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Category: Norfolk

mTicket to Ride

mTicket to Ride

No, it isn't a typographic error it's meant to be 'mticket'.

I discovered something rather useful recently. It is that we can buy railway tickets on our railway line via a mobile phone and after paying for them they are then downloaded and stored on the mobile 'phone. These tickets can then be shown on the phone's screen to anyone who may need to see them. We then don't need to visit the ticket office or get tickets from a machine. So I decided to try it.

It has been a long time since we have been on any sort of trip which was because either the weather was bad or because domestic commitments got in the way. For example we have just had the outside of our house painted which was quite a long job but we now seem to be clear of domestic tasks so we were just waiting for a sunny day.

The weather forecasts don't help. A few days ago the weather forecast for Saturday was sunny all day. Then it changed to some sun and some sunny spells. Then it changed again to mainly sunny spells plus the chance of some showers in the afternoon. Then on Friday the forecast for Saturday was mostly sun so we took the chance.

We don't like generally travelling on a weekend because that's when everybody else does but this time the weather dictated when we travelled so on Friday I bought two mtickets and on Saturday 22nd August we caught a train to Norwich for the day.

It cost us less to travel to Norwich than it does to London even though Norwich is a bit further. We boarded a train at our one horse local station, where we have never had to show our tickets, and got off two stops later at Colchester where we caught the London to Norwich train. We were doing quite well until we were just south of Diss where the train slowed down and stopped. Signals I thought but then an announcement was made to the effect that there was a fault on the locomotive. It said that the driver was in contact with the service department and they were hoping to fix the fault within 15 minutes.

About 12 minutes later the train began to move – phew – and we eventually arrived in Norwich about 12 minutes late. I was expecting to show our mtickets on the train at some stage but, no, nobody wanted to see them. I did, however have to show them at the station barrier.

We caught a No. 26 bus in the station forecourt which took us to the Roman Catholic Cathedral. I bet you didn't know that Norwich has two cathedrals did you? This cathedral is no where near as old as the Anglican Cathedral, having been built in the late 1800s, but it is still a very impressive cathedral. When we were in Norwich last, 9 years ago, I did take one photograph of the outside but didn't have time to do any more.

This is another outside view that I took this time from the Cathedral Garden.

We went into their visitor centre, called the Narthex, where we encountered our first dragon. From 21st June until 5th September there are 184 dragons scattered around Norwich which they call an 'Art Sculpture trail'.

We were very kindly given a cathedral tour by one of the Deacons who retired a short while ago but who still obviously loves 'his' cathedral. It was a very interesting tour and we learned a lot that we would not have otherwise known about.

This shows the view along the Nave towards the East End.

There are lots of individual stone sculptures at the base of the pillars, at the top of the pillars and above them showing a great variety of forms and shapes. This is one on the base of a pillar.

This next photograph was taken from the East End looking under the crossing and along the Nave and the one after shows the Crossing.

We finished up having a cup of tea/coffee and a sausage roll in the cathedral refectory and, I must say, their sausage rolls are particularly nice; cooked that day I was told. They do have other food here which I suspect is just as good so if you want a light lunch this is the place to go.

We left the cathedral and decided a quick visit to the Plantation Garden was in order. We photographed it thoroughly last time but the weather was decidedly better this trip and I took another couple of photographs.

If you look, in the second picture, just above the steps on the left you will see Amanda sitting behind the bench under the tree playing her part as an 'extra'.

We made our way back onto the streets of Norwich and headed for the river. In doing so we crossed Pottergate.

Norwich really does have some nice streets. We wound our way through numerous narrow back streets to the river bridge which took us north of the river; an area which we hadn't visited before. Our first point of interest was the 16th century Church of St. Michael Coslany at the junction of Oak Street and Colegate.

It was locked so we weren't able to go inside but it was yet another building with some fine flushwork.

We saw a number of churches which I won't picture or describe here but we finished at St. Georges back in Colegate where we found another dragon.

The view of the church from the eastern part of Colgate was rather nice together with that very attractive timber-framed building which was built by Henry Bacon who became sheriff of Norwich in 1548.

We continued along Colegate and turned right into Fye Bridge Street and along to the River Wensum. Over the bridge we found two more dragons.

We then turned left along Quay Side and thence onto the riverside walk. From there we went a short distance to the church of St. Martin at Palace Plain where I left Amanda to rest whilst I crossed back over the river and found yet another dragon.

I walked along the north bank of the river on the riverside path to try and get a photograph of Cow Tower across the river. When we were last in Norwich I took some photographs of Cow Tower from the same side of the river as the tower and now I have it surrounded.

I walked back to the churchyard to find Amanda and there she was with a 'friend'. It was a Sparrow Hawk which had killed a pigeon and was eating it on the grass a short distance away. When I arrived it stopped eating and glared at me but didn't move away.

After watching it for a while we both moved slowly away and it remained, apparently, undisturbed. We headed back to Quay Side along to Wensum Street then right into Elm Hill. This is Elm Hill.

A well preserved medieval street. Looking in the opposite direction we can see the Britons Arms, the white building, where we are hoping to get afternoon tea.

Amanda had Darjeeling Tea, I had coffee and we both had Raspberry, Cream and Hazelnut Meringue Roulades which were the size of tea plates. On our last visit to Norwich we had lunch here and we both had their home-made pork pie. You just cannot get better anywhere.

After our late afternoon blowout we caught a bus nearby down to the railway station and caught the train home.

A good day.

P.S. Apparently the temperature around our tea time was in the low eighties – too hot. smilies

Lynn – Day 4

Lynn – Day 4

Today we wake to a cloudy sky. This does not come as a surprise as it was forecast and we still decide to stop off in Thetford on the way home as neither of us knows much about it. We finish breakfast, pack and set off.

We parked near the 18th century Nuns' Bridges which took their name from the nearby nunnery and they carry the ancient trackway known as the Icknield Way over the Little Ouse River and the River Thet in Thetford.

The first picture shows one of the bridges and the second picture shows the other two bridges; there being three in all and they are only one car width.

Not far the other side of the bridges we found the 17th century Dolphin Inn. A typically patterned frontage involving flints much used in Norfolk.

There were quite a lot of signs in Thetford but …

A bit further on and we found the old Medieval Motte and earthworks. This huge motte, or artificial mound, is sunk into a deep surrounding ditch, and protected on the north site by two sets of complex ramparts, which were probably part of the original Iron Age fortifications. At  64 feet high (72 feet from the base of the ditch) this is the second largest man-made mound in England the largest being Silbury Hill in Wiltshire. This would have had a castle on the top.

You can see Amanda wondering if we can actually get up there, the only way up is straight up the slope, will we get down alive?

Well we did and we are as this picture testifies. The building on the centre line of the picture is the back of the Dolphin Inn.

Further into the town we saw the Ancient House which dates from the late 15th century, making it Tudor, and it is now a museum.

Soon after we found the Charles Burell Museum which tells the story of a local factory which was once the major employer in the town making steam traction engines and steam rollers. I WANT ONE!

The company became known for producing reliable and good-looking steam-powered engines which were always built to customers' requirements.

Finally we went to see the remains of the Cluniac Priory.  Founded in the early 12th century these extensive remains were one of the most important East Anglian monasteries, the Cluniac Priory of Our Lady of Thetford and the burial place of the earls and dukes of Norfolk for 400 years.

Those parts remaining include the lower walls of the church and cloister, along with the impressive shell of the priors' lodging and, reached by a pathway from the main site, an almost complete 14th century gatehouse.

That was the end of our trip and, from there, we went home.


Lynn – Day 3

Lynn – Day 3

Another day, another sunny morning.

Today we are going further north to the coast at Hunstanton known colloquially as 'Sunny Hunny'. It's about 40 years since I was there last and we are going once again to look at the cliffs. It was a straightforward, uneventful journey and we reached the old lighthouse in about 30 minutes. We went into the obvious, very large car park to find that the charges were approximately £1.80 per hour with a small reduction for longer stays. We turned round and left.

We drove along the road past the car park entrance and found space further down to park in the road at £0.00 per hour unrestricted. No contest really.

We were now going to walk back the way we came, along the top of the cliffs, until we can access the beach. A short way after leaving the car we came across the only remaining part of St. Edmund's Chapel built in 1272.

Hunstanton has long been associated with Sir Edmund who, as King of East Anglia, led a small army against the invading Vikings, was captured and, after refusing to give up his Christian faith, was tied to a tree and shot by Danish archers. Legend has it that when St Edmund first came from Saxony in AD855 he landed near Hunstanton cliffs.

Then of course there's the old lighthouse.

There has been a Lighthouse here since 1665 which was built of wood with an iron basket of burning coals as a light. Hunstanton had the world's first parabolic reflector, built here in 1776, and the current lighthouse was built in 1840. There is no access inside as it is now a private residence.

We went on past the lighthouse down towards the beach as the cliffs became lower and lower. We could see a large expanse of beach and, further out to sea, a bank of mist touching the water.

Having reached the beach we reversed our direction so that we were now walking back along the beach, instead of the cliff top, in the direction of our parked car. The cliff here comprises three layers of which the bottom layer is Carstone. This is a type of sandstone and shows a distinct pattern of raised, rounded blocks here when eroded by the sea.

The cliffs themselves are the striped cliffs I mentioned in the Prologue and you should be able to see three distinct colour bands. The youngest rock at the top is bog standard white chalk laid down during the Upper Cretaceous then below that is what is known as Red Chalk laid down during the Lower Cretaceous. Both of these layers are limestone. At the base is the Carstone which is brown in colour and which we saw protruding above the beach as rounded blocks in the previous picture.

For those of you who prefer to work in years these sediments are around the 100 million year mark – a teensy bit older than I am.

We walked a little further on until we found some steps and a path to take us back to the top of the cliffs. You can probably see that these cliffs are subject to significant erosion.

After that final look at the cliffs we found a nice little cafe at the top of the cliffs overlooking the sea where we had lunch. After lunch we walked back to the car and headed back to King's Lynn.

About 5 miles this side of King's Lynn is a small village called Castle Rising where we expected to find, as you've probably guessed, a Norman castle. What we didn't expect to find was an imposing Norman church.

On the other side of the church is the old market cross dating from the 15th century which we thought was in a rather nice setting.

The church itself had a rather spendid, and typical, Norman doorway.

Opposite the church was the Tudor Trinity Hospital founded by the Earl of Northampton in 1614 and although the roof is now tiled the original roof was thatched. The term 'hospital' in Tudor times was applied to almshouses.

The inhabitants, known as 'Sisters', were expected to be "of an honest life and conversation, religious, grave and discrete, able to read, a single woman, 56 years of age at least, no common beggar, harlot, scold, drunkard, or haunter of taverns" and had to attend chapel every day.

Finally we got round to seeing what we came here to see – the 12th century castle.

I'm standing on the high earthwork bank which completely surrounds the castle with a very, very deep ditch on the outer edge. That's Amanda teetering on the edge in the second picture.

The main stairway into the castle is quite impressive and it was meant to look that way to impress visitors.

The rest of the castle, however, is accessed via the more traditional medieval spiral stairways and passages.

When we came to leave we realised that we were the only people in the castle. An interesting experence.

It's worth a visit if you're ever that way.

The end of another day and tomorrow we go home – but …..


Lynn – Day 2

Lynn – Day 2

Another hot, sunny day dawned although I wasn't awake to see that part. We went down to breakfast and very nice it was. We both had a cooked breakfast followed by toast and marmalade, of course, then it was time for some serious tourism.

Wherever we went in Lynn we went via The Walks past the Red Mount Chapel. It wasn't because we liked it so much but it was the most convenient route into the old part of the town.

We were headed for St. Margaret's Church, or the Minster as it is known, and Saturday Market Place. King's Lynn was originally two towns so it has two churches, two guildhalls and two market places. We will be seeing the other market place later.

For a parish church the minster is big.

The space on the left where there are some parked cars is Saturday Market Place which is used as a car park when there isn't a market being held.

Parish churches don't normally have two towers and especially towers that large and you can probably see in the top picture that there is a sizeable tower, although not as high, further back over the crossing.

This church also contains the largest monumental brasses in the country dating from the 14th century and the figures depicted must be near life-size. This is one of the pair.

Just south of the minster is Nelson Street and Hampton Court. This is not Hampton Court Palace in London but it is pretty spectacular all the same. The whole building was formed over a period of 300 years.

The South Wing was constructed first, consisting mainly of a 14th-century merchant's hall house and is thus the earliest surviving section.

The West Wing was constructed towards the end of the 15th century, probably as a warehouse which was later converted into a house. The East Wing was also constructed at the end of the 15th century.

The North Wing completed the courtyard a century later.

In the picture above the doorway into this courtyard is visible in the far wall.

Next to the north wall of Hampton Court is St. Margaret's Lane with the 15th century Hanse House, a Hanseatic Warehouse, along one side. The Hanseatic League was a trading confederation which existed from the 13th to the 17th centuries.

Running eastward from the junction of St. Margaret's Lane and Nelson Street is Priory Lane.

St. Margaret's Church, the Minster, was originally part of a medieval Benedictine Priory until the Reformation when the priory was disbanded by Henry VIII but the church was saved as a parish church. Priory Lane includes buildings in the medieval priory range. Note the rather imposing archway.

It was rather nice walking around this area with its old narrow streets because it offered plenty of cool shade.

We walked back past the church to the north side of Tuesday Market where we found the town hall complex which included the 15th century Trinity Guildhall.

The guildhall includes the facade with the doorway in the centre of the picture and the gabled building to its right. The part on the left is the town hall shown below.

The town hall is an extension built in a similar style in 1895. You can see the Guildhall jutting out at the far end.

We were now heading further north along Queen Street and then King Street to see St. George's Guildhall. The largest surviving 15th century guildhall in England.

The guildhall ha since been converted for use as a theatre and the second picture shows the structure of the original roof.

We now travelled the short distance to the larger Tuesday Market Place. As is the case with Saturday Market Place when a market is not beig held this market place is also used as a car park.

The prominent blue and white building is the Dukes Head Hotel and the spire poking up above the rooves to the left is St. Nicholas' Chapel. I think that I can say, without exaggeration, that this is the largest chapel that I have ever seen.

Apparently it can't be called a church because it isn't a parish church and that honour goes to St. Margarets so it must be a chapel. Built in the 15th century it has a very fne porch and some of the best carved wooden angels in the roof that we have seen.

To the south of the chapel by a side entrance to the churchyard was the Exorcist's House. The position of Exorcist in past enturies was one which a Catholic priest could hold as he progressed up the church career ladder. It has a side entrance that leads directly into the churchyard and has the reputation of being haunted.

Behind the chapel is Pilot Street where we spotted these nice timber-framed buildings.

We now headed for the river down Ferry Lane. You won't be able to guess where we're going.

It was a strange looking little boat but eminently suited for its purpose.

Here we are on the other side of the river in West Lynn looking back at the King's Lynn waterside.

We walked along the boardwalk which runs along the bank and had some good views of King's Lynn.

Somewhere back there is where we got off the ferry and we have to walk back again. We had worn our legs down to short stumps by now so that is what we did. We went back to the ferry and went 'home'.

We're off somewhere different tomorrow.


Lynn – Day 1

Lynn – Day 1

As someone, somewhere, had decided to award us a week of summer weather we decided we'd better make use of it before it disappears so we arranged to go to King's Lynn for four days.

So, on a hot sunny Wednesday, we set off for a 93 mile journey north to north-west Norfolk which took just over two hours and took us through Braintree, Sudbury, Bury St. Edmunds, Thetford, Mundford and Oxburgh. One wouldn't normally go through Oxburgh on the way from Mundford to King's Lynn but we chose the few miles detour because we wanted to see Oxburgh Hall. Built around 1482 Oxburgh Hall is a moated manor which was always intended as a family home and not a fortress as the crenellations are symbolic fortifications rather than actual.

The main entrance and gatehouse is on the opposite side of the view shown above and the house is arranged around a large open quadrangle where the next picture was taken showing the large impressive gatehouse.

The eyesore deckchairs have been provided by the National Trust who must have been desparate for visitors to notice them.

It is possible to go up onto the roof of the gatehouse if you don't mind the climb up the spiral stairway.

The rooms, as one might expect, are pretty impressive as this view of the West Drawing Room shows although one needs to ignore the strange lady at the far end.

The Library is equally impressive.

The Queen's Room is, as you'd expect, quite large.

But off to the left, out of the picture, is another small side chamber and in the floor of this chamber is a small trapdoor which, when closed, blends in with the tiled floor. However, when opened, this trapdoor gives access to the Priest Hole. Because of the Catholic faith of the Bedingfeld family, a Catholic priest may have had to hide within the small disguised room in the event of a raid.

The entrance is just large enough for a person to slip through and this is all that there is inside. I am sitting on one of two benches with the other showing to my left and the brick slope on the far side of the floor is the only way in and out. Calling it a room, even a small room, is stretching the imagination somewhat. Getting in, and out, is not easy and it reminded me of my caving days. When I came out Amanda went in. We both survived.

If the King's men (soldiers) turned up unannounced then any visiting priest would have had to get in here quickly and possibly stay there for a few days. There is no toilet and no light so don't even think about it but it was better than being dead.

On a lighter note there is a very impressive flower border in the grounds.

It was an interesting and enjoyable visit but now we must go onward to King's Lynn. We arrived in King's Lynn at our B&B at around mid-afternoon and settled in then decided to have an initial short exploration leaving tomorrow, Thursday, as our main exploration day for the town.

A short way from our B&B was a public park called The Walks and we knew that within the park was the 15th century Red Mount Chapel. It is unique and no other building like it can be found. It was built to contain a relic of the Virgin Mary but was also used by pilgrims on their way to Walsingham.

Built on instructions from the prior of Lynn the inner core is divided into 3 storeys and there is an additional cross-shaped ashlar building in Ancaster stone on top.

A strange place indeed which Pevsner described as one of the strangest Gothic churches in England.

Moving towards the river to the west end of The Walks we crossed the road into another small park known as Tower Gardens. In this park is the Greyfriars Tower which is all that is left of a Franciscan Monastery. Take no notice of the strange woman at the base of the tower she seems, somehow, to get into a lot of my photographs.

Henry VIII had all such monasteries demolished but the tower at Lynn was left untouched because it was considered to be a useful seamark by sailors entering the town and is still clearly visible on the town's skyline to this day.

You can see from this model just where the tower fitted in.

We moved further towards the river looking for the Tourist Information Centre so that we could get a free street plan of the town. We knew that it was located in the Customs House and eventually we spotted it.

Situated on the edge of Pur Fleet this building started life in 1683 as a merchant exchange but was bought by the Crown in 1717 for £800 and occupied by HM Customs and Excise until their move to a central office at Ipswich in 1989. It is now occupied by the local TIC. Pur Fleet runs into the River Great Ouse just behind the camera.

We'd had enough by this stage so having collected our free street plan of the town we headed back to our B&B. We'll be back in this area tomorrow.


Lynn – Prologue

Lynn – Prologue

Near the south-east corner of The Wash the town of Lynn was first recorded in the early 10th century when the Bishop of Thetford began the first medieval town there by commissioning the building of St. Margarets Church and authorising a market. Later it came under the jurisdiction of the Bishop of Norwich and became known as Bishop's Lynn.

During the reign of Henry VIII it was surrendered to the crown and it then assumed the name of Kings Lynn which it retains to this day but is still generally known as Lynn by the locals.

We have just, today, returned from a four day trip to that very town which included visits to other nearby places including a moated manor house, a castle, a striped cliff and a whopping great lump. I will, if you all behave yourselves, post accounts of our travels with the occasional pic. smilies

Norwich – Thursday 15th June 2006

Norwich – Thursday 15th June 2006

We decided to have another wander around the city today with two particular things in mind; to visit the Castle and Pull's Ferry. On the way to the Castle we went via the Market Place and discovered the 15th Century Guildhall on one edge of the market. The external appearence is decorative and certainly interesting.


The Castle is only a short walk from the Guildhall so we were soon inside. Apart from being a Norman Castle it is also an excellent museum and we spent some time looking round but the part that I was particularly interested in was the tour of the battlements. There is a walkway all the way around providing very good views across the city.

Cathedral from Castle

As the cathedral was only a short distance away we decided that another look would be in order. This time we had a much longer look around the cloisters and I must say that they have some amazing bosses on the ceiling – each one being different from the next.

Cathedral Cloisters ceiling boss

We walked through the cathedral close as far as Pull's Ferry on the River Wensum – a picturesque little spot.

Pull's Ferry

From there we walked up to the lower part of Mousehold Heath. Now there's an interesting name – I must find out its origin. This area of land comprising woodland and heath is now totally within the city boundaries. The original heath was much, much larger and was outside the old city.

Mousehold Heath

From there a longish walk back to the hotel made us pretty tired after a hard day's enjoyment.