Banner

Back to the English Counties Page
Facts

NORFOLK

Owlbut

Owlbut

Break
FUN FACTS

Norfolk is the 5th largest county or metropolitan borough in England.
Norfolk has the 25th highest population in England.
Norfolk is in 42nd place for density of population.

  1. The Royal Connection
  2. Most people are probably aware that the Sandringham Estate in North West Norfolk is owned by Her Majesty the Queen. The whole estate was bought by the future Edward VII in 1862 when he was Prince of Wales. In normal times, the Queen and other members of the Royal family will spend Christmas and the New Year period at Sandringham House which is on the 20,000 acre estate. The house is a Grade II listed building and the landscaped gardens, park and woodland are also listed as having Special Historic Interest.

    This year Her Majesty spent Christmas at Windsor Castle but in other years the Royal family will walk from the house to St. Mary Magdalene church which is also on the estate. The pictures from this will usually be on your television screens on Christmas morning. On a sadder note both the Queen's father, George VI, and her grandfather, George V, died at Sandringham House. Her Majesty will often extend her Christmas stay to include the anniversary of her father's death on 6th February. In 1977, to celebrate her silver jubilee, the Queen opened the House to the public for the first time and, 8 years later, I was there while on my first trip around the coast. On my second trip, in 1994, I did a live radio broadcast, on bended knee just in case, from just outside the gates.

    It may be less well-known, about the Queen and Sandringham not my broadcast, that Princess Diana was born at Park House on the Sandringham Estate in 1961 and it was her home for the early years of her life. The House was given to the Leonard Cheshire Disability charity by the Queen in 1987. It is now run as a hotel designed for guests with disabilities, providing 16 wheelchair-accessible rooms and high levels of care for those who require it.

  3. Norfolk Eats
  4. It seems that the word dumpling was actually born in Norfolk sometime at the beginning of the 17th century. The purpose of the food was to fill empty stomachs as cheaply as possible and make up for the shortage of meat in a meal. From my experience a dumpling is made with suet but not in Norfolk. They only use flour, yeast, salt and water. This makes them lighter, and whiter, than the dumplings I know.

    This lightness has given them the name of "swimmers", while more normal suet dumplings are known as "sinkers". When correctly made a Norfolk dumpling should rise to the surface of whatever liquid it is cooked in. It is thought that, in the old days, the dumplings would be made with the leftover bread dough.

    From what I have found you need 225 grams of flour, 1 teaspoon of salt, 7 grams of yeast and half a pint of warm water. Mix them all together, leave them to rise for an hour or so and boil them in water for about 20 minutes. Add them to your stew and see if they sink. If they do, you've failed to make a Norfolk dumpling.

  5. Norfolk VIPs
  6. Seven random people who were born in Norfolk in the last 100 years:-
    Myleene Klass (Singer and TV Presenter), James Dyson (Inventor and Businessman), Olivia Colman (Actor), Hannah Spearritt (Singer - S Club 7 and Actor), Bernard Matthews (Businessman), Roger Taylor (Queen drummer) and Sigala (DJ and Record Producer).

  7. Now That's Weird
  8. You could be forgiven, if you look at the picture on the left, for thinking it was the end of the long jump pit for a giant centipede. Amazingly, it isn't. It is the landscape at a place in Norfolk called Grimes Graves which is the only neolithic flint mine in England open to visitors. The Anglo-Saxons named the area as Grim's Graves. There are about 400 pits which were dug by Stone Age and Bronze Age man over 5,000 years ago. They were not identified as such until one of them was excavated in 1870.

    The jet-black flint dug out of these mines was used to help make tools, weapons and objects used in pagan ceremonies. There are only ten such mines known to exist in England. It is thought mining began at Grimes Graves in about 2,650BC and continued through till about 2,100BC, stopped for a while but may have started again for a hundred or so years in 1,550BC.

    The miners would dig a vertical shaft down into the ground up to 40ft (13 metres) deep. Using ladders wedged diagonally across the shaft they would climb down to the bottom of the pit and then dig horizontally along for a bit. They would dig the flint out of the ground using picks made from antlers and then have to climb back up with the flint. You can find out more at the English Heritage website here

  9. It Happened Here
  10. Until 60 years ago, the Norfolk Broads were thought to be a gift from mother nature. However it was then discovered that they were actually the result of peat diggings. Peat was used for fuel for fires in medieval times and it was dug out of the ground in Norfolk. The first evidence of these diggings was in the early 12th century. Eventually after about 200 years of digging the pits began to flood and so they were abandoned and are now one of England's National Parks, having been granted that status in 1988.

    The Broads National Park is Britain's largest protected wetland. It covers fens, marshes and woodlands making it a vital area for nature. It is home to the Fen Raft Spider which was considered extinct in the UK until a sighting at the Norfolk Broads in 1986 and also the rare Swallowtail Butterfly, which can only be found in the Broads. There are 63 broads but only 13 are fully navigable for a distance of over 200km (125 miles). The largest broads by size are Hickling Broad, Barton Broad and Oulton Broad. The total area is 303 square kilometres (117 sq mi) of fen, marsh and water, most of which is in Norfolk but a small part in Suffolk. There is only one functioning lock remaining on the broads and that is on Oulton Broad.

    On the River Bure is the remains of the only monastery in England not closed by Henry VIII. It is St Benet's Abbey and if you take a boat out on this broad you can moor up and visit the remains of the old gatehouse. Along with my family, I did this in 2020. The two pictures below show the gatehouse and also just one of the beautiful homes which you can see alongside the broads. I waited ten minutes for all other visitors to look at the gatehouse and leave so that I could have a shot without any humans. I took it just as my sister walked into view. Some might say I still achieved my aim.



  11. Richard Remembers
  12. The picture on the left is of an armoured bulldozer on the beach at Trimingham in Norfolk in the 1950s and is proof that I didn't imagine the story I was going to tell you from my journeys and stays in Norfolk. I stayed there on each of my 3 coastal trips and between 1965 and 1971 I went on holiday there each year, excluding 1969. There are many things I remember from these times including the Norfolk accent, discovering there are theatres on piers and, of course, trips out on the broads.

    On our first holiday, in 1965, we visited the usual beaches at Cromer, West Runton, Overstrand, Sidestrand and Mundesley. However the road down to the beach at a place called Trimingham was closed and from the cliff top we could see that barbed wire stopped anyone walking along the beach from either direction. In recent years I had begun to think I had imagined this because it seemed so weird and my parents were no longer alive to ask but, in researching this little piece, I discovered that what I remembered was true.

    Until Monday August 1st 1966 Trimingham beach was indeed closed off to the public and the reason went back to WWII. Although the cliffs at Trimingham are the highest in Norfolk at almost 18 metres (60 feet), they were the only ones in Norfolk that were mined to prevent a German invasion. One of the problems was that the cliffs are prone to erosion so the place where a mine was put may not be the place where it was when the time came to clear them away. The job began in January 1944 and it claimed the lives of 20 men between then and 1953.

    The beach was closed by an Act of Parliament in 1946. By 1947 all other Norfolk beaches had been cleared of mines. In one week in August 1947, at Trimingham, over a mile of beach was searched and 30 mines removed. A week later when that area was checked again more mines were found. By 1966 528 mines had been removed and it was assumed another 300 had somehow been destroyed or detonated in some way. It was estimated that 100 mines were still unaccounted for but it was considered that this made the beach no more of a hazard than any other beaches in the region.

    My mother was a champion worrier and had she known this story I am certain we would never have holidayed in Norfolk again. Ah, old age. The joy of holidaying on a mined beach.

  13. Owlbut's Birdwatch
  14. This is a big bird. It's called the crane and it has very long legs, a long neck and drooping, curved tail feathers. It is very graceful. The reason it is in this county is because there is a small breeding population in Norfolk. However it is thought there are only 48 breeding pairs in the whole country. The site is kept secret. A few crane visitors from Europe pass through England in spring and autumn. They eat seeds, roots, insects, worms and snails.

    They are about 115cm in length, have a wingspan between 220 and 245cms and can weigh between 4 and 7 kilograms. The feathers are generally black, brown, cream and grey although some adult birds may also have some red and white feathers. Their legs are grey and their beaks black and yellow, of medium length and medium thickness. They live in farmland, grassland and wetland. You are most likely to see one in April or May.

We have asked the local Tourist Board(s) for a small contribution (50 pounds) to the cost of running this project and, in anticipation of their agreement, we are providing a link to their site(s) for the next five years. I can assure you we won't see anywhere near everything when we are there, so, if you fancy taking a trip into norfolk check it (them) out for some great information. Apart from anything else it will get you out in the fresh air, walking around and one day you might be over 70 and still enthusiastically mobile.

All figures the latest available as at July 2020