Tag: Norfolk Series

Norfolk Mini-Series: Castle Acre Priory

This is the 6th instalment of our Norfolk series.  If you’ve missed the last one, click here to read.   FYI.  This post will be heavy with pictures.   

I don’t know about you, but standing in front of a building thousands of years old is mind-boggling to me.  The fact that it still exists.  I keep thinking if I stand just in front of it and by sheer mind-power, could it take me back to the past? Well, that’s exactly what it felt like as we stood in front of Castle Acre Priory, which dates back all the way to 1090.

What happened in the year 1090 across the globe? According to Wikepedia:

In Africa, Béjaïa became the capital of the Hammadid dynasty in Algeria.  Apparently they ruled an area roughly corresponding to north-eastern modern Algeria around that time.

And in Europe, a third expedition of the Almoravid army is launched in al-Andalus designed to subdue the Taifa’s Kingdoms, Códoba, Seville, Grenada, Málaga, Almería and Ronda fall to the troops of Yusuf ibn Tashfin (leader of a Moroccan empire).

It was the Song dynasty then in Asia, where Chinese author writes the Can Shu (book of Sericulture), which describes a silk reeling machine that has the world’s oldest known mechanical belt-drive.

Closer to home, it was King William II who was then the ruler of England (1087-1100) and in 1089, a certain William de Warenne, son of the 1st Earl of Surrey who had founded England’s first Cluniac priory in Lewes in 1077, also founded another priory in the village of Castle Acre, Norfolk.  Apparently the order originated from Burgundy.  The priory was said to have started out as part of the Acre castle but the monks found it too small and that’s when they were moved to its current site.

Fast forward to 2017, a little Cornish Pixie roams the ruins of this majestic priory.

I’m not sure the monks approved, because as we explored further, the clouds became more ominous, as if warning us if we desecrated holy ground, they’d  unleash their fury on us.

She means no harm really.  She’s just a little country mouse who likes to climb and explore old ruins.

We later found out that little T actually just emerged and ran through a medieval toilet block.  This didn’t seem to bother her at all and found it “cool”.

T and I went up these ancient steps which led to the monk’s quarters.  The priory was home to 20-30 monks.

I told her to imagine that the floor was still there but she was more interested in exploring a part of the building that miraculously stood the test of time and was still standing as if the monks has just vacated the building.

T was impressed with the carved human faces found protruding in corners of the room.

The next room was obviously a chapel, and when I sat to have a little rest, I noticed the ceiling and marvelled at how intact they still were.

And as I zoomed in my lense, I discovered this:

There were faded painted red roses on the ceiling.  I called my husband and he was pleasantly surprised too.  Obviously, this was painted on the ceiling later on, during the War of the Roses around 1455-1487.  The House of Lancasters were the red rose and the House of York used the white rose as a symbol.  Does that mean then that the English Cluniacs were supporters of the Lancasters?  I don’t really know, but this little discovery of mine really pleased me.  I was amazed on how clear, although fading, how clear the painted roses were.

We decided to explore the grounds more before the rain fell.

As we walked around, I was pleased to see a small patch of poppies growing by the side of the fence.  I loved the sudden burst of colour amidst all the greyness and concrete.  It was just beautiful, even though it wasn’t a poppy field.

On our way back, I noticed something protruding in front of the building.  Again, I zoomed in and saw this small monk’s head.

This monk’s head I found a bit spooky though.  It just shows that when visiting these historical places, if you don’t look closer, you might just miss all these interesting details.  If you blink, you might just miss them!

Castle Priory is English Heritage.  If you’re in the area, this is definitely a must-see.  I find it really amazing how much of it is still standing.  We went to Tintern Abbey in Wales years ago, which was also magnificent, but I think this is more well-preserved than the Abbey, although I think Tintern is bigger, I could be wrong of course.

What’s the most preserved and oldest priory you’ve visited?

Country Kids

Norfolk Mini-Series: A Yurt and an Orchard

Tolkien once said:

Not all those who wander are lost.

That is so true.  It was way past lunchtime after our visit to Castle Rising.  We headed for the cafe there near the church.  It looked promising at the beginning, but just as we sat down, they announced that they weren’t serving food anymore, which we found a bit mind-boggling since obviously there were still loads of customers coming in, it’s like they didn’t even care!

By this time the three of us were getting a little bit grumpy – tired and hungry.  My husband though, ever the optimist, decided that we should just drive by the coast and see where it would take us.

To be fair, we did enjoy the scenery, but I guess he noticed that we were getting more and more quiet, luckily for us, we were headed for a lovely surprise just around the bend.

The husband noticed a sign to what looked like a farm-shop and we all know that they always serve good food, don’t they?  He turned to us and asked if we wanted to stop.  T and I both said yes, we were that hungry.  And as we parked, I noticed a Yurt that looked like they were serving food.  I quickly went inside and was welcomed by a very friendly-smiley-waiter.  I asked “Are you still serving food?”  He smiled and said “Yes!”.  I swear I could’ve kissed him when he said that.

T ordered a fish-finger sandwich from the kiddie menu.  We were expecting a few fish fingers stuck in a bun, but was pleasantly surprised when this arrived:

Does this look like a kiddie meal to you?  Admittedly, she needed help, which her dad gladly did.

I ordered a mixed-seafood noodle dish, not really knowing to expect.  Wasn’t too sure about it when it arrived and I saw an egg on it.  But absolutely enjoyed it.  I don’t know whether it’s because I was starving, but it was really good and filling.

I give this restaurant  five stars for food and service.  Their waiters were all lovely, friendly and accommodating.  Apparently, at night they also have live music so if you’re in the area, do visit Shuck’s Restaurant at Thornham.  Click here if you need directions on how to find them.

After a delicious meal, the three of us were definitely energised and decided to have a little poke around Drove Orchards.  There weren’t just apples, but there were also pears and other fruits as well.

After walking around the fruit orchard, the three of us headed for the farm shop and decided to buy more than a couple of bottles of fruit juice from this lovely orchard to take back home with us.  They were all delicious!

Thank goodness for Shuck’s Restaurant and Drove Orchard for saving the day!  If you’re looking for good food or like orchards, do give them a visit.

Norfolk-Mini Series: Norfolk Lavender

Where has the summer gone?  Already it feels like the beginning of autumn, temperature has definitely dropped, though I’m hoping it’s only temporary.  I’m thinking of the lovely days we spent in Norfolk, allow me to reminisce…

I always used to envy photos of lavender farms on Instagram.  We don’t have one nearby you see, so when we first thought of visiting Norfolk, the first thing I did was go online and see if I could find one near our base in Hunstanton.  Imagine my surprise and delight when there was actually one called just beside sunny Hunny.

We arrived in Norfolk Lavender around midday.  There were already lots of tourists and visitors milling around the rows of beautiful lavender taking photos of course and I don’t blame them.  They are beautiful and deserve a thousand photos …

Little T had fun walking through the rows upon rows of the beautiful and fragrant flowers.

Her dad taught her how to touch the flowers gently and to smell the fragrance they left in her little fingertips.

If I had a garden big enough, I’d plant rows and rows of lavender too.  They are my favourite!

The place though isn’t all about lavender.  They also have a garden where you can enjoy walking around and looking at different kinds of flowers as well.  They have lovely benches and manicured lawns perfect for a picnic, or a fun day out.

This lovely bloom, really caught my attention.  T said the colours were like a candy-cane and I so agree with her.  I forget though what it’s called.

This orange flower also stood out among all the greenery in the garden.

I have a close friend who knows a lot about flowers, especially wild ones. Every time she visits us, we go for long walks and she likes to point them out to me and ask “Do you remember what it’s called?”  I smile at her sheepishly and she laughs as if to say “Oh Dean, you never remember things!”  And she’s right, I never do!

I look at these photos now and I am filled with nostalgia and longing to go back!  It’s a lovely place really. They of course have a shop, a garden centre, a cafe and even a little play area for children (although you have to pay to get in), but the rest you can roam around freely.

If you’re in the area, do drop by.  You won’t regret it.  Click here to know the exact location.

Where to next?

Wait to find out 😉