Tag: Norfolk

The End of the Norfolk Mini-Series: Back To Hunstanton

This is the seventh and last post of our Norfolk mini-series.  We spent less than a week there but it feels more than that.  I’m feeling a bit nostalgic now.  Perhaps, it’s because the weather is bad and I’m looking at these lovely sunny photos and I’m wishing summer isn’t over yet.  At the moment, it certainly feels that way.

We certainly enjoyed our few days spent in Norfolk.  There were places we wanted to visit like the Nature Reserve and the another seaside town, Wells, which wasn’t that far from Hunstanton. Would definitely want to go back.  But for now, these photographs will have to appease my longing to be back there.

For our last night in Sunny Hunny, we a walked along the promenade and back to the seaside fair. Then we decided to walk all the way to the lighthouse.  It was a lovely walk as we were accompanied by the beautiful setting sun.  Will let these photos speak for itself.

And then just like that, it was over.

Special thanks to B and L.

Much love,

from the three of us.

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: Visiting Oxburgh Hall

This is the 5th post of our mini series during our visit to Norfolk in early August.  Today is little T’s first day back in school.  I can’t believe the holidays are over, it’s certainly the shortest she’s ever had.  Let me take you back a few weeks earlier, when the sun was bright and the days were warm and long … 

The next day, we had two destinations in mind.  The first was a visit to Oxburgh Hall (you’ll hear about the second one in the next post), a late medieval country home in Oxborough.  It was built during the War of the Roses, not as a castle really, but more as a family home for Sir Edmund Bedingfield.  This magnificent house is a must-visit for all, you don’t even have to be a lover of history to appreciate this grand country home. You’ll be amazed to see how well-preserved, not just the house, but as well as what you can see inside the house.

Can you imagine this as your family home?

And yes, it has a beautiful moat surrounding this grand country home.

This moat is home to a family of pike and dragonflies.  Little T and my husband crouched down to try to see as many pikes and dragonflies as they can before entering the house, although I’ve only managed to take a couple of photos, there were actually loads of them!

Front of the house is certainly one grand entrance. I can’t believe that this was actually a family home and not a castle.  It has the opulence of one!  Don’t you agree?

Little T trying to take a photo of the sundial (photo above).  As you can see, at the time we visited, the place was going through some minor renovations.

Inside one of the many grand rooms in the house.

Everything about the house was grand, even this old chess-set.  If these pieces could speak, what would they say?  Do you think they’ll tell us stories about who played with them, what the conversations were said during the game?  Any secrets?

One of the most interesting facts about Oxburgh hall is that the Bedingfields were Catholics during the time Elizabeth I first became Queen in 1558.  She was a staunch Protestant who was determined to continue with her father’s reformation of the Church of England and because of their faith, the Bedingfield family was ostracised and also suffered sanctions.  It was also around this time when they decided to have a priest hole built beneath a  bricked-top door in the garderobe (a storeroom for valuables).

As you can see, it is a tiny space,my husband could barely fit in it as he tried to slide into the priest’s hole.

And this is how small it was inside that little hole.  Can you imagine being stuck in here for days with no window and fresh air?

We were only in that hole for a few minutes since there was a long queue to get in. I was certainly glad to be out in the open once again, definitely not one for the claustrophobic!

Visiting places like these, teeming with history and magnificence, makes me and my husband happy to be members of both the National Trust and English Heritage.  It’s nice to know that our membership fees helps in restoring and taking care of all these important historical places.  If not for them, I honestly doubt these places would be well taken care of, or may not even be standing here today.  I’ve mentioned this in past posts, being members is so worth it, especially when you have kids – you’ll always find something to do especially when the weather cooperates.

What’s your favourite historical place to visit?

Click here if you’re interested in visiting and want to know exactly how to get there.

Norfolk Mini-Series: A Visit to Castle Rising

This is the 3rd post of our mini Norfolk series.  If you’ve missed the last two, please click here and here.  Thank you!

Right after we visited Norfolk lavender farm, we headed off to Castle Rising which wasn’t too far from the farm.  A bonus since we wanted to visit as much places as we can in a day.

Castle Rising is a medieval castle which was first built in 1138 by Norman lord William d’ Albini for his new wife, the widow of Henry I.  Later in the 14th century, it also became the home of Queen Isabella, another widow and who also supposedly murdered her husband King Edward II.  Ah these royals and their secrets and scandals.

I love old ruins, the older, the better.  I just can’t wrap my head around the idea that a building has been standing all these years.  I touch the walls and wonder what it was like in the medieval times.  What were their lives like?  What were their thoughts, dreams and fears?  Do you wonder the same too?

You approach the castle from the side and it is located on a hill.  I believe many years ago, this was probably the site of a medieval village surrounding the castle.  Like many, it is surrounded by a moat, but it’s currently a dry one.

And there it is, Castle Rising in all it’s glory and there’s  little T on the ground, contemplating how it was like centuries ago.

Can you imagine Queen Isabella entering the castle, dressed in her finest gowns and jewellery.  Upon entering that door, you step into a concrete stairs leading into the castle.

Can you see how much it has been restored?  All these years and these steps and walls are still standing.

This is the first room you step-into from the concrete stairs.  Of course, what is left are only walls and no more ceiling.

Apparently, when the ceiling collapsed (don’t know which century), they had to dig into the walls to create a hallway.  See how thick the walls are:

Little T had fun exploring every nook and cranny of this medieval castle.

Surprisingly the rooms on the top floor were more restored than the ones below.

Do you think Queen Isabella whispered to these walls and admitted her guilt?  I don’t think it’s ever been established whether she killed the king or not.  It’s one of those royal mysteries that’s never been solved.

And outside, T also had the chance to explore the site of a Norman chapel that actually even predates Castle Rising.

Too much exploring can tire out even an energetic little girl like T.

Do you enjoy exploring medieval castles too?

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 😉