A visitors guide to the hustley bustley Georgian Market
Town of Swaffham with its large wedge shaped Market
Place flanked by 18th century building. The Market
Place is the heart of the town, and where the Saturday
market is held. Its a traditional market selling
local produce as well as other interesting knick knacks.
Swaffham became a fashionable place in Georgian times
for its social and sporting functions and much of the
architecture you see today comes from that period, but
of course the town is much older than that.
In the summer months, the town is awash with colour with
large tubs of colourful plants. At Christmas time, the
town decorates itself with twinkling Christmas lights
all around the market square. Swaffham has many
interesting nooks and crannies with good places to while
away a few hours with a cup of tea and a slice of cake,
before exploring the market and the shops.
At the south end stands the Tounda or Butter Cross,
which is supported on eight columns and surmounted by an
elegant rotunda topped by a statue of the Roman Goddess
of the harvest 'Ceres', the Tounda was a gift from Lord
Orford in 1783.
Lord Orford formed a hare coursing association which was
named the Swaffham Club. He adored greyhound racing and
had a favourite dog called Czarina. Unfortunately whilst
watching his dog one day Lord Orford became so excited
he fell off his horse and died. Swaffham used to be the
winter retreat of the prosperous farmers and landowners
who would to come to the town and host extravagant
soirees and parties.
The skyline of the town is now dominated by large wind
turbines, the largest one is open to the public and
forms part of the Eco Tech centre. It is well worth
a visit not just for the view one can have from its
lofty heights, but also as a modern environmental
The Swaffham Village Sign was made in 1929 by Harry
Carter and shows the Swaffham Pedlar whose story can be
found in Yesterdays.
The magnificent church of St. Peter and St. Paul is one
of the finest medieval churches in East Anglia. It has a
fantastic hammer beam roof with carved angels. The
carvings on the front pews of the church are believed to
represent John Chapman otherwise known as the Pedlar of
Just down the road is the historic
village of Castle Acre managed by English
Heritage. A 15th century prior's lodging, though
the actual priory was built in 1090 AD by the 2nd Earl
of Surrey. After the 1536 Dissolution, the Prior's Lodge
became a farmhouse. This hilltop village commands
fine views over the Nar Valley, not easily accessible to
large vehicles as the place is still walled in parts and
entered by a 13th century Bailey Gate.
Harry Carter a local craftsman was
responsible for carving over 200 village and town
signs around Norfolk. One of his relatives, was the
well known Howard Carter who uncovered the tomb of the
Egyptian boy King Tutankhamum.
and Lady Hamilton are
said to have been occasional visitors to Swaffham.
To the west of the market place is a large
rock reputed to have been placed there by the Vikings
as a town marker.
Another local figure is W.E. Johns the creator
of the fictional air ace ‘Biggles’. More can be found
out about this character in the local Swaffham museum,
along with other fascinating reminders of the towns
past, located in the main high street.