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A Brief History of Norfolk

Norfolk has a history dating back to prehistoric times and has been inhabited since as early as the ice age. Historians have discovered a wealth of ancient remains from this once highly populated area, including important hunting implements, flint tools and weapons used by our ancestors. Visitors can explore many sites of interest including Roman forts, Medieval Cities and Victorian seaside towns. There are also several sites of archaeological interest where visitors can see the digs currently underway and learn more about the history of the county.

The wod famous Norfolk Broads have become a favourite holiday destination which was originally created from the remains of peat diggings. These vast holes in the landscape were later flooded to create the wonderful network of waterways which exist today. During the 12th to the 14th centuries peat was widely used as fuel both for domestic and industrial use and the demands of the once dense population of the area led to large amounts of peat being removed. Following the decline in industry, and in the population, the holes left from the diggings were filled with water and topped up by drainage from the surrounding land creating the magnificent broads. Wildlife soon began to flourish amidst the reeds and banks of the waterways which has now become one of the most important areas for conservation and natural history in Europe.

Many of the towns and villages in Norfolk have beautifully carved name signs, all made by a local craftsman named Harry Carter who lived in Swaffham. In years gone by Swaffham was a very popular winter holiday resort for the well to do folks of Norfolk and many descended on the town and organised large, elaborate parties and functions for their friends and associates. Landowners and gentry would entertain in the fashionable town which was also the venue for larger sports events. In the local church there is a statue of the Pedlar of Swaffham, a local figure of folklore, who was said to have been given a vision by a London shop keeper, which led to his discovery of buried treasure in his back garden. Some of his new found fortune was donated to the local church and visitors can learn all about him and his amazing story there.

In 1349 the densely populated area of Norfolk fell victim to the Black Death. Huge areas were affected by the plague and many of the towns and villages were wiped out completely. This left just a scattering of the more isolated villages where surviving families and workers had to turn to private farming to make a living. The legacy of the disaster means that the Norfolk countryside still retains its quiet and tranquil character to this day and is a wonderfully peaceful place to take a break.

Norfolk Lavender has been in cultivation since Roman times and has always been renowned for its highly medicinal quality and superb fragrance. The now thriving industry has grown to be one of the most important businesses in the area. Originally the distilled oils were used just for medicinal purposes but soon became a prime ingredient in cooking and in many health and beauty products also. Thousands of visitors flock to see the wonderful swathes of purple flowers which fill the fields each year, and enjoy some of the many lavender oils and products now available.

The Victorian era saw a great increase in popularity of traditional seaside holidays. Bracing sea air and gentle walks were realised to have beneficial health giving properties. Tourism began to be a major part of the economy of Norfolk. The coast has always been one of the most popular areas for holidaymakers and tourists due to the wonderfully warm climate, above average amounts of sunshine and stunning sunsets. All along the coast there are numerous seaside towns, with relics of Victorian architecture and magnificent piers and promenades which have stood the test of time and still attract thousands of visitors each year. Great Yarmouth is the most recognised and bustling resort on the coast which has all the trappings of the perfect family holiday.

Norwich is the largest city in Norfolk and was established in medieval times as an important trade and religious centre. There were once no less than 57 churches within the city where the population paid taxes to the church in order to save their souls. Nowadays around 30 of the ancient churches remain and form part of the wonderful historic architecture to be found around the area. The magnificent Norman Cathedral with its huge spire and beautiful stained glass windows dominates the town centre and sits alongside the castle which houses a marvellous collection of artefacts , the ancient market square which still holds a bustling weekly market and the impressive Guildhall which are just a few of the interesting buildings to be explored here.