Situated on the River Wensum, Fakenham is a Norfolk market town 25 miles from Norwich, around 19 miles from King's Lynn and 19 miles from Cromer. 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.
Interesting facts about Fakenham
- Fakenham is home of Kinnerton Chocolate and employs around 700 people. Established in 1978, Kinnerton Confectionery is now Britain's largest manufacturer of chocolate and novelty confectionery
- Fakenham Town Band is one of the few brass bands in East Anglia that has been in existence in three different centuries. It was established in 1881 and has enjoyed continuous existence since. Formed by six men in a pub, Fakenham Town Band has had its ups and downs and has survived two world wars
- Famous people from Fakenham include: Thomas Miller, bookseller and antiquarian, Sir George Edwards, farm workers' leader and later local MP, Peter Parfitt, an England and Middlesex cricketer in the early 1960s, attended Fakenham Grammar School, Simon Dring, journalist and television producer and footballing brothers Ryan Jarvis and Rossi Jarvis
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.
Langham Glass was established in 1979 and is run as a family business, started by Paul Miller, a professional glassmaker. It was founded in the Norfolk village of Langham, hence its name, however now it is located in Fakenham. The visitor centre welcomes tourists all year round, who can watch glassmakers design and create a variety of products including their popular and collectable handmade crystal.
Fakenham Racecourse is the only National Hunt Racecourse in Norfolk and had its first meeting in 1905, attracting 37 runners. Just one meeting per year was held on Easter Monday, with racing continuing each year except for enforced breaks during war years. Racing fixtures have increased over the years and Fakenham racecourse continues to draw in the crowds.