Monday, 18 July 2016

Norwich Summer Family Staycation at the Maids Head Hotel

The Maids Head Hotel launched a new Norwich Summer 2016 Staycation package at the Royal Norfolk Show, with a ‘beach burial’, on the hotel’s stand.  Amy Elvin, the hotel’s wedding co-ordinator is pictured being buried by Carey Briggs from Pensthorpe Natural Park, hotel colleague Katherine Renhard and Louise Rout from Fairhaven Woodland and Water Garden.

The Summer Staycation 2016 package gives families the opportunity to have a night in a family room in the oldest hotel in the UK and enjoy breakfast, plus an evening meal in the two AA Rosette WinePress Restaurant. 

Then they can explore one of four popular Norfolk attractions: Pensthorpe Natural Park near Fakenham, Fairhaven Woodland & Water Garden in the Norfolk Broads, Merrivale Model Village on the seafront at Great Yarmouth or CitySightseeing’s open top bus tour of Norwich. Also included in the package is a delicious picnic to take on the day out.

Prices are from £205, more information here.

Maids Head Hotel t. 01603 209955,

Wednesday, 8 June 2016

Wymondham Abbey Norfolk Medieval Evening

Wymondham Abbey
Head to Wymondham’s historic Abbey on Wednesday, June 15, 2016, from 5pm to 8pm, for an evening of 1107-style merriment. The Medieval Evening takes place in the church and churchyard off Church Street. It will be an evening of fun for all family, costing £5 for adults, for which you receive medieval money to spend at the event. Children get in free.

Falconry at Wymondham Abbey 
Explore medieval life and meet jesters, medieval villagers and more. There’ll be a falconer demonstrating one of the oldest hunting skills and a herbalist giving advice in the use of plants found in the Abbey’s herb garden. Try your hand at archery, partake of a hearty hog roast and sup an ale, while listening to merry medieval music.

Wymondham Abbey was founded in 1107, and dissolved as an Abbey on the orders of Henry VIII in 1538. The church was spared, and continues as the town’s Parish Church. The recently completed development project has given the church new modern facilities and allowed many ancient artefacts to be displayed.

For more details see 

Wednesday, 1 June 2016

New at Fairhaven Garden St Benet’s Abbey Boat Trip and Tour - Norfolk Broads

St Benet's Abbey. Photograph by Stephen Mole
Fairhaven Woodland and Water Garden in the Norfolk Broads is running a new combined boat trip and guided tour around St Benet's Abbey every Saturday until the end of September starting on Saturday, June 4, 2016.

The boat will leave Fairhaven staithe at 2.15pm, returning at approximately 4.30pm. The trip will include a 45 minute guided tour of St Benet’s Abbey, led by volunteers from the Friends of St Benet’s Abbey.

The combined trip and tour is not available to wheelchair users due to the unsuitability of the ground at the abbey.

Booking is advisable as spaces are limited. Prices, which include Fairhaven Garden entry and a donation to St Benet’s Abbey restoration fund, are £20 adult and £13  child. For Fairhaven members, the price is  £14 adult and £9.50 child. To book a place, please call 01603 270449, email

Primula one of the Fairhaven Garden boats
Fairhaven Woodland and Water Garden is at South Walsham NR13 6DZ, nine miles east of Norwich, signposted off A47 at B1140 junction. The garden is open daily all year from 10am to 5pm (closed Christmas Day), and on Wednesdays, until 9pm, to the end of August. Garden entry is £6.50 adult, £5.90 concessions, £3.75 child (under 5 free); free entry to tearoom, gift shop and plant sales.

There is wheelchair access throughout the garden, including a Sensory Garden and an accessible boat for trips on the broad from April to October (additional charge). Visitors requiring special facilities are advised to telephone in advance, mobility scooters available.

Dogs are welcome in the garden on leads; small charge to cover poop scoop.

Tuesday, 24 May 2016

Murtel Fish Ale New at Maids Head Hotel for Norwich City of Ale

Marcus Patteson, Director Sistema in Norwich, Katherine Renhard, Food Services Manager Maids Head Hotel and Rupert Farquharson, Managing Director Woodforde's launching Murtel Fish Ale in the Maids Head Bar.
The Maids Head Hotel has launched Murtel Fish Ale, a new signature beer brewed by Woodforde’s, in time for the Norwich City of Ale festival, which runs from May 26 to June 5, 2016.

The beer takes its name from the Murtel Fish Tavern, the Maids Head’s predecessor, which was trading on Wensum Street, then known as Cook Rowe, from at least 1287. The change of name to the Maids Head was confirmed by John Paston in a letter dated 2 November 1482, in which he recommended the inn as a good place to stable your horse.

The Maids Head will be supporting Sistema in Norwich, during City of Ale, by donating 20p to the local music charity for every pint of Murtel Fish Ale sold.

Marcus Patteson, Programme Director for Sistema in Norwich said: “It is fantastic to get support from such a high profile Norwich business as the Maids Head. We are trying to get more local businesses involved with Sistema and I’d like to thank Christine Malcolm and her team for working with us.”

Paul Dickson, a City of Norwich Tourist Guide, is leading two historic pub tours during City of Ale on Tuesday, May 31 and Friday, June 3, starting at the Maids Head at 6pm and ending back at the hotel’s bar for a Murtel Fish Ale sampling session.

Find out where Ralph McTell had his first professional gig and where Monsieur du Pain entertained drinkers by dipping his feet in boiling lead, explore Alan Partridge’s favourite Norfolk bar, discover where Parson Woodforde used to drink and much more. Price for the tour, including beer sampling, is £4.50. To book a place t. 01603 272008, or email

Christine Malcolm, General Manager, Maids Head said: “We have had a long and successful relationship with Woodforde’s and are very proud to be serving Norfolk beer in our 16th century Maids Head Bar. Naming a beer Murtel Fish Ale celebrates more than 800 years of hospitality on this site. We are also very pleased to be supporting Sistema in Norwich and hope to have a busy City of Ale festival.”

Rupert Farquharson, Managing Director Woodforde’s said: “As well as brewing delicious local beer, part of our duty is to preserve and promote the rich heritage of Norfolk. The Maids Head as a venue is steeped in charm and history with a unique story to be told. We hope that Murtel Fish Ale helps to keep this heritage alive and captivate drinkers throughout City of Ale and beyond, whilst providing valuable funds for Sistema in Norwich.”

Murtel Fish Tavern – the inn is first mentioned in Norwich records in 1287/88. The landlord is named as John de Ingham. ‘Robert the fowler stole goods from the said innkeeper at Cook Rowe.’ Edward the Black Prince (eldest son of King Edward III) was entertained at the tavern in 1359 when he attended a joust.            
Sistema in Norwich works to transform the lives of children and young people through participation in music. The charity involves them in learning to play a musical instrument and being part of an orchestra. Sistema in Norwich draws inspiration from El Sistema, the Venezuelan music programme that has more than 30 years experience, of how a music programme can both create great musicians and dramatically change the life of disadvantaged children.

Thursday, 19 May 2016

Fairhaven Green Festival Norfolk Broads

Head to Fairhaven Woodland and Water Garden, at South Walsham in the Norfolk Broads, for a great green day out at the annual Green Festival on Sunday, June 26 from 10am to 5pm. There will be a packed day of entertainment and fun environmental activities on land and afloat.

Normal entry charges apply on the day: adult £6.50, concessions £5.90 and child £3.75 (under 5 free), with some additional charges for boating activities.

Entertainment features music from The Busketeers, The Pedant’s Revolt Morris Dancers, Stevie Spud’s circus skills workshop, children’s clay play and face painting.

Free Spirit Canoe Tours
Activities and exhibitors include Avril’s Glass and Jewellery, Big Skies Food Company, Broadland District Council conservation bus, The Broads Society, Bure Valley Conservation Group, Compassion in World Farming, Forget Me Not Plants, Free Spirit Canoe Tours, The Green Lady Eco Store, Hawking Experience, Helen’s 4 Seasons Plants, Love Spoons Jewellery, Mini Scrapbox, Norfolk Badger Protection Group, Norfolk Hedge Baskets, Norfolk Heritage Fleet Trust (Hunter’s Yard) Norfolk Wildlife Trust, Predator Plants, RSPB and Wild Touch.

Louise Rout, Manager Fairhaven Woodland and Water Garden said: “We are really looking forward to our Green Festival. We have a busy programme of family entertainment, with activities afloat and on dry land, along with Norfolk businesses and charities with a ‘green’ focus.”

There is wheelchair access throughout the garden. Mobility scooters are available. Fairhaven offers accessible boat trips. Visitors requiring special facilities are advised to telephone in advance.

Fairhaven Woodland and Water Garden is at South Walsham, nine miles east of Norwich, signposted off A47 at B1140 junction, t. 01603 270449,

Friday, 22 April 2016

Maids Head Hotel Restaurant Norwich Awarded Second AA Rosette

The Maids Head Hotel in Norwich is celebrating the award of a second AA Rosette for the WinePress Restaurant, following the annual AA inspection, which rated the food offering at Five Star quality.

The overall Four Star merit score for the hotel across all assessment areas including cleanliness, service, bedrooms, bathrooms, food and hospitality increased to 81% (78% in 2015).

The Maids Head has been privately owned by the Chaplin family since December 2012, which has enabled a return to a policy of local purchasing for food and drink. The hotel has also embarked on a range of sympathetic refurbishment and renovation projects to ensure that the historic building, which claims to be the oldest hotel in Britain, meets the expectations of 21st century visitors and operates in a much more environmentally friendly way.

Christine Malcolm, General Manager the Maids Head Hotel said: “We are thrilled with the award of a second AA Rosette for our restaurant. Head Chef Marcin ‘Magic’ Pomierny and his brigade, supported by Food Services Manager Katherine Renhard and her team, work very hard to design and deliver exciting seasonally changing menus, using the best of local and regional produce.”

“We are also delighted that our overall merit score continues to increase, “ added Christine Malcolm. “Over the last 18 months we have been very busy installing a new environmentally friendly capillary heating system in the older part of the hotel, upgrading the bathrooms in our modern wing, refurbishing the lounges and all public toilets and most recently adding an al fresco seating area overlooking Tombland and completing a full upgrade of The Paston Suite, our most popular bridal suite.”

Maids Head Hotel Wine Press Restaurant
Nick Bond, Head of Tourism at VisitNorwich said:” We congratulate Christine Malcolm and her team at the Maids Head on the richly deserved second AA Rosette for the restaurant, and the continuous improvement of their overall merit score. The hotel’s programme of renovation and refurbishment is superb, focussing on the expectations of today’s visitors, but at the same time emphasising the amazing heritage of the site, serving Norwich for more than 800 years.”

The Maids Head Hotel claims to be the oldest hotel in Britain, based on the site being used continuously for hospitality since the early 12th century. Norwich historian Walter Rye, who also owned the Maids Head from 1889 to 1895, considered it to be: “the oldest Norman site in the city after the Castle”.

Maids Head Projects 2015/16

The Paston Suite has been fully refurbished and redecorated and now includes a roll top bath, walk in shower and his and hers washbasins. Work has just been completed and the first guests were welcomed last weekend.

Public Toilets: £140,000 was invested last year in fully refurbishing all public toilets, including the addition of an accessible toilet near the WinePress Restaurant and new gents’ toilets close to the Minstrel Suite, the hotel’s man function room. The hotel won best English hotel loo, in the Loo of the Year Awards 2015.

Capillary Heating System: a £500,000 hi-tech environmentally friendly capillary heating and cooling system has been installed in 40 bedrooms in the 15th century part of the hotel, which will keep rooms warm in winter and cool in summer. The Maids Head is the first hotel in Norfolk to install the system, which features a heat pump recycling water to capillary mats hidden in the bedrooms’ ceilings. The new system is currently being commissioned and will include individual controls in each room.

Bathroom Refurbishment: Forty bathrooms have been refurbished in the modern wing (£420,000 investment); 16 have been converted into walk in showers to improve accessibility for all ages. The showers and baths each feature panels depicting large-scale photographs of views of the historic city of Norwich, chosen from a competition with Archant’s iWitness24.

Public Lounges: the hotel’s lounges have had a contemporary makeover (£120,000 investment).

Guests Services App: guests now have the latest iRiS guest services paper free app in their bedrooms (£50,000 investment). iRiS was introduced at the end of June 2015 and gives guests the opportunity to plan their stay at the hotel, and order food and drink from the restaurant and bar, in the comfort of their room.  Using the iPad based system, also a first for a hotel in Norfolk, guests can book taxis, check airport departure boards, browse the internet, get the latest information on events and culture in Norwich and days out in Norfolk.

Friday, 11 March 2016

Great Days Out in Norfolk & Suffolk - English Tourism Week Launch

Norfolk & Suffolk attractions' mascots racing at Sealife Centre Yarmouth
Norfolk Tourist Attractions’ Association (NTAA) and Visit Suffolk Attractions launched the 2016 Great Days Out in Norfolk & Suffolk booklet at the Sealife Centre and Merrivale Model Village Great Yarmouth, on Tuesday, March 8. The launch featured a mascots race won by Shaky the Shark from Great Yarmouth Sealife Centre to celebrate English Tourism Week.

Norfolk and Suffolk's attractions continue to invest in new projects and events. Sealife Centre Great Yarmouth is opening Turtle Shelter, a themed exhibit featuring turtles in their natural habitat. Merrivale Model Village has installed the Merri Eye, a 12ft high observation wheel for the resident ‘Merrivalians’.

King’s Lynn’s stunning new heritage attraction, Stories of Lynn, opens at Easter, telling the stories of seafarers, explorers, merchants, mayors, magistrates and miscreants who have shaped the town. The project was made possible by a grant of £1,850,600 from the Heritage Lottery Fund, £800,000 from the Borough Council of King’s Lynn & West Norfolk, and investments from other funders.  Holkham Hall is transforming former stables and pottery buildings in a £4.5million project to create new and improved visitors facilities including an exhibition telling the story of Holkham’s unique farming heritage.

The Great Days Out booklet features 53 quality assured attractions across Norfolk and Suffolk and £285 of discount vouchers The booklet offers an unrivalled menu of activities from boat trips on the Broads, theme parks, world famous museum collections and country houses and gardens to zoos and animal collections, heritage railways, top draw live shows and much more.

New members in the 2016 booklet are Beccles Lido and Big Dog Ferry, Fakenham Racecourse, Richardson's Day Boats and Stories of Lynn.

Some 400,000 booklets will be distributed across the six counties of the East of England. Great Days Out in Norfolk & Suffolk can also be downloaded from

Martin Dupée, Chairman NTAA and Visit Suffolk Attractions said: “All is set for a fantastic year at Norfolk and Suffolk attractions. The Great Days Out booklet features 53 excellent reasons for day trips and short breaks in the region. Our good news includes the Stories of Lynn at King's Lynn, Holkham Hall's farming exhibition and Courtyard Cafe and Dippy's Splash Zone at Dinosaur Adventure. And we are proud to number Cromer Pier in our ranks, Pier of the Year 2015 and home to Europe's only end of the pier show.”                
“It's great to see both large and smaller attractions continuing to invest in new facilities and innovative events, improving the visitor experience and giving a boost to our £4.8 billion tourism economy in Norfolk and Suffolk.”  

Church Farm, Stow Bardolph is expanding the indoor play area for under 5s in time for Easter and will add a new pedal tractor trail in the outdoor play area by early summer,

City Sightseeing Norwich will be fully accessible for visitors with disabilities from May.

Dippy's Splash Zone at Dinosaur Adventure launches with Dippy's Splash Zone Party from May 28 to June 5.

Holkham Hall: New exhibition opening in 2016 telling the unique story of Holkham’s farming heritage, plus Courtyard Cafe and shop; and in the hall a special exhibition, 'Remembering the 7th Earl of Leicester 1936-2015'.

Norfolk & Suffolk attractions' mascots 'fam trip' to Merrivale Model Village
Merrivale Model Village has installed the Merri Eye, a 12ft high observation wheel for the resident ‘Merrivalians’ and new ‘X-Factor’ stage.

Pleasurewood Hills : new Waveswinger attraction, opening date to be confirmed.The Main Street area of the park is being refurbsihed with improved décor and changes to two food outlets which will be renamed Smokey Joes and Sharkies Fish & Chips. Woodycopters and the Mini Twister have been relocated, complemented with extensive landscaping.

Sealife Centre Great Yarmouth: Turtle Shelter is a new themed exhibit featuring turtles in their natural habitat. The walls will be adorned with interactive and educational elements describing the 200-million year history of these reptiles.

Snettisham Park new for 2016, children's pony treks and rides.

Stories of Lynn: King’s Lynn’s stunning new heritage attraction Stories of Lynn opens this Easter.  Telling the stories of seafarers, explorers, merchants, mayors, magistrates and miscreants who have shaped the town, the exhibition along with the borough archives cover more than 800 years of history.

Set within the atmospheric 15th-century undercroft of the magnificent Trinity Guildhall and parts of the old town gaol, the exhibition features exciting new audio-visual and interactive displays along with a host of artefacts, exhibits and treasures.  The King John Cup, a lavishly decorated 14th-century drinking vessel, takes pride of place, set within the dark, dramatic Treasury.  Housed within Stories of Lynn are the borough archives – a unique collection of documents dating back to the 13th Century which tell their own stories of the townspeople.  The Red Register, the oldest complete paper archival book in England, is the centrepiece of the collection.