiful north Norfolk coast.

Normans in Norfolk top 10

18 March 2021

Before The Friendly Invasion of the United States Air Force in 1942, the biggest landscape and cultural impact in Norfolk’s history was the arrival of the all-Conquering Normans. And what they’ve left behind, a thousand years on, is a rich heritage of monuments to their ecclesiastical piety and military prowess.

The couple that began The Special Relationship

8 March 2021

Native American Pocahontas and her Norfolk husband John Rolfe have a very special American claim to fame - not only did they have the first inter-racial church wedding in US history, their pairing helped establish the English colony in Virginia, and ensured the creation of the United States of America. Without this First Couple of the Colony, Americans might be speaking Spanish, Dutch or French instead of English! This was the start of the Special Relationship.

Norfolk's American connections

8 January 2021

The historical connections between Norfolk and North America began in the 17th century, when a large number of migrants moved to the newly-created colonies. Norfolk was the county that provided the biggest percentage of known passengers on The Mayflower. It was also birthplace of Thomas Paine, the man whose work helped fuel the American War of Independence. And Pocahontas and John Rolfe were America's opening First Couple and the pairing that created the Special Relationship.

Norfolk's top 10 wool churches

4 December 2020

Rich from the textile trade, a significant slice of East Anglia’s wealth went into church building in the 14th and 15th centuries. Here’s a selection of 10 outstanding Wool Churches each of them providing a breathing space from the rush and noise of the modern day world and a link to our country’s spiritual and cultural heritage.

Norwich Cathedral top 12

14 September 2020

Norwich’s magnificent Norman Cathedral is one of the city’s iconic buildings, dominating the skyline with a 315ft spire that is second in height only to Salisbury. Here are 12 things to see and do in one of the Seven Wonders of Norfolk…

King's Lynn's top 10 historic maritime sights

14 July 2020

King’s Lynn has long prospered and depended on its maritime links for trade and business; a journey that can be discovered today in the cobbled lanes, quays and merchants' homes by the Great Ouse that leads to The Wash and North Sea. Here's our ten things to see in the town to appreciate King’s Lynn's maritime history…

Top 10 Norwich notables

28 April 2020

Norwich used to be the second city in England, so it's no wonder it's seen a lot of characters in its time, from the man who helped defeat the French at Agincourt and the circus owner who inspired The Beatles, to the lady who gave Julie Andrews one of her most famous singing lines and the original Nosey Parker.

Castles in Norfolk

24 April 2020

What could be more fun than running around imagining that you’re the king of a Norfolk castle and everyone else is a jolly old rascal. There are seven in Norfolk to visit - Norwich Castle, Castle Rising, Castle Acre, Thetford Castle, Baconsthorpe Castle, Burgh Castle and Caister Castle.

A brief history of Norwich time - and how to enjoy it today

1 April 2020

It was 19th century writer George Borrow who named Norwich ‘a fine city’ – you’ll see it mentioned on the name signs as you enter – and another writer, JB Priestley, said of the city, ‘What a grand, higgledy-piggledy, sensible old place Norwich is!’ But how much of its history do you know? Let us take you on a whirlwind trip through time...

New research uncovers secret Jacobite at Oxburgh Hall

13 March 2020

New research commissioned by the National Trust has uncovered the story of a secret Jacobite at Oxburgh Hall, revealing the owner of the house, Sir Henry Arundell Bedingfeld was likely to have been part of a rebellion to overthrow the Hanoverian King George II. Clues to his secret allegiance were engraved in a drinking glass, which has now returned to Oxburgh Hall and will go on display more than 100 years after it was last seen there.

Why is Yarmouth called Great

12 February 2020

Why is Yarmouth called Great? It’s not just because it’s the East Coast’s greatest seaside resort. The town also has a rich heritage stretching back many centuries. It's been written about by Charles Dickens and Daniel Defoe. Horatio Nelson was a visitor. And it was once the largest herring port in the world.

Historic Great Yarmouth top 10

3 February 2020

Described by Charles Dickens’ character Peggotty in David Copperfield as the ‘finest place in the universe’, Great Yarmouth isn’t just about amusement arcades, thrilling rides and enormous beaches - it also has a rich and proud maritime heritage and its prosperous herring fishery made it one of the wealthiest towns in Britain in years gone by.

Celebrate the festive season with Norfolk Museums

25 November 2019

There’s a whole lot of festive fun on offer in Norfolk Museums this Christmas. From seasonal songs and costumed characters, to Father Christmas and family trails, there’s something to interest visitors of all ages.

Top museums in Norfolk

4 October 2019

Norfolk boasts over 50 museum and historic sites, welcoming visitors and explaining the county’s unique and fascinating heritage. We’ve chosen our top 10, including Norwich Castle, Time & Tide, Bridewell and Ancient House.

Something for everyone at Norfolk Museums this summer

22 July 2019

Norfolk Museums Service has put together a packed events programme for the summer season at venues including Norwich Castle, Time & Tide Great Yarmouth, Gressenhall, Lynn Museum and Ancient House. From talks, tours and trails to special event days and hands on activities, there’s something to keep all ages entertained.

The Norfolk man who fomented American Revolution

7 June 2019

Educated at Thetford Grammar School in Norfolk, Thomas Paine went on to incite and inspire not one but TWO revolutions, in France and, most famously, in America. His statue in his home town is inscribed: ‘World Citizen, Englishman by birth, French citizen by decree, American by adoption’. In fact, his words SAVED the American War of Independence!

Discover historic King's Lynn

1 June 2019

King's Lynn is the capital of West Norfolk and has a rich and fascinating maritime heritage. The River Great Ouse flows into the town from the Wash and provides a reminder of the town's vibrant past as one of the major trading ports of England. A member of the powerful Hanseatic League during the late Middle Ages, the town's merchants grew rich importing fish from Scandinavia, timber from the Baltics and wine from France.

Royal Norfolk - 1000 years of Royal History

14 April 2019

Norfolk has a long association with the Kings and Queens of England and Great Britain, from William I, who established Norwich Castle as a royal palace soon after The Norman Conquest, to Elizabeth II whose private home, Sandringham is in the west of the county. Here is a selection of Norfolk's early royal links – the first 1000 years, from William the Conqueror to Queen Victoria.

Horsey Windpump - Norfolk landmark restored to former glory

15 March 2019

Horsey Windpump is once again standing proud in the Norfolk Broads, following a three-year restoration project and is set to re-open to visitors on Saturday 16 March. The National Trust embarked on the ambitious restoration project in 2016, which has seen the cap removed and conserved, the fan tail and inner workings repaired, brickwork repointed, and the sails re-made to their historic pattern, so that they will turn for the first time in over 75 years.

Lines of Sight: W.G. Sebald’s East Anglia at Norwich Castle

13 March 2019

Lines of Sight: W.G. Sebald’s East Anglia at Norwich Castlefrom May 10 until January 5 2020 is an unprecedented exhibition celebrating the work of the author W.G. Sebald on the 75th anniversary of his birth. In collaboration with The University of East Anglia, this exhibition brings together a diverse selection of celebrated artworks, curious objects, archive material and the author’s own, unseen photographs to tell the story behind the creation of one of East Anglia’s most famous literary masterpieces, The Rings of Saturn (1995).

Snettisham Treasure comes back to Norfolk for the first time

12 March 2019

Three items from the famous Snettisham Treasure, discovered near the village in north west Norfolk, are on show at Lynn Museum for the first time. On loan from the British Museum, two gold torcs (neck rings) are now on display, along with a composite object made of copper alloy. The Snettisham Treasure can be viewed until August 18.

Fun-packed February half-term across Norfolk’s Museums

5 February 2019

Whether you want to learn circus skills, learn about life as a Viking or head back to Victorian times, there are plenty of opportunities to have fun at a Norfolk Museum this February half-term.

Curious Cabinets at Felbrigg Hall

30 October 2018

Four intriguing installations have gone on display at the National Trust’s Felbrigg Hall in Norfolk. Inspired by the Renaissance idea of Cabinets of Curiosity, these eccentric pieces of furniture showcase previously unseen objects from the collection. The work of opera and theatre designer, Gary McCann, the four mysterious cabinets are inspired by the history of the hall, and invite onlookers to peer inside and discover the collection within.

Norfolk Museums Service secures £9.2m from National Lottery to transform Norwich Castle Keep

3 October 2018

Norfolk Museums Service has secured £9.2 million from the National Lottery through the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) for the Norwich Castle: Gateway to Medieval England project.

Earl of Leicester's favourite stately homes

27 September 2018

The Earl of Leicester of Holkham Hall on the north Norfolk countryside gives us a guided tour of the historic houses of Norfolk, including Sandringham, Blickling, Houghton and Oxburgh.

Drawn To The Coast - Turner, Constable, Cotman at Time & Tide, Great Yarmouth

6 September 2018

Time and Tide’s latest exhibition explores the identity of Great Yarmouth and its surrounding landscape through the art work it has inspired. The show explores an area that continues to inspire artists to this day and highlights include two loaned works by J.M.W Turner from Tate – a watercolour of Great Yarmouth, and, on display in the county for the first time, his Norfolk, Suffolk and Essex sketchbook.

Exciting new Escape Game at Merchants' Vaults, Norwich

1 August 2018

Two months after opening, The Merchants’ Vaults escape game at Museum of Norwich is now offering evening slots on Saturdays in response to high demand from the public.

Norwich Castle: The Square Box on the Hill

18 May 2018

Standing atop the largest man-made mound in the country, Norwich Castle has dominated the City’s skyline ever since the 12th century; but what is the story of Norwich’s iconic and much-loved square box on the hill? An intriguing exhibition explores the history of Norwich’s iconic and much-loved ‘square box on the hill’, featuring never-before-seen archives and artefacts from Norwich Castle’s 900-year history.

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