Norfolk is renowned for its natural splendour, but did you know how far its historical heritage really goes? As with all places in the UK, Norfolk has a patchwork history going back beyond the paleolithic age. It’s described as the cradle of Britain’s civilisation and was travelled by the country’s very first tourists almost one million years ago. In this blog post, Hall Farm Cottages will run down 10 historical facts you probably never knew about Norfolk:
- Norfolk’s coast was the first area of Britain settled by prehistoric mankind, roughly 1.2 million years ago. An axe found near the early British settlement of Happisburgh forced archaeologists to reassess their understanding of human activity and adjust their historical timeline significantly. The axe was almost 200,000 years older than any other previously discovered artefact!
- In fact, the earliest evidence of mankind found outside of Africa was discovered in Norfolk: 850,000 year old footprints at Happisburgh!
- Norfolk has at least 635 surviving medieval churches, of almost 1,000 that were originally built.
- Admiral Lord Nelson worshiped at the largest of these churches, St Nicholas in Great Yarmouth.
- In fact, Horatio Nelson was born in Burnham Thorpe in 1758. He commanded the British fleet to victory during the Battle of Trafalgar 47 years later.
- Lord Nelson died in the battle of Trafalgar aboard the HMS Victory. Almost 85 years’ later, the admiralty donated timber from the ship to assist in the restoration of the church where Nelson was baptised.
- All Saint’s Church in Burnham Thorpe still has an altar, lectern, and rector made from HMS Victory timber.
- Perhaps lesser-known, but no less important, Thomas Paine was also born in Norfolk. He emigrated to the Americas in 1774 where he became close friends with Benjamin Franklin and found his vocation as a revolutionary.
- Paine is not only credited with many of the words that helped rally Americans to achieve independence, he also went on to support the French revolutionary cause – and narrowly avoided the guillotine as a result.
- Perhaps more important than all of the above, Norfolk is considered to be the birthplace of the humble fish finger! What could be more revolutionary than that?
Historical Holidays with Hall Farm Cottages
At Hall Farm Cottages, we’re proud of our heritage and our history. If you’d like to learn more about the unique history of the Norfolk coastline on your holiday, simply contact a member of the team and we can help you organise day trips or share our personal knowledge about the area.