As with everyone else, it has been two bad years but finally we felt we could spend time away from home and booked a week in North Norfolk, in a holiday cottage.
We based ourselves in the little market town of Reepham and from there went out to explore and walk. It was a marvellous few days which felt more like a few months!
During the week we visited a few of the small towns and villages in the area, castles, churches and abbeys, and we walked in woods and on heaths. There were no responsibilities other than to enjoy the day and it was wonderfully relaxing. I imagine we shared these feelings with many others in the UK who have managed a few days away from home over the summer.
Reepham is a small market town, about half an hour away from the north coast. It was given its charter in 1277, which makes Reepham one of the oldest market towns in Norfolk. Shops and picturesque buildings cluster around a small market square where the 16C ‘Kings Arms’ pub is friendly and welcoming and the food is good. There is also a very good butcher, Diane’s pantry for goodies and breakfast, post office and stationer, delicatessen, and posh hotel.
The churches in Reepham
Reepham is fascinating too because it once had three churches and this was a result of the parish system which dates back to Anglo-Saxon times. Each of the churches was built against a parish boundary, and the boundaries met on this site. Simon Knott’s website gives full and excellent information about parishes, and churches in Norfolk, Suffolk, and Essex. It is a ‘must’ for anyone interested in these sites. The different parishes were all brought together as ‘Reepham’ in 1935.1
St Mary’s Church, Reepham
The Church of St Mary dates from the 13th – 15th centuries. In medieaval times the town was apparently an important site of pilgrimage.2
In the church we found curiously carved bench ends. By the end of the week we knew these were a feature of many of the churches in Norfolk. They are probably numerous in Suffolk too. But in Suffolk the destruction of icons, rood screens and other decorative features of the churches seems to have been much more widespread, and more determined.
St Michael and All Angels Church, Whitwell
The Church of St Michael and All Angels was the parish church of Whitwell and dates from 14th – 15th centuries. In the 19th century restoration work was done, but by 1970 the church was declared redundant. The main body of the church is now used as a village hall.
All that remains of the parish church is the section of wall below. Fire destroyed the church in the mid-1500s.
This little town is an excellent base from which to start exploring North Norfolk and we spent a very happy week here.
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Love the bench ends! I looked hard at the map but I couldn’t find your village.
It’s there – just above and to the right of North Elmham – a cluster of four church symbols partly obscures the name.
Hmm, well it is quite small, but it is on Google Maps…