This walk was compiled in 2007 as part of the 2007 celebrations of our links with Pocahontas and 400 years of Jamestown. Pre-booking for guided walks advised - telephone 01485 572142 Special arrangements required for group tours - please contact email@example.com or 01485 572142. If you know of any great local Norfolk walks that have not been covered here please let us know so that we may consider including them in this section just CLICK HERE to find our contact information
Duration: 20 minutes Easy Walk
There have been settlers here by the River Hetch (or Hitch) for as long as history is recorded in Norfolk. Remains of ancient dwellers have been found dating from even before the Danes found our sheltered coastline. Then in 96AD came the Romans who came up against the Iceni Tribes and Boudiccia. The Saxons arrived next followed by Normans, the creators of the Domesday Book in 1066. A Saxon Earl, Warrene, was the main land owner of Heacham, but the Normans confiscated the Estates and handed them over to William de Caley. Caley is much in evidence today in a number of locations around the village. Shortly after the Rolfe name emerges, a family who would become closely linked with the Village. Much of their history and that of the estates of Le Strange is recorded in the Church and buildings in the heart of the village.
To start the walk, exit the car park at St Mary's Church, cross the road to the footpath and head south
Heacham Park (1) Little has changed about the park in centuries except that Heacham Hall, former home of the Rolfes is a modern version, the original was burnt down during WWII. The Village Green (2). This was the original centre of the Village, few of the very old buildings still stand as they were built from local chalk which was not as durable as stone. The archway was added by Charles Fawcette Neville-Rolfe in 1860. Church House (3) was built in the early 1700’s and beside it Turret House (4) built in 1830 with its’ quirky architecture added to over time.
Cross back over the road at the river
Pinnacle Row (5) is an attractive group of listed cottages that were originally built to house staff for Holy Lodge. Both no 11 and no.1 were at one time served as the local post office.
Turn right at the junction and walk on looking to your right
The Heacham Declaration Plaque (6) commemorates 1795, when local labourers, farmers and squire called on the King and Parliament to set a fair price for flour. This was a civilised and organised movement, a fledgling trade union, long before the Tollpuddle martyrs, fighting against the real threat of starvation during the Napoleonic Wars and Enclosures acts.
Caley House (7) was the main farm in the village. William de Caley took over lands in 1068 alongside Baron L’Strange.
Retrace your steps to the junction, then cross over to Lynn Road.
Holy Lodge (8) was built in the early 1800’s of chalk. The origin of the name comes from a Cistercian cell found here in 1500, based on the old Pilgrim Road to the shrine at Walsingham, hence the original name. A key feature are the ornate chimneys. Loo Water (9) is now Millbridge Nursing Home, but once the site of an early mill on the river. The Torrey family of shipping line fame married into the Rolfe family and lived here up until quite recently. Loo Water looks across to Little Mill House, a former dairy much extended in local chalk and carrstone. The other significant local water Mill is Caley Mill, which lies further inland and is home to Norfolk Lavender. Victoria Cottages (10) a row of 6 cottages built by the Estate to celebrate Queen Victoria’s accession in 1837. Wheatsheaf (11) The public house is not the original building, but there has been a Wheatsheaf Inn on this land since the 17th Century.
Retrace your steps back up Hunstanton Road.
L’Strange Cottages (12) Now one house was originally several cottages, built from carrstone for some of the families that served the Estate.
The Homemead (13) The house that first stood here was built in 1792 and undergone many changes. The long high wall is believed to be from the very early 1700’s. The landowners recently restored the fishing Lake in the grounds which were part of the parklands of Heacham Hall
Turn Right into Church Lane
The Queens Cottages Almshouses (14) commemorates Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee. In the late 1800s, if you could not work you had no home. These cottages were built by local subscription on land gifted by the Rolfes, for the benefit of parishioners. The bas relief work in Terracotta was made by Mrs Holcombe Ingleby. White City (15) was so named by villagers because of the grand Chimneys and the Chalk used in its construction. It was built around 1761 by the Rolfe Family in a bid to provide better accommodation for local people. It is now a grade II listed building.
Turn and head back to the Church
The Church of Saint Mary the Virgin
At the centre of the old village, standing since 13th Century is St Mary’s Church a place rich in history, where gentry and villager have worshipped over many centuries and generations. The church is a rarity amongst churches in Norfolk because of its’ design with the central tower built on the cross. The transepts rise to a great height, but bad maintenance in the past led to the building of a set of extraordinary buttresses to support the tower circa 1800. A small cupola crowns the tower, housing the original 12th century bell, regarded as one of the oldest in Norfolk. The limited amount of stained glass and lime washed walls ensures that the church is light and airy. However, when light is needed these are provided by Byzantine style brass lamps identical, albeit smaller, to those of the Basilica of St Mark in Venice. There are many unique features inside the Church from the Coats of Arms of influential Rolfes, the ancient stone font and the alabaster bust of the Lady Rebecca, known to the world as Pocahontas. It is her story and that of her husband John Rolfe, born in Heacham, which is on display inside the Church in an exhibition to commemorate the founding of Jamestown, Virginia 400 hundred years ago in 1607.
The Church is open weekdays 10am to 12 noon and 2pm to 4pm, May to September inclusive, Saturdays or other times by arrangement