By Jon Clayton, Company Director of Complete Architecture.
So…it’s Valentine’s Day! But did you know it is also #lovewestnorfolkday?
Seeing as I now live in West Norfolk I thought today (of all days) would be a great time to share with you a few places I love here and tell you why they have found a little place in my heart.
I have lived in West Norfolk since 2016 so I’m still a relative newbie to the area. I’m still discovering new places to visit in West Norfolk. I’d go as far as saying West Norfolk is still a bit of a hidden gem.
Without further ado, here are a few of my favourite places in West Norfolk.
My wife was brought up in the fens and spent many childhood holidays in Sunny Hunny. She has always had a connection with Hunstanton, deep-rooted memories of times gone by. Family caravan holidays at the seaside, playing on the beach, eating fish and chips, spending holiday money in the penny slots and at Rocky Thomson’s sweet stall. We now enjoy doing the same with our own children.
Having grown up in a seaside resort I’ve always had an affinity for Hunstanton. I don’t know if it’s the smell of the sea or the fish and chips, or perhaps that it faces west and enjoys sunsets over the sea, similar to my home town of Morecambe. It certainly reminds me of growing up by the seaside and stirs up lots of happy memories.
Favourite landmark: Old Hunstanton Lighthouse
I first visited Shouldham before we moved to West Norfolk. We were visiting my father-in-law and were looking for somewhere to stay nearby. We found a lovely cottage on Airbnb, it was situated right on Shouldham village green and was exceedingly quirky and characterful. It even had an Architect designed treehouse in the back garden which our children thoroughly enjoyed spending time in.
Shouldham is a very pretty village, it’s got a traditional village green, a community-run award winning pub and a lovely local produce shop and restaurant. Nearby Shouldham Warren is a great place for walking, cycling and horse riding.
Favourite landmark: Shouldham Village Green
Downham Market is one of Norfolk’s oldest market towns, it is also the place I’ve called home since 2016. It lies on the edge of the Fens and is known as Gingerbread Town due to the number of buildings made from local carrstone (which looks a bit like gingerbread).
At first, I found Downham to be a bit quiet but it’s really grown on me. There is a strong community spirit here and events in the town such as the water festival are always very well supported. It’s lovely to see the whole town come together for these types of events.
There are also a number of decent independent shops, cafes, and pubs. In particular, The Crown’s public bar is worth a visit, it has been recognised by CAMRA as a pub interior of special historic interest. The beer ain’t bad either. While we are on the subject of pubs, The Whalebone, opened by Wetherspoon’s in 2018 is proving ever popular with locals. As ‘Spoons pubs go, it’s certainly one of the better ones I’ve visited.
Favourite Landmark: Victorian Clock Tower
I first visited Bircham Windmill whilst staying in a holiday cottage near Fakenham a number of years ago. My family and I have been visiting ever since. My children have always enjoyed the climb up to the top of the windmill although you certainly need a head for heights. I particularly enjoy the homemade bread and cakes from the bakery downstairs (the jam doughnuts are pretty good too).
There are very few windmills left these days and Bircham is considered one of the best remaining. In addition to the windmill and bakery, there is also a tearoom, gallery and gift shop plus farm animals, a play area and a small museum. Enough to keep a family with young children entertained for a while. Whilst I think our kids are getting a little too old for Bircham Windmill, I don’t think I’ll outgrow the bakery anytime soon.
Favourite Landmark: The Windmill (obviously).
The first few times I visited King’s Lynn were a little underwhelming. We walked down the high street to do a bit of shopping. The place seemed like any other town, the high street filled with the usual chain stores and generic shops.
I’ve since discovered another side to King’s Lynn. So don’t be fooled, if you scratch beneath the surface and explore this historic town you’ll find there is much more to it than the high street.
King’s Lynn has a stunning historic quarter and is home to the Purfleet Quay and the grade I listed Custom House, an amazing 17th century structure. Not to mention The Walks, a historic urban park and the Saturday and Tuesday Market Place. Did you know, King’s Lynn has more listed buildings than York?
If King’s Lynn was in a more densely populated part of the country it would surely be mobbed with visitors year round. I now work in King’s Lynn most days and really enjoy what King’s Lynn has to offer.
Favourite Landmark: Custom House
Do you have a favourite place in West Norfolk?
About Jon Clayton
Jon is a Chartered Architectural Technologist and Company Director of Complete Architecture. He works most days from his office on Tuesday Market Place in King’s Lynn. Jon specialises in solving home design problems and spends his workdays focused on residential design projects such as house renovations, extensions, and new build housing developments. If you’d like to contact Jon you can phone him on (01553) 606119 or send him an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.