Norfolk is the focus for my writing inspirations today. You may think that I did Norfolk for H when I talked about Hickling, Horsey, and the Broads. People say Norfolk is flat. The Broads are flat. How Hill is about five feet high. Over on the west of the county, past the medieval city of Kings Lynn, the Fens are flat. But very little of the Fens are in Norfolk; the majority is in Cambridgeshire with a smidgin in Lincolnshire.
Norfolk is mostly gently sloping landscape cut by many rivers. Geologically, most of the country is ancient riverbed and glacial deposits, two main stretches of chalk. Norwich is on the chalk outcrop, and it is very hilly! It’s a fascinating city (slogan ‘A Fine City’), once the second city of England, and made so by the combination of weaving, merchants and proximity to the coast for trade. The Museum of Norwich is small but beautifully formed, and a must for anyone visiting the city.
On top of its castle mound, the Castle Museum hosts a permanent exhibition of teapots, as well as other artefacts, and an Art Gallery with frequent important visiting exhibitions. The Castle itself looks modern, but dates back to Norman. Elly Griffiths described it perfectly in The Janus Stone: a Victorian icing covering a rich medieval cake (Ch2, p14). The castle is full of wonderful tapestries, interesting artefacts, and fantastic dungeons—do the dungeon tour if you visit! The city has cobbled streets galore, great shopping in the Lanes and around the market; you will be serenaded by a variety of first-class musicians as you saunter, or eat local ice-cream, or check out yet another local church, to add to the glories of the two cathedrals.
North, south, east and west
From Norwich, you can travel anywhere, but seriously, you don’t end up in Norwich by accident. It’s in a corner of its own, possibly a little behind the times, with a gentility that spreads to shop assistants and all manner of people a stranger normally encounters with trepidation.
Go east from Norwich, and it’s Broads, followed by the sand dunes that protect us (mostly) from the ravages of the North Sea. Spring tides and Low pressure systems put the coastguard and the Flood wardens on full alert.
Go north, south or west and you’ll encounter rolling farmland in between one of five easterly heading rivers, the Bure, the Wensum, the Tud, the Yare and the Waveney (although most of the Waveney is in Suffolk). At the top of the ridges, admittedly, it can seem flat for miles in any direction. But you come to the next river, mostly pure and unadulterated, with a wealth of fish, fur and feather (and frogs). To the southwest you’ll come into The Brecks, a unique sand-based landscape with its own ecology; to the northwest you’ll get to the forest surrounding Sandringham, and beyond that, the raised beaches of Dersingham Bog, before you end up on the real beach of the Wash.
The rich history of Norfolk is reflected by what seems like hundreds of notable buildings including the estates of Blickling, Holkham, Felbrigg, Houghton and Oxborough. Halls of these estates (not necessarily today’s version) were around in Tudor times, providing the backdrop for royal intrigues and scandals. And then there are the castles…
Frankly, it’s hard to go anywhere and not be inspired in Norfolk. Maybe that’s why there are so many writers, poets and artists here. The Norfolk and Norwich Festival each May showcases a wealth of talent in all areas, but in particular, I get inspired by people like Val McDermid and Sophie Hannah. The long-standing writing course at the University of East Anglia has a lot to do with so many writers having local connections. Listening to these writers speaking about their craft is an inspiration in itself – and for crime enthusiasts we have Noirwich in September, which I’ve talked about often!
Then again, the nature writing workshops at one year’s Norfolk & Norwich festival inspired me in other ways.
There’s simply too much inspiration in Norfolk!
How about you? Are you lucky enough to get inspiration from your home area?
credits: apart from the map and the A2Z badge, all the photos are mine. Please see copyright note below if you’d like to use them.
19 thoughts on “N is for Norfolk #AtoZChallenge2018”
It’s lovely to hear someone really enthuse about their home area, and Norfolk certainly seems to have such a lot going for it.
xxx Mammoth Hugs xxx
It is a lovely place. But then, lots of places have hidden gems. Ours are just more available, probably because of the holiday business.
xxx delayed hugs xxx
Lovely post, Jemima. I am beginning to think I should explore the East side of England. i also live in a little corner of England that no-one reaches by chance. It is inspiring in all sorts of ways. The blog, where my photos appear is not the one I am using for the A to Z Challenge this year. (nor the one with my username!) Sue
There are definitely things to be said for living in places where nobody arrives by accident 🙂
Now I have to find which blog you’re using for the AtoZ this year…
Hi, Jemima, it is https://suestrifles.wordpress.com but photos of places near home are on Sue’s words and pictures.
My home area of Michigan is inspiring, but I am far from there and have to be inspired by my front yard or my memories, unless I’m lucky enough to get to the beach.
You’re doing a grand job with the places your family hailed from – always interesting.
Yes, being an architect, I am looking for finer details everywhere I go. I found Norfolk very inspiring too!
I’m glad to hear it! Will get over to see you soon.
I am probably less inspired by my home area than a visitor would be! I do love the outdoor activities to which we have easy access, but I have never been inspired to write about San Francisco!
Well, I didn’t leave my heart in San Francisco, although I do have fond memories of my trip to the wine country. Wish I’d spent more time in Yosemite.
Hi Jemima – I’d love to spend more time in Norfolk … I’ve only ever been for a few days – but the Museum in Norwich I want to see, as too the town/city … and it is a beautiful part of the world … cheers Hilary
It’s worth a two week holiday – and you’d be very unlucky to get wet weather for more than a day.
I have not been to Norfolk since I was a teenager! Very remiss. My best friend and I visited on holiday the summer between school and college.
I have to confess I’ve never spent any free time in Glasgow. It’s always been meetings, conferences, or overnights in the city, or changing trains, or going round and on to the Highlands!
I must rectify that. I am dying to visit the Kelvingrove Art Gallery.
Good plan – give me a shout if you’re ever in the vicinity!
Lovely photos of your corner of the world! I’ve never been there, but just finished reading a book about an old Victorian mansion with a ghost, set in Norfolk. Great read (The Women of Heachley Hall). I can see I need to explore more of England!
There are a lot of books set in Norfolk once you start looking for them. Why don’t you schedule a trip to Noirwich, the crime-writing festival, one year. It’s usually mid September. I met a lovely Canadian writer there who has now published her first book.
Sorry to admit to having been to Norwich a few times for work and never realised it had two cathedrals. Norfolk is my nearest coastline and I always need a few coastal fixes throughout the year.
Great post as usual.
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