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Norfolk and Norwich Quotations

'Let any stranger find mee so pleasant a county, such good way, large heath, three such places as Norwich, Yar. and Lin. in any county of England, and I'll bee once again a vagabond to visit them.'

Sir Thomas Browne


'Often times within the circle of your sight there is neither house nor man visible. A grey church tower, a windmill, or the dark-brown sail of a wherry in the distance breaks the sense of utter loneliness, but the scene is wild enough to enchain the imagination of many.'

George Christopher Davis (1884)


'I am a Norfolk man and Glory in being so.'

Horatio Nelson


'I am still reeling with delight at the soaring majesty of Norfolk.'

John Betjeman


'Norfolk is not simply a word that describes a county. "Norfolk" describes also a language, a humour and a way of life. Spoken Norfolk has a stout and uniquely resistant quality and only people born in the county are able properly to penetrate it and repeat it with their own tongues. Just as their language, so also the people of Norfolk are tough, resistant and impenetrable.'

Dick Bagnall-Oakeley


'The prevailing wind in Norfolk is onshore; this explains why Norfolkmen invariably speak with their mouths closed.'

Old Norfolk saying


'Very flat, Norfolk.'

Noel Coward (Private Lives)


' "My dear, never go there, it's a dreadful place; I assure you no one in Norfolk ever calls till the third generation!" '

Overheard by Lilias Rider Haggard's cousin


'...this corner of England which once it holds your heart is more lovely than any place on earth. Beautiful with a hint of secrecy which haunts it, as the memory of a dark and tender sadness clouds the brilliance of a summer day.'

Lilias Rider Haggard (Norfolk Notebook)


'The Norfolk landscape sends a shiver through my soul....'

Raffaella Barker


'For the traveller in search of the English Heritage, the county is a paradise. It has great cliffs and chalk downs, a history far older than any written documents, delightful rivers, unique still waters, low-lying fens, captivating towns, a historic roll of famous folk and a group of Saxon, Norman, and medieval churches crammed with beauty that makes England the matchless country in the world.'

Arthur Mee


'......its natives value it for its oddness and unspectacular beauty.'

Wilhelmine Harrod

' "This is Norfolk," he [John Crow] said to himself; and in that intense, indrawn silence some old atavistic affiliation with fen-ditches and fen-water and fen-peat tugged at his soul and pulled it earthward.'

A Glastonbury Romance by John Cowper Powys


' "I am not a man of Llydaw" said I, in English, "but of Norfolk where the people eat the best dumplings in the world and speak the purest English." '

George Borrow Wild Wales


'It is an ancient market town that stands
Upon a lofty cliff of mouldering sands;
The sea against the cliffs doth daily beat,
And every tide into the land doth eat.'

John Taylor, the Water Poet (on Cromer)


'You either get Norfolk, with its wild roughness and uncultivated oddities, or you don't. It's not all soft and lovely. It doesn't ask to be loved.'

Stephen Fry


'Once you get to know Norfolk, there is no better place to live.'

John Timpson


'You can always tell a Norfolk man, but you can't tell him much.'

Sidney Grapes


'And I think it was the outline of that church tower at Belaugh against the sky which gave me a passion for churches so that every church I've past since I've wanted to stop and look in.'

John Betjeman


'In Norfolk the obduracy of water has been the saving grace for the wildly beautiful north coast, the Broads and the river valleys.'

Mark Cocker


'Some counties vaunt themselves in pies and some in meat excel;
For turnips of enormous size Fair Norfolk bears the belle.'

Old rhyme


'If this were the time or the place to uphold a paradox, I am half inclined to state that Norfolk is one of the most beautiful of counties.'

Virginia Woolf


'Satan on the road to Hell
Ruined Norfolk as he fell.'

Anon. 12th Century, The Soil and Climate of Norfolk


'All England may be carved out of Norfolk.'

Thomas Fuller, 1662


'Norfolk breathes and the summer's weed
weaves a green runner going nowhere'

Edwin Brock


'Lovers of Norfolk churches can never agree which is the best and I think one is either a Salle or a Cawston man.'

John Betjeman


'The Norfolk people are quick and smart in their motions and their speaking. Very neat and trim in all their farming concerns and very skilful. Their land is good, their roads are level, and the bottom of their soil is dry, to be sure; and these are great advantages; but they are diligent and make the most of everything.'

William Cobbett (Rural Rides)


'I have lived in Norfolk all my life. It inspires me, the sea, the limitless skies, the mud and the burning sunsets and the freedom of a place where more than 50% of the neighbours are fish.'

Raffaella Barker


'People are proud of it, they like it, and it is a county in which one feels at home.'

Sir Nikolaus Pevsner


'Oh! rare and beautiful Norfolk.'

John Sell Cotman


'The charm of Norfolk is not so readily definable as that of some other counties. It has the ungrudging roominess of a kingdom. It is littered with villages but uncluttered by towns.'

Reginald Pound


'There are few places in England where you can get so much wildness and desolation of sea and sandhills, wood, green marsh and grey saltings as at Wells in Norfolk.'

W.H. Hudson


'If the rest of Britain sank beneath the waves, and Norfolk was left alone, islanded in the turmoil of the seas, it would, I think, survive without too much trouble.... Norfolk has always stood alone and aloof from the rest of England.'

James Wentworth Day


'Norfolk would not be Norfolk without a church tower on the horizon or round a corner up a lane. We cannot spare a single Norfolk church. When a church has been pulled down the country seems empty or is like a necklace with a jewel missing.'

Sir John Betjeman


'My name is Billy Bluelight, my age is 45, I hope to get to Carrow Bridge before the boat arrive.'

Billy Bluelight


'Do Different.'

Norfolk's motto


'In the Middle Ages and well on into the eighteenth century, when roads were bad, it was easier to travel by sea from Norfolk to the continent of Europe than to penetrate the Midlands or to visit London. The result of this isolation has been that Norfolk people have become self-reliant, self-supporting and inclined to treat strangers with caution.'

Bernard E. Dorman


'Most people have got at least one foot in the water,' said Mrs Barrable, 'and they do say a lot of the babies are born web-footed, like ducks.'

Coot Club by Arthur Ransome


'My wife's old dumplings are Norfolk and good.'

The Kipper Family


'See the mice in their million hordes
From Ibiza to the Norfolk Broads.'

David Bowie, Life on Mars


'I am truly amazed and half alarmed to find the County filled with little Revolution Societies.'

Fanny Burney


'A whispering and watery Norfolk sound
Telling of all the moonlit reeds around.'

John Betjeman, Norfolk


'In that country of luminous landscapes and wide horizons where the wind runs in the reeds and the slow rivers flow to our cold sea, a man may still sense and live something of the life of the older England which was uninhibited, free and natural.'

Alan Savory, Norfolk Fowler


'P.S. - Aunt Agatha, she say "Mirages dew still happen," for she was a-picken a' oranges on Porlin beach a Christmas mornin!'

Sidney Grapes, The Boy John


'When the sea comes in at Horsey Gap
Without any previous warning,
A swan shall build its rushy nest
On the roof of the Swan at Horning.'



'Norfolk has been a favourite county since childhood. It provides the "still centre" when all around is turmoil.'

Edward Storey


'Norfolk is cut off on three sides by the sea and on the fourth by British Rail.'

Local saying


'What a coast this is, with its salt marshes and lavender, its channels, dunes, bays and crumbling Ice Age cliffs, lonelier and wilder than its Suffolk neighbour, Arctic, melancholic, beautiful, treacherous, with sandbanks and quicksands, storms and floods, and never-ending erosion.'

Peter Sager


'Norwich is a fine city. None finer. If there is another city in the United Kingdom with a school of painters named after it, a matchless modern art gallery, a university with a reputation for literary excellence which can boast Booker Prize-winning alumni, one of the grandest Romanesque cathedrals in the world, and an extraordinary new state-of-the-art library then I have yet to hear of it.'

Stephen Fry


'For society, of all places I have ever been, Norwich is the best.'

Robert Southey


'My spiritual transformation took place in Norwich: it was there that, like an emerging butterfly, I was first conscious of my wings.'

Leo in The Go-Between by L.P. Hartley


'What a grand, higgledy-piggledy, sensible old place Norwich is!'

J. B. Priestley


'Norwich is a very fine city, and the castle, which stands in the middle of it, on a hill, is truly majestic.'

William Cobbett (Rural Rides)


'Yes, there it (Norwich) spreads from north to south, with its venerable houses, its numerous gardens, its thrice twelve churches, its mighty mound, which, if tradition speaks true, was raised by human hands to serve as a grave-heap of an old heathen king, who sits deep within it, with his sword in his hand, and his gold and silver treasures about him.'

George Borrow, Lavengro


'No wonder that the children of that fine old city are proud of her and offer up prayers for her prosperity. I myself, who was not born within her walls, offer up prayers for her prosperity, that want may never visit her cottages, nor vice her palaces.'

George Borrow


'For how much longer, in the relentless clamour for yet more houses, retail parks and road schemes, will this 'otherness' survive, and will its demise spell the end of a distinctive literary tradition in the region?'

Peter Tolhurst






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