The Village of Castle Acre in Norfolk
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
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
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.
Peddars Way is an ancient 47
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.
is said that the
Cluniacs used to charge pilgrims
to view holy relics and that the arm of St. Philip brought in 10 shillings
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