Ten great reasons to visit Harleston

PUBLISHED: 09:52 16 May 2013 | UPDATED: 09:52 16 May 2013

Town Focus in Harleston, market day in the Norfolk town. Photograph Simon Parker

Town Focus in Harleston, market day in the Norfolk town. Photograph Simon Parker


Eat – From fish and chip take-aways to fine-dining restaurants, and cafes and coffee shops to country pubs, Harleston, and surrounding villages such as Wortwell, Fressingfield, Needham, Alburgh and Weybread, have plenty of places to enjoy a meal or snack.

Drink - Grain Brewery is the winner of the EDP Norfolk Food Awards “Best Drink Producer” title. The brewery, at South Farm, Alburgh, has been created out of the old farm dairies and makes its beers from the finest East Anglian malted barley and wheat. Favourites include Oak Bitter, Porter, Winter Spice and Harvest Moon.

The Grain Brewery shop is open Tuesday to Saturday, 10am to 5pm and the Bond family, which has farmed the land for three generations, also offer pre-booked tours of their brewery.


Be merry – The fabulous Harleston and Waveney Festival brings music, drama, art, literature, exhibitions and family fun to Harleston every August. Venues across the town are alive with activity, and thronged with visitors and locals. The Festival also raises cash for local charities.

4, Shop – Shopping in Harleston is a delight. Find independent butchers, bakers and candle-makers, and just about everything else you could want too. From furniture to fashion and films to flowers, Harleston has a specialist family business to help. Friendly shopkeepers know their products and their customers, making a trip to the shops a relaxed and sociable experience.

Markets – Harleston’s Wednesday market is said to be more than 750 years old still takes place in the town’s central Market Place. The stalls include a greengrocer, fishmonger, plant stall, and tool and DIY stall.

On the third Saturday of each month Harleston Farmers’ Market, in the Thoroughfare by the Swan Hotel, sells food grown and raised within around 20 miles of the town. Local meats, game in season, fruit juice, vegetables, home-made cakes, pies, pickles and preserves vie for attention with garden supplies and craft stalls.

Art – Artists flock to beautiful Harleston. Several have homes and studios in the area, and there are galleries too, showcasing the work of local and national artists. Two mosaic makers, plus painters, print-makers, photographers and textile artists are just some of the creative talent thronging the streets and studios of Harleston.

Health – Several pretty walks and cycle rides start and end in Harleston and there are local clubs for anyone interested in sports including football, tennis, hockey and judo.

History – Harleston has several important historic buildings, including a 14th century building on the Market Place its Corn Exchange which housed a weekly corn market and then a courthouse, roller rink, dance hall and restaurant. Church bells cast in Harleston in the late 18th century can still be heard from a nearby church and the there are several interesting pubs – including one where, it was rumoured, Churchill and Eisenhower, held a meeting during the Second World War. Harleston even has a museum, run by volunteers from May to September on Broad Street. Find out about the area from prehistoric times to the present.

9, Education - Harleston’s high school is the only Church of England VA high school in East Anglia – and the only one in the country to be named after Archbishop William Sancroft who was born, and died, just across the county border at Ufford Hall, Fressingfield. In between he became Dean of St Pauls, where he was an important figure in its restoration after the Great Fire of London. In 1677 he was made Archbishop of Canterbury and attended King Charles II’s deathbed, and crowned King James II. Today Archbishop Sancroft High School is a popular choice with parents and pupils and prides itself on its friendly atmosphere and sense of community, plus high standards of teaching and learning.

Drama - The Harleston Players have been staging theatrical productions in the town for more than 85 years. Their talented actors, technicians, musicians producers and directors put on three shows most years, ranging from panto to Shakespeare. This April and May they will be performing a play by Charlotte Keatley called My Mother Said I Never Should. They also have a youth company and rehearse and perform at the town’s Archbishop Sancroft High School.

Latest from the EDP Norfolk Magazine