Situated in the north of East Anglia about 60 miles to the north east of London, Norfolk, deriving its name from "north folk", is one of the four counties of East Anglia (the others being Suffolk, Cambridgeshire and Essex). Because of its relative isolation from the rest of England it has managed to preserve much of its ancient landscapes, architecture and tradition. It was not until the 19 th century, with the arrival of the railway, that major external influences arrived to the county. Norfolk is famous for its peaceful and quaint environment and although it is the fourth largest county in England , it is not very densely populated.
But for all its peaceful surroundings, however, Norfolk has experienced more exciting times not least because of the formidable character of its people. In 60 AD Queen Boudicca (Boadicea), for instance, head of the Iceni tribe raised the entire south East of England against the Romans, withstanding the Roman invasion before ultimately being defeated.
The Danes, who were the next conquering force, also experienced considerable trouble in pacifying Norfolk 's population, compelling them to exert considerable brutality against it to do so. In the late 11th century Hereward the Wake resisted the Norman Conquest, leading resistance in Norfolk's Fennlands and in 1549 Robert Kett led a rebellion against what he perceived was the incompetent administration of the regime of Somerset during the reign of the boy king, Edward VI. Probably the most famous of all of Norfolk 's warriors, however, was Horatio Nelson who went on to defeat Napoleon at the famous battle of Trafalgar in 1805. One cannot, of course, forget to mention another of Norfolk 's revolutionary, Thomas Paine, who became a prime mover behind the American independence movement and who spent his early life in the small town of Thetford in the west of the county
Because of Norfolk ' flat terrain its coastline has altered considerable over the centuries, with many towns and villages being lost to the sea. Water in general has also had a major role to play in Norfolk 's interior, notably the Marshland Fen in the north west of the country that were caused by periodic sea a fresh water flooding and in creating rich pasture land, ideal for sheep rearing. At the time of the Norman Conquest during the mid eleventh century, this area was one of the poorest areas in the county. By 1300, however, it had become one of the most prosperous, as shown by the massive growth of the urban population and by the construction of many churches. Today, because of the fertility of the land, arable farming has replaced sheep farming.
Norfolk 's most famous features are its Broads , 200 square miles of canals that are fed by three main rivers, the Waveney in the south, the Yare in the middle and the Bure in the north. For all its natural beauty, the Broads, however, are a man-made construction. During early medieval times the area was exploited for its abundant reserves of peat that was sold in Norwich , which was then England 's second largest city. With rising sea levels, the old peat works were flooded, forming a series of inter-connected rivers that enter the sea at Great Yarmouth. The Broads today, apart from hosting abundant habitats are navigable waterways which once served as an essential life line to isolated communities, but today are used for leisure and recreation.
Today, Norfolk has largely lost the commercial importance it once had and boasts no large cities. This is what makes for its unique character. It is rich in heritage and its countryside is peppered with old churches,, notably its fine Norman Cathedrals in Norwich and Ely, windmills, villages, small market towns and traditional inns and its coastline is host to a number of bustling sea side towns such as Kings Lynn, Great Yarmouth and Lowestoft.
For those visitors who want to see a part of England that is unique in so many different ways then Norfolk is the place. It is ideal for those seeking peace and combined with tradition but it also offers more lively attraction, particularly in the coastal towns. In general, Norfolk offers a range of attractions that is suitable for all tastes.