Making a move to . . .
- Credit: IAN BURT
One of north Norfolk’s absolute treasures, the fishing town of Wells-next-the-Sea is fast becoming one of the most desirable locations in the county, with properties to match - from the fine Georgian houses of the lime-tree-lined Buttlands, to the luxury apartments developed in the historic Granary overlooking the expansive harbour, and from the quaintest of fishermen’s cottages to town houses with fabulous views across sea or countryside.
Wells links land and sea in the beautiful mid stretch of our north coast, between Blakeney and Burnham Market - it has an identity all of its own, yet is just 30 miles from Norwich. Named after the many fresh water springs that the town has boasted through the centuries, its name has developed from Wylla in Anglo-Saxon times, through Welles and Wells-on-Sea to, since the 1950s, Wells-next-the-Sea.
This has been a fishing port for some 700 years, once known as the greatest in eastern England. Mentioned in the Domesday Book, it has a heritage that includes shipbuilding, malting, brewing and trading, and in more recent years its sailing, fantastic beach and fascinating shopping streets have made it a firm favourite with visitors as well as the 3000 residents.
During the summer months, many thousands of holidaymakers head to this part of the county. There is a sizable bed and breakfast and self-catering offering in and around the town, plus many great places to eat, drink and buy great local produce. As Wells has grown in popularity, around 20pc of the properties in the town now belong to newcomers to the area, prompting the establishment of the independent society Homes for Wells which works to provide properties for local keyworkers and their families.
Facilities in the area include Wells Primary and Nursery School, the Alderman Peel High School which is a specialist sports college. There is also the Wells Community Hospital, a health centre and a library in the town, plus places of worship for Anglicans, Congregational, Methodist, Roman Catholics and Quakers.
With a strong and creative community, it is proud of its annual summer carnival in August, and the new Pirate Festival in September which raises money to help fund the redevelopment of The Maltings into a significant arts, entertainment and functions space. Throughout the year, this area has so much going on - film screenings, theatre productions, concerts at Wells, Sheringham, Cromer along the coast, and the culturally-rich Holt, Walsingham and Fakenham just inland. That community spirit came to the fore once again following the extraordinarily high storm surge in December that brought flooding to many parts of our coastline.
For nature lovers, this part of the county is an undeniable treat - birdwatching par excellence (a must-visit is the Norfolk Wildlife Trust Cley Reserve), walks through pine woods, by saltmarshes teeming with wildlife and along sandy beaches with Wells’ delightful stretch of beach huts.
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It’s an area that has enchanted generations of Norfolk people and visitors from all over the world. Spend a little time here and the Wells area will weave its spell on you.