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North Walsham heritage walk

North Walsham lies at the centre of what we can call 'Paston Country', and the town has an important role throughout the 350-year history of the Paston family.

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Good for:
Families, youth groups
Wellbeing activities

Heritage lovers

North Walsham Walk
map and directions

Click on arrow above for Word version. 
Click on button below for pdf.

North Walsham Walk
Accessibility audit

Terrain descriptions and photos by Active Trails. Helpful for those with restricted mobility, prams, buggies or wheelchair users, those needing facilities or reassurance about the route.

North Walsham Walk 
GPX code

For use with fitness watches and health devices. Exchanges GPS data for live tracking.

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North Walsham walk details

LENGTH: full walk is 1.5 miles (2.4km) - around 60 mins.

TERRAIN: town streets, a few steps and open country.

PARKING: Marketplace, town centre, public parking

BUS: nearest stop at XXX. Bus numbers XXXX.

FACILITIES: pub and cafes in town

Download the walk map for full route or follow the walk overview on your phone 

Enhance your walk experience

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2104 Paston Footprints copyright Charlot
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Experience a flyover of a digitally reconstructed St Nicholas' Church from the 1600's.

Explore Sir William Paston's tomb in 3D. The majestic monument can be seen inside St Nicholas' Church.

Nature Activities: Woolly Walk
In development (due 2024)
Interact with the Natural World today while learning about the Pastons' use of the land and relationship with the wool trade, with related children's activities.

Wellbeing Walk:
'Paston Letters in the Landscape': Mindful photography activities by Snap School.

North Walsham walk overview 

1. Start at the Heritage Centre

Pick up a HAZ Paston Footprints' Trail pack in the Heritage Centre, with activities for children and adults, as well as map and directions.

In the Heritage Centre, you will also find an interactive touchscreen we have donated, where you can view Paston animations and videos and discover lots more about North Walsham's history acrosss the ages.

Then take the path to the right hand side of the centre and walk  into the churchyard.

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2. Visit St Nicholas' Church in the town centre, adjacent to the marketplace.

The church is normally open. Visitors are warmly welcomed, and it provides a quiet place to sit.

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Tomb of Sir William Paston

Within the church, you will disocver many fascinating tombs and sculptures. Can you find Sir William Paston's (1528 - 1610)? He bought land in the centre of North Walsham after the great fire of 1600. He established his Free Grammar School and it remains in trust operating as a school today. He built the Great Barn and the almshouses in the village of Paston; and donated money to the cathedrals of Norwich and Bath, to Gonville and Caius College and to the poor of Yarmouth and Caister he left £10 per annum.


William's great tomb can be seen in east end of the church, costing £200 (perhaps £15,000 in the current day). The tomb provides a heraldic history of the important ancestry of the Pastons. Boys from the Paston School were required to visit the tomb, with this annual ritual ending only a few decades ago.


3. The famous 1381 Peasants' Revolt in North Walsham's churchyard.

In 1381, Bishop Despenser crushed the Peasants Revolt at the Battle of North Walsham. The rebels were reputedly massacred in the church yard. A rather more appealing option to do in the churchyard today is to read the Paston Footprints information board!

Clement Paston (1355 - 1419) and Roger Leech were accused of seizing goods and assaulting the Abbot of St Benet’s servants (the Abbey is near Ludham and the ruins can be visited today).


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4. Go round the church and out into the marketplace.

The market at North Walsham was an important trading location. The Pastons managed their substantial estates to produce incomes from malting barley and wool. There are several references to Worsted cloth in the Paston Letters and there was a type of cloth known as 'Walsham'.

Go down the side of the church and into Church Street.


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5. As you progress along Manor Road through the market centre, note the alley [NAME], where you will encounter Paston College.

Sir William Paston used his great wealth to purchase land on which he established a school. The school seems to have begun to take pupils in 1604, and in 1606 received its endowment charter. It has remained functioning as a school ever since.

In this 21st century, the town centre site, including the heritage listed gate onto the market place alley and the main school buildings are in the trust of the Paston Foundation and leased to City College Norwich to provide continuing educational services.


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In Paston College grounds

If you want to look further afield, visit the fonrt entrance of Paston College. A particularly fine (modern) wooden sculpture of the Paston's griffin is in the (private) school grounds. The family symbol, the griffin is female and denotes courage and wisdom.


More on the Paston's griffin can be read here.  

During your walk, how many griffins can you spot in the town?

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Turn right into Hall Lane.

This stretch has a gradual but steady incline.

Good for fitness!

5. Go through the housing estate, turn left before the primary school down Marshgate Lane. You will be walking alongside some open country.


Note the name 'Marshgate'. If you had remained on Hall Lane and not turned at the school, you would reach the waterway, nearly nine miles long. This is Norfolk’s only locked wherry sailing canal and was opened in 1826. It runs from Antingham, north-west of North Walsham, to Wayford Bridge, west of Stalham. Wherries would sail its length transporting cargo to and from the mills and communities along its route.

Clement Paston was still in dispute with the Abbey of St Bennets and 32 years after the incident in the marketplace, another dispute took place over enclosed land and fisheries.

This is where the St Benet’s Abbey Manor House was sited. 

In Francis Blomefield's 18th century History of Norfolk, it is claimed:

"About the year 1413, Clement Paston, Esq. John Horningtoft of Paston, merchant, Laurence de Thorp, and John Parson of Edythorp, came to this town, and entered into the pasture, &c. of the abbot, belonging to his manor, with their cattle, fed and trod it down to the damage of 40s. fished his ponds, &c. took 200 roaches, 200 perch, and 300 eels, to the value of 100s. and carried them away".

To rejoin the shorter route, ...

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Turn left into Royston Green and head towards the end.

Proceed down the steps (pedestrian access only) and into Melbourne Road.

And head back to the Market Place

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Turn left onto Bacton Road.

North Walsham was central in the Paston's story, due to being equidistant between their major properties and activities in Bacton / Paston and Oxnead. There are Paston walks in these areas, which the 22-mile route Paston Way connects with.



Venice Trip

Go up past Sainsbury's (toilet stop). At the top of the road (Vicarage Street - Church Road junction) head right back to the heritage centre.



Safari Tour

Share your walk experience

We'd love to hear about the highlights of your walk. Tag your photos #pastonfootprints.

Why not try another Paston heritage walk?

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Relax and reflect

Swallows' Cafe

Take a cuppa or meal after your walk! With outdoor seating or sitting by an indoor log-fire. Explore more of the resources on this page or share a walk photo, tagging #pastonfootprints. Maybe plan your next Paston walk!

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Activities for children and adults

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Watch a 3.5 minute animation

about North Walsham's medieval marketplace.

Click here for KS2 home learning activity sheets on Medieval shopping.

Watch animation

Watch a 4-minute animation.

Sir William Paston, who lived in Tudor times, is perhaps best known as the founder of Paston College in North Walsham.

Draw your own coat of arms.

Get creative with this interactive tool, inspired by the heraldry that you can see in the church.

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Heritage Lovers: dig deeper into North Walsham's Paston heritage on our sister site.

KS2 education: There are also home-learning activity sheets on heraldry (with teachers' notes) under the 'education' tab.

Creative challenges.

Help us bring the Paston story to more people through poems, crafts, Youtube performances, modern translations and more.

Things to do nearby

North Walsham Information & heritage Centre

Paston Footprints has donated an interactive touchscreen, where you can view Paston animations and videos. Explore the rest of the town's heritage with 1000 North Walsham archive videos, photos and audio recollections. Includes quizzes. The centre is in the town centre, near the church.

Acorn Play Park

En route of our trail, just after the Church, off Bacton Road. This is a small open greenspace with play area. The Children’s area includes a zip wire, climbing frame and swings.

North Walsham & Dilham Canal Boat Tours

Enjoy a guided boat tour following a scenic stretch of the restored North Walsham and Dilham Canal.

Norfolk Motorcycle Museum

Over 150 motorcycles from the 1900s to 1980s. Over 100 motorcycles from the 1900s to 1980s.

Your feedback

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This walk is kindly supported by North Walsham's Heritage Action Zone Cultural Programme - North Norfolk District Council and Historic England.

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