A busy, mainly residential, country town, sitting midway between the Norfolk Broads and the North Norfolk Coast.
An Introduction to North Walsham
North Walsham is a busy, mainly residential, North Norfolk town. Flemish weavers came and settled in North Walsham in the 13th and 14th centuries, helping it become the heart of the woolen and weaving industry. This brought prosperity to the town, leading to the construction of the fabulous church of St. Nicholas. In the early 18th century, the church was given a soaring tower, its height only beaten by Norwich cathedral. However, in 1724, a rather heavy set of bells was rung for a lengthy period and the following day 2 sides of the steeple collapsed in front a horrified town! The market cross sits in the centre of the market place and was built to collect the rent for the market stalls. Today, the town has a wide-range of shops, refreshments and places to stay. It also has a modern leisure centre (with swimming pool). Its close proximity to both the Norfolk Coast and Norfolk Broads make North Walsham a good base for a holiday. Nearby Bacton Woods was bought by the Forestry Commission in the 1950's and there has been a wood here since Saxon times, partly because the soil is poor quality and not suitable for farming. The woods are great for a woodland walk or for mountain biking.
We start our tour of North Walsham in the market place. In the middle ages, Norfolk had the greatest concentration of markets in the whole country - you would find a market every 10 miles or so! The markets would mainly be used by local farmers to sell their produce. The market cross was built in around 1855 and originally used to collect the tolls from the market traders. Today, locals refer to it as the "Town Clock".
North Walsham Market Cross and Town Clock
Views of the ruined church from North Walsham Market Place
North Walsham town sign
North Walsham town sign
North Walsham High Street has some individual and some well known shops, selling various produce. The town is mainly residential and most of the shops are aimed at local residents. Radiating from the main street are many side streets and yards all with interesting shops, pubs and cafes on them. You will also find some period buildings, including some with Dutch gables.
Butterfingers, one of a handful of North Walsham tea rooms
North Walsham Property and views of the church tower
North Walsham Shop
Market produce in North Walsham
Waterloo House, dating from the late 18th Century
Showcase Gallery in the High Street
The Kings Arms Hotel
Sainsbury's store in North Walsham
Flemish Architecture in North Walsham, originating from Flemish Weavers who helped the town prosper from the weaving industry in the middle ages
You are never far from the town church of St. Nicholas, which sits in its own grounds just behind the Market Place and dates from 1330. As a result of rivalry between Norfolk villages - our church tower is higher than yours! - the tower at North Walsham used to be one of the highest in Norfolk. But as we all know, after pride follows a fall - and one day in 1724, after proudly ringing the church bells all day, cracks began to appear in the tower and the following day it all came tumbling down. There has been constant talk of rebuilding ever since, but locals now actually like their unique ruined church tower and prefer it left as it is. Inside the church you get to understand just how big this church is and how tall the tower was. There are many interesting features, including a font, screen, the tomb of Sir William Paston, the Memorial Chapel and "poppy head" bench ends.
North Walsham church of St. Nicholas
Ruined church tower in North Walsham
Statue above the church door
Inside North Walsham church
Paston Sixth From College dates back to 1606, when it was founded as the Paston School by Sir William Paston, a local magistrate and landowner. The school's most famous pupil was Horatio Nelson, who attended the school between 1768 and 1771. The emblem of the school was a Griffin, a legendary creature and a symbol of divine power. You can still see a pair of stone Griffin at the entrance to the college.
The Paston Sixth Form College in North Walsham
A stone Griffin at the entrance to Paston College
Situated on the outskirts of North Walsham you will find Davenport's Magic Kingdom. This hidden emporium contains a fabulous world of magic. Visitors are taken on a time-travel tour through 500 years of magical entertainment and in particular, the story of the Davenport family, who have been at the heart of British magical performance for over 100 years. Part museum, the highlight of your visit is a 30 minute family magic show. See our separate guided picture tour of Davenport's magic Kingdom.
A replica1920s Magic Shop at Davenport's Magic Kingdom
St George's Theatre at Davenport's Magic Kingdom
Houdini exhibits, including one of his famous water tanks
Nearby Bacton Woods is a great place for a
where marked trails lead through beautiful woodland. The woods consist of 280 acres of ancient woodland, dating back to Saxon times and the wood contains two Oak trees over 200 years old. The majority of the wood was felled and replanted with conifer between 1950 and 1970, when it was purchased by the Forestry Commission. Today it is a popular location for leisure activity for many, including walking and cycling.
Bacton Wood Forest Enterprise
Bacton Wood near North Walsham
Woodland Forest and trees
Footpaths in Bacton Wood
North Walsham summary of what to SEE and DO
Explore the market place and market cross
Wander the towns streets and browse the shops
Stock up on supplies at Sainsbury's
Investigate the large town church
Enjoy a refreshment in one of the towns facilities
Take a swim in the local leisure centre
Explore Davenport's Magic Kingdom, a wonderful emporium of magic and illusion!
Take a walk in nearby Bacton Woods
North Walsham is a good place to tour North Norfolk with both the Norfolk Coast and the Norfolk Broads easily within reach. The town itself offers a good range of facilities (including the only Sainsbury's in the area), but it is mainly residential.