The Village of Swaffham in Norfolk
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
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 attraction.
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 Swaffham.
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.
Nelson 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.
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.
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