Discover hidden gems in heritage open days

GREAT Yarmouth has an impressive maritime history alongside England’s most complete medieval town wall, surrounded with shops and houses.

The heritage is entwined and part of the town’s daily life – often unnoticed and taken for granted.

But from Thursday until next Sunday there will be the chance for people to discover the hidden gems with open days and guided tours during national Heritage Open Days.

This is a perfect opportunity to get out and about to explore the parts of the borough you may walk past every day without realising their historical significance. This year the borough has teamed up with neighbouring seaside districts to offer even more opportunities to find out about our local history and has published a special heritage Open Days on the Coast guide featuring properties and tours in Waveney, Suffolk Coastal and North Norfolk as well as in Yarmouth.

All tours and buildings are open for free during the event, although you may need to pre-book a place on some tours as spaces are limited.

Details from the Tourist Information Centre on 01493 846346, or pick up a copy of the Heritage Open Days on the Coast guide from the Tourist Information Centre on Marine Parade, Town Hall or Yarmouth or Caister libraries.

Guided Walk – Glorious Gorleston

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From Morrison’s car park, NR31 6SA. Explore Gorleston’s riverside, harbour’s mouth and maritime heritage. Thursday 2pm. Pre-book on 01493 846346, numbers limited to 24. Parking available.

Guided Walk – Sea, Sand and Spending a Penny

From Yarmouth Tourist Information Centre, NR30 2EN. Explore Great Yarmouth’s Victorian/Edwardian seafront buildings. Friday 2pm. Pre-book on 01493 846346, numbers limited to 24. Parking available nearby.

Gorleston Pavilion Theatre

Pier Gardens, NR31 6PP. Guided tours of this Edwardian theatre built in 1901 and containing many original features. Tours Thu-Sun 10.30am and 1pm. Pre-book on 01493 846346, numbers limited to 25 per tour. Parking available nearby.

HS Smoke House

Sutton Road, Yarmouth NR30 3NA. Five traditional old smoke houses, over 150 years old which are still using traditional methods for smoking herring. Guided tours of smoke house and processes. Fri 10am and 2pm. Sat 10am. Pre-book on 01493 846346, numbers limited to 15 per tour. Parking available nearby.

Morse’s Wind Engine Park

Marsh Road, Repps-with-Bastwick, NR29 5JU. The only historical collection of wind engines in Britain, demonstrating history of Norfolk drainage, with working scoop wheel. Also, wind pumps from America and Australia. Fri-Sat 10am-4pm. Tours on the hour. Pre-book on 01493 846346, numbers limited to 20 per tour. Very limited parking.

St Andrew’s Church

Church Road, Gorleston, NR31 6LS. Dating back to the medieval period, stained glass windows from the Victorian era and church organ dated 1904. The Bacon Brass dating back to 1292 can be seen in the Lady Chapel. Fri 10am-4pm, Church tour 10.30am, Bell tower tours, 11.30am and 2pm. Pre-book for tours on 01493 656078. Parking available nearby.

Regent Theatre – Mecca Bingo

Regent Road, Yarmouth NR30 2AH. Designed by Francis Burdett Ward, the Regent Theatre opened in 1914. From the outset made for theatre and cinema use. The auditorium is decorated in Louis XVI style. Guided tours Fri-Sat 10am and Sun at 11pm. Pre-book on 01493 846346, numbers limited to 20 per tour. Parking not available

The Beating Chamber

Pier Plain, NR32 6JG. A very rare surviving example of a beatster shed or net warehouse. Open for the first time to the public and containing a private collection of memorabilia from the herring industry. Guided tours Thu 11am, 1pm and 2.30pm. Pre-book on 01493 846346, numbers limited to 6 per tour. Parking available nearby

Friends Meeting House

Howard Street South, Yarmouth NR30 1LN. This simple, early 19th century building has been a place of Quaker worship since 1694. Beneath it can be seen the remains of a 14th century cell occupied by Augustinian Friars until the 16th century. Sat 10am-4pm. Tours on request. Parking available nearby

St Mary’s Church

West Somerton, NR29 4AW. A 13th-century thatched roof church famous for its 14th-century medieval wall paintings and for the tombstone of Robert Hales, the famous ‘Norfolk Giant’ and 11 century nave. Special exhibition on Robert Hales and photographic display. Thu-Sun 8am-6pm. Limited parking.

The Tolhouse

Tolhouse Street, Yarmouth NR30 2SH. Yarmouth’s oldest civic building, meet Victorian gaoler Solomon Allies as he guides you through the history of the building and tells stories of some gruesome events in the town’s past. Thu-Sun 10am-5pm. Talks and Tours 12pm, 2pm and 3.30pm. Limited parking nearby.

Elizabethan House

South Quay, Yarmouth NR30 2QH. Find out about life upstairs and down in Tudor Yarmouth, explore amazing original rooms, find out about the building’s amazing stained glass, try on some historical costumes and meet some of the people who have lived in the house over the years. Sat-Sun 12pm-4pm. Tours 12pm, 2pm and 3.30pm. Limited parking nearby.

St Mary the Virgin Parish Church

Black Street, Martham NR29 4DP. Medieval church circa 1375-1450, highly decorated Chancel enlarged in mid 19th century. With seven sacrament font, medieval stained glass and fine wooden ceiling with carved angels. Thu-Sun 10am-4pm. Parking nearby.

St Peter’s Parish Church

Clippesby, NR29 3BJ. Hidden medieval church, with Saxon origins and round tower. Beautiful stained glass window by Margaret Rope and an opportunity to see 2 memorial brasses, which have recently returned after being restored. Thu-Sun 9am-4pm. Parking nearby.

Royal Naval Hospital

Queens Road, Yarmouth NR30 3JU. Built in 1811 and used as a Royal Naval Hospital. Subsequently used as a barracks and now private residencies with 10 acres of beautifully maintained grounds. The chapel and ward space can be seen in original condition. Thu-Sun 10am-4pm. Tours by request. No unaccompanied children. Parking nearby.

The Norfolk Naval Pillar (Nelson’s Monument)

South of Pleasure Beach, Yarmouth NR30 3PX. The Norfolk Naval Pillar, or Nelson’s Monument, built in 1819 and standing 144ft high. Guides will be available to explain the history of the construction and links with Admiral Nelson. Thu-Fri 10am-4pm. Tower ascent not available. Parking nearby.

Royal Assembly Rooms – Masonic Lodge

Albert Square, Yarmouth NR30 3SH. Originally designed to be Assembly and Reading Rooms in 1863, the building was bought from the Norfolk Militia by the Masons in 1919 and has undergone significant refurbishment. Guided tours Thu-Fri 10am-12pm and 2-3.30pm. Sun 2-4pm. Parking nearby.

Caister Lifeboat Heritage Visitor Centre

Tan Lane, Caister NR30 4EW. Over 200 years of lifeboat history and evidence of how it has saved the most lives throughout the British Isles. Caister is the only fully operational independent lifeboat station with the fastest off-shore lifeboat. Fri 10am-4pm. Sun 10am-4pm. Parking available.

St Nicholas Church

Church Plain, Yarmouth NR30 1NE. St Nicholas’ Church built in 1101. Destroyed in WWII, with just the walls and towers left standing. Restored by Stephen Dykes Bower in 1961. Interesting history, including tales of bodysnatchers. Thu-Sun 10am-4pm. Guided tour Thu 2pm. Tower ascent not available. Parking nearby.

Old Meeting, Unitarian Church

Greyfriars Way, Yarmouth NR30 2SW. Congregation of Dissenters dating in the town from 1642. The current building built in 1954 replaced a WWII bomb damaged church in Middlegate. Thu-Fri 10am-4pm, Sat 9am-5pm, Sun 1-5pm Limited parking nearby.

St Peter and St Paul Church

Church Road, Repps-with-Bastwick NR29 5JS. Medieval church with round tower. Lower portion of tower is believed to have Middle Saxon features; the upper portion has a charming octagonal belfry. Thu-Sun 10am-4pm. Parking nearby.

The Fisherman’s Hospital

Market Place, Yarmouth NR30 1ND. The Fisherman’s Hospital was built in 1702 by the Corporation of Great Yarmouth for old or ‘decayed’ fishermen. There were 20 cottages, 10 upstairs and 10 downstairs, nine are currently in use. Thu-Sun 10am-4.30pm. Guided tour daily at 11am. Cottage no 8 open for viewing 10am-4pm. Parking nearby.

Reedham Marsh Group of Mills

Via Reedham Village, NR13 3UB. Polkey’s, Cadges Mills, Reedham Steam Engine House and Diesel Engine Shed. One mill has been restored to full working order and will be working, wind permitting. Unique site showing history of drainage from wind to steam, diesel to electric. Sun 1-4pm. Parking available in village but not at venue.

Thurne Mill

Thurne Village, NR29 3BU. Thurne Drainage windpump is a fully restored mill, which, wind permitting, pumps water to demonstrate original use. Entry to mill and talk on history available. Sun 10am-4pm. Guided tours on the hour. Parking available in village but not at venue.