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Making a move to . . . Swaffham

PUBLISHED: 05:11 20 April 2015

A view of Swaffham, including the church of St Peter & St Paul, from the top of the wind turbine.; PHOTO: IAN BURT; COPY:Adam Lazzari; FOR:EDP Sunday; EDP pics © 2010; (01603)772434

A view of Swaffham, including the church of St Peter & St Paul, from the top of the wind turbine.; PHOTO: IAN BURT; COPY:Adam Lazzari; FOR:EDP Sunday; EDP pics © 2010; (01603)772434

Archant © 2010

The Breckland town is a bustling community with a friendly welcome.

Swaffham sign in the Market Place. Picture: Matthew Usher.Swaffham sign in the Market Place. Picture: Matthew Usher.

What a fascinating history has the Breckland town of Swaffham. From its own legend of a lucky pedlar to its busy days as a stopping off point for pilgrims; from its medieval marketplace to its cutting edge eco centre; from its fame as a TV film-set for the series Kingdom which starred Stephen Fry to its reputation as a great base from which to discover the delights of Norfolk, Swaffham fascinates and inspires.

Well placed in beautiful Breckland for access around the county, the town has a warm welcome for families with plenty of attractive property on the market, from delightful character properties to stylish new build houses and bungalows.

At the heart of the town is the market place, surrounded by fine Georgian buildings. It is here that a Saturday market is held, plus two farmers’ markets each month. The Butter Cross, built in 1783, and Assembly Rooms, rebuilt in 1817, add to this historic view of Swaffham, with the church of St Peter and St Paul dating back to the 15th century, although it stands on the site of an earlier church from the 12th century. The present church has interesting links to the legendary Pedlar of Swaffham, John Chapman, who was said to have found two pots of gold buried under a tree in his garden after receiving a message in a dream. Records show that a John Chapman was churchwarden in the 1400s and the tower and north aisle are believed to have been made possible through his generosity.

Visitors to the town can learn more about Swaffham’s story at its independent museum, which has displays of artefacts from Stone Age to modern life, and celebrates the lives of local heroes like Egyptologist Howard Carter who discovered the tomb of Tutankhamun in 1922, boxing champ Jem Mace and Royal Navy Admiral of the Fleet Sir Knyvet Wilson.

Although history plays a big part in Swaffham’s attraction, the town has been quick to embrace new and green technology. It is home to the Green Britain Centre, where you can walk 300 steps up the wind turbine to the viewing platform to see the Breckland landscape unfold into the distance. Also on site is the world record breaking fastest wind powered vehicle The Greenbird, and a giant solar tracker which harnesses the sun’s power to make clean energy. In the town, Strattons Hotel is a standard bearer for green living, winning local, national and international awards for its environmental policies. There is a strong community of walkers and people who enjoy the countryside here; the Brecks is a landscape with features created in the Ice Age, and is an area rich in wildlife and diverse flora.

The town and surrounding villages have a good range of schools, including the Nicholas Hamond Academy high school and the Sacred Heart School independent day and boarding school. For those interested in getting involved with life in Swaffham, the town council’s website signposts to a wealth of organisations and special interest groups, from singers to the rugby club, from Rainbows to bowls, and from angling to ex-Servicemen.

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