Norfolk is steeped in history and is home to some of England’s best historic tourist attractions.
From stately homes in England, including Sandringham, the Norfolk retreat of Her Majesty The Queen to the Norfolk Broads, which has been moulded by human activity since Medieval times, you can practically throw a stone and hit a site of great historical interest.
Here are our Top 5 Historic Tourist Attractions in Norfolk
North Norfolk Railway
The North Norfolk Railway is situated in the heart of Sheringham and is one of two standard-gauge preserved railways in North Norfolk.
The railway operates a standard timetable during the tourist season between Sheringham and Holt and has a packed timetable of special events and galas through the year.
The whistles of departing trains can be heard through the town and can be seen steaming through the countryside from high vantage points. Sheringham station is decorated with period features, from antique suitcases to vintage fire buckets. On a quiet Sunday afternoon you get the sense that you’ve stepped back in time.
The locomotives themselves are wonderfully preserved and the railway society is actively involved in maintaining and restoring engines and rolling stock for future generations to enjoy.
For more information, please check out our page on the North Norfolk Railway.
- The Mid Norfolk Railway, Dereham.
The Thursford Collection
Steam power is not limited to the railways. Thursford is home to the county’s finest collection of vintage steam traction engines, mechanical organs and fairground rides.
You can hear the collection’s resident organist, Robert Wolfe, play the centrepiece of the collection, the Mighty Wurlitzer, who will transport you back to an age where silent movies would be interpreted by the organist who would create a soundtrack to accompany the pictures.
There is a fine collection of steam vehicles and traction engines to explore. These magnificent machines, once a familiar site working the land, are now preserved in all their splendour.
The collection is open from April until September.
- The Muckleborough Collection
Norwich Castle Museum
Norwich Castle was built by the Normans around 900 years ago. It was originally designed as a royal palace rather than a fortification, though no Norman king ever lived in it.
The castle was used as a county from the 14th century up until the late 1800s at which point it was converted into a museum.
Norwich Castle Museum is the county’s principle museum and contains fine collections of works by many leading artists of North Norfolk along with galleries of Viking, Anglo Saxon and Roman treasures.
You can climb the battlements for an unparalleled view of Norwich or take a dungeon tour to explore parts of the museum not open to the public.
The museum also hosts many touring exhibitions throughout the year.
- Norwich Cathedral
Museum of the Broads
The Museum of the Broads is tiny compared to Norwich Castle Museum but what it lacks in size it more than makes up with the quality of its exhibits. The museum, built alongside the Broads in Stalham is unusual in offering not only parking for cars but mooring for guests arriving by boat.
There are two star exhibits. The Maria was the fasting racing yacht of the 1800s which has a fascinating history. The second exhibit, the Falcon, is a working steam launch which is usually available for trips on the river.
The museum consists of four buildings, each with a different theme celebrating the Norfolk population’s close relationship with the Broads.
- Time and Tide Museum, Yarmouth
The Sandringham Estate is of course famouse for being the Norfolk retreat of Her Majesty The Queen and been a favourite with the Royal Family since 1862 when Queen Victoria purchased the house for her son, Edward the Prince of Wales (the future King Edward VII) as a home for himself and his new bride, Princess Alexandra.
The house, a grade II listed building, is not part of the Crown Estate and has been the private property of the Royals now for four generations.
The Sandringham Estate has a delightful chapel, St. Mary Magdalene Church, nearby. There are memorials to many members of the royal family in the church and graveyard. Members of the royal family attend services when in residence at Sandringham, which normally includes Christmas.
There is a house museum which contains a fascinating collection of exhibits including a 1939 Merryweather fire engine and many grand gifts given to The Queen during her state visits abroad.
For more information, please check out our blog post on Halls and Gardens.
- Blickling Estate NT
We love Norfolk’s strong links with the past and many of our blog posts draw on the history of the county. Please check out these posts we’ve written on Historic Norfolk.