It is not clear when Fakenham had its first settlement, but the discovery of flint tools and weapons suggest the area was inhabited during Neolithic time. There is also evidence of a settlement in Roman times on Beacon Hill.
The Doomsday Book in 1086 AD states that Fakenham had a population of 150, vastly different from today’s ever-increasing population. The town’s oldest complete house is at the junction of Tunn Street and Swan Street and dates from the 17th Century.
Nearby is Fakenham’s market place, which was granted in 1250. The church is close to the market, which is a common feature of Norfolk’s market towns, and its size, stature and tall tower denotes that Fakenham was a wealthy settlement during medieval times.
Agriculture has been the principal industry of the town throughout the centuries and the Doomsday Book records that the river powered three mills. Wind power was used in the 18th and 19th Centuries, followed by gas and electricity.
The gas works were built in 1845 and Fakenham’s gas museum tells the story of how gas was once responsible for lighting up the whole town.
In 1862 Thomas Miller built up a prosperous business in printing, which went from a local operation to a substantial concern supplying books to a variety of major London publishers.
Today Fakenham still has its market and has a small selection of shops like the traditional butchers, bakers and greengrocers.
Pensthorpe Natural Park is one of Norfolk’s finest attractions and is located 45 minutes from Norwich on the A1067 Fakenham to Norwich road. It is home to many species of mammals, birds, invertebrates and plants and its diverse range of habitats creates a stunning rich landscape which Pensthorpe Conservation Trust manages. With indoor and outdoor adventure play areas, educational facilities, talks and guided tours, bird hides, a café and gift shop, it’s a great place to visit, whatever your age.
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Norfolk + Suffolk Tourist Attractions is the trade association for tourist attractions in Norfolk and Suffolk.