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Ten great reasons to visit Hingham and Watton

PUBLISHED: 09:55 26 November 2013 | UPDATED: 09:55 26 November 2013

Wayland Wood near Watton. Picture: Matthew Usher.

Wayland Wood near Watton. Picture: Matthew Usher.

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Watton Market. Picture by: Matthew Usher.Watton Market. Picture by: Matthew Usher.

There are 18 beautiful medieval churches in Watton and its surrounding villages which are well worth visiting. A guide to the Churches of Wayland is available from the tourist information centre in the town, explaining more about their history and architecture. St Mary’s Church in Watton has recently undergone a major refurbishment and is a wonderful place to visit.

The Dragonfly Gallery and Visitor Centre at Wayland House in Watton holds a wide range of exhibitions of local artists’ work. Known for its friendly, intimate atmosphere, it shows a wide range of work, from traditional paintings and photography to art textiles, quilts and ceramics. The gallery also houses the tourist information centre.

Peddars Way at Merton.Peddars Way at Merton.

Watton high street is always full of hustle and bustle, especially on market day when the surrounding villagers come to town. There is a weekly market every Wednesday selling fresh fruit and veg, fish, household wares, clothes and lots of local delicacies.

Hingham has great independent shops, particularly specialising in interior design and furniture. Margaret Sheridan’s interior design company in The Workrooms at Gurney’s Manor, Hingham, has been established for more than 40 years. The showroom has fabrics, furniture, soft furnishings and flooring, and there are large workrooms and a design consultancy. Hingham Furniture Ltd in the Market Place specialises in hand-made furniture and sofas. Every sofa is bespoke and handcrafted to the customer’s specification, and the cabinets and dining tables are made from solid oak.

Libby Denny in the showroom at her new premises for her interior design business Margaret Sheridan at Hingham.Libby Denny in the showroom at her new premises for her interior design business Margaret Sheridan at Hingham.

In Hingham Market Place is the White Hart Hotel, owned by renowned chef Chris Coubrough. It is a great place for lunch or dinner, or if you just fancy a drink in the bar there are plenty of cosy sofas to sink in to. The family friendly restaurant is set over two floors and the whole building has been extensively refurbished.

What better way to spend a family day out than down on the farm. Melsop Farm Park is a great place to let your children get close and personal with lots of animals and birds – from big farmyard favourites such as pigs, horses, cows and alpacas to cute rabbits, guinea pigs and even little chicks which you can pick up and stroke. There is also an indoor and outdoor play area and a café.

Reindeer at Melsop Farm Park. Pictured: Dasher.Reindeer at Melsop Farm Park. Pictured: Dasher.

If you love unearthing fantastic furniture, decorative pieces and building supplies from the past, then a look round Mongers Architectural Salvage is a must. Established in 1997, the reclamation yard in Market Place, Hingham, is packed full of fireplaces, cast iron radiators, antiques, brassware, doors, lights and glass. As well as reclaimed goods, there are also pieces made from salvaged materials and Mongers also has its own workshops where items are loving restored by local craftsman.

Running along the edge of Watton is the Peddars Way, which leads from Knettishall Heath Country Park in Suffolk to Holme-next-the-sea where it joins with the Norfolk Coast Path. This fantastic walk through the Wayland countryside has plenty of places of interest along the way, and much of the route is also open to cyclists. See www.nationaltrail.co.uk/PeddarsWay

Sam Coster at his shop Mongers at Hingham. Picture: Denise Bradley.Sam Coster at his shop Mongers at Hingham. Picture: Denise Bradley.

Once a month in Watton is the Entrepreneurs’ Market, a fantastic new project to boost business and enterprise in the town. Local people who are keen to start their own company can gain experience by selling their products at the special market. Stalls include everything from designer dog collars to heraldry. The Entrepreneurs’ Market is every third Saturday of the month in the High Street.

The Wayland Wood dates back to the Domesday Book and was made into a Norfolk Wildlife Trust nature reserve in 1975. It is a fantastic place to explore and to spot wildlife. Made up of oak, ash, birch and hazel trees, as well as countless plants and flowers including the yellow archangel, wood anemone and the rare yellow star of Bethlehem, it is home to a wide variety of birds, such as lesser-spotted woodpeckers and nuthatches.

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