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Norfolk ( ) is a low-lying county in the East of England. It has borders with Lincolnshiremarker to the west, Cambridgeshire to the west and southwest and Suffolk to the south. Its northern and eastern boundaries are the North Seamarker coast, including The Washmarker. The county town is Norwichmarker. Norfolk is the fifth largest ceremonial county in England, with an area of 5,371 km² (2,074 sq mi).

Of the 34 non-metropolitan English counties, Norfolk is the seventh most populous, with a population of 850,800 (mid 2008). However, as a largely rural county it has a low population density, 155 people per square kilometre (or 401 per square mile.)Norfolk has about one-thirtieth the population density of Central London, the tenth lowest density county in the country, with 38% of the county’s population living in the three major built up areas of Norwichmarker (209,500), Great Yarmouthmarker (71,700) and King's Lynnmarker (43,100). The Broads, a well known network of rivers and lakes, is located on the county's east coast, bordering Suffolk. The area has the status of a National Park and is protected by the Broads Authority. Historical sites, such as the centre of Norwich, also contribute to tourism.


Norfolk was settled in pre-Roman times, with neolithic camps along the higher land in the west where flints could be quarried. A Brythonic tribe, the Iceni, inhabited the county from the first century BC, to the end of the first century (AD). The Iceni revolted against the Roman invasion in 47 AD, and again in 60 AD led by Boudica. The crushing of the second rebellion opened the county to the Romans. During the Roman era roads and ports were constructed throughout the county and farming took place.

Situated on the east coast, Norfolk was vulnerable to invasions from Scandinavia and northern Europe, and forts were built to defend against the Angles and Saxons. By the 5th century the Angles, for whom East Angliamarker and Englandmarker itself are named, had established control of the region and later became the "north folk" and the "south folk", hence, "Norfolk" and "Suffolk". Norfolk, and several adjacent areas, became the kingdom of East Anglia, later merging with Merciamarker and then Wessexmarker. The influence of the Early English settlers can be seen in the many "thorpes", "tons" and "hams" of placenames. In the 9th century the region again came under attack, this time from Vikings who killed the king, Edmund the Martyr. In the centuries before the Norman Conquest the wetlands of the east of the county began to be converted to farmland, and settlements grew in these areas. Migration into East Anglia must have been high, as by the time of the Conquest and Domesday Book survey, it was one of the most densely populated parts of the British Isles.

During the high and late Middle Ages the county developed arable agriculture and woollen industries. The economy was in decline by the time of the Black Death, which dramatically reduced the population in 1349, suffice to say that the current population has yet to equal the population from this time. By the 16th century Norwichmarker had grown to become the second largest city in England, but in 1665 the Great Plague of London again killed around one third of the population. During the English Civil War Norfolk was largely Parliamentarian. The economy and agriculture of the region declined somewhat, and during the industrial revolution Norfolk developed little industry except in Norwich and was a late addition to the railway network.

In the 20th century the county developed a role in aviation. The first development in airfields came with the First World War; there was then a massive expansion during the Second World War with the growth of the Royal Air Force and the influx of the American USAAF 8th Air Force which operated from many Norfolk Airfields. During the Second World War agriculture rapidly intensified, and has remained very intensive since with the establishment of large fields for cereal and oil seed rape growing. Norfolk's low-lying land and easily eroded cliffs, many of which are chalk and clay, make it vulnerable to the sea, the most recent major event being the North Sea flood of 1953.

The low-lying section of coast between Kellingmarker and Lowestoft Nessmarker is currently managed by the Environment Agency to protect the Broads from sea flooding. Management policy for the North Norfolk coastline is described in the North Norfolk Shoreline Management Plan which was published in 2006 but has yet to be accepted by the local authorities. The Shoreline Management Plan states that the stretch of coast will be protected for at least another 50 years, but that in the face of sea level rise and post-glacial lowering of land levels in the South East, there is an urgent need for further research to inform future management decisions, including the possibility that the sea defences may have to be realigned to a more sustainable position. Natural England have contributed some research into the impacts on the environment of various realignment options. The draft report of their research was leaked to the press, who created great anxiety by reporting that Natural England plan to abandon a large section of the Norfolk Broads, villages and farmland face to the sea to save the rest of the Norfolk coastline from the impact of climate change.

Economy and industry

In 1998 Norfolk had a Gross Domestic Product of £9,319 million, making it 1.5% of England's economy and 1.25% of the United Kingdom's economy. The GDP per head was £11,825, compared to £13,635 for East Anglia, £12,845 for England and £12,438 for the United Kingdom. In 1999-2000 the county has an unemployment rate of 5.6%, compared to 5.8% for England and 6.0% for the UK.

Much of Norfolk's flat and fertile land has been drained and converted to arable land. Chief arable crops are sugar beet, wheat, barley (for brewing) and oil seed rape. Over 20% of employment in the county is in the agriculture and food industries.

Well-known companies in Norfolk are Norwich Union (part of Aviva), Colman's (part of Unilever) and Bernard Matthews. The Construction Industry Training Board is based on the former airfield of RAF Bircham Newtonmarker. The BBC East region is centred on Norwich, although covers an area as far west as Milton Keynesmarker.

To help local industry in Norwich, Norfolk, the local council offers a wireless service.


Primary and secondary

Norfolk has a completely comprehensive state education, with secondary school age from 11 to 16 or in some schools with sixth forms, 18 years old. In many of the rural areas, there is no nearby sixth form and so Sixth form colleges are found in larger towns. There are twelve independent, or private schools, including Gresham's Schoolmarker in Holtmarker in the north of the county, Thetford Grammar Schoolmarker in Thetfordmarker - Britain's fourth oldest school,Norwich Schoolmarker and Norwich High School for Girlsmarker in the city of Norwichmarker itself. The Kings Lynn district has the largest school population. Norfolk is also home to Wymondham Collegemarker, the UK's largest remaining state boarding school.


The University of East Angliamarker is located on the outskirts of Norwich; and Norwich University College of the Arts (until November 2007, known as Norwich School of Art and Design) is situated at St. George's Street, in the city centre, and next to the River Wensummarker.

The City College Norwichmarker and the College of West Angliamarker are colleges covering Norwich and Kings Lynn.Easton Collegemarker, 7 miles west of Norwich provides agricultural based courses for the County as well as for parts of Suffolk.


Norfolk is a shire county, under the control of Norfolk County Council. This is divided into seven local government districts, Breckland Districtmarker, Broadland District, Great Yarmouth Borough, King's Lynn and West Norfolk Borough, North Norfolk District, Norwich Citymarker and South Norfolkmarker.

In 2007 the Department for Communities and Local Governmentmarker referred Norwich City Councilmarker's proposal to become a new unitary authority to the Boundary Commission for England. The Boundary Commission consulted local bodies and reported against the proposal, so Norfolk's local government structure remains unchanged.

However, consultation on the Committee's 2008 proposals for Norfolk closed on September 26 2008, with final recommendations to Government by 31 December, 2008. Thereafter, a decision will be made by the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government. Until then, the future organisation of the County remains uncertain.

Norfolk County Council is Conservative-controlled and led by Daniel Cox. There are 60 Conservative councillors, 13 Liberal Democrat councillors, 7 Green Party councillors, 3 Labour councillors and 1 UKIP councillor. There was a 63% turnout at the most recent local election.

In the House of Commonsmarker, Norfolk is represented by four Conservative Members of Parliament, three Labour MPs and one Liberal Democrat. The Labour party represents the more urban areas of Norwich and Great Yarmouth, whilst the Conservatives represent the more rural areas. The former Home Secretary, Charles Clarke, represents Norwich Southmarker.

Norfolk Election Results 5 May 2005
Parliamentary County Council [1]
Party Votes Votes % Seats Seats % Party Votes Votes % Seats Seats %
Conservative 163224 40% 4 50% Conservative 158942 39% 46 55%
Labour 122650 30% 3 38% Green 18786 5% 2 2%
Liberal Democrat 103805 25% 1 13% Labour 108043 27% 22 26%
Others [2] 19371 5% 0 0% Liberal Democrat 113048 28% 14 17%
Others [3] 6924 2% 0 0%
Totals 409050 8 405743 84
Turnout 64% 63%
[1] Includes Town Close ward by-election held 26 May 2005, electors in Town Close didn't vote for a County Councilor on 5 May 2005 due to the death of one of the candidates between close of nominations and polling day.

UKIP, Green, LCA, Independents, Others

UKIP, LCA, Independents, Others


Norfolk's county town and only city is Norwichmarker, one of the largest settlements in England during the Norman era. Norwich is home to Norfolk's only university, the University of East Angliamarker, and is the county's main business and culture centre. Other principal towns include the port-town of King's Lynnmarker and the seaside resort and Broads gateway town of Great Yarmouthmarker. There are also several market towns: Aylshammarker, Downham Marketmarker, Derehammarker, Fakenhammarker, Dissmarker, Holtmarker, North Walshammarker, Swaffhammarker, Thetfordmarker and Wymondhammarker.


Norfolk is one the few counties in England that does not have a motorway. The A11 connects Norfolk to Cambridgemarker and Londonmarker via the M11. From the west there only two routes from Norfolk, the A47 which runs into the East Midlands via Peterboroughmarker and the A17 which runs into the East Midlands via Lincolnshiremarker that have a direct link with the A1marker. Both of these routes meet at King's Lynnmarker which is also the starting place for the A10marker which provides West Norfolk with a direct link to London via Elymarker, Cambridgemarker and Hertfordmarker . The Great Eastern Main Line is a major railway from London Liverpool Street Stationmarker to Essex, Suffolk and Norfolk. Norwich International Airportmarker, offers flights within Europe including a link to Amsterdammarker which offers onward flights throughout the world.

Dialect, accent and nickname

The Norfolk dialect, also known as "Broad Norfolk", is the accent/dialect of people living in Norfolk, although over the modern age much of the vocabulary and many of the phrases have died out due to a number of factors, such as radio, TV and people from other parts of the country coming to Norfolk. As a result, the speech of Norfolk is more of an accent than dialect, though one part retained from the Norfolk dialect is the distinctive grammar of the region. [citation needed]

More cutting, perhaps, was the formerly-used pejorative medical term "Normal for Norfolk", now discredited, the use of which is banned by the profession.


Norfolk is a popular tourist destination and has several major examples of holiday attractions. There are many seaside resorts, including some of the finest British beaches, such as those at Great Yarmouthmarker, Waxhammarker, Cromermarker and Holkhammarker bay. Norfolk is probably best known for the Broads and other areas of outstanding natural beauty and many areas of the coast are wild bird sanctuaries and reserves with some areas designated as National Parks. Tourists and locals enjoy the wide variety of monuments and historical buildings in both Norfolk and the city of Norwichmarker.The Queen's residence at Sandringham Housemarker in Sandringham, Norfolkmarker, provides an all year round tourist attraction, whilst the rural parts of the county, notably the area around Burnham Marketmarker, are also popular locations for people from the conurbations to purchase weekend holiday homes. Arthur Conan Doyle first conceived the idea for The Hound Of The Baskervilles whilst holidaying in Cromermarker with Bertram Fletcher Robinson after hearing local folklore tales regarding the mysterious hound known as Black Shuck.

The historic city of Norwich
The Norfolk coast at Cromer
The Norfolk Broads
The beach at Holkham Bay

Notable people from Norfolk

People associated with Norfolk

The following people were not born or brought up in Norfolk but are long-term residents of Norfolk, are well-known for living in Norfolk at some point in their lives, or have contributed in some significant way to the county.

See also


  1. Norfolk Government Statistics
  3. John Barwell, n.d. " A History of Norfolk."
  4. Anon, 2002. Norfolk History.
  5. Office for National Statistics, 2001. Regional Trends 26 ch:14.7 (PDF). Accessed 2006-01-03.
  6. Invest in Norfolk, Agriculture and Food.
  7. Hayes Computing Solutions (HCOMS) ::
  8. Unitary Norwich City Council - The business case for unitary Norwich
  9. Communities and Local Government - Proposals for future unitary structures: Stakeholder consultation
  10. [1]-Norfolk Structural review 2008
  11. BBC News, Election 2009, Norfolk County Council. [2].

External links

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