Culture and heritage

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History in the making

The Broads is a region with a rich and diverse culture. From historic landmarks with fascinating pasts, to the many arts and crafts today, The Broads continues to inspire.

Culture and heritage in the Broads - Horsey Mill
Horsey Mill

One of the defining features of the Broads is the many windmills you’ll see dotted around the landscape. Once used to grind corn or flour, or to provide drainage, many of these have been restored to become popular visitor attractions.

The National Trust-owned, five storey Horsey Windpump is a must for anyone interested in the role these feats of engineering played in shaping the landscape of the Broads. Not to mention the fantastic views that will greet you from the top floor!

St Benet’s Abbey
Culture and heritage in the Broads - St Benet's Abbey
St Benet's Abbey

St Benet’s Abbey was established around 1,000 years ago with the support of King Canute. Once an impressive site with a substantial gatehouse, church and cloisters rising out of the Broads, it is now a ruin and part hidden inside a later windmill.

Owned by the Norfolk Archaeological Trust this impressive ruin evokes over 1,000 years of history. A historic monument and living church, it is still used as a place of pilgrimage and worship today by local communities, and annually during a service conducted by Bishop of Norwich, who retains the role of Abbot of St Benet’s. Whether arriving by boat or on foot, St Benet’s Abbey offers visitors the opportunity to experience the Broads as the monks, pilgrims and traders of old would have done.

Somerleyton Hall

The Broads can also help you to step back in time by providing a gateway to some of the most striking stately homes in the country. Suffolk’s Somerleyton Hall not only boasts an immaculately-preserved, Grade II listed Victorian mansion and notable gardens, but also remains a fully working estate – ensuring that its history and grandeur are protected for future generations.


An idyllic town on the river Waveney, Bungay is one of many smaller communities dotted throughout the area that offer a real taste of life on the Broads. Colourful past and thriving present combine, allowing visitors to spend a day exploring local history at the Bungay Museum and the ruins of Bigod’s Castle, or simply enjoying the hustle and bustle of a contemporary market town.

The Two Rivers Trail

The beauty of The Broads has long been an inspiration for artists – creating a thriving arts and crafts scene that’s still going strong today.

The Two Rivers Art trails follows the Ant and Bure rivers – inviting visitors to explore the work of ten artists across six studios. It’s a fantastic way to take in the art and culture of the area, while also offering much to see and do along the route.

Beccles Carnival

With a wide range of local events filling up the calendar, a visit to the Broads offers excitement all year round. As one of many similar events held across the region, Beccles Carnival has been turning this quaint market town into a popular festival spot for over one hundred years. Taking place on the third weekend of every August, it’s the ideal time to visit. Make sure you stay for the Sunday night parade.

University of East Anglia Literary Festival

The tranquillity and beauty of the Broads have also inspired many writers over the years – from the classic children’s books of Arthur Ransome to the crime novels of P.D. James. Norwich’s status as a UNESCO City of Literature reflects the way that the written word has been woven into the fabric of the area. The many literary festivals held throughout the year, in the city and elsewhere, offer a great chance to hear a range of authors reading from their work.