Love Local: Discover what is on your doorstep

Harleston Shop Love Local

Harleston Shop Love Local - Credit: Eastern Daily Press © 2013

Towns all over Norfolk offer plenty of opportunities for people to enjoy shopping local and discovering what is on offer on their front doorstep.

Thetford Love Local

Thetford Love Local - Credit: Eastern Daily Press © 2013

Once a small north Norfolk fishing village, Sheringham has come a long way. It's now a busy town with a distinctive and vibrant shopping area, award-winning beaches, steam train rides and the much-loved Sheringham Little Theatre.

Love Local, Sheringham.PHOTO: ANTONY KELLY

Love Local, Sheringham.PHOTO: ANTONY KELLY - Credit: Archant

It's not hard to love local when the town offers so much to the community.

Fakenham War Memorial. Picture: Matthew Usher.

Fakenham War Memorial. Picture: Matthew Usher. - Credit: Matthew Usher

A wide range of businesses, services and shops make shopping a pleasure, whether you're stocking up on everyday essentials, in search of local, seasonal produce, or looking for Christmas surprises and stocking fillers.

Take time to explore the town centre, and make time to stop off for a hot drink or a snack at one of the town's many eateries.

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Christmas in Sheringham sees the town light up in style. This year's switch-on event is on Friday, December 6, when the town's streets will be lit by lanterns and lights, and a white star on the clock tower. Keep an eye on the press for more details on what's sure to be a spectacular start to the festive season.

You don't have to travel far to experience a seasonal pantomime spectacular.

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Panto season gets under way at Sheringham Little Theatre on Friday, December 13, when Snow White takes to the boards; tickets are on sale now.

Head outdoors in Sheringham, and you're spoilt for choice. You could take a bracing stroll along the beach, or wrap up warm for a winter walk in Sheringham Park. Famous for a wonderful array of azaleas and rhododendrons in the summer, the park is quietly transformed at this time of year into a rich tapestry of autumn colour.

Find out more about this vibrant local town. History in the form of lifeboats, the fishing industry, tourism and the presence of the railway has helped mould the character of the town. It's a history of which the town is justly proud and it's well told in a number of museums.

Whether you drive to town, walk or cycle, or arrive in style on a weekend Santa Special run by the North Norfolk Railway, this north Norfolk town makes loving local easy.

Like many market towns, Fakenham has seen new development over the recent past. It has, however, a strong sense of its Norfolk identity, and is the perfect spot to discover the charms of a local town, a local market, and local shops.

The weekly Thursday market is a vital part of the town as stallholders from around the region set up their stalls and the town fills with the sound of marketplace trading, which has been enjoyed for generations. Many of the traders have been attending week-in, week-out for years, and the evergreen nature of the market is part of what makes it so special.

So too are the shops, both independent and high-street names. And so too are the many places to stop for a drink or a snack, meet friends, or go out for an evening meal.

There has been a weekly market in Fakenham since 1250, and the town's story through the centuries is there for all to see.

The islands of buildings in the Market Place and those close to the church were probably built on the site of Market Booths.

In 1857 a cattle market was built, and for some years there was a separate pig market.

Fakenham has been known down the years for its mills; at one stage there were three water mills and three windmills.

Another major industry was printing. At the turn of the century, the Miller's works employed 600 people. The preserved Fakenham Gasworks on Hempton Road is the only complete non-operational works remaining in England, and is now

open as a museum.

During the heyday of the railway, which arrived in Fakenham in 1848, the town boasted two stations. Both fell under the axe, one closing in 1959 and the other in 1969.

The story of Fakenham continues – discover your local market town today.

The town of Harleston is clustered around the market place, which has been at the heart of Harleston life for centuries.

Many independent outlets have made the town their base and, with few national chain stores, this south Norfolk gem is far from being a 'clone town'. With its independent shops, boutique-style businesses and specialists selling rural, locally produced goods, it's no surprise that Harleston is a magnet for people after something a little out of the ordinary.

One of the town's key landmarks is the attractive Italianate clock tower, overlooking the Market Place. The clock has been restored to its original colours of gold on blue. Historic Harleston was on the main route from London to Great Yarmouth and became a key trading place. It served as an important centre for various trades connected with local agriculture, such as linen, weaving, milling and brewing. It was also on the route for cattle sent down from Scotland to be reared and sold on to local and London markets.

Before he became one of Britain's most revered artists, Sir Alfred Munnings, born in nearby Mendham, is said to have paid his bar bills in the town with some of his early works.

Today, Harleston is a delightful place to visit. The town's museum tells the story of Harleston, from pre-historic times to the present day. A discovery trail takes you on a sight-seeing tour of some of Harleston's most interesting buildings – once you've completed the tour, there's a mouth-watering range of eateries to choose from, whether it's a winter-warming lunch or hot drink and a homemade cake.

All that's best about local is here – it's easy to love your local town.

If the idea of shopping in a 21st-century town centre with a history that goes all the way back to pre-Roman times, Thetford will fit the bill.

The shops and businesses both in the town centre and on its outskirts make it easy to love your local town. High street names and independent shops and services offer the range of city centre shopping, eating and drinking without the miles (and paying hefty parking charges).

While you're there, it's worth making time to discover more about Thetford's origins – a great way to spend a rainy half-term day. Two millennia after the Roman legions arrived, Thetford is just as well known for warriors of a very different character. The much-loved TV comedy Dad's Army was filmed in and around the town.

Thetford is home to more than its fair share of attractions. Museums include the Ancient House Museum, a Grade I listed merchant's house, and the Charles Burrell Museum, which opened in 1991 in the former Paint Shop on Minstergate.

Heritage trails in Thetford include the Thomas Paine trail, which traces the story of Thomas Paine, author of the Rights of Man, and reveals all about the Thetford Treasure. Then there's the Duleep Singh Trail, about the man who became the Maharajah of the Punjab at the tender age of five.

Thetford Forest is said to be Britain's largest lowland pine forest, and with more than 200 species of tree from all over the world, it understandably attracts more than a million visitors every year. Thetford Priory dates from the 12th century, and was one of the most important monasteries in the region.

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