9 fascinating facts about Wroxham and Hoveton

The Bure Valley Railway (photo: Mark Bullimore)

The Bure Valley Railway (photo: Mark Bullimore) - Credit: Archant

Where, when, which, what, why – we have questions, and answers, about the delightful duo, Wroxham and Hoveton

BeWILDerwood (photo: BeWILDerwood)

BeWILDerwood (photo: BeWILDerwood) - Credit: Archant

1. Where have they hidden the Broads?

Wroxham and Hoveton sit on either side of the River Bure, but the actual Wroxham Broad is about a mile to the south-east of the village, accessible only by a couple of lanes and paths.

Hoveton Great Broad is south-east of that, separated from Wroxham Broad by the Bure and Hudson's Bay and even further from Hoveton than it is from Wroxham. Meanwhile Hoveton Little Broad, aka Black Hourse Broads, is closer to Horning than Hoveton. In 1949 the Invasion of Black Horse Broad re-established ancient rights to public access to the water, which had been closed off by landowners.

Boatbuilder Herbert Woods led the invasion, which resulted in an agreement that the broad should be open between Easter and mid-September.

Hoveton Great Broad has a nature trail, which can only be reached by boat and is open from April to October. It celebrates its 50th anniversary this ear. A passenger ferry runs from Salhouse Broad to the trail.

Wroxham village sign (photo: Antony Kelly)

Wroxham village sign (photo: Antony Kelly) - Credit: © ARCHANT NORFOLK PHOTOGRAPHIC

2. When is Wroxham not Wroxham?

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Roys of Wroxham was founded in Coltishall in 1895 by brothers Alfred and Arnold Roy. Their second store was in Dereham and their third opened 120 years ago in Hoveton (not Wroxham.)

Lots of its supplies arrived by train, addressed to the Roy brothers at Wroxham station (even though it too was in Hoveton) and the store became known as Roys of Wroxham. It now has businesses in Hoveton, Dereham, Norwich, North Walsham, Bowthorpe, Thetford, Beccles and Sudbury, and a petrol station in Wroxham.

Wroxham FC's stadium (photo: Neil Perry)

Wroxham FC's stadium (photo: Neil Perry) - Credit: Archant

3. How would you travel from Hoveton to Aylsham, Sheringham… and Japan?

Wroxham and Hoveton are a major railway hub, if you count narrow gauge and miniature railways (and why wouldn't you?) As well as the shared mainline station on the Norwich to Sheringham line (actually in Hoveton), there is the Bure Valley Railway to Aylsham, the Miniature Worlds model railway visitor attraction, and the Barton House Railway created in gardens alongside the River Bure.

It has two sets of tracks, with miniature ride-on steam trains and a railway museum. Opened in 1963, its profits go to charity. This month trains will run on September 15 and 21.

Miniature Worlds, opposite the mainline station, is the work of three generations of the Green family and includes huge model railway layouts (based on Britain, continental Europe and Japan, complete with cities and mountains and, in Japan, bullet trains and temples.) There are also major Scalextric, Lego and Sindy doll displays.

St Mary the Virgin Church, Wroxham (photo: Sally Withey)

St Mary the Virgin Church, Wroxham (photo: Sally Withey) - Credit: Copyright Archant Norfolk Ltd

4. What links Wroxham and Man United?

Manchester United famously play at Old Trafford. Wroxham Football club just as famously (if you live in Wroxham) plays at Trafford Park. The grounds are named after the same family, which can trace its roots back 1,000 years.

5. Geordie Hoveton? Why aye

Writer Alan Hunter was born and brought up in Hoveton and in 1944, while serving with the RAF, published a book of poems about the area. His George Gently novels, inspired by the Broads, were adapted for television, with Norfolk's Martin Shaw taking the lead role. However the location was changed from Norfolk to County Durham. Howay Hoveton!

Hoveton Great Broad (photo: Simon Finlay)

Hoveton Great Broad (photo: Simon Finlay) - Credit: Archant Norfolk

6. How are the Twiggles, Boggles and Crocklebogs of BeWILDerwood related to James Bond and Test Match Special?

Tom Blofeld, of Hoveton House, transformed part of his estate into a world of woodland and water adventure, packed with tree houses, aerial walks, wobbly wires, slippery slopes, beautiful boat rides and more. Tom, a father of two who grew up playing here himself, dreamed up the huge forest playground and filled it with tribes of friendly forest and swamp-dwelling characters. His uncle is retired cricket commentator Henry Blofeld, or Blowers, and his father was at school with Ian Fleming's nephew (and a boy with the surname Scaramanga.)

Boats racing at the Norfolk Broads Yacht Club at Wroxham (photo: Denise Bradley)

Boats racing at the Norfolk Broads Yacht Club at Wroxham (photo: Denise Bradley) - Credit: Copyright: Archant 2019

7. And what did the Singing Postman have to say on the subject of Wroxham?

Allan Smethurst mentions the village, home to his sweetheart Molly Windley, in his world-famous Hev Yew Gotta Loight Bor?:

"I had a gal, a rare nice gal, down in Wroxham way

She were whooly nice ter me in the ole school days."

8. Which is the grandest grave in Wroxham?

A pretty pinnacled miniature chapel in the churchyard covers a burial vault and mausoleum for the Trafford family. The Traffords lived in the now-demolished Wroxham Hall and were given permission to have the mausoleum built in 1827. It was described, at the time, as 'a pleasing and exquisite miniature chapel, the architecture the style of Westminster Abbey.' Wroxham Hall became a convalescence hospital during the Second World War and the estate, in Wroxham, is still farmed by the Trafford family.

9. Why might you get an eyeful, entering Wroxham church?

The magnificent Norman door into Wroxham church has a succession of huge, intricately carved, arches plus monsters and intriguing figures which have been variously described as acrobats, double-tailed mermaids or sheela na gigs. Sheela na whats? Well, they are medieval carvings of naked squatting women, with legs akimbo, found on Norman churches in Britain, Ireland, France and Spain.