27th February 2017

 

East Anglia

The counties of East Anglia are:
Norfolk, Suffolk, and parts of the counties of Cambridgeshire and Essex.

The historic county of Huntingdonshire is now part and an administrative district of Cambridgeshire.

Norfolk and Suffolk Broads - Windmill at sunset by the River Ant East Anglia is the easternmost traditional region of England, and one of the historical kingdoms into which England was divided.
The area, associated with the romantic painter John Constable's life and his landscapes, is predominantly flat.
Constable was born here and portrayed his native Suffolk scenery.
The landscape is constellated with windmills, ditches, canals, bogs.
Both the rural architecture and the scenery are evocative of Holland, although there are times when they remind me of Normandy which, on the other side of the English Channel, is to me somehow the East Anglia equivalent in France.

The Norfolk and Suffolk Broads is a unique area of water, grazing marshes, fen and woodland, and home to some of the rarest plants and creatures in the UK. It is Britain's largest protected wetland, having similar status to a national park.

The East Anglia area is low and undulating and almost entirely covered with glacial deposits. The valleys are shallow, and most are occupied by rivers that drain into the North Sea. The area's regional unity depends as much on history as on physiography. It has been settled for thousands of years. Colchester, the oldest recorded town in England, was important in pre-Roman and Roman times. East Anglia was one of the kingdoms of Anglo-Saxon England, consisting of the north people (Norfolk), the south people (Suffolk), and adjacent communities. During the medieval period Norwich was the major weaving town in England. The modern economy of East Anglia is maintly agricultural. Barley is the major crop, and market gardening is also well developed. Along the coast are many holiday resorts. Light industry has developed in most towns.

Norwich Cathedral East Anglia region retains an air of remoteness that belongs to its history. With the North Sea on its northern and eastern flanks, it was at one time almost cut off by fenland to the west (now drained) and forest (long ago cleared) to the south. In medieval times it was one of the richest wool regions and, in some parts, was depopulated to make way for sheep. It is now the centre of some of the most industrialized farming in England. Vast fields are devoted to cereals, potatoes, and sugar beets. Compared with other regions, East Anglia has a low population density; with rapid industrialization, however, this pattern is changing. The county of Suffolk has a wide industrial base, with printing and production of agricultural machinery, electronics, and automobile components. Norwich, in Norfolk, has diverse manufacturing and service industries. Bacton, on the coast of Norfolk, provides oil and gas terminals for the fields in the North Sea.

The traditional central town is the cathedral city of Norwich, the county town of Norfolk and its only city (see Norwhich Cathedral pictured right). It is home to the University of East Anglia and its Centre of East Anglian Studies. Norwich has a famous market for local produce, and a variety of small specialist shops.

Also in Norfolk is Great Yarmouth, a sort of a multiple personality town. It is both a historical port associated with Nelson who was born in Burnham Thorpe, Norfolk, not far from here, and a holiday seaside resort with loud karaokes and a seafront, called the Pleasure Beach, which tries to imitate Las Vegas Strip.

King's Lynn is a port on the estuary of the Great Ouse River as it flows into the Wash, a wide and shallow square-shaped North Sea bay separating North Norfolk from South Lincolnshire and formed by the confluence of the mouths of four rivers: Witham, Welland, Nene and Great Ouse. King's Lynn, which lies mainly on the east bank of the Great Ouse, is the third largest centre in Norfolk, after Norwich and Great Yarmouth. Originally named Bishop's Lynn, the town has a long history. In 1101 it appeared on records, although it's widely thought that its history goes well beyond that.

King's Lynn, Norfolk - Custom HouseBy the 14th century, King's Lynn was the third port of England. In 1538 the town became royal property under Henry VIII, and was then renamed Lynn Regis and King's Lynn as a consequence. King's Lynn, as in the end it was called, reached prosperity in the 17th century by the export of corn: testament to that age is the beautiful Custom House (pictured right), designed by local architect Henry Bell and built in 1683 in Palladian style by Sir John Turner as a merchant exchange. With a statue of King Charles II above the door, the Custom House still stands on the Quay of the Purfleet, a former navigable waterway, few yards from the Great Ouse river bank. In front of it is the statue of seafarer Captain George Vancouver, who was born in Lynn, twice sailed with Captain Cook and charted 4,000 miles of west American coastline from California to Alaska; the city of Vancouver in Canada is named after him.The Custom House now hosts the Tourist Information Centre. It's open all year and the admission is free. Enquiries: Purfleet Quay tel. 01553 763044.

Other notable landmarks in the town are St Margaret's Church, whose construction in 1101 marked the beginning of King's Lynn, St Nicholas's Chapel, built about 1200, with its characteristically pointed tall spire, Greyfriars Tower also known as "the leaning tower of Lynn", The South Gates, the most unforgettable of Lynn's landmarks, through which traffic enters the town from the south as its arch strides only one half of the road, Town Hall and Trinity Guildhall originally built in the 14th century, The Walks, King's Lynn main urban park within which is the Red Mount chapel, The Library.

Six miles north of King's Lynn is Sandringham House, the official residence of the British Royal family from December to February. The house is on the royal Sandringham Estate, which is inside the Norfolk Coast Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. In the spring, many different flowering plants bloom on the grounds of Sandringham House, including lavender, which can be seen on the nearby Norfolk Lavender Farm. The great variety of flowers can also be admired when driving along the road that borders the royal estate. Sandringham house, museum and park are all open to the public between April and October, except the end of July. Surrounding woodland walks are always open. The visitor centre and restaurant is open all year, except Good Friday and Christmas Day. Enquiries tel: 01553 612908, e-mail: visits@sandringhamestate.co.uk

Ipswich is the county town of Suffolk, and is at the head of the river Orwell's estuary.

Cambridge is the world-renowned, prestigious university city and the county town of Cambridgeshire. The great physicist Isaac Newton studied and taught at Cambridge University. Charles Darwin, arguably the greatest biologist ever, studied here at Christ's College. Many other leading scholars of international reputation have also taught at Cambridge, including the physicists James Clerk Maxwell and Stephen Hawking, the philosopher Bertrand Russell, the economist John Maynard Keynes.

Other major towns in Cambridgeshire are the cathedral cities of Ely and Peterborough.

Peterborough CathedralEly is the seat of one of the most beautiful cathedrals in England. The town of Ely lies on the west bank of the River Ouse and is situated on the Isle of Ely, a hill which is the highest point of the surrounding alluvial fens, flat, low-lying, watery lands. The Isle of Ely is so called because it was formerly an "island" surrounded by swamps and marshes, and before their draining in 1630–52 it was a place of refuge. The Isle of Ely was until 1965 an independent administrative county. Ely Cathedral is locally called "the ship of the Fens", due to its prominent shape towering above the fenlands landscape around it.

Peterborough, a separately administered area as a unitary authority, is a historic city founded as a fort by the Romans and developed into a town in the Middle Ages. It later had a role in the English Civil War. During the Industrial Revolution, the opening of the Great Northern Railway's main line from London to York in 1850 turned Peterborough from a market town into an industrial city. A rather large city with a population of over 150,000, it lies on the River Nene, and is located in an area of flat and low-lying lands, lying in some places even below sea-level. In Peterborough the historical, the old, the beautiful and the grandiose, its Cathedral and Guildhall, its art treasures and fine buildings, mix interestingly with the working class estates of the traditional manufacturing industry and with the modern urban redevelopments.

Peterborough Cathedral (pictured right) can be seen from a long distance due to its gigantic size towering over the city. Founded as a monastery in AD 655, it was re-built between 1118 and 1238 in its current form. Two queens were buried here: Katherine of Aragon, first wife of Henry the VIII, and Mary Queen of Scots, later moved to Westminster Abbey in London. Peterborough Cathedral, dedicated to Saints Peter, Paul and Andrew, is considered by some to be the most beautiful Norman Cathedral in England. It is an impressive building, and it has the rarity among English medieval cathedrals of a triple-arched west front, with the statues of the three saints, and a general asymmetry in its outline.

 

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