The Village of Castle Acre in Norfolk

Castle Acre Norfolk Holidays

A visitors guide to the conservation village of Castle Acre in West Norfolk. The impressive ruins at Castle Acre can be clearly seen from the A1065. The village is set in a very rural landscape, a splendid and picturesque sight and reminiscent of a fortified French hill top town, that has emerged from the mists of time.

In 1971, Castle Acre was designated Norfolk's first Conservation Village. Despite its small size Castle Acre boasts a large Norman castle and earthworks, a fine bailey gate and extensive ruins of a Cluniac Priory.

The main entrance into this attractive little village is through a 13th century flint gateway, which would have also been the way the pilgrims used to enter hundreds of years ago. These pilgrims would have been on a pilgrimage to the shrine at Little Walsingham, which can be found in North East part of Norfolk.

The castle, now only ruins, are still impressive and have wide ranging views of the valley and the River Nar. In days past the River Nar was navigable all the way up to the Wash from Castle Acre.

The tree shaded village green planted with large lime trees is called Stocks Green and was probably used to house the 'towns stocks'. Running around its perimeter are small flint and cobble cottages as well as a handful of interesting shops. The village boast two inns The Ostrich and Albert Victor Inns and tearooms/restaurant as well as a local store.

As you walk around note some of the street names such as Chimney Street and Cuckstool Street. In the 1830s and 1840s the village became the home of many displaced persons and by 1843 Castle Acre was known as an unruly place and even Parliament expressed concerns about the people "squatting within its walls".

The Church of St.James is situated on the west side of the village in large spacious grounds. Further along are the extensive remains of the Cluniac Priory which was founded by the Earl of Surrey in about 1090, and are now in the care of English Heritage. Castle Acre is just five miles from the Market Town of Swaffham with its Saturday market and good range of shops.

Just down the lane close to West Acre is a specialist plant nursery with display gardens set in an unusual o-shaped walled garden. The gardens are full of interesting and unusual plants from around the world, many rarely seen, with colour all year round. As well as the usual herbaceous/shrubs beds, there are grasses, bamboos and shade area plants. Seats are situated around the gardens, so you can relax and enjoy your surroundings, whilst deciding what to buy.

For Norfolk or Suffolk Hotels - Click the Hotel Link.s. The Peddars Way is an ancient 47 mile long distance path. Which starts near Thetford and continues to the coast at Holme, it passes through the very centre of this village. It is said that it used to be used by the Romans as a military road.

It is said that the Cluniacs used to charge pilgrims to view holy relics and that the arm of St. Philip brought in 10 shillings a year.

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