East coast seaside resort that actually faces west. It is a mix of traditional seaside holiday destination and quaint old village.
An Introduction to Hunstanton
The Norfolk seaside resort of Hunstanton has the unusual distinction of being an east coast resort that faces west and as a result gets more than its fair share of sun and enjoys some lovely sunsets, hence the resort is known as Sunny Hunny. Hunstanton is divided into the village of Old Hunstanton and the newer resort town of Hunstanton St Edmund. In 1860 with the coming of the railway, Styleman Le Strange, the then Lord of the Manor, envisaged a place where gentlefolk could stroll and relax whilst taking in the sea air and so built New Hunstanton and this is the Hunstanton we know today. The name Hunstanton is believed to come from either the Honeystone, which was the old name for the local stone or more likely from the River Hunn which originates in the grounds of Old Hunstanton Hall and forms a moat around the house, the home of the Le Strange family. Although little more than a stream, locals are proud of their own little river that flows around the village. In 1978 storms reduced Hunstanton pier to scrap metal but fortunately there was no loss of life. Today, Hunstanton is a popular holiday destination with a friendly family atmosphere retaining much of its original Victorian elegance. You can enjoy all the traditional seaside attractions, such as donkey rides on the beach, or if you are feeling more adventurous a ride on a sea buggy, which trawls up and down the coast. There is also a swimming pool, an indoor leisure centre, a theatre and Sealife Sanctuary.
We start our tour of Hunstanton in the centre of town at the town sign.
The sign depicts King Edmund landing at St. Edmund's Point, just north of Hunstanton (see below). The sign sits on a green, surrounded by some lovely buildings - including Hunstanton town hall, a magnificent Grade II Listed Building, built by George Skipper in 1898. The front of the building is used by the Tourist Information Centre, with the upstairs incorporating the Council Chamber and Clerk’s office.
Hunstanton Town Sign
Hunstanton Town Hall and Tourist Information
Do you know the story of Kind Edmund? According to local tradition, Edmund was adopted by King Æthelweard of East Anglia in Germany. When the King died in 854, Edmund, still only 14 years old, sailed for East Anglia to claim his inherited land. He arrived just North of Hunstanton. For the next 14 years he was a model King and then in the year 869AD a great army of Danes attacked from the North. Edmund engaged them fiercely in battle, but the Danes had the upper hand and won. Stories tell how the victorious heathen Danes tried to force Edmund to renounce his Christian beliefs, but he refused. So they tied him up and shot him with arrows. According to legend, a wolf guarded his body until it could be buried in a shrine in what is known today as Bury St Edmund's. The village sign in Hunstanton depicts St Edmund's arrival in East Anglia and the wolf that protected his body after his martyrdom.
Other buildings around the green include a hotel and the Hunstanton Princess Theatre. Built in 1932 by Ben Culey of Kings Lynn, the theatre is particularly noted for its construction in Norfolk Carrstone and it contains the largest gable wall of carrstone in existence. It was cleverly designed as a live theatre as well as a cinema. Opposite is the Golden Lion hotel, overlooking the large green and bandstand.
The Princess Theatre Hunstanton
Golden Lion Hotel Hunstanton
The town's Bandstand on the green
Hunstanton is popular with Motor Bikers
Hunstanton shops contain a mix of gift shops for tourists and local shops for residents. Two interesting shops are the Smugglers Gift Shop, with hand made goods from around the world and the Joke Shop, which claims to be the largest.
Smugglers Shop Hunstanton
Joke Shop Hunstanton
Walking down to the sea front, we come to the Hunstanton Pier Family Entertainment Centre. This building replaces the old one, which was destroyed by fire in 2002. A much longer pier previously existed, but was badly damaged in 1939 and again in the 1950's, before bad weather finally swept it away in 1978. The new centre offers amusements, restaurant and a bowling alley. The sea front also contains various food take away stalls where can buy some famous Hunstanton rock!
Hunstanton Pier Entertainment
Further along the sea front is the Hunstanton Sea Life Sanctuary, which provides a safe haven for more than 30 sick, injured or orphaned seal pups which are annually cared for at the Sanctuary. You can also enjoy Blackbeards Adventure Golf, which is a 18 hole course set in pirate themed grounds.
Hunstanton Sea Life Sanctuary
Blackbeards Adventure Golf
One of the most popular and unusual attractions in Hunstanton is “Wiley, the Wash Monster” This incredible machine is an ex military vehicle manufactured in 1967 for use as a landing craft by American forces in Vietnam. This 60 seater amphibious craft now transports tourists from the sandy beach at Hunstanton straight into the sea on any one of five coastal tours. The craft cruises at 8 knots in the water and 13 knots on land.
The Wash Monster
Boat trips at Hunstanton
At the end of the sea front is Hunstanton Fun Fair, where you will find a mixture of rides and stalls to enjoy. Entry is free and you pay for rides using tokens.
Funfair rides at Hunstanton
Dodgems ride at Hunstanton funfair
Carousel horse ride at the funfair
Roulette funfair ride
Manor Park Holiday Village - Hunstanton
Just a short walk from the sandy beach and esplanade, this superbly situated park offers all you need for a fun-filled break on the Norfolk Coast, with a variety of family entertainment.
Click the picture for more information and availability
Click the picture for more information and availability
Taking a walk back along the beach, the famous striped cliffs of Hunstanton start to rise. They show an amazing slice of Britain’s history over many million years. Here is the geology - White Chalk from the Upper Cretaceous era forms the top layer, followed by a layer of limestone, known as red chalk from the Lower Cretaceous period formed over a period of 15 million years and finally beneath is grey/green Carstone. As both the red and white chalk contains fossils the beach below is a magnet for keen fossil hunters. On top of the striped cliffs is Hunstanton North Promenade, which has lovely gardens and walks overlooking the sea.
Pony rides on the beach at Hunstanton
Grand Houses overlooking the North Promenade
The North Promenade gardens
Hunstanton Lighthouse has been warning shipping of dangerous sandbanks in the Wash for many hundreds of years. The first lighthouse was built here in 1666, it was built of wood with an iron basket of burning coals as a light; the current building dates back to 1844, with the light operating until 1922, when it was closed down and the lantern taken off. The lighthouse is now a private holiday home. Next to the lighthouse you will find the ruins of St Edmund's Chapel which dates back to 1272 and it is claimed that it was built by monks to celebrate the arrival by St Edmund in 855.
Hunstanton Lighthouse and Chapel
Hunstanton Chapel ruins
Old Hunstanton Guided Picture Tour
As we continue up the Norfolk Coast, we arrive in the original village of Old Hunstanton. This was the site of the original settlement before 1860 when New Hunstanton was built. Old Hunstanton is much quieter and picturesque.
The beach and lighthouse at Hunstanton
Old Hunstanton village sign
The empty beach at Old Hunstanton is one of the finest in Norfolk and is perfect for a walk. It is very popular with Kite Surfers and a row of colourful beach huts lies just behind the sand dunes.
Old Hunstanton beach looking South
Old Hunstanton beach looking North
Kite surfing at Old Hunstanton
Beach huts at Old Hunstanton
Behind the sand dunes is Hunstanton lifeboat station, which has seen several different types of rescue craft during its history. It saw the RNLI’s first motor tractor and today it operates an inshore B class Atlantic 75 lifeboat and one of only four inshore rescue hovercraft. Further along the coast is Hunstanton Golf Course, a 18 hole links course with perhaps the slickest greens in the country. This fine course has hosted many top class amateur events and whilst it is not as tough as some of the Open Championship courses, when the wind blows it provides a severe enough examination for most enthusiasts!
RNLI Lifeboat station at Hunstanton
Hunstanton Golf Course
Old Hunstanton also contains some lovely seaside cottages, an art gallery, crafts & antiques shop and a pub/restaurant, plus a few hotels.
Old Hunstanton Property
Old Hunstanton seaside home
Old Hunstanton Art Gallery Crafts Antiques
Ancient Mariner Inn at Old Hunstanton
Finally, Hunstanton Parish Church can be found on the edge of Old Hunstanton and is well worth a visit. A church has stood on this site for nearly 1000 years, with the present building, St Mary's, dating from the 14th century. The Le Strange family have been associated with the church ever since they arrived from France during the 12th century and you will see their name scattered about the inside of the church - windows, memorials, tombs and even the pulpit! One name they are not associated with is William Webb, whose grave can be found in the churchyard. William was serving in the 15th Light Dragoons when in 1784, he was shot while trying to arrest smugglers.
St Mary's Church Old Hunstanton
Inside St Mary's Church
Main East Window
16th Century Chancel Screen
The Grave of William Webb, a soldier killed by smugglers in 1784
Explore the historic parish church at Old Hunstanton
Sunny Hunny is one of Norfolks favourite resorts! You can see why, when you can pick from the traditional seaside resort of Hunstanton or the remote beaches of Old Hunstanton - the best of both world's!
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!
Just wanted to say, I really enjoyed looking at the pictures and information on your site. Many more photos there than I've seen on any others. Great site! Hoping to visit Sunny Hunny again tomorrow. :O) Regards, Anita.
I visited Hunstanton today for the very first time and I can honestly say it was a case of love at first sight. What a delightful place it is. Will definitely be returning :-)