Hotels and Holiday Cottages in Wells next the Sea

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Further hotel information

The Crown Hotel Address: The Buttlands, Wells-Next-The-Sea, tel:01328 710209

The Globe Inn Address: The Buttlands, Wells-Next-The-Sea, tel:01328 710206

The Victoria Hotel Address: Park Rd, Wells-Next-The-Sea, tel:01328 711008

The Black Lion Hotel Address: Friday Market Place, Walsingham, tel:01328 820235

Tourist information

Wells-next-the-Sea is one of the finest seaside towns to be located on the North Norfolk Coast, nestled between Stiffkey and Holkham. Once a major local port, in the late 16th century some 19 ships used the harbour to trade their cargos of corn. This status continued in the 20th century, with three shipyards in the town, and over 60 ships were built there between 1801 and 1860; a new granary and loading gantry were built as late as 1903, the primary imports being coal, timber and salt, whilst exports of corn, barley and malt were despatched for use in the brewing trade. Malting also became a key local industry, together with maritime trades such as ship chandlers, and sail and rope makers. Wells is now better known as a destination for holiday visitors, and the maltings and granary buildings have long since been turned into luxury quayside apartments.

Wells was named after the numerous spring wells which surrounded the town. It only became known by its full moniker, 'Wells-next-the-Sea', during the 1800s when, with the spread of railway travel, it was felt that there was a need to distinguish it from other settlements; however, it was not until 1956 that the name was officially adopted by the local district council. Ironically, although once a thriving Tudor port, the town itself is actually over a mile from the nearest open water, its harbour and estuary becoming a navigable channel to the sea only at high tide. Like many places along this coastline, the silting up of the estuary limits much of the maritime access that this once-great port enjoyed.

The fishing quay is still a busy hub for the town, with children dangling over the quayside to catch tiny crabs, whilst other visitors eat from the local ice cream and shellfish stalls, and chip shops. A small number of fishing vessels still leave the harbour at high tide to catch crab, whelk and shrimp. 'The Albatross', a beautifully restored Dutch sailing barge, is often moored at the quayside, selling locally brewed beer and Dutch pancakes; it is also available to charter for sea trips when tides permit.

Just beyond the quayside, a miniature steam train stops near to the harbour offices, to take visitors the mile down to the beach, across the acres of marshland and pasture. Once on the sandy beach, the Lifeboat house is a prominent landmark; there are colourful beach huts in amongst the sand dunes, and behind them a pine forest stretches along the coastline to Holkham. The forest can be accessed both from the beach, using numerous sets of wooden steps over the dunes, and also from the busy beach car park. The wide-open skyline has made Wells a popular choice with film makers; 'Shakespeare in Love' was filmed here, and the beaches often make an appearance as one of the locations for the fictional town of Market Shipborough in Stephen Fry's popular TV series, 'Kingdom'.  The combination of salt marshes, sand dunes and pine woodland, and the proximity of the town to the famous RSBP reserves at Titchwell and Cley, make this unique environment a popular spot with bird-watchers; oyster catchers, ringed plovers, common and little terns are all frequent visitors. The Norfolk Coastal Path runs close by, joining up with the historic Peddars Way at Holme, near Hunstanton, and creating a route which runs for over 93 miles.

Venturing further into town, away from the bustle of the quayside, the Buttlands is a quiet green, lined with tall lime trees and surrounded by elegant Georgian and Victorian homes. The area takes its name from the archery practice which used to take place there. The two public houses on the Buttlands, the Crown Hotel and the Globe Inn, have both recently been beautifully renovated. Each year, the annual Wells carnival procession starts and finishes here. Nearby, the parish church of St Nicholas dates from 1460; although destroyed by fire following a lightning strike in 1879, it was skilfully rebuilt.

Wells is an ideal base from which to explore the many delights of North Norfolk. The Palladian buildings of Holkham Hall, owned by the Coke family and the Earls of Leicester, can be found just a couple of miles along the coast road, and it is one of Britain's most stunning stately homes. The popular Victoria pub and nearby tea rooms and gardens are also part of the large Holkham estate.

The Queen's Christmas residence at Sandringham is just over 20 miles away, just beyond Brancaster and Hunstanton. In the opposite direction eastwards, Blakeney offers boat trips out to view the colonies of common and grey seals basking on the sandbanks.  Little Walsingham, a place of Christian pilgrimage since medieval times, is just inland and can also be reached from Wells by another miniature railway.

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