Did you know that Dunwich, now a small village on the Suffolk coast, used to be a large city the size of London?
In 1286, a gigantic storm surge battered the city, destroying its port which was what led to Dunwich’s wealth and fast growth. Without that, the city fell into decline, maybe residents moved further down the coast to Walberswick, and further storms destroyed even more of the city, until the 15th century, when only a fraction of it remained.
Today, Dunwich is known for its quiet atmosphere and many wonderful tearooms, at the heart of the Suffolk Coast Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. Only a ruined priory remain of old Dunwich, and if you look out across the North Sea, two miles out is where the city’s outer walls were expected to be.
The tales claims that at certain tides, when standing on the stark Dunwich beach, you can hear the peal of the old city’s church bells from beneath the waves.
If you want to hear the whole story of the Dunwich Bells, Visit Suffolk.
In the first of three Halloween-themed Culture365 posts, we’re taking a look at The Red Barn Murder – a story that has inspired countless films, TV shows, and art.
This is a love story gone awry. Infamous fraudster and womaniser, William Corder wooed local woman Maria Marten, and after a long tumultuous relationship, suggest that they elope to Ipswich. They agreed to meet the following night at the Red Barn.
She was never seen again.
Maria’s family received letters from William, saying they had successfully arrived in Ipswich, and were enjoying their new life, but that Maria was too ill to write to them. Some time later, Maria’s step-mother had a terrible nightmare where the ghost of Maria spoke to her, and pointed to her grave in the Red Barn.
Find out what happened when you discover the full story of the Red Barn Murder at Visit Suffolk.
Plan a trip to Suffolk (but perhaps stay away from the red barn!) at Visit Suffolk.
Nestled in the heart of Ipswich town centre, an unassuming doorway hides the Ipswich Institute. The Institute provides lending library facilities and an extensive programme of leisure learning courses, talks and trips to over 2,000 members.
The Ipswich Institute was founded by Dr George Birkbeck in 1824 as one of the first Mechanics’ Institutions in the country. The principles of this charitable foundation were, and still are, to “advance the education of the inhabitants of Ipswich and neighbourhood by promoting Science, Literature, the Fine Arts and Adult Instruction”.
The Institute is the proud owner of two historic buildings in the town: one houses the Institute’s extensive lending library, the other, an art centre, study rooms, restaurant and coffee lounge.
In collaboration with the spooky performance of The Turn of the Screw, as highlighted in a previous 365 post, Aldeburgh Music ran a supernatural walk along the Suffolk countryside across the whole of the Britten weekend in 2015.
This atmospheric guided walk followed the River Alde from Iken Church to Snape Maltings through the lonely landscape that inspired Britten. The journey was curated by Andrew Staples and Sophie Hunter and promised a uniquely evocative immersion into the worlds of Henry James’ chilling novella and the Britten opera it inspired.
Freston Tower is a six-story red brick folly south of Ipswich, Suffolk in the village of Freston. It stands on the banks of the River Orwell.
There are many rumours surrounding the origin of the tower, and whilst it is arguably the oldest folly in the country, the exact story of when, and who, constructed it is unknown.
There is a legend that the tower was built by “Lord de Freston” in the 15th century for his daughter Ellen, so she could study a different subject on a different floor six days of the week: the first floor was dedicated to reception, the second to tapestry working, the third to music, the fourth to painting, the fifth to literature, and the sixth to astronomy, complete with instruments for taking observations.
Freston Tower is now owned by the Landmark Trust, meaning that it is available for holiday rental. Surround yourself in the legend of Freston, and book a visit.
Explore the rest of Suffolk, a county full of legend, at Visit Suffolk.
A peal of bells, a fanfare and a concert by a world-famous brass band heralded a new chapter in the rich history of St Nicholas’ Chapel, King’s Lynn in October 2015.
The chapel had recently undergone a series of major repairs and alterations, and the concert on the 17th was the first public event since its reopening.
The Fairey Band, fresh from a third place award at the National Brass Band Championships at the Royal Albert Hall, performed a specially-commissioned fanfare for the chapel, entitled 22 Angels, inspired by the many angels that adorn the chapel’s roof.
The chapel was restored with funds raised by The Friends of St Nicholas’ Chapel and a Heritage Lottery Fund grant.
Norwich Castle was founded by William the Conqueror between 1066 and 1075, but the keep was built slightly later, between 1095 and 1110. Today, the keep looks completely different to when it was first built.
In keeping with medieval tradition, the keep would have been separated into separate living areas, and while there is debate on the exact configuration, it’s generally agreed that it would have been arranged in quite a complex manner, including a kitchen, chapel, a two-storey high hall, and 16 latrines.
Today, the keep is host to a variety of exhibitions, allowing visitors to explore the Norman and medieval world through objects owned by Norfolk Museums Service and on loan from the British Museum.
We’ve visited Blickling a few times already on Culture365, (here and here) but up until now we’ve never talked about how it holds the ghostly crown of the National Trust’s Most Haunted Property …
Blickling Hall is thought to be the birthplace of Anne Boleyn and by all accounts her headless ghost likes to return to Norfolk on the anniversary of her beheading. She’s not the only phantom with a thing for Blickling – Sir John Falstofe is another ethereal visitor, looking around the property he once owned – and Anne’s father Sir Thomas is cursed to wander the area as a punishment for not protecting his children.
Discover more ghostly goings on at Blickling here.
You may not have heard of Philip Kerr, 11th Marquess of Lothian, but he is a hugely important figure in the preservation of nationally significant estates and buildings. 2015 marked the 75th anniversary of Kerr’s death and bequest of Blickling Estate to the National Trust.
Without him, it’s unlikely that Blickling Estate (pictured here), along with hundreds of other much loved places, would still be around.
Kerr was largely responsible for the National Trust Act of 1937, which protects houses and grounds of properties with historical importance – an act that protects the majority of National Trust properties today.
Find out more about Blickling and Kerr’s legacy at the National Trust.
Names can be deceiving. The Marble Hall at Holkham is predominantly constructed of Derbyshire alabaster, which is actually softer and more translucent than marble.
The Marble Hall is the grand main entrance to Holkham. It’s over 50 feet from floor to ceiling, and is dominated by a large white marble flight of stairs.
Holkham Hall was built by 1st Earl of Leicester, Thomas Coke, and was completed in 1764. Inspired by Lord Coke’s visit to Europe in his youth, Holkham is constructed in the Palladian style, which takes reference from the architecture of the Romans and Ancient Greeks. This is perhaps most evident in the design of the Marble Hall, which is inspired by both the Temple of Fortuna Virilis and the Pantheon in Rome.
Holkham was specifically designed to house Lord Coke’s extensive collection of European art, and whilst the decoration is very opulent by today’s standards, it was seen as very simple at the time.
Holkham Hall is open on Mondays, Thursdays and Sundays and the Marble Hall regularly hosts concerts. Find out more here.
If you fancy immersing yourself in the world of Lord Coke and his collections, and staying nearby, plan a trip with Visit North Norfolk.