Dereham, a stone's throw off the A47 trunk
road is a
gateway to all Norfolk has to offer -- open countryside, beckoning
pubs, friendly accommodation. There are stately homes, theatres,
wildlife parks, the Broads and along the coast are wide beaches
and charming harbours as well as the organised entertainment
of the larger resorts.
There is something for everyone, all within an hour's journey
along quiet roads through fields and woodland.
At the same time Dereham has its own attractions with its modern
and expanding shopping centre and with a magnificent pool and
These modern developments sit comfortably alongside a heritage
dating back to the Seventh Century when Withburga, daughter of
a Saxon king, established a religious community in the deer park
which gave the town its name. Apart from the Withburga well all
trace of her has long vanished. Vikings sacked her buildings
and fires in the Middle Ages destroyed what little remained.
Instead Georgian buildings now greet visitors to the Market Place
and behind their facades lie shops which retain much of the charm
of years gone by.
Free parking allows time to seek out restaurants and tearooms
and visit hostelries where the poet William Cowper or the author
George Borrow may have downed a glass or two. There's tennis,
golf, and bowls and nature lovers can stroll the Neatherd Moor
and the Vicarage Meadow or relax in the walled Queen Mother's
Garden. Nearby is the picturesque Bishop Bonner's Cottage, the
town museum, and beside it is the Tourist Information Centre.
There is a welcome, too, in the 13th Century St Nicholas Church
where volunteers may tell the story of the French prisoner who
was shot when he escaped from custody in the Bell Tower during
the Napoleonic War. At the town's restored railway station other
volunteers operate excursions to nearby Wymondham with its timeless
Another 'must' for visitors is the Rural Life Museum at Gressenhall
where visitors can step back into the shops and cottages our
forebears knew. Only a little further away are the ruins of the
Saxon Cathedral at North Elmham; the wildlife and dinosaur parks;
Pensthorpe birdlovers' paradise; fishing lakes and Thetford Forest
Park where families are assured of fun and adventure.
It's all a chance to escape the madding crowd so, as some here
might put it . . . . . .
. . . .come yew in out onit