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Britain > West Norfolk > Hunstanton

An east coast resort that actually faces west, with famous stripped cliffs

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Cliffs & Beach
Promenade & Funfair
Shops & Restaurants
Sealife Centre
Old Hunstanton
This Norfolk town actually used to be called New Hunstanton. The original settlement, Old Hunstanton, is a smaller village to the north. The newer, larger town that we know today was developed in the 19th century by Styleman Le Strange, who was Hunstanton's Lord of the Manor. He dreamed about a place where people could come to relax, enjoy the sun, and breath the sea air. In 1846, he began to turn these dreams into a reality, and by 1862, the new town was ready.

Hunstanton town sign, showing the history of the town

The ruins of St Edmunds Chapel dates back to 1272 and it is claimed that it was built by monks to celebrate the arrival by St Edmund in 855.

Did You Know?

Hunstanton Lighthouse has been warning shipping of dangerous sandbanks in the Wash for many hundreds of years. The first lighthouse was built here in 1666, it was built of wood with an iron basket of burning coals as a light; the current building dates back to 1844, with the light operating until 1922, when it was closed down and the lantern taken off. The lighthouse is now a private holiday home
In a somewhat unlucky turn of events, Styleman Le Strange died in that very same year. He never got to enjoy the fruits of his labour. Nevertheless, the town soon proved to be just as popular as he would have hoped. Even today, visitors still flock in to visit. Hunstanton has evolved a little though, over the years. It used to be renowned as a great place to recover from illness, and important people like King Edward VII would visit to regain their health. Nowadays, it's just a great place to enjoy the beach. Hunstanton has just about every traditional seaside entertainment, even the ones that have been disappearing from many resorts, like donkey rides.

Traditional fair ground rides along the sea-front at Hunstanton

Pony and Donkey rides on Hunstanton's Beach
Another creature that offers rides along the coast is known as Wiley, the Wash Monster. Actually, this isn't a real animal, although it does have angry eyes and sharp teeth! The Wash Monster is actually a strangely-decorated, amphibious hybrid of a bus and a boat. It picks up passengers on the land, before zooming off into the sea. The contraption was designed as a landing vehicle for American troops in Vietnam, but now it makes much less dangerous journeys. There are several different tours on offer, including a popular jaunt to see the local seal colonies.

The Wash Monster
Back on the shore, Hunstanton's Sealife Centre helps to look after these seals. In particular, they take care of sick or injured seal pups, before releasing them back into the wild. The centre is also a public aquarium, with penguins, otters, and other creatures.

Hunstanton's Sea Life Sanctuary
In 1998, another interesting sight was revealed on the Hunstanton coast. Winter storms swept away some of the sand, revealing a unique Bronze Age monument that was quickly nicknamed "Seahenge". The trunk of an oak tree had been turned upside down, and planted firmly into the ground. This central column was surrounded by a ring of 55 other oak stumps, forming a mysterious display with no obvious purpose. After it was removed for analysis, scientists were able to accurately track the date of construction. It was built in 2050BC, at around the same time as Stonehenge. After preservation at the Mary Rose Trust in Portsmouth, Seahenge has now returned to Norfolk and is on display at the Lynn Museum in King’s Lynn.

The beach near Old Hunstanton where Seahenge was found
In traditional seaside fashion, Hunstanton used to have a pier. Unfortunately, it suffered terrible bad luck, and was frequently ravaged by fires and storms. A new building now exists at the point where the pier once met the land. It hosts a mixture of arcade games, bowling lanes, and other entertainment. Elsewhere in town, you can visit the funfair, see something at the theatre, or get a bite to eat. If you're feeling peckish, then bear in mind that Hunstanton is right between The Wash estuary in the west, and an area of potato-growing land in the east. There's no better place to have fish 'n' chips!

Hunstanton Pier

Hunstanton's Princess Theatre

Hunstanton's Bandstand
Elsewhere, the town's Victorian and Edwardian architecture is still well-preserved, with its elegant buildings, streets, and squares. The shopping scene is fun, with several markets, plenty of gift stores, and England's biggest joke shop.

Tourist Information Centre at the Town Hall

Hunstanton North Promenade

Did You Know?

Hunstanton is a popular destination and meeting place for bikers.
Along the coast, you'll be able to spot one of Hunstanton's most famous features. Its cliffs are unusually colourful, with vivid red stripes. The beach below has rock pools and good sand. This is a great place to spend an evening. Despite being on the east coast of England, Hunstanton actually faces west. This means that the sun sets over the water, making for some fantastic views. It's thanks to this that the town has acquired the nickname: "Sunny Hunny".

Hunstanton's famous cliffs
Visitor Information
Hunstanton Tourist Information Centre, Town Hall, The Green, Hunstanton, PE36 6BQ. Tel: 01485 532 610
Sealife Centre is open daily from 10am to 4pm (times may vary depending on the season). Entry costs around £11.50 for adults, £9 for children. Southern Promenade, Hunstanton, Norfolk, PE36 5BH. Tel: 01485 533576

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