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Happisburgh

A lovely east coast village dominated by two main buildings - the candy striped lighthouse and the large village church with its tall tower.

An Introduction to Happisburgh

Lighthouse
Church
Village Sign
Beach
Property

The lovely coastal village of Happisburgh (pronounced "Haisbro") is dominated by two main buildings - the red and white candy striped lighthouse and the large village church with its tall tower. Both of these buildings are located on mounds, giving wonderful views over the surrounding countryside. The pretty village lanes are lined with cottages, many of which are built from flint and thatch. The sandy beach extends for miles in both directions, but is dominated by the cliff protection barrier, helping to slow the rate of cliff erosion which has been pretty devastating in Happisburgh (some properties have been lost to the sea). The village contains a pub, small shop and tea-rooms. The nearby gardens at East Ruston Old Vicarage are well worth a visit.
Local Websites
Happisburgh Village Website

HOLIDAYS IN THE HAPPISBURGH AREA

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Happisburgh Map

Happisburgh Map North Walsham Sea Palling Mundesley
 

Happisburgh Guided Tour


We start our tour of Happisburgh on the beach - where access is via a tower of steps ... this is because this section of coast has been eroded into the sea, causing damage to local roads and paths.
Beach Steps
Steps down to the beach at Happisburgh
Eroded Ramp
Eroded old ramp down to the beach
 
You can see why the erosion has taken place when you watch the waves crashing ashore and notice the soft cliffs!
Waves
Sea waves causing coast erosion
Soft Cliffs
Eroded cliffs at Happisburgh
   
From the top of the tower, you get a great view of the sandy beach and coastal defences - looking North ...
and looking South - notice the bay developing, this is where most of the damage has been caused.
Beach North
Happisburgh beach, looking North
Beach South
Happisburgh beach looking South
   
To get to the sea you need to cross the wooden defences.
These defences have only had a limited effect.
Sea Defences
Wooden sea defences
Sea Defences
Wooden sea defences at Happisburgh
   
Nothing gets in the way of the power of the waves, such as this concrete building, tossed over by the waves ...
and sadly this row of Victorian terraces are now very close to going over the edge and into the sea.
Damaged building
Concrete building turned over by the sea at Happisburgh
Terrace Row
Victorian Terrace, about to fall into the sea at Happisburgh

In a commanding position, overlooking the sea is the large village church of St Mary's. It has a very tall tower (110 feet). Inside, the church is very spacious and contains some medieval features, such as the backlight to the rood at the east end of the nave. The church also has a splendid 15th century octagonal font and a stained glass window showing an English knight.
Church
Happisburgh church of St. Marys
Church
Happisburgh church tower
Church Inside
Inside Happisburgh church
Church Inside
Inside Happisburgh church
Church Font
Happisburgh church font
Church Window
Stained glass window of an English Knight
   
The church graveyard contains the graves of sailors drowned in accidents off the coast of Happisburgh. The worst took place in 1801 when the ship Invincible was wrecked offshore with the loss of 400 lives. The Invincible struck a sandbank called Hammond's Knoll, just east of Happisburgh, due to strong wind and tides. Many of the dead are buried in a communal grave at the north end of the graveyard. Ships still travel along this treacherous stretch of coastline.
Sailors Graves
Sailor graves at Happisburgh
Ship View
East Coast Ship

Next to the church is the village pub "The Hill House" and just below the pub is the colourful village sign. The sign depicts some key points in the history of the village. The figure on the right of the sign is Edric the Dane, who prior to the Norman Conquest was lord of the village. After the Norman's kicked him out, the village eventually passed on to Roger Bigod, whose daughter Maud – on the left of the sign – married William d'Albini, who was given the village at Maud's wedding! In the centre is the Rev Thomas Lloyd who claimed the reason that children were not being baptised was because their parents could not afford to pay for a party afterwards! He offered to put on a party himself, and on Whit Sunday 1793, he baptised 170 children!
The Hill House
Happisburgh Pub, The Hill House
Happisburgh Village Sign
Happisburgh Village Sign

The village has many flint and thatch cottages situated on pretty village lanes. Along the main street you will find St Mary's Church Room (which serves teas) and the recently extended attractive primary school.
Cottages and Lanes
Happisburgh property
Happisburgh Cottage
Happisburgh cottage
St Marys Church Room
St. Marys church reading room
Primary School
Happisburgh Primary School

Also in the main street is this small thatched building, perhaps an old toilet? if you know then please tell us!
not all properties are small however, there is a lovely big house surrounded by trees.
Thatched Building
Small old thatched building in Happisburgh
Big House
Happisburgh House

The red and white striped lighthouse was built in 1791, originally one of a pair - the pair formed leading lights marking safe passage around the southern end of the treacherous Happisburgh Sands - but it was not always effective, as the graves in the churchyard show. The lighthouse was recently featured in the ITV series Kingdom.
Lighthouse
Happisburgh Lighthouse
Lighthouse
Candy stripped Lighthouse
   
The lighthouse is privately owned, but opens its doors to the public certain weekends including Easter and August Bank Holiday. Inside, the 96 stone steps wind their way up the inside to the light at the top (134 feet above sea level).
Lighthouse Entrance
Happisburgh Lighthouse entrance door
Lighthouse Steps
Spiral staircase in Happisburgh Lighthouse
   
When you reach the top, you can see the working lamp, 500 watts of light and visible for about 18 miles. The views of the coast and village are spectacular - on a clear day you can see for about 13 miles.
Lighthouse Lamp
Lighthouse lamp
Lighthouse View
View of Happisburgh from the Lighthouse

At nearby East Ruston are the gardens of the Old Vicarage. These gardens are one of the most remarkable and enjoyable gardens made in recent years. Created by Alan Gray and Graham Robeson, now 15 years old and expanding at a rate of knots, it is a feast of formal design, and decorative exuberance.
Kings Walk
East Ruston Old Vicarage Gardens near Happisburgh
Exotic Garden
East Ruston Old Vicarage Gardens near Happisburgh

HOLIDAYS IN THE HAPPISBURGH AREA

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Happisburgh summary of what to SEE and DO

Take a walk on the beach
Take a refreshment in the village pub
Enjoy a stroll through the village
Take a look inside the large village church
Visit the lighthouse (only open certain dates)
Visit the gardens at nearby East Ruston

Our Verdict

Happisburgh is a lovely East Norfolk village. It has been the focus to media attention because of the cliff errosion, but the village offers 2 magnificent attractions in the lighthouse and church - make sure you visit!
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Postbag

Thank you for such a inspiring display of photos. I spent the first 10years of my married life holidaying in Happisborough at the caravan park which was owned by Mr.Lomax. All your pictures brought back years of such happy times and memories. Now that I'm retired, I am very eager to return and retrace our youthful wanderings around Norfolk. Please accept my many thanks for reminding me of those bye gone days. Regards John Hawkins.
 
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