7th August - 18th August 2017
Norfolk - Relatives, Rivers and Sea
We were met at the railway station by my great friend Charlotte, getting lost in the car park because we were talking too much had Ross rather annoyed. We got to Charlotte's and loaded the car. Boy do we have a lot of stuff! Dinner of takeaway Indian and off to the hotel. We got to some road works so followed the diversion around many roundabouts. I still have trouble with roundabouts getting disorientated and usually in the wrong lane, we managed to follow the diversion signs all the way back to the road works!! It is now after midnight and I am fed up, we navigate off in the general direction and eventually find the hotel.
Early start to Norfolk. We made good time so had to waste an hour or so over lunch to make it to our cottage at the correct time. Finding the cottage was a bit difficult but as there are only 3 roads in the village we found the Village hall and followed directions. The cottage is a little disappointing it needs a bit of smartening up. We are only here for 10 days, it is not a problem.
My cousin and her family are staying in the area and had invited us for dinner. We spent an hour fighting technology to get the printer going, no luck, the phones working, no luck, internet, no luck. We wrote the instructions on how to get to Felbrigg Hall on paper and set off. Although the instructions were a bit strange “follow the sloping ramp to the black door which is never locked, then diagonally across the courtyard not using the path” We found the blue Door, with three steps and spent a great night with the family. Going home was fun as the fog had come down and we were only just certain where the cottage was.
Robert Wyndham Ketton-Cremer - the last squire of Felbrigg - was known as a shy, gentle man, known as ‘Bunny’ to his friends. He never married and with the tragic death of his brother and no heir, he restored his exquisite ancestral home and bequeathed it to the nation.
Until now, official accounts of his life have offered only a partial story and neglected to acknowledge his homosexuality, which was widely accepted by those who knew him. Instead he was referred to as 'the bachelor squire'... or 'not one for the ladies'. The National trust wanted the volunteers at Felbrigg to wear the rainbow colours on their lanyard. They decided that as Robert had not told anyone he was homosexual that they should not be the ones that made it official! Good for them.
Susan another cousin and her husband, David picked us up and we went out to lunch in Wells. It was lovely to spend the day with them even though it poured with rain. They kept telling us how nice it is on a warm day and it looked like it would be. On the way home, we dropped in at Walsingham, which is where a vision of Mary was seen. There are two shrines Catholic and Anglican. The boys who had gone to the pub, dropped us off closer to the Anglican one so we went in there. It was amazing. High Anglican so a lot like a Catholic church. We found the boys in the first pub we looked in!!
Walsingham Anglican Shrine
My car was not bogged in all the mud so we drove towards Norwich and took the Park and Ride into town. When we got off the bus we could see the Norwich Castle so postponing the shopping we went to look around. It was heaving of course as it is school holidays and there was a lot of stuff for children to do. A stonemason was about to give a lecture so we joined the group. It was so interesting. He told us that he knows the stories of his Masters and all their learnings back to 1000’s. When he finished his apprenticeship and became a journeyman, his journey (he walked as they all do) took him to South Africa. He also told us they have their own language which all the stonemasons from anywhere in the world would understand, so they can work together. His master he told us worked on Norwich Castle in 1080. The Stonemasons guild is training 40 apprentices. They are trained by word of mouth and the Master said that it cannot be written down as it is a rhythm, feeling and touch way of training. I was totally fascinated and could have listened to him all day. But shopping called!!!!
Sunshine – Cromer here we come. A visit to the seaside. Everyone else had the same idea the place was heaving. The crazy British were on the beach sun bathing, on the pier fishing for Cromer crabs. A Punch and Judy show was about to start so we stayed to watch, dreadful, the guy was very old (older than me!!) and probably not good when he was younger. He started with a magic trick that was so bad, we could see how it was supposed to be done but he did it completely wrong (not even funny) He was so slow, half the kids had given up and wandered off to do something else before Punch and Judy started. A couple of photos and we wandered off too.
I walked up the tower in the Cathedral. I was exhausted climbing the first set of stairs only to get to the bell ringers chamber!! I hope the bell ringers get in early to get their breath back. The circular stair case got narrower as it got higher, then two fit, speedy people came up behind me and there was nowhere for them to pass. We slowly made it to the roof and they dashed past me to then stop in my way, so I could not get on to the roof! The view was worth the climb and I stayed a while just taking it in. Letting the fast people leave first, I slowly made my way down. Of course I meet people coming up, they were all lovely to an older lady and stood on the narrow part of the stairs giving me the wide bit to use. One group had left grandma behind and she decided to follow me down, a good idea as she was a bit bigger than me!!
Fish and Chips for lunch what else at the seaside. The restaurant come chippy was so busy, we queued for a table and the two people in front of us offered to share. Connie was a carer and David a 63-year-old with a 7-year-old mental age on a day out, interesting table companions. I will say no more!!!
Cromer crab for tea, so cheap and as it turned out so tasty I wish you could have had some!
The strangest festival I have ever been to – run by the Starter Handle Club. All the exhibits have to be started by a crank of some type. Only In England!! Well there were lots of tractors lots of equipment making noise and even a few cars. One of the most interesting things was a roller machine for getting the water out of the washing. It looked like it was removing water and adding dirt, but we gave it the benefit of the doubt. The lady washing said she would stick to her automatic at home. The machine had been fully patented. We then watched a few tractor pulling competitions as you do. An interesting and bemusing day. Check out the photos.
Caught up with my Aunty Cathy, my cousin David and his wife Rosemary. We had a lovely lunch and walk along the broads. Aunty Cath had a copy of an essay of mine, that was played on the BBC radio, when I was 11 years old. A bit embarrassing but showed that even then I wanted to write and was not good at it, perhaps just a little better than other 11 year old’s as they did not get on the radio!!
Used the GPS to return to our "home" and he took us down some very narrow lanes. I guess we will need to get used to one car wide lanes again. We gave way at one place and sat for ages as all the cars took advantage of the silly Aussie who stopped. It was very pretty though.
Visit to Sheringham Hall which is closed as the family still live in it, but Sheringham Park is open. It was designed by Humphrey Repton and his son,John Adey Repton designed the hall . During the period of construction of the Hall Abbot Upcher and his wife Charlotte moved into the Flower’s old farmhouse close to the village of Upper Sheringham. By 1817 the house was nearing completion and the family hoped to move into the hall by the summer of that year. There was still work needed on the interior of the house and the work moved on to 1818. Unfortunately, in March 1818 Humphrey Repton died as a consequence of the ill health caused by a carriage accident which he had never fully recovered from. In just under a year later Abbot Upcher died in February 1819 succumbing to the illness that had plagued his health for many years, He was only aged 35. By the time of Abbots death, the house was all but finished, but his wife Charlotte had lost interest in the new house and stayed in the old farmhouse. At the time of Abbot’s death the house had cost £6,600. Work was stopped on the house and it remained empty and unfinished until Abbot and Charlotte’s son Henry Ramey Upcher married and he finished the hall and moved in with his family in 1839. Charlotte had remained in the farmhouse and dedicated herself to the village wellbeing, the church and to her family. She was also instrumental in the inauguration of Sheringham’s first lifeboat, The Augusta.
We did a big walk around the grounds. Then celebrated with scones and tea.
Doing steam train and cruise on the broads, we of course set off late and missed the train so drove to Wroxham instead. Once there we found a cruise and had a lovely time on board a boat that was a recreation of a Duke’s barge. We saw kingfishers and painted lady dragon flies they were bright blue. That night we went to the local pub and it was great, what a shame we are leaving soon. The village is small but has been here since 1066 and is recorded in the Doomsday book how amazing.
We got on the train the next day it is a narrow gauge train the smallest public train still running in England. The carriages were two people wide and very short Ross had to bend to get in.
Bure Valley Railway -The Train Ride
Our last stately home in Norfolk and what a beauty. Blinkling Hall. No not blinking or Blankley as I was calling it. The manor of Blickling is recorded in the Domesday Book. Its owners have included Sir John Fastolf and Geoffrey Boleyn, grandfather of Anne Boleyn, the ill-fated wife of Henry VIII. The present red-brick mansion was built 1616-24 by Robert Lyminge (the architect of Hatfield) for Sir Henry Hobart, 1st Baronet, Lord Chief Justice to James I. Little is known about the long tenure of Lady Caroline Suffield and her husband. Despite inheriting Blickling in 1793, it wasn't until the late 1800’s that she made her mark on the house. During, World War Two RAF air crews were billeted here. The Blickling Estate, and its owners, were very influential in their time. It was Lord Lothian who persuaded Churchill to write the historic letter to Roosevelt which for the first time gave the Americans an unequivocal statement of Britain's depleted military strength. At a daringly timed conference in Washington (1940), Lothian delivered a similar message to the American public which was to be his last during his final visit to America. Lord Lothian had many famous visitors including Jawaharlal Nehru, the first Prime Minister of India and his daughter Indira.
The Hall has the motto “What are you doing here?”. Not sure what the answer is. The house was full of light and all the rooms looked very comfortable. The library was amazing, I got chatting to the man in there and he told me the books were a bequest from one of the Earls Brothers and when they arrived there were so many the long hall was converted into a library. There are books back from the 1100’s. The books are being catalogued at the moment (my perfect job).