Canaletto Canvas

CANALETTO AT BLICKLING

Amongst the many treasures at Suffolk’s Blickling Hall is an oil painting by Canaletto. Entitled Chelsea from Battersea Reach, it was published in 1751 and originally measured eight foot across.

However, the work has been cut in half, experts think sometime before 1802, perhaps by the artist himself to make it more saleable. To get the full picture you will have to travel slightly outside the region – the other half is in the Havana Nation Museum, Cuba.

See this and hundreds of other historical items at Blickling Hall.

 

Photo: National Trust
The famous water finale

CIRCUS MAXIMUS

Close to the seafront in Great Yarmouth stands The Hippodrome, Britain’s only surviving total circus building.

It was built at the turn of the twentieth century and over the last hundred years it has been played by legends such as Max Miller, Lillie Langtree, Houdini and Charlie Chaplin, as well as the best circus performers in the world, year after year after year.

The shows always close with the water spectacular – The Hippodrome has one of only four sinking rings in the world, which is then flooded. It’s a sight like no other.

You can get a flavour of what it’s like and check what’s showing at the official Hippodrome website.

Woolpit

THE GREEN CHILDREN OF WOOLPIT

The village sign of Woolpit in Suffolk hints towards one of the strangest tales to be told in the East. In the twelfth century two green children were discovered standing by one of the wolf pits the village was named for. The brother and sister spoke no English and initially would only eat raw broad beans.

Eventually they acclimatised to their surroundings, losing their green hue and expanding their diet, however the boy died shortly after the children were baptised. The girl grew-up and learned to speak English, allowing her to explain she’d come from St Martin’s Land, an underground world populated by green people. Rather prosaically, the tale ends with her marrying a man from Kings Lynn and living out her days in normality.

To read more about the tale of the green children, and other spooky tales, take a look here.

To see the spooky side of the county firsthand, plan a trip with Visit Suffolk. 

Photo: Copyright Rod Bacon
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)
Southwold Summer Theatre

SUMMER THEATRE IN SOUTHWOLD

Southwold Summer Theatre has been a tradition in the Suffolk seaside town for years. Between July and September the venue is host to five or six plays, ranging from broad farce to psychological thrillers.

It’s a tradition that delights locals and tourists alike, who return year after year to this small theatre just a short walk from the sea.

Find out what’s showing this year on their website.

 

 

Photo: Suffolk Theatre (Twitter)
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)
Somerleyton Hall

MORTON PETO

Who links Trafalgar Square, Nelson’s Column and the Houses of Parliament to the small village of Somerleyton on the East Norfolk/Suffolk border?

Morton Peto was an entrepreneur and civil engineer in the nineteenth century who was a partner in the company that built these iconic buildings. He became a millionaire from these projects, and spent a large portion of his earnings on Somerleyton Hall, a grand mansion with an estate of over 5,000 acres. He then dedicated seven years to rebuilding it, shaping it into a spectacular Anglo-Italian manor.

Somerleyton Hall can be found just a few miles from Lowestoft. You can find out more on the official website.

 

Photo: Chris Ibbotson (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