Fritton Lake celebrates 100 years

WITH peaceful woodland leading to a tranquil stretch of water, Fritton Lake has been an idyllic spot for visitors ever since it was first opened in 1909.

WITH peaceful woodland leading to a tranquil stretch of water, Fritton Lake has been an idyllic spot for visitors ever since it was first opened in 1909.

And yesterday, the attraction on the Norfolk/Suffolk border marked a century of welcoming locals and holidaymakers for days out in the countryside.

In spring 1909, tenant farmers William and Clara Ward thought that the lake - which extends for two and a quarter miles from end to end and covers 150 acres - would be a popular spot for visitors to the seaside resorts along the coast and sought permission from the Somerleyton estate to open it to the public for boat trips and peaceful walks.

It was the first part of the 5,000-acre estate to be open to visitors, with Somerleyton Hall following suit in 1958.


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As part of a day of centenary celebrations yesterday, Lord and Lady Somerleyton were joined by their son the Hon Hugh Crossley and his wife Lara to mark the special anniversary.

Marie Bales, granddaughter of Mr and Mrs Ward, joined the festivities in the country park where she grew up.

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Walter and Peggy Mussett, who ran the attraction from 1969 to 1987, also visited the park which became their life for nearly 20 years.

Mr Crossley, who now lives in Somerleyton Hall and runs the estate, said he was proud to be able to mark the park's centenary.

He said: “I've got great memories of being here as a child and it is lovely that people still enjoy coming.”

Mr Mussett, 86, started working for the estate as a teenager in the 1930s. As park manager, he raised his family in the hall which is now the restaurant.

He said: “It has changed a bit since I was here, the lake is still a lovely spot. There were only a few wooden boats for hire when I first came and we really worked hard to build it up.”

At the height of the park's popularity in the mid 1980s, up to 62,000 visitors a month were coming through the gates. The park now has about 22,000 visitors a year but only opens in the summer months.

Fritton Lake is open daily until September 6. Somerleyton Hall is open on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays and Sundays until September 20. For more details, visit www.somerleyton.co.uk.

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