9 great places to learn more about Norfolk's history

Norwich Castle Museum

Norwich Castle Museum offers the chance to discover centuries of Norfolk history. - Credit: Visit Norfolk

From mammoth skeletons to seafaring heroes, rural past and stately homes, here are nine great places to learn more about Norfolk's history.

A new exhibition, Viking: Rediscover the legend, runs from February 9 to Sepetember 8 at Norwich Cas

Norwich Castle Museum features exhibits on Norfolk's viking and Roman past.  - Credit: Archant

Norwich Castle

Nowhere will you learn more about Norfolk and its long history than at the county’s most important museum set in Norwich Castle.

Although currently undergoing work to create a new medieval gallery and restore the castle keep, you can still explore many displays and collections including the natural history galleries and the Royal Norfolk Regimental collections.

Artifacts tell the story of Boudicca’s revolt against the Romans. The museum is also home to the world's biggest teapot collection!

Time & Tide Museum in Great Yarmouth where you can explore the original smokehouses.

Time & Tide Museum in Great Yarmouth where you can explore the original smokehouses. - Credit: Archant

Time & Tide Museum/Cromer Museum

From shipwrecks to seafaring trade, the coast has shaped Norfolk’s past and museums in Great Yarmouth and Cromer are all at sea with this fascinating history. 
Time & Tide tells the story of Yarmouth from its ice age origins to the present day. Experience the heady atmosphere of a 1950s fish wharf, take the wheel of a steam drifter and hear gripping tales of wrecks and rescues.
You can also explore the original smokehouses where the lingering aroma of smoked fish is a reminder of times gone by. 
Cromer Museum features maritime history and characters and the town’s history as a Victorian seaside resort. 

Tractor and trailer tour at Gressenhall Museum.

Tractor and trailer tour at Gressenhall Museum. - Credit: Archant

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Gressenhall Farm and Workhouse

Much of Norfolk’s past has been shaped by life on the land and you can discover all about bygone agricultural and rural life at Gressenhall.

The outdoor museum at Beetley, near Dereham, includes recreations of traditional farming cottages and you can take a stroll round the working farm using methods from the past, with its rare breed animals and heavy horses. 

You can also discover the history of the workhouse and hear the fascinating story of the people who lived there.

The 50 acres of grounds also include gardens, historic orchard and horticultural collections, plus an adventure playground.

The British Coaching Club Driving Trials on the Sandringham Estate. Picture: Ian Burt

Driving trials at Sandringham where you can explore Norfolk's royal past. - Credit: Archant

Sandringham Estate

Learn all about the historic royal links to Norfolk at Sandringham, the estate acquired in 1862, when it was purchased as a country home for Edward VII, then Prince of Wales.

The Queen’s country retreat includes the royal collections in the museum, while you can also visit the ground floor apartments and see family portraits by leading court painters, plus visit the formal gardens. 

The 600 acres of grounds and free to visit woods feature a sculpture trail, play area, kids quiz and walks galore and are a great day out for families.

West Runton, Nigel Larkin, the Curator of Geology for the Norfolk Museums and Archaeology Service, w

The skeleton of a mammoth was discovered at West Runton, which is now part of the Deep History Coast Trail. - Credit: Archant

Deep History Coast Trail

Winding the clock back 850,000 years, Norfolk’s coastline has produced some of the earliest evidence for human occupation so far discovered in northern Europe. 

The 22-mile stretch of coastline between Weybourne and Cart Gap has revealed spectacular finds including a fossilised mammoth skeleton discovered at West Runton.

The Deep History Coast themed discovery trail includes information signs with AR points dotted along the way. 

Download the app to ‘collect’ bones to assemble your own virtual mammoth, as well as tips on fossil hunting and information on how rhinos, hyaenas, wolves and bears once lived here. 

Children enjoy Break's GoGoDiscover T.Rex Trail with a dinosaur outside Norwich Cathedral.

Norwich Cathedral is currently hosting Dippy and the dinosaur T.Rex Trail. - Credit: Ella Wilkinson

Norwich Cathedral

Dating back to the 11th century, with the second tallest spire and largest monastic cloisters in England, Norwich Cathedral offers up plenty of fascinating history. 

Look out for medieval graffiti, the font made from two copper bowls donated by chocolate makers Rowntree Mackintosh, and the Despenser Retable, a wooden panel painting that is one of the most magnificent surviving examples anywhere in Europe.

There’s also a labyrinth to walk through in the cloisters, regular family trails and Dippy, the Natural History Museum's iconic Diplodocus has also arrived. You might also spot Budge the cathedral cat!

Castle Acre Priory, Castle Acre, Picture: June Essex/English Heritage

Castle Acre Priory is one of the largest and best preserved monastic sites in England. - Credit: June Essex/English Heritage

Castle Acre Priory

Explore the extensive ruins of one of the largest and best preserved monastic sites in England dating back to 1090. The priory near King’s Lynn was home of the first Cluniac order of monks to England.

You can find out more from the display of artefacts and audio tour and stroll through the recreated herb garden that grows herbs the monks would have used for medicinal, culinary and decorative purposes. 

There is an interactive exhibition where you can find out how churches were made in Norman times and see if you have what it takes to be a medieval builder, while a family trail sees Brother Odo guide you round.

The grounds are the perfect place for a picnic as you ponder the past.

Strangers' Hall in Norwich.

Strangers' Hall in Norwich. - Credit: Archant

Strangers Hall

Named after Flemish weavers who migrated to Norwich to escape religious persecution, Strangers Hall is one of Norwich's oldest and most fascinating buildings and dates back to 1320. 

The Flemish weavers brought with them canaries, after which the premier football club Norwich City are nicknamed.

Wander through a maze of passages to discover a series of interlinked rooms and walk around the lavender-filled garden.

It houses one of the largest domestic life collections in the country with exhibits and displays to appeal to visitors of all ages.

Exploring Holkham Hall estate by cycle.

Exploring Holkham Hall estate by cycle. - Credit: Visit Norfolk

Holkham Hall

Begun in 1734, the design of Holkham Hall was heavily influenced by Thomas Coke, the 1st Earl of Leicester, and his exposure to the classical Greek and Roman art and architecture he encountered during a tour of Europe. 

There are guided tours of the halls to learn all about its fascinating past. 

Set in a superb landscape of parkland and water features, you can see herds of red deer and fallow deer wander the grounds.

Hire a boat or cycles, take a tractor and tractor tour, and youngsters will love the rope course and woodland play area. Take a walk to the famous beach and nature reserve. 

Local lifesaving hero Captain Manby

This story has been written in association with Inspiring Norfolk, a new education project to celebrate living and learning in Norfolk.

One of its videos features the life of local hero Captain George William Manby, inventor of many things but most famously his equipment for rescuing people from shipwrecks. 

A portrait of Captain Manby, inventor of the Manby Mortar. Picture: Archant Library

A portrait of Captain Manby, inventor of the Manby Mortar. Picture: Archant Library - Credit: Archant

Captain Manby was inspired after seeing the HMS Snipe run aground less than 100 yards off shore at Gorleston, near Great Yarmouth, in 1807. 

Shocked by the loss of 67 lives so close to the shore he invented the Manby Mortar which saw passengers and crew brought to safety using the ‘breeches buoy’ - sort of huge pants they step inside.  

His other amazing inventions ranged from an unsinkable boat to the forerunner of the modern fire extinguisher. 

 - You can watch the video at inspiringnorfolk.co.uk/resources/captain-manby/ and on the website it suggests challenges at home and at school.

 - Head to the Inspiring Norfolk website to see all the resources available.