The village of Castle Acre lies further south of the county, only 4 miles north of Swaffham and 15 miles east of King’s Lynn. It is well worth the drive to see such a lovely medieval planned settlement with the broad tree-lined Stocks Green where you can find a café and a pub. The town was entered in the 12th century by the Bailey Gate, now the only remaining gate of the town. Many of the houses in the town have been built from blocks of stone from the priory.
We stopped here on our way to Oxburgh Hall which is south of Swaffham mainly to see the Priory, but we were quite taken by the charming village and the castle too.
Castle Acre Priory, which is under the care of English Heritage, is a beautiful and peaceful place with some of the most intact Cluniac priory buildings in England. For 450 years it was the home and workplace of monks and their servants, a refuge for pilgrims and a stopping point for royalty, clergy and nobility. While rooted in the economy and society of Norfolk it was also part of a vast monastic network centred on the great abbey of Cluny in France. Walking around this site you get a feeling of the size and serenity of this place and if you use the audio tour provided then you can listen to the monks tales and walk in their footsteps.
Whilst in Castle Acre we also visited the Norman ‘motte and bailey’ castle which was abandoned in the middle ages, and although what little of the building left is in ruins, there are impressive earthworks.
A great day out except for the weather which was a little damp!