We recently published a postall about Heritage Open Days (HODs) and the fantastic events you can get involved in. A variety of these take place in South Norfolk and we’d highly recommend incorporating them into your trip – and as an added bonus the area has some wonderful accommodation options to ensure you have a fantastic stay, so you can explore South Norfolk and Norwich too. We’ve highlighted our favourites below:
Wymondham Vintage Day, on Sunday 11 September, is set to be one of the stars of the HOD events in South Norfolk. There’s something for everyone during this exciting event which promises huge amounts of retro fun. The town centre will be transported back in time – appreciate the classic vehicles, take a ride on a vintage bus, enjoy tea and cake on ‘proper’ china (none of that cheap imitation rubbish here!) and treat yourself as you browse vintage-themed clothing and antique stalls, with items ranging from the 1920’s – 1980’s. You can even get your hair preened and coiffured into a classic vintage hairstyle.
For kids there’s plenty to keep them entertained – face painting, dressing up and vintage-style games are all on offer throughout the day. Come along in your best vintage outfits – this is a day to dress to impress!
Image: Raveningham gardens and hall
TOURS, TOURS, TOURS
Diss Corn Hall, a Grade II listed building in – you guessed it, Diss – is now an arts and heritage centre and is throwing open its doors this Heritage Open Days, providing free tours for visitors to learn about the building and area’s history and heritage. Tours take place on Saturday 10 September at 10am, 12noon and 2pm; pre-book on 01379 6525241.
Take a tour of the public rooms in the impressive Raveningham Hallled by the owner Sir Nicholas Bacon – you’ll also get to see some of the art collection, too! Tours take place at 11am, 2pm & 4pm on Friday 9 & Saturday 10 September. Pre-book on 01508 548480. Check out the gardens whilst you're there, too!
Explore the site of Caistor Roman Town in a guided tour on Sunday 11 September at 11am, 2pm and 3pm. You’ll be able to try out their new interpretation scheme to see a reconstruction of the town using augmented reality – we recommend you download the Caistor Roman Town app (available from the Apple store or Google Play) before you visit to make the most of it!
We’re sure you’ll jump at the chance to tour the spectacular Wymondham Abbey, a 900 year old parish church in a former Abbey. As well as tours (which run on the hour each day) you can also see the flying angel roof, Georgian organs, medieval graffiti and the Abbey archive, which will be open on the Friday and Saturday.
Image: Wymondham Abbey
There are plenty of brilliant collections available for visits during Heritage Open Days, which tell the stories of South Norfolk’s interesting history. Make sure you drop in to Diss Museum to see exhibitions on the Royal visit of 1866, 100 Years of the Cub Scouts, the World War One events of 1916 and much more, or head over to the Harleston Museum for photographs from 1920s to the present day, Royal memorabilia, stories from past and present residents and plenty more.
Wymomdham Heritage Museum is well worth a visit; spend time in a mid-19th century former model prison to find out, first-hand, how prisoners were treated plus learn all about the town’s social, industrial and economic history.
Norfolk Tank Museum have a fantastic range of Cold War armoured vehicles (many in working order!) and The Pennoyer Centre has exhibitions from their archives including photographs and airship memorabilia – please note that it’s not suitable for under 10’s.
All these museums, and many more all over the county, are open to visit for free during HODs (please check opening times before visiting).
WHERE TO STAY…
You’ll want to ensure you’ve got somewhere great to stay at – and you’re in luck, because there’s a brilliant range of accommodation options to ensure you have a great time, whatever your taste or budget. Here’s our favourite picks:
Image: one of the bedrooms at The Swan at Loddon
This delightful 18th century inn has not only a fantastic restaurant and bar area serving Modern British and grilled dishes but also has a range of luxury 4-star rooms, with either King or Super King size beds and en-suite bathrooms. The Swan is located in the pretty South Norfolk market town of Loddon, only a 15 minute drive from Norwich, so after you’ve made the most of the Heritage Open Day events you should definitely check out everything Norwich has to offer, too!
Located in East Harling, Tapestry Cottage is a cosy 2-bed studio space with open beams and a range of great facilities to make your stay as convenient as possible. Located very close to the market towns of Attleborough, Wymondham, Thetford and Diss, and available to rent by the week, it’s perfect for post-event relaxation - plan a week away with a mix of relaxation, sight-seeing and shopping in the lovely local restaurants and shops nearby.
Foodies, listen up: combine all these great HOD events with a stay at this picturesque ‘restaurant with rooms’. Now in its 21st year, it’s the only hotel in Norwich which has been awarded both 4-star gold for its rooms and 2 rosettes for its restaurant. They serves top-quality food from their elegant candlelit dining room – perfect for a romantic break – and are ideally situated close to Whitlingham Country Park (on the outskirts of Norwich), which we’d highly recommend visiting too.
Image: The Old Rectory
This impressive 4-star hotel boasts 49 en-suite rooms, 2 golf courses, a luxury spa and various other indulgent facilities. Enjoy a delicious meal in their Brasserie restaurant and relax in the knowledge that you’re only a short journey away from various South Norfolk market towns – the hotel is only 15 minutes from Wymondham, where plenty of exciting HODs events are taking place (see our highlights above!)
If you fancy somewhere close to the city, don’t forget to check out this beautiful Elizabethan-style country house with award-winning 4 star rooms and suites. Situated to the South of Norwich, this hotel is in a perfect location for exploring the Heritage Open Day events in both the county’s various market towns and in Norwich itself. They have some great eateries to choose from, too - try the Brasserie Bar & Grill, the Terrace Bar or the award-winning La Fontaine Restaurant.
COMING TO VISIT?
Abellio Greater Anglia have Advance fares from £9 one way between London Liverpool Street and Norwich. Trains run every 30 minutes. Abellio also serves Colchester, Ipswich and Diss on the Norwich line. Direct trains also run from Cambridge.
East Midlands Trains runs services from Liverpool, Manchester and Nottingham.
Flights into Norwich served from Edinburgh, Manchester, Exeter, Aberdeen, Jersey*, Guernsey* and Amsterdam.