Nine places in Norfolk where history was made
PUBLISHED: 20:24 09 March 2016 | UPDATED: 07:41 10 March 2016
Rich in history, Norfolk is home to many places and people that have helped to shape Britain and places further afield. Here are nine of our favourites.
• Burnham Thorpe
The small village on the River Burn is the birthplace of England’s most famous Admiral, Horatio Nelson, known for his many naval victories against the French during the Napoleonic wars. Nelson was born in The Parsonage in 1758, the original building was demolished, but a plaque is displayed on the replacement property.
• King’s Lynn
In 1595 at the age of just 15, John Smith, notable for his involvement with Native American ‘princess’ Pocahontas, stayed in King’s Lynn where he was an apprentice with merchant Thomas Sendell, presumably at the Tudor Rose. Author Peter Firstbrook believes that this apprenticeship is responsible for shaping Smith’s future as a Captain. “I can’t overstate the importance of the town in John Smith’s story. It was really a springboard for the rest of his life…that’s the point at which he decided the path of his life.” As a captain he was a driving force behind the early days of English colonisation in North America. Furthermore, King’s Lynn was the birth place of Captain George Vancouver, best known for his 1791-1795 Vancouver expedition which helped remove Spain as a power in the North Pacific and further established British domination of Australia-New Zealand,
• Boudica’s Way
The 36-mile pathway between Diss and Norwich roughly follows the route Queen Boudica and her army of Iceni tribe members originally took as they marched south to battle the Romans. The subsequent loss of this battle and the rule of the Romans helped shape Britain as we know it today.
• Victoria House, Norwich
This Norwich building on the inner ring road is located on the site of Quantrell’s Gardens, where on February 16 1784, a manned gas air balloon flight was made. This was not only the first air balloon flight to be seen in Norwich but also the first aviation activity to take place across Norfolk.
• North Walsham
The Battle of North Walsham took place on the 25 or 26 June 1381 on the edge of North Walsham. A group of local rebellious peasants were confronted by the armed forces of Henry le Despenser, Bishop of Norwich. This is significant today for being the last occurrence of any major resistance during the English Peasants’ Revolt of 1381. Despenser was ultimately successful in suppressing the rebellion that broke out through East Anglia, but the demands of the revolt ultimately became an integral part of our democracy.
• RAF Fersfield
A secret mission at the RAF base located near Diss in 1944 is responsible for the death of Joseph Patrick Kennedy Jr. The oldest Kennedy brother was initially being groomed to become President of the United States after his father’s political exile, but after he was killed, the high political expectations fell upon his brother, John Fitzgerald Kennedy.
• Blickling Hall
Anne Boleyn, the second wife of Henry VIII and mother of Elizabeth I was born at Blickling Hall sometime between 1501 and 1507. Anne is often regarded as being a catalyst for the English Reformation which saw the country split from Rome and Catholicism. Henry divorced his first wife Catherine of Aragon, for Anne, taking the power of the church with him.
Revolutionary Thomas Paine was born in Thetford in 1737 before moving to America and ultimately having a hand in the implementation of the Declaration of Independence which saw America’s thirteen colonies break away from the rule of the British Empire. Paine’s ‘Common Sense’ is thought to have inspired this decision through his convincing arguments for independence, which included powerful statements such as “in America the law is king”. His book, the Rights of Man, defended the French Revolution.
King George VI died on February 6 1952 whilst staying at Sandringham House, causing his daughter Elizabeth II to ascend to the throne and ultimately become Britain’s longest reigning monarch.
• Let us know your favourite places of historical significance in Norfolk in the comments below