The County of Norfolk
Norfolk is England's fourth largest county, situated on the extreme east of the country, surrounded on three sides by the North Sea. Appropriately 67 miles from east to west, and 43 miles from north to south, the coast is ninety miles in extent. None of the county is above 338ft (103 metres), but far from being flat, as popularly thought, is gently undulating, with a wide variety of scenery. The famous Broads, small inland lakes, (the result of medieval peat diggings), connected together by a series of rivers, although the most well known feature, form only a part of the county.
Architecturally the county is made distinctive by its superb collection of medieval churches, most of which are built of locally found flint. In quantity and quality they are first rank. There are 659 of them. The county boasts many top ranking houses of all periods, and literally thousands of halls, manor houses, rectories, and farm houses of architectural interest, as well as fine barns, wind and water mills. The county is predominately agricultural - and 80% of the county is arable land. Norfolk is famous for its malting barley. Two thirds of the soil is classed as medium to good.
The climate is dry, some parts of the country dropping on occasions to as little as 18 in of rain annually. The winds, contrary to popular belief are predominately westerly. Easterly and northerly winds blow directly off the sea. In winter this has a beneficial effect as the sea temperature is higher than the land. The result is that a coastal strip round the entire coast normally does not experience any frost at all. Inland, frost is normally not as severe as it is in inland counties of England, especially those with land at much higher altitude.
Breckland to the south contains Britain's second largest man made forest, and is an area of light and sandy soils, with heath and forest and its own distinct feel. North Norfolk has a beautiful and varied coast. Much of it is designated as an area of outstanding natural beauty. The cliffs near Cromer rise to near 200ft; huge shingle banks are found at Cley and extensive salt marsh. Salt marsh, creeks, and high sand dunes extend further to the west. This is a superb area for birdwatching, sailing and holiday making. The vast sandy bay at Holkham is one of the greatest beaches in the country.
Inland are intimate hidden villages, with well wooded country, and a warren of country lanes. West Norfolk has open rolling country side, and which further west still gives way to Marshland, flat, highly fertile country, famous for the quality its churches. This gives way to the Fens, the greater part of which are not in the county. Norwich is the county town, a medieval city with at its centre its Norman Cathedral with 15th century spire, and its Norman Castle. Despite modern development and wartime bombing, the city is still one of England's finest.
Norfolk Gardens Trust