Sunday, 19 September 2021

A Coastal Village

While part of Happisburgh is in imminent danger of falling into the sea (as we saw in my previous post) there's also a larger part that lies further inland and is therefore relatively safe - for now at least. It's a smallish place but well worth having a stroll around.

Here's the village sign. On the right is a gentleman known as Edric The Dane, who owned the village at the time of the Norman Conquest. On the left is Maud, daughter of Roger Bigod, who gave the village to William d'Albini as part of Maud's dowry in 1099 AD. The group in the centre represents the 170 villagers who were baptised by Rev Thomas Lloyd in 1793. The good Reverend believed that the reason that so many were not baptised in the village was that parents could not afford a celebration, so he paid for a party for everyone.

As we start our wander we get another view of the lighthouse. I'd heard of it long ago; it's mentioned in an old sea shanty...

As we were a-fishing off Happisburgh light
Shooting and hauling and trawling all night
In this windy old weather, stormy old weather
When the wind blows we'll all pull together.

(If you want to hear the rest of the song then click here).

The red brick building above operated for a while as a pub and restaurant, but before that was a farmhouse. It's now back in residential occupation.

I've really no idea what the tiny building above might have been!

This though is the village Primary and Early Years School, for children between the ages of 3 and 11. I include it because I've never shown a picture of a village school before and it's fairly typical.

Opposite stands the Church hall and looking down the road you can see the fine Medieval church...

I don't intend to make a thorough tour of the church though I can't resist popping inside briefly.

There's an impressive fifteenth-century font, carved with angels, mythical animals and lions. 

And this is the Chancel, behind its Rood Screen. I would normally show you more of the interior, but we'll be paying a visit to another remarkable church within the next couple of posts. So lets go outside to the churchyard.

All along the Norfolk coast you'll find large graveyards and stones with a nautical look, like the one above. Sailing and fishing these waters was dangerous work and shipwrecks were frequent. The inscription on the one above commemorates the all-too-short lives of seamen lost from the barque Young England in 1875. The bodies of two Swedish seamen, two Englishmen, one Norwegian and a Dutchman were washed ashore and buried here. Other stones recall the deaths at sea of sailors whose bodies were never found. 

The stone above is a recent addition to a mound in one corner of the churchyard which was formerly an unmarked mass grave.

Like many other churches in this part of Norfolk it has a very impressive tall tower which must also have been a useful mark for mariners to ascertain their position before the lighthouse was constructed. 

And there's a handy pub nearby which must have been as popular with fishermen of past centuries as it is with tourists and villagers today.

We'll complete our circuit by taking a field path behind this grand holiday home built in the Arts and Crafts style in 1900 by the architect Detmar Blow. Almost all the materials were sourced locally.

And here's what we were looking for all along "Fresh Cromer Crabs"!

Take care.


  1. The sea is a harsh mistress.
    Thanks for continuing the tour of this fascinating village.

  2. Seems les eyeying up crab shop egerally obiously thkg ideal for our tea? A nice look round espically church .thank you both .rjohn....

  3. It's a fine village with an interesting history. Let's hope the forces of erosion are kept at bay for many centuries to come.

  4. Loved the little thatched cottage (villlage hermit?) and the font - but then of course along came the crab shop - oh how I love Cromer crab.

  5. Having lived in Maryland for lots and lots of years where Chesapeake Crabs are king I can understand why looking for a crab stand must have been important. I hope you'll share a photo of your Cromer crab. Was it a sandwich, salad, or did you have to pick the crab out of the shell which is the way to eat Chesapeake crabs. Oh, and loved the tour!

  6. What an interesting little, and crab shack.

  7. Such a nice little place! Cromer crabs - wonderful!

  8. Thanks for the tour of this lovely, interesting village. I love the story about the village sign.

  9. I love that tiny building. It's just the right size for a little old lady. tee hee tee hee. Thank you for this beautiful walk. You have a super day, hugs, Edna B.

  10. What a charming village. I love that small house with the blue door and the crab shack, you can't beat that.

  11. That looks like such a lovely village for a nice long walk. It occurred to me while I was looking at the photos that so many of the beautiful buildings there are made of brick and/or stone. It made me think how long-lasting it is for a structure to be built this way. And now I want a house of beautiful old stones.

  12. Wonderful photos in both your Happisburgh posts and how blue the sky is in this second one. The font is beautiful and the little house too:)

  13. I know that song somehow. Had to have been sung in Newfoundland.

    Love the tour of the community. The school looks to be in great shape.

    1. The song certainly travelled all over during the folk revival and maybe earlier.

  14. Lovely village! The tiny building with the blue door could someone’s nice little home.

  15. Another lovely tour John and then a crab shop. Wonderful.

  16. Hi John - love the sign ... and yes Happisburgh is very famous today. Gosh I'd love a crab lunch - I'd be there regularly! Delightful village to see ... cheers for now - Hilary

  17. Beautiful photos of a lovely village. I like that kind of architecture and when, before the pandemic, I came to UK I spent many time visiting little towns.
    The carvings are very interesting and, as we know, every part of it has its own meaning.
    And the lighthouse .... a great memory of the 20 years I spent in the Navy.

  18. You have so much in this post it is impossible to mention it all. I love that little building in the 4th shot, love the windows of the school...and the one built in the 1900's is amazing.


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