A History of Norfolk

2 customer reviews


The story of Norfolk and its people began almost a million years ago on the foreshore at Happisburgh. It has a history stretching back into the dimmest mists of time, across whose soil some of our most celebrated national figures have walked – from Boudica, to Mary Tudor and Elizabeth, Nelson and Turnip Townshend, Elizabeth Fry and Edith Cavell. Everywhere bears the imprint of that past and every chapter in its history is fascinating.



Norfolk is a county of great houses, of sweeping parks and large estates, but there are many smaller and no less attractive manor houses and Georgian rectories, often circled by moats or set in intimate parklands of their own. It is a county of small, twisting roads, of lost railways and of reedy waterways plied by pleasure boats. Norfolk has several hundred small villages set amid a scatter of often beautiful and always historically rich market towns. At the centre is Norwich, one of the great historic cities of Europe, with a remarkable heritage of medieval churches, monastic buildings, cathedrals, a great castle, and a glorious assemblage of domestic and commercial architecture.

Historian Chris Barringer lost his heart to Norfolk when he moved there in 1966. He became passionate about its landscapes and its extraordinarily rich history, and A History of Norfolk brings together half a lifetime’s experience of walking the fields, exploring the towns and villages, researching a treasury of archives, and absorbing the unique magic of this wonderful county.

• The biggest and the best history of the great county of Norfolk
• Excellent research presented in a highly readable way
• Lavishly illustrated with a varied selection of old images, modern photographs and maps.
• Gorgeous eyecatching cover
• Beautifully designed and produced, a very substantial book that represents superb value

Author: Chris Barringer
Imprint: Carnegie Publishing
Binding: Paperback
ISBN: 978-1-85936-233-4
Extent: 448 pages
Format: 243 x 169mm
Illustrations: over 350
Pub. date: 12 April 2019

2 reviews for A History of Norfolk

  1. Easter Daily Press

    A fascinating new history of Norfolk is a fitting tribute to author Chris Barringer, and the county he loved.

    From Stone Age burial mounds to our particularly complex road network, from Boudicca to Edith Cavell, and from Celtic saints to Victorian tourism, the fascinating history of Norfolk is traced and celebrated in a new book.

    It is being called the last, and greatest, work of historian Chris Barringer.

    Chris lost his heart to Norfolk when he moved to the county with his wife and two children in 1965, to work in adult education, first for Cambridge University and then the University of East Anglia.

    As he explored the towns and villages, fields and woodland, rivers and coast of Norfolk he learned to read the landscape – what is that hummock, why does the lane curve there, where did a farm or village name come from? Chris researched in the open air, as well as the archives, and the results are an impressively authoritative yet beautifully accessible book.

    The sheer wealth of archaeological finds in Norfolk reveals how long people have lived here. As they settled – hunter-gatherers, the first farmers, Celts, Romans, Vikings, Normans and beyond – they shaped the landscape and culture. Chris charts this process and alongside this journey from the distant past to the 21st century, he introduces some of the Norfolk people who have had a national and international impact – Horatio Nelson, Charles “Turnip” Townshend, Elizabeth Fry and many more.

    Maps and pictures illustrate each page and point, as chapters range from Roman Norfolk to 21st century housing estates and nature conservation.

    From his home in Hethersett, near Norwich, Chris, who died, aged 82, in 2013, was a champion of adult education and lifelong learning and set up many local history groups across Norfolk. He served as president of the Norfolk Archaeological and Historical Research Group, chairman of the Norfolk and Norwich Heritage Trust and vice president of the Norfolk and Norwich Archaeological Society. He helped save medieval Dragon Hall in Norwich, ran classes at Wensum Lodge and was the first director of extramural studies at the University of East Anglia.

    This comprehensive, readable, celebration of Norfolk is a tribute to him and to his adopted county.

  2. The Lynn News: Friday, June 7, 2019

    New book tells the history of the ‘secret jewel of England’

    The history of ‘the secret jewel of England’ is told in the final work of author Chris Barringer.
    It was Stephen Fry’s description of Norfolk – the fourth largest county in England – and ‘A History of Norfolk’ is recognsied as the greatest work of Barringer, who died in the summer of 2013.
    He lost his heart to Norfolk when he moved here in 1965 and his 460-page impressive volume takes readers on a journey from earliest times to the present day.
    It’s well-researched in a highly readable way and contains beautiful photographs, drawings and maps.
    The story begins almost a million years ago at Happisburgh and takes in the Romans and celebrated figures from Boudica to Mary Tudor and Elizabeth, Nelson, Elizabeth Fry and Edith Cavell.
    Great houses, sweeping parks, manor houses and Georgian rectories, small villages, market towns and historic Norwich city are also featured in a comprehensive and informative publication.
    At various times Chris was president of the Norfolk Archaeological and Historical Research Group, vice-president of the Norfolk and Norwich Archaeological Society and chairman of the Norfolk and Norwich Heritage Trust.
    His book brings together half-a-lifetime’s experience of researching the unique magic of our wonderful county.

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