An attractive small town with 18th century houses bordering a market place and surrounded by picturesque countryside.
An Introduction to Reepham and Booton
Reepham is an attractive small town set in picturesque countryside between the Wensum and Bure Valleys. Lovely 18th century houses, many with Flemish influence, surround the Market Place, which has been designated a conservation area. The churchyard once had 3 churches, but one has been a ruin since 1543 with only a fragment now remaining. The parish church of St Mary's stands back to back with St Michael, the parish church of neighbouring Whitwell. Today, Reepham has a few shops to browse, plus a range of places to eat and drink. Market day is Wednesdays and regular antiques fairs are frequently held.
Nearby Booton is a small village and contains one of the most intriguing churches in Norfolk. At the former Reepham Station there is a small museum, tea room and cycle hire. The station is the start of the Marriott's Way, 21 miles of former railway trackbed, made available as a rural trail for walkers, cyclists and horse riders. A good walk along the track bed from Reepham Station takes you to Whitwell Station, where you can see various rolling stock.
We start our tour in Reepham market place. Reepham market was founded in 1277 when Sir John de Vaux obtained a charter from King Edward I for a weekly market, held ever since and now takes place on a Wednesday. The market place is surrounded by some lovely 18th century Georgian buildings, some converted to interesting shops. The Kings Arms is thought to be 16th century and was formerly a coaching inn. The Dial House hotel is a listed Georgian building built in 1729 and named after the large sun dial above the main door.
The Dial House at the top of Reepham Market Place
The Butchers in the market place at Reepham
The Bircham Centre Reepham
The Kings Arms Pub Reepham
Shops in Reepham Market Place
Reepham is a typical Norfolk market town. 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. By the 16th century, many of Norfolk's markets had closed, but the market place and surrounding narrow streets remain today. Reepham however, still has a weekly market every Wednesday.
Although Reepham dates back to just after the Norman conquest, much of it was destroyed by fire in 1543 and many of the older properties were lost. However, the town was rebuilt and the majority of the existing buildings date from the 18th century, with a Flemish influence. The buildings are located along pretty streets, alleys and lokes.
Property on Dereham Road Reepham
Vs Cafe on the junction with Station Road
Tudor House at the Back of the Market Place
Rushlight Art Gallery
Cottages in Reepham
At one time three churches stood in the churchyard at Reepham. The great fire in 1543 virtually destroyed one, with only a fragment remaining. St Mary’s is now the single parish church and stands back to back with St Michael’s, although consecrated, is mainly used as a community building. St Mary's church is usually open to visitors and the interior was extensively restored in the 19th century. A few medieval treasures have survived including a Norman font, a superb altar tomb and some lovely stained glass.
Reepham Churchyard in the centre of the town
Reepham Churches of St Mary and St Michael
The village sign outside the church, showing everything in 3's
Inside St Mary's church Reepham
Stained glass window in St Mary's
A local myth tells that three sisters were responsible for the building of the 3 churches in Reepham - one for each of them! This myth led to the design of the town sign which shows a group of three churches, villagers, farm labourers, sheep, lambs and the sisters themselves! You will find the town sign in front of the church (a picture can be found above).
On the outskirts of Reepham you will find Reepham Station (north of the town centre). The rails have long gone, but the route is now a 21 mile long footpath and bridleway called the Marriott's Way, between Hellesdon and Aylsham. The route is named after William Marriott, who was the chief engineer of the Midland and Great Northern Railway for 41 years. Reepham Station now consists of a tea room/cafe and a pine furniture shop.
The Marriott's Way at Reepham Station
Kerry's Pine Shop, Reepham
Whitwell Station is also on the outskirts of Reepham (south of the town centre) and consists of a railway siding, old station buildings and various rolling stock. Throughout the year, steam train events are held on the 1st Sunday of the month, but you can visit at any time to view the small museum, rolling stock or hire a bike. The old track bed between Whitwell Station and Reepham Station has been converted into a footpath and makes a lovely walk.
Various rolling stock at Whitwell Station
Whitwell Station Platform and Cycle Path
Whitwell Station Tea Room
Booton Guided Tour
Booton Church of St Michael the Archangel is a highly individual church. It was created on the shell of a medieval building in the 19th century by the rector Revd Whitwell Elwin over a period of 50 years. Its a gothic fantasy, with palace-like towers on the outside, and hosts of oak angels and stained glass on the inside. No tour of Norfolk's churches is complete without a visit to Booton! Booton is only a 5 to 10 minute drive from Reepham.