Castle Acre Priory

P1040484 

Having had a gander at Castle Acre and a wander around the village and the church, we still had one more treat in store: Castle Acre Priory.

First however, we had to say goodbye to my brother and his kids, who were heading back to Zurich via some old friends in London, and to my mum and dad, who were ready to head back to Snettisham.

P1040496 

The priory is pretty stunning…

P1040518

And, like the castle, had surprisingly few other visitors.

P1040510 

As ever at English Heritage properties, our visit was hugely enhanced by the audio guides, which brought the history of the priory and the monks who once lived here vividly to life.

P1040509 

P1040522 

The Abbots House.

P1040523 

P1040524 

P1040526 

P1040535 

P1040538 

I was struck, as I was when I visited Furness Abbey, by the ingenious way in which water had been diverted through the Priory for use by the monks and then into fish ponds.

P1040539 

P1040549 

Here the local flint has been cleverly used to decorate the outer walls of the Abbot’s house.

P1040550 

P1040567 

P1040568 

More scenes from the village – I don’t think that I’ve ever seen a pub called ‘The Ostrich’ before. I wondered whether it might once have been ‘The Ostler’?

Meanwhile the boys had never encountered a red telephone box before…

P1040569 

P1040570

The Bailgate again.

And that would be all I have to say about our visit to Castle Acre, except for the fact that it was a warm sunny day, and as at the castle, I was often distracted by the resident insect life.

This stunning dragonfly…

P1040490

…was feasting on some sort of fly atop a wall by the entrance to the Priory.

In the little recreation of a walled physic garden by the visitor centre, there were Gatekeepers…

P1040503 

And these marvellous flowers (I’d really like to know what they are, as they were a magnet for insects – very tall, six feet or more, with large spherical white blooms) were host to many bumblebees and hoverflies…

P1040504 

P1040506 

P1040556 

P1040557 

P1040561

Advertisements
Castle Acre Priory

Castle Acre

P1040415

More Norfolk adventures, to wit Castle bagging, a favourite pastime of ours. The small village of Castle Acre still has some of its village walls, and is flanked by the remnants of a castle and the more substantial remains of an abbey.

Although there’s not all that much of the castle left to see – no winding staircases to clamber, no battlements to charge around – even what remains of the huge moat and earthworks are very evocative. What’s more, on an afternoon which had, slightly unexpectedly, turned sunny and warm, the castle grounds, a haven for wildflowers – were full of butterflies and bees; a great place to explore.

P1040414 

Whilst the kids were running around being knights of old (or somesuch) I was revelling in the abundance and variety of the flowers on offer – particularly those which I haven’t encountered close to home.

I think that this,…

P1040417 

…which was ubiquitous, is Common Calamint.

This enormous plant…

P1040419 

…is a Mullein. We do see Mulleins at home, we’ve even had them appear as ‘weeds’ in our garden, but I’m pretty sure that this particular specimen is a Hoary Mullein which is an East Anglian speciality.

P1040421 

The castle itself is very interesting (and free to boot). It was built by William de Warenne a Norman baron who fought alongside William the Conqueror at the Battle of Hastings and subsequently became a very wealthy landowner with properties across thirteen counties.

P1040424 

P1040426 

It’s all built, perhaps not surprisingly, of the local flint.

P1040430 

The kids charged around. TBH found a spot out of the wind to sun herself, and naturally I took photos.

P1040435 

A mallow.

P1040436 

A (large) white on Calamint.

The butterflies led me a very merry dance. There were lots about – chiefly Whites, often in groups of two or three, but also Meadow Browns and some Small Blues. To my great delight, I also spotted a Hummingbird Hawkmoth, only the second one I’ve ever seen, but I wasn’t anywhere near like fast enough to catch it’s darting flight on camera.

Whilst I was pursuing a trio of amorous Whites, I encountered this long-legged beastie…

P1040438 

…which I’m pretty sure is not a spider, but rather a Harvestmen (Harvestman?).

P1040439 

P1040440 

Castle Acre village.

P1040450 

Meadow Brown.

P1040458 

I could have happily stayed at the castle photographing plants and insects etc, but we had other fish to fry. We had a wander through the village, through the Bailey Gate…

P1040473 

…to the church of St. James the Great….

P1040478 

…(wasn’t it enough that he was a Saint, doesn’t that imply that he was Great? Or was there another St. James…St James the Slightly Cheesy?)

P1040479 

The Church of St. James.

A bit of internet research reveals that I should have ventured further in – the pulpit on the right has some paintings of saints which I wish now I’d taken a closer look at.

P1040481 

Impressive medieval font cover.

P1040482 

Ornately armoured stained-glass knight.

P1040483

In this huge Norfolk church I was transported back to the area close to home by this painted panel. I’ve seen very similar, but much smaller, panels in modest Furness churches. (See them here and here.) Those were both dedicated to Queen Anne, but this one, dated 1748, is too late for her: it’s from the reign of George II – which explains the G II above the Lion’s crown.

On to the Priory next…

Castle Acre

Dersingham Bog

P1040409 

Dersingham Bog is a largish nature reserve hard by the Royal residence at Sandringham. You can visit Sandringham, although you have to pay a hefty fee. Dersingham bog, on the other hand, is completely free – and a much more attractive proposition. The bog is encircled, to the west, by a steep escarpment – a remnant of a former coastline. It came as quite a surprise to find this relatively wild area in the midst of rural Norfolk.

P1040407 

The boys were all mightily impressed with the numerous grasshoppers we spotted.

My nephew….

P1040399 

…proved to be equally adept at catching them as his cousin B.

P1040398 

There are several UK species of grasshopper and I have to confess that I can’t tell them apart. I thought that this rather strikingly coloured specimen…

P1040404 

…would be easily identified, but I’m not even sure that I can do that with any confidence.

P1040405 

P1040401 

A shield bug, getting in on the action.

There are a couple of small car parks and three adjacent, way-marked routes on the edge of the bog. By joining two of those routes together we found a walk suitable for the many age-groups represented in our substantial party…

P1040410

If you ever find yourself wavering in the proximity of Sandringham, I can heartily recommend Dersingham Bog as an alternative.

Dersingham Bog