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  • Overview

    East Anglia sits on the hump of East England and includes Norfolk, Suffolk and Cambridgeshire. Parts of Essex are sometimes also considered part of the region. Most of East Anglia is flat, with picturesque fenland and marshland; one of the greatest assets of this charming corner of England is the network of waterways which make it a popular boating destination. The coastline is also a big draw, with sandy and pebble beaches stretching along the remarkably unspoilt coast. An extra bonus for those considering beach or boating holidays is the fact that East Anglia is one of the driest parts of England and summers are usually gloriously devoid of the notorious English drizzle.

    The region also has historical charm, with Cambridge providing scholarly prestige and Gothic splendour, and a number of other towns boasting impressive cathedrals. East Anglia is more about stately country homes and seaside villages than big cities though, travellers can while away the time on the lawns of grand estates like Blickling Estate and Holkham Hall, getting a taste for the country life of England's upper classes. Traversing the coastline or Norfolk Broads, enjoying the pubs and other attractions along the way, is also a worthwhile venture.

    University of Cambridge

    The University of Cambridge is one of the oldest in the world and is made up of 31 colleges, each an independent institution with its own property and income. The oldest college, Peterhouse, was founded in 1281 by the Bishops of Ely. Both Charles Darwin and John Milton were students at Christ's College, founded by the mother of Henry VII in 1505. The largest and perhaps most famous college is Trinity College, which was founded by Henry VIII. The college's masterpiece is Christopher Wren's magnificent library, where the likes of Sir Isaac Newton, Lord Byron, Tennyson and William Thackeray studied. There are also many museums around the university, but most visitors come here to walk around the wonderful buildings, take in the history and admire the wonderful architecture.

    King's College, Cambridge King's College, Cambridge
    Norfolk Broads

    Much of the area east of Norwich is criss-crossed with a series of navigable inland waterways, known as the Norfolk Broads. The area has become a popular holiday retreat for visitors hiring houseboats and cruisers to tour these waterways, which wind through quaint towns and offer fantastic fishing for keen anglers. There are many companies willing to rent boats to holidaymakers and a multitude of attractions and good pubs to check out on the banks, check the official Norfolk Broads website for more information. The Norfolk Broads are a glorious setting for a relaxed boating holiday in England, popular with both locals and tourists.

    The Norfolk Broads The Norfolk Broads Acme, Cristobal Palma Photography
    Holkham Hall

    Holkham Hall is home to the Earl and Countess of Leicester, with the property being in the Coke family's possession since 1609. The formidable 18th-century Palladian Hall is the centre of a 25,000-acre estate on the north coast of Norfolk. Within the house are some magnificent state rooms, including the vast Marble Hall, which features a magnificent art collection (including paintings by Rubens and van Dyke). Visitors can also view the old kitchens that catered for the family and their enormous entourage. Within the old stables is the Bygones Museum, which displays fascinating exhibits from times gone by, including a history of farming. The Park surrounding the hall is popular with locals and tourists alike, as is Holkham Beach, which attracts sunbathers and swimmers on warm days.

    Holkham Hall Holkham Hall Nigel Jones
    Blickling Estate

    Blickling Hall is a splendid early 17th-century house owned by the National Trust. It is one of England's great Jacobean houses and is built in red brick with a gabled façade and elegant corner turrets. Its long gallery has an outstanding plaster ceiling and houses a superb library containing 12,000 books. Throughout the house a fine collection of family portraits, including works by Gainsborough and Reynolds, as well as textiles and elegant furniture, can be admired. The ghosts of Anne Boleyn and Sir John Fastolfe (the inspiration for Shakespeare's Falstaff) are said to haunt the house and grounds. The breathtaking garden offers variety and colour throughout the seasons, with spring bulbs, magnolias, particularly dramatic displays of azaleas and rhododendrons, plus herbaceous borders and stunning autumn tints - a very pleasant place to spend an afternoon. There are miles of attractive lakeside and parkland walks, and interesting features such as the sunken garden, a dry moat, a temple and an orangery.

    Blickling Hall Blickling Hall
    Norwich

    The city of Norwich, the capital of East Anglia, grew to prominence as the primary market town for the fertile surrounding region. The famous Norwich Cathedral is one of the prettiest in England and, along with the ancient Norwich Castle, dominates the city. Once a royal palace, Norwich Castle is now the centrepiece of a museum housing one of England's finest regional collections of natural history, art and archaeology.

    Another great attraction in Norwich is Eaton Park, the largest of the city's historic parks. The vast areas of open parklands, shady avenues of trees and beautiful gardens make this an appealing destination for a relaxing picnic or a leisurely walk. Park facilities include tennis courts, cricket grounds, a cycle track and a skateboard park, as well as a putt-putt course, a children's play area and a miniature railway. There is also a café at the park for refreshments.

    On the coast, 20 miles (32km) east of Norwich, visitors can discover Great Yarmouth Pleasure Beach, which occupies a nine-acre seafront site and encompasses over 70 rides and attractions.

    Norfolk Broads yachts Norfolk Broads yachts Robert Henson

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    From half-timbered homes to stately Gothic cathedrals, across shimmering fens and through lakes and rivers, the East of England is broad and varied, promising something for everyone. The university town of Cambridge boasts exquisite architecture and a long, rich heritage, while boat trips through the Broads will reveal large sections of unspoilt countryside teeming with wildlife. In the ancient towns of Ely and Lincoln are magnificent cathedrals, and King's College Chapel in Cambridge is arguably the finest example of Gothic architecture in Europe.

    In rural Norfolk, visitors can discover some of the country's finest stately homes such as Blickling Estate and Holkham Hall. East Anglia provides a glorious combination of natural beauty and historic charm. While devoid of any giant metropolis, a holiday in East Anglia is the perfect opportunity to explore the quaint corners of smaller towns and villages, or to pursue outdoor activities like horseback riding, hiking, sailing, quad biking, and bird watching. Cambridge is a wonderful travel base but there are also numerous quaint country B&Bs to provide charming accommodation.

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