Hotels and Holiday Cottages in Fakenham

Your chosen destination: Home - Europe - United Kingdom - Norfolk - Fakenham

Further hotel information

The George Hotel Address: Swaffham Rd, Dereham, tel:01362 696801

The Kings Head Hotel Address: 42 Norwich St, Dereham, tel:01362 693842

Tourist information

The area around Fakenham may have been first settled as early as Neolithic times, its sheltered position on the river Wensum offering an ideal location for habitation. Both Roman and Saxon artefacts have been found in the area, indicating that the town has certainly been inhabited on a continuous basis from an early period, and its name is thought to be Saxon in origin, meaning 'fair place' or 'place on the fair river'. Certainly, the Wensum looks particularly attractive as it passes through the historic market town.

When the audit of the Domesday Book took place (1086), Fakenham was noted to have a population of some 150 souls. At that point in time, the then much larger neighbouring parish of Hempton (now not much more than a small hamlet), housed a priory, which was used by pilgrims on their way to the nearby shrine at Walsingham. Not until the Dissolution of the Monasteries and the English Reformation (c1538), did Fakenham gain the upper hand and become the primary settlement.

There is evidence that there was a building on the site of the well-appointed Fakenham parish church at the time of Domesday, although the current building dates largely from the 14th century. St Peter and St Paul Fakenham dominates the town with its massive 115ft church tower, and the church is particularly well-lit at night, making it a visible and welcoming landmark for miles around.

Fakenham has been a market town since 1250, when it was awarded its Charter. It is likely that market stalls first jostled for position around the location of the parish church. Today, the modern market takes place each Thursday, in the nearby market place. The centre of the town is largely pedestrianised, with a good variety of pubs, cafés and restaurants for visitors to choose from; a very popular farmers market takes place in the market place on the fourth Saturday of each month, and an antique and furniture market is also a regular feature on the Old Cattle Market.

Although records show that agricultural industries were once crucial to the commerce of the local area, with the Domesday Book recording the presence of three water (river) driven mills in Fakenham, the major industry in the town during the 19th and 20th century centred on the printing trade. The last major printworks closed in the 1970s, but a number of small printing and binding companies continue to operate in the local area. The town is still proud to celebrate its industrial history, and in the centre of the main market place the ground has been set with large faux 'printing blocks'.

On the outskirts of the town, Fakenham Racecourse presents one of the best rural national hunt courses in the country, as well as hosting regular point-to-point and other racing and leisure events throughout the year. Close to the racecourse, and just over the river from the main part of the town, the Fakenham Museum of Gas and Local History is situated in the old buildings which used to house the town's gasworks. They are the only surviving town gasworks in England and Wales, and offer a unique insight into the production of gas from coal, a process which only ceased in 1965, with the discovery of (natural) North Sea Gas.

The Nature Reserve and Gardens at nearby Pensthorpe are open every day except Christmas Day and Boxing Day. This award-winning attraction has also recently hosted the BBC Springwatch series.

Nearest tourist attractions


Thursford Collection




Nearest airports




Main picture