One of my favourite places in Norfolk is Cromer. It has both a pier and a lighthouse. Apparently, it’s not common for towns to have both, but I haven’t been able to find out why this is. The pier, at 500 feet long, is not the longest but it does boast its own theatre and a lifeboat station. The current lighthouse (the first one was built in 1680) is a white, octagonal tower, built in 1833. It’s quite an impressive sight, especially when you consider that when it was first built, everything had to be done by hand.
The Town Itself
Cromer also has two museums and a cinema. But, truthfully, none of these are the reason why you’d visit Cromer. It’s the beaches. And the cliffs. And the crab. Cromer crab is one of those delicacies that you just have to try. Even now, if you get up early, you can see the fishing boats coming back into dock with the day’s catch. Walk around the town and you will find plenty of restaurants serving crab.
The town itself is situated on a cliff-top that overlooks the beautiful sandy beaches. As well as steps, there is now a ramp to take you down to the sea. The seafront is still full of Victorian houses, the town has little streets, and some lovely little shops and galleries where you can buy locally made gifts, and at least one very fine bakery specialising in cakes… There are, of course, the usual well known brands as well, but I always think it’s worth looking at the independent shops, where possible, to try to get something unusual.
With a starting point of the pier, the Cromer Road Train travels around the town and finishes its journey near to the West Promenade, which is quite a pleasant way to see the town. It’s a little open carriage train, so if the weather is not great, make sure you have a thick jumper or coat.
The church St Peter and St Paul is in the centre of the town and was built between 1377 and 1437. Although part of it collapsed in the eighteenth century, it was restored in the nineteenth century. It has the highest tower in Norfolk, in the original style, standing at 160 feet. 172 steps lead up to the top, but the view is fantastic if you can make it.
Near to Cromer is a beautiful seventeenth century house – Felbrigg Hall – now owned by the National Trust and a fine example of Stuart architecture and well maintained gardens. It is well worth a visit if you want a taste of local history.
The lifeboat station is open to visitors, as are most of the lifeboat stations in this country. All lifeboats in Great Britain and Northern Ireland are operated by the Royal National Lifeboat Institute, a registered charity, which was founded 1824 and given its Royal title in 1854 by Queen Victoria. Cromer is home to the RNLI Henry Blogg Lifeboat Museum which is dedicated to a coxswain, Henry Blogg, who served for 53 years and was the most decorated lifeboat man in the RNLI.