A brief journey to explore some ruins in southern Norfolk.

Sunday 15 May 2016 – Suffolk, Norfolk.

I had spent quite a lot of time procrastinating on whether to do this trip. Though there is nothing unusual in that I guess, procrastination is my middle name. I was worried about the weather, early in the week the forecast was for rain this weekend, and I was also trying to find somewhere decent to stay that was not too far away from the places I wanted to visit. This seemed to be a bit of a battle.

In the end I settled on staying in Lowestoft, mainly because it had the most choice on the website I use to find accommodation. I didn’t want to spend vast amounts of money, but I did want to stay in a B&B or guesthouse rather than a hostel or campground. I chose No. 18 guesthouse as it had great reviews and was reasonably priced.

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I rarely name the places I stay or eat in, the purpose of my blog is not free advertising for OK places, nor is it a vehicle to slag off places I don’t like. I will make an exception and say that No 18 lived up to its good reviews. Very comfy room, excellent wifi, great view over the North Sea, friendly and welcoming host and a decent breakfast, I find it so rare to find all the things I want at a good price. So, if you are looking for somewhere to stay in Lowestoft, try it. The view from my window was not bad either!

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I arrived in Lowestoft late yesterday afternoon, and headed out soon after for a walk around. It is an OK place, it has a nice enough beach, long and sandy, but the weather wasn’t exactly brilliant for beach walks,  I had my jacket zipped up to my chin. It was that sort of evening. It looked to be a typical east coast English town; beach huts, a pier, pavilion and fish and chips.

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I took a walk into the central part of town area,for somewhere to have dinner, but didn’t find anything much at all apart from pubs, so to a pub I went. Fish and chips and a glass of wine. As it was still quite early when I finished I bought a small bottle of wine and a chocolate bar and went back to my room to look at the Orford Ness photos. I was very happy with them.

After a good breakfast and settling up with the guest house I was back on the road heading up to the small village of Bungay. Bungay was sort of on the way to where I was going, had a priory and a castle so was worth a visit. It was a pity it was market day and it was rammed with people. It seemed like a nice place though. The Church of St Mary’s is officially redundant, but it is used for a variety of community related activities and it is still a lovely building. Though the priory was disappointingly tiny !

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The church and priory were established in the 12th century. The church was heavily modified in the 14th century and then the priory was destroyed in the 16th century during the dissolution of the monasteries.

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The castle was a bit of a disappointment as it is privately run and the entry was through the busiest cafe I have ever seen outside of rush hour London, I didn’t bother going in.

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From Bungay I headed towards my first major stop for the day, Thetford Priory. On the way I passed by Billingford Mill and had to stop to have a look. It was established in 1860 and was working until the 1950s and was the last working windmill in Norfolk – I seemed to have drifted in to southern Norfolk !

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The Priory of Our Lady of Thetford was one of the largest and most important monasteries in medieval East Anglia. Founded in the early 12th century, for 400 years it was the burial place of the Earls and Dukes of Norfolk. It was because of this that Thetford was one of the last monasteries to be suppressed when it surrendered to Henry VIII’s dissolution in 1540.

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It is massive, I was really surprised at how big the site was, and being free there were a few families there enjoying the space and the walls for the kids to clamber over. Nice!

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This little line up of pillars really reminded me of the Angkor ruins, like a row of small ruined stupas, a happy memory.

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There were some nice details in the walls which was great to see, so many of these old sites have no detail left – which is fair enough given the amount of vandalism and theft that happens.

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I do love a mystery well!

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I left the priory and was looking to head out to an old warreners house on the edge of Thetford Forest. I got stuck in road works hell in Thetford, drove round in circles, got stuck further in what seemed to be the world’s largest no exit housing estate. Needless to say I got a bit grumpy and may have said some bad words before I managed to escape.

Eventually I managed to get out of town and found the old warreners lodge. Built in the 1400s by the priory it would have been built as a fortified home for the game keepers who protected the forest lands from poachers. It later became the lodge of the head rabbit warrener when this area was used to farm rabbits up until the early 20th century.

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After the lodge I set the sat nav to home and took a slow drive back to London. It was not a bad day, no where near as good as yesterday, but nice to be out and about with my camera.