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Fakenham

The largest town in North Norfolk, sitting right in the centre, surrounded by beautiful countryside

An Introduction to Fakenham

Drpaery Building
Museum of Gas
Fakenham Centre
Oak Inn
Shopping Arcade

Fakenham is the largest town in North Norfolk and sits right in the centre, surrounded by beautiful countryside. According to the Domesday book of 1086, Fakenham had only 150 residents; Hempton, on the opposite side of the river, was the larger community and had an abbey that played host to pilgrims on their way to Walsingham. Fakenham became the dominant centre when the abbey was abolished by Henry VIII. It has been a market town since 1250, when it was given a Charter; the market stalls probably occupied space around the parish church of St Peter & St Paul. Fakenham's modern-day Thursday market is still situated very close to its original position around the market place. Fakenham's major industry in the 19th and 20th centuries was printing, but the major printworks (Cox and Wyman) closed in the 1970s. Nevertheless, there are still more than ten small printing firms in industrial premises around and near the town. A large number of printing blocks have been set into the surface of the market place as a memorial to this lost industry. Today, thanks to investment, Fakenham town centre has been renovated and pedestrianised, with shops and places and refreshment. The local area also has plenty of attractions and is only a short drive from the North Norfolk Coast.

Norfolk Cottages

Fakenham Map

Fakenham Map Burnham Walsingham Holt Castle Acre
 

Fakenham Guided Picture Tour


We start our tour of Fakenham in the centre of this market town. The market place has always been a significant part of Fakenham and has existed from as early as 1250. During the 19th century the main function of the market was trading in agricultural products from the surrounding areas and in 1837 a separate cattle and pig market was established. Although livestock is no longer sold, a weekly market is held on a Thursday when local traders set up their stalls. Also a farmer’s market takes place once a month (4th Saturday) with stalls selling fresh fruit and vegetables.
Fakenham Marketplace
The view across the market place and war memorial towards the church
Fakenham Market Place
Fakenham Market Place
War Memorial
The War Memorial
Market Place Tiles
The floor of the market place has tiles showing past trades of the town - including printing, gas and livestock

Thanks to investment, Fakenham town centre has been renovated and pedestrianised, with shops and places for refreshment. One interesting building is the original drapery shop established by William James Aldiss in 1892. The company has grown by generations of the Aldiss family to become one of Norfolk's biggest home furnishing companies, selling fashion, drapery, carpets, furniture, homewares and various household accessories (the current modern store is now on the outskirts of the town)
Fakenham Gallery Bistro
Gallery Bistro in the centre of Fakenham
Pedlars Gold
Pedlars Gold Shop in Fakenham
The Oak Inn Cafe
Fakenham Cafe
Tea Rooms
The Tudor Tea Room
Health Food Shop
Health Food Shop
Shopping Arcade
Shopping Arcade
Aldiss Drapery Store
The drapery store established by William James Aldiss

Fakenham Town Sign reminds us of its printing history, showing a man operating a printing press. Printing was the major industry in the 19th and 20th centuries, but the major printworks (Cox and Wyman) closed in the 1970s. Nevertheless, there are still more than 10 small printing firms in industrial premises around and near the town.
Fakenham Sign
Fakenham Town Sign, showing a printing press

The tower of Fakenham parish church dominates the skyline of the town. Most of the building dates back to the 14th century, although some parts are thought to be from the earlier Saxon period. The tower was added during the 15th century and then followed a decline, lasting hundreds of years, when the church fell into disrepair. It was not until the Victorian era that a major restoration project brought the church back to its full glory. A few bombs during WW2 narrowly missed the church, but thankfully it is still standing tall over Fakenham and will continue to do so for another millennium.
Fakenham Church Tower
Fakenham Church Tower
Fakenham Church
Standing at 115 feet high, with 146 steps to the top!
St Peter & St Paul
Fakenham Parish Church of S Peter & St Paul
Flint Walls and Window
Flint walls and an old window!

Fakenham Museum of Gas and Local History is the only surviving town gasworks in England and Wales, complete with all equipment used for the manufacture of gas from coal: retorts, condenser, purifiers, meter, gasholder. The museum is housed in the town’s former gasworks, which ceased production of gas from the heating of coal in 1965 following the discovery of Natural Gas in the North Sea. The gas works is a Scheduled Ancient Monument, a prestigious and rare distinction for an industrial site and, as such, is a National Treasure, providing an insight into our cultural, social and industrial heritage with displays of lighting, heating, cooking and domestic equipment.
Museum of Gas
The Museum of Gas and Local History in Fakenham
Pipes Close
Close up of all the pipes in the yard
Museum of Gas
Fakenham Museum of Gas

The River Wensum flows through the middle of Fakenham and at one stage three water mills were located near the town - Fakenham Mill, Sculthorpe Mill and Hempton Mill - with all three mills working together, moving water downstream between them.
Fakenham Mill
Fishing in the River Wensum near Fakenham Mill

Destination
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Fakenham summary of what to SEE and DO

Visit the market and marketplace on a Thursday
Explore the town centre
Investigate the historic parish church
Visit the Museum of Gas and Local History
Enjoy the excitement of a horse race at Fakenham Racecouse
Explore Pensthorpe Nature Reserve, where BBC Springwatch is filmed

Our Verdict

Fakenham has plenty of facilities on offer in its historic town centre. It is also a good location from which you can explore the rest of North Norfolk.
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FAKENAHM TOUR INDEX

NEARBY PICTURE TOURS

TOURIST ATTRACTIONS

My Day Out
Fakenham Museum of Gas
Pensthorpe
Fakenham Races
Langham Glass
Thursford Collection
Houghton Hall
Back to the Garden

NORFOLK HOLIDAYS

Hoseasons Holidays
Last Minute Norfolk Holidays
Fakenham Short Break
Pet Friendly Cottages
Hot Tub Breaks
Booking.com Hotels
Hoseasons Cottages
Hoseasons Lodges
Hoseasons Boating Holidays
Hoseasons Holiday Parks

NORFOLK BOOKS AND MAPS


This is a good and comprehensive Norfolk guidebook

This is a great book of Norfolk Trivia!

The best paper map for North Norfolk Coast walkers

If you like circular walks to a pub, this is the book for you!
Booking.com Hotels
Hoseasons Cottages
Hoseasons Boating Holidays
Hoseasons Lodges
Hoseasons Holiday Parks
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Burnham Walsingham Holt Castle Acre Museum of Gas