The church of St Michael and All Angels in Booton,

ST MICHAEL AND ALL ANGELS, BOOTON.

Churches are often famous for having impressive architecture, but the church of St Michael and All Angels in Booton, Norfolk, takes it one step further.

While the main body of the building match the traditional shape and style you’d expect, the church is adorned by numerous fantasy gothic columns, as well as two spindly towers and a slender minaret. This eccentric 19th century church was designed by the Reverend Whitwell Elwin, a man with no architectural experience, but wild imagination. He borrowed details from many other churches in the region, but the towers seem to have been 100% his own design.

See more of this Grade II Listed building by visiting this site and if you’d like to see more of this area, why not Visit Norfolk?

 

 

Photo: Fernando Butcher (Flickr)
great hospital

THE GREAT HOSPITAL

The Great Hospital, in the heart of Norwich, was one of England’s oldest hospitals, and it has been serving the people of the city since 1249.

Originally opened the aid the priests, poor scholars and paupers of the city, The Great Hospital is now used as sheltered accommodation for the elderly, but it still has strong links to its history, offering regular tours and talks about the building’s story.

Now, the building is appreciated for its architecture. It is the finest set of medieval hospital buildings in the country, and is included in the Norwich 12 (like previous 365 item, Surrey House). Today is the final chance this year to participate in a historical tour of the building,

Find out more about the history of The Great Hospital at Norwich 12.

Norwich is full of fascinating architecture, dating from the Medieval period through to the modern day. Plan a trip to explore with Visit Norwich.

signatures at the swan

SIGNATURES AT THE SWAN

It can be argued that Lavenham was at the centre of the US military presence in the UK during World War Two.

Four United States of America Air Force (USAAF) airfields were within six miles of the village, and a US hospital was only four miles away. Because of this, Lavenham was one of the favourite meeting places of the USAAF and many officers relaxed and socialised there, particularly at the Swan Hotel.

The wall of the small bar (now called the Airmen’s Bar) at the Swan is covered in signatures of the servicemen who spent much of their down time in the hotel.

Signatures at the Swan is a project in partnership with 8th in the East and Stour Valley Community Archaeology Group, which plans to identify the signatures and link them to any surviving relatives.

Explore the Swan Hotel, and discover the signatures for yourself.

If you’re interested in seeing the rest of Lavenham and the surrounding area, find out more with Visit Suffolk.

christmas at oxburgh

CHRISTMAS AT OXBURGH

In the run-up to Christmas, there aren’t many sights more wonderful than a large home adorned with traditional festive decoration. Christmas at Oxburgh offers the perfect opportunity for visitors for experience just that, and take a trip back to Christmases past.

Every December, over two weekends, experience the atmosphere of the House as it would have been dressed for the festivities 100 years ago. Alongside this, the Oxburgh Hall Choir perform classic Christmas carols in the Hall’s Chapel.

Join in with Christmas at Oxburgh at the National Trust.

Whilst you’re at Oxburgh, why not explore the rest of the county with Visit Norfolk.

Photo: Oxburgh Hall

Tobys Walks, Blythburgh

TOBY’S WALKS

The tale of Tobias Gill is one of drunkenness, murder, hauntings and injustice.

A member of the Suffolk Regiment in 1750, Tobias was found one morning lying beside a lady’s body on Blythburgh Common after a heavy night of drinking. Despite protesting his innocence, Tobias was arrested, charged with murder and sentenced to death. He was hung on the 14th September, near to Blythburgh Common. After the execution had been carried out the coroner admitted there were no marks on the body, and that there was little evidence pointing towards Gill, or even that the woman had been murdered. Now it is said that Tobias’ angry ghost still stalks Blythburgh Common, and the lady’s shade can sometime be seen crossing the road. However, the Common is a lovely place to visit and there’s plenty of space for the kids to run around and enjoy themselves.

If you’d like to visit Blythburgh, either on a ghost hunt, to play on the common or to see the amazing church you can find out more here.

 

Photo: Jason P (Yelp 2)
surrey HOUSE

SURREY HOUSE

Located in the heart of Norwich, Surrey House is one of the most elegant and opulent Edwardian office buildings in Britain.

In the early 16th Century, the land was the city house of Henry Howard, Earl of Surrey, but the current Surrey House, designed by George Skipper, was built at the beginning of the 20th Century.

The Palladian-style foyer is adorned with 15 varieties of marble, classically inspired frescos and a stunning glass atrium, as well as a selection of items that were originally made for the Great Exhibition of 1851.

Surrey House has been home to insurance company Aviva (formerly Norwich Union) since the turn of the 20th Century. The foyer is open to the public during office hours. Group tours of the building can be booked in advance at Aviva.

For more information about the history of Surrey House, and other buildings of historical interest in Norwich, visit Norwich 12.

Explore the rest of Norwich’s history; Visit Norwich is the perfect guide.

Image:Sarah Cocke / RACNS

Southwold from the pier

SOUTHWOLD … OR IS IT SUNNYSANDS?

Parents with children of a certain age may feel they have stepped through their TV screens when they visit Southwold on the Suffolk coast.

There’s Miss Smiley’s café at the end of the pier, this is one of the roads that Campo the campervan drives along, and of course Mr Mentor the Inventor’s lighthouse can be seen from all over town. Southwold was chosen by CBeebies to represent Sunnysands, the fictional seaside town in Grandpa in My Pocket starring James Boland, its quintessential English seaside look perfect for the show.

However, if you’re looking for the Masons’ house, you need to be prepared for a long walk – it’s actually in Aldeburgh, ten miles further along the coast.

You can find out everything you need to know about the Suffolk coast here.

 

Photo: Spiterman (Flickr)
Shingle Street

INVASION AT SHINGLE STREET

It may seem far-fetched now, but in 1940 the threat to the East from German invasion was all too real.

The civilian population at Shingle Street, near Felixstowe in Suffolk, was evacuated, and defences were strung along the coast including a system which would spray flammable liquid on the water, then ignite it. Then one August night church bells rang out in warning. A dance at nearby Aldeburgh was stopped by military police. And many people reported seeing flames on the water, and hearing explosions and shouting. For the next few days witnesses said they saw badly burned bodies wearing German uniforms wash up along the Suffolk coast. Yet none of this activity was reported officially. And even when classified documents were released in 1992, nothing was mentioned of an invasion at Shingle Street. So is it all a myth? Or a cover-up as some suggest? Nobody knows for certain.

Today Shingle Street is back to the quiet, peaceful place on the Suffolk coast. Why not pay a visit?

 

Photo: Gavin Elliott (Twitter)
winter walks

WINTER WALKS WITH THE NATIONAL TRUST

Aside from the fantastic culture we’re sharing every day, the East is also known for inspiring landscape and breathtaking views, particularly during the winter months. This is particularly evident in the parks and woodlands of Blickling, Felbrigg and Oxburgh – enjoy winter walks around these beautiful idylls.

The grounds of these National Trust properties in Norfolk are some of the best places to experience this stunning scenery, and luckily, the Trust have curated a series of walks around their properties across the county.

Above is a view you can expect on the Felbrigg Hall church and ice house walk, a circular walk that explores a church, ice house and a selection of interesting flora and fauna.

For more information about this and other routes, including their selection of seasonal winter walks, visit the National Trust.

Why not make a trip of it, and stay for a while? Visit Norfolk is full of tips for making the most of your Norfolk holiday.

Photo: National Trust
OLD SKATING RINK GALLERY

OLD SKATING RINK GALLERY

Have you ever been to a gallery in a skating rink? The Old Skating Rink Gallery in the heart of Norwich is home to the South Asian Decorative Arts and Crafts Collection Trust (SADACC).

Designed by Horace Lacey and built in 1876, the building was Norwich’s first roller skating rink. It opened on 19th September 1876 to around 1000 visitors. Despite initial success, the roller rink closed in May 1877 due to financial difficulties. The following years saw the building fitted out as a Vaudeville Theatre, a temporary home for the Salvation Army, a storage facility for tinned meat, and a warehouse for a building manufacturer. It remained a warehouse until the early 1990s, when Philip and Jeannie Millward purchased the Rink and renovated it.

Today, large architectural items are on display permanently throughout the building, and display cases installed in 2011 reveal the best of the SADACC Trust collection. The SADACC Trust is currently displaying a selection of textiles from South Asia, in the exhibition Cloth: A Journey through South Asian Textiles, inspired by the recent major exhibition The Fabric of India at the V&A.

For more information, and to plan a trip to the Old Skating Rink Gallery, visit the SADACC.

Want to explore Norwich’s many galleries, but not sure where to start? Visit Norwich is the perfect guide!