Gresham heritage walk
Talk a short, tranquil walk through the open fields and wooded, country lanes of Gresham village. See if you can spot kestrels, red kites and buzzards in the big Norfolk skies.
With the audio tour let Margaret Paston tell you the story of how she survived the 1449 siege of Gresham Castle. You can also view a 3D reconstruction of the castle where it once stood.
NATURE: spot kestrels, buzzards and red kites.
SCENIC PHOTOGRAPHY: in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB).
CREATIVITY: Paston stories of siege and rebel women act as imaginative prompts.
A QUIET RETREAT: near many popular beaches and tourist attractions, it is a chance to escape for some peace and quiet in nature.
DISTANCE: 1.7 miles (2.7km). 45mins-1hr.
TERRAIN: mostly even with some gentle rises.
PARKING: park in the village hall car park opposite the church. Please note there are no toilet facilities available.
Download a page with map and directions. Click arrow above for Word version, button below for pdf.
While you walk listen to the audio guide; see a 3D Tudor reconstruction of Gresham Castle and discover more historical context.
Walk to All Saints Church Gresham
Cross over from the village hall car park (opposite Church House) and turn right to towards the Church. The side gateway gives passage into the churchyard.
The Manor of Gresham was purchased by Judge William Paston in 1427 from the Chaucer family. It was one of the first manors purchased by Judge William Paston as he grew in influence and wealth.
Leave the church by the main gate and stop outside Gresham Village Sign.
The sign includes the Paston Coat of Arms (on the left hand side of the sign), the Castle and examples of local wind and water mills. The Grasshopper on the top of the sign is the emblem of the Gresham family and James Gresham was the local agent for the Paston family throughout the 15th century. The Gresham family had much in common with the Pastons and both families founded local schools, which still bear their name.
Turn left at Gresham Village Sign and walk along the pathway on the side of the field.
After a while it turns into a pavement that follows the road (Church Lane). After about 400m turn left into Chequers Road.
Keep going down Chequers Road until you reach the junction
You will pass an interesting old corrugated iron building on the left. Watch out for the occasional car.
Turn right at the junction by the sign and follow the road out of the village. Where the road bends sharply to the right, turn left off the road and follow the left-hand footpath up a slight incline and stop at the way-marked footpath sign.
Look back at the wooded mound in the field: this was the site of Gresham Castle.
The castle was besieged in 1448 by a force of 300 men belonging to Lord Moleyns and John Heydon of nearby Baconsthorpe. With her usual bravery and self-possession, a young Margaret Paston stood up to these men and instructed her husband to send her supplies to help her defend it. Margaret Paston’s letters to her husband John, now fighting their cause in the London courts, provide from this time some of the most famous and vivid passages of all the Paston Letters. Margaret was eventually forced to flee to family friend John Damme’s house, a mile away at Sustead, probably taking the track to your left as you look at the castle as her escape route.
3D reconstruction of Gresham Castle
Explore a virtual reconstruction of Gresham Castle to imagine what life was like when it was an impressive seat of the Paston family
Follow the public footpath across the field to a hole in the hedge
Turn left where a footpath passes through a hedge. Take a left through the hedge and walk along the side of the field until you reach the footpath that runs alongside the road. Turn left and walk along it until you reach the school car park. At the railings just before the car park, cross the road and follow the public footpath towards the woodland.
Walk along the public footpath
The hedgerow lined track will become more wooded. You are now on Fairies' Lane. Look out for a series of old oak trees on the right and one with an opening into a hollowed out space - too small for us to climb into but perhaps a Fairy home?
At the end of the track, take the left hand path up a slight incline.
The right-hand track marked private land leads down to a brook that would have been sufficiently fast flowing in the 15th century to drive a water mill to service the productive land nearby. Upstream from here is East Beckham, a manor purchased around the same time as Gresham by Judge William Paston. The brook later becomes Scarrow Beck which joins the river Bure at Blickling.
Pause at the end of the track by the gate.
Take a moment to see if you can spot any buzzards or red kite in the skies above the open farmland. Turn left and walk carefully along the road back to the church.
Explore the Paston story further
Things to do nearby
National Trust historical estate, garden and woods with cafe
Visit the extensive ruins of this castle run by English Heritage.
Norfolk Coastal Path
The Norfolk Coastal Path runs for 84 miles and much of this walking trail runs through the damatic landscape of the Norfolk Coast Area of Outstanding Beauty. It can be joined at Sheringham
Cromer is a traditional Victorian seaside resort, with a wide sand and shingle beach popular for swimming and surfing. It has a traditional pier and many fish and chip shops. Cromer originated as a fishing community and is still famous for its crabs and lobsters which can be sampled in local cafes.