Norfolk village named among best in England by TV presenter

Castle Acre Priory. Picture: Ian Burt

Castle Acre Priory - Credit: IAN BURT

An archaeologist and TV presenter has named a west Norfolk village as among England's best villages.  

Writing in Country Life magazine, archaeologist, author and television presenter Ben Robinson named Castle Acre as among the 10 best villages in England. 

Mr Robinson's choices illustrated some key village-heritage themes and share characteristics with many other places.   

“It’s probably no coincidence that they are also great to visit for various non-historical reasons — not least good walks, a cup of tea and a slice of cake or a decent pint,” wrote Mr Robinson. 

Castle Acre Byline: Sonya Duncan Copyright: Archant 2018

Castle Acre in 2018 - Credit: Sonya Duncan

High Street in Castle Acre, west Norfolk

High Street in Castle Acre, west Norfolk - Credit: Google

Castle Acre is a quiet countryside village that takes its name from a nearby 12th-century walled castle that is now a ruin. 

The village was redesigned soon after the Battle of Hastings by the de Warenne family, which had estates in 13 counties.  

The family built a fortified house near the village and developed defences, a market place and a new parish church in the existing village. 

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The castle, which is open all year, is a well-preserved example of a motte-and-bailey castle and remains one of the most impressive Norman earthworks in the UK. 

Ben Robinson, presenter of the BBC Two show Villages by the Sea

Ben Robinson, presenter of the BBC Two show Villages by the Sea - Credit: BBC / Purple Productions / Sarah

The village is also home to one of the largest and best-preserved monastic sites in England. Now run by English Heritage, The Cluniac Priory dates back to 1090 and was the home of the first Cluniac order of monks in England.

Sights at the priory include the west end church gable, prior’s lodging and the substantial remains of many of the buildings around the cloister.  

The recreated herb garden grows herbs that the monks would have used for medicinal, culinary and decorative purposes. 

Bailey Gate in Castle Acre, west Norfolk

Bailey Gate in Castle Acre, west Norfolk - Credit: Google

Castle Acre photo essayByline: Sonya DuncanCopyright: Archant 2018

The ruins at Castle Acre - Credit: Sonya Duncan

There is also the Bailey Gate, which was once part of the extensive castle walls. Now the main road into the village runs through the gates two towers. 

There are a handful of restaurants and cafes in the old buildings of the village as well as multiple bed and breakfasts and holiday lets. 

A range of scenic walks are also in place around the village, both as part of larger county-wide walks and as shorter village-centric walks. 

Also included in Mr Robinson’s list were West Stow and Lavenham in Suffolk, Gainsthorpe in Lincolnshire, Robin Hood’s Bay in North Yorkshire, Clovelly in Devon, Milton Abbas in Dorset, Cromford in Derbyshire, Sutton-in-the-Isle in Cambridgeshire and Collyweston in Northamptonshire.