We know we like to say that There’s Nowhere Like Norfolk, but we really mean it! And just to prove our point we’ve come up with thirteen absolutely unique things about our wonderful county. Why not come and see and experience them for yourselves…
The Norfolk Broads
A National Park unlike any other, with over 125 miles of navigable waterways – more than Amsterdam or Venice. But what makes them unique? It’s that they’re man-made. Yes, really! In the 1950s a local woman Dr Joyce Lambert, a botany lecturer, realised that the sides of the Broads were straight and not bowl-shaped, like ordinary lakes. More research later revealed that they are, in fact, inundated medieval peat diggings.
The Broads are also the only National Park in England with a city in it… Norwich.
Deep History Coast
Stretching from West Runton on the north coast of Norfolk to Happisburgh on the east, the Deep History Coast has three unique claims to fame: found here was the best-preserved and biggest mammoth skeleton in the world, a 550,000-year-old flint axe that was the Swiss Army Knife of its day and the footmarks of the first people ever to come to Britain across the land bridge from Europe – not only the earliest evidence of man found outside the Great Rift Valley in Africa but the first tourists ever to come to these shores! Or more accurately, the first Continental tourists wanted to visit Norfolk! Who wouldn’t?
Cromer’s end-of-pier theatre
The Theatre Pavilion is the world’s last end-of-pier theatre! It hosts concerts throughout the year, as well as superb summer and Christmas variety shows.
Neolithic people made these flint mines in Norfolk’s Breckland more than 4,500 years ago – they were perhaps the earliest industrial works in Europe but certainly a unique source of hard black flint which was used to fashion knives, axes and spearheads. 57 feet below ground, they’re now the only flint mines you can still go down.
In Thetford Forest you’ll find these circular lakes that were created after the last ice age 20,000 years ago. Here’s the science: they were originally low hillocks that formed in tundra conditions when water beneath the earth’s surface froze to form ice which pushed soil upwards. During the later thaw, the ice melted, causing the hillocks to collapse and round lakes to be made. Simple!
What was unique about the famous Hollywood actor Jimmy Stewart and Norfolk? It’s that while he was here he led dangerous missions as base commander with the 453rd Bomb Group at Old Buckenham over Nazi Germany. He didn’t have to, but reasoned that he couldn’t ask his men to do anything he wasn’t prepared to do himself. And what’s unique about that? He’s to this day the only Academy Award winner to have seen active wartime duty for his country. What a guy! There’s a museum and Jimmy’s Cafe at Old Buckenham Airfield today.
The Blickling Pyramid
Who knew there was a pyramid in Norfolk? Well, there is, it’s a mausoleum built in 1794 for the 2nd Earl of Buckinghamshire. You can see it in the Great Wood at the National Trust-run Blickling Hall if you’re out and about walking in the estate. You might see the ghost of Ann Boleyn while you’re there too.
You’ll see them around Thetford when you’re driving along the A11 to or from Norwich. These single rows of Scots pine trees were originally planted as hedges, but left untended they’ve grown out into distinctive, contorted shapes. Trust us, drive through on a sunny day and you’ll think you’re seeing acacia trees in the African savannah. Or is that just us?
It’s the best-preserved medieval city in the country (the Industrial Revolution left it unscathed because of a lack of fast-running water), it has the largest permanent covered market in Europe, it’s the only city within a British National Park, hosts Europe’s best-protected chalk river and it was England’s first City of Literature. And that’s just a few reasons to visit our Fine City.
In footballing parlance, one Horatio Nelson, there’s only one Horatio Nelson… one Horatio Nelson!
Okay, you get the picture. Born in Burnham Thorpe in north Norfolk (where his father was rector), he learnt to sail at nearby Burnham Overy Staithe, was schooled in Norwich, and went on to become the greatest naval commander this country has ever seen. Spaniards and French navies 0 Norfolk’s Hero 1. Get in!
Our chalk reef
Okay, you can’t see it, but our equivalent of the Great Barrier Reef off Cromer and Sheringham is the world’s longest chalk reef, at over 20 miles, and is more than 100,000 million years old. It’s part of the same chalk stream as the White Cliffs of Dover, don’t you know. It also provides fertile feeding grounds for crabs and lobsters, which is why ours’ are the tastiest and meatiest you’re likely to find in the UK.
The Royal Family’s only private home and estate in England. And when Her Majesty isn’t in residence, it’s open to the public, so you can see where Meghan Markle spent Christmas with Prince Harry. Enough said.
Norfolk has the best overall climate of any county in the country (if you combine most sunshine and low rainfall) and Thetford Forest and Breckland is the specific location with the best climate, on account of it being in a bowl. Yes, really! Prone to frosts, it nonetheless heats up nicely during the day and has low rainfall. It’s also one of the best places we can think of to get out and about in the countryside and commune with nature.
Honourable mention for round towers
Okay, they’re not unique to Norfolk, but the county has more than three times the number of any other county. Just saying…