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Heritage and arts

Introduction

Since medieval times, Great Yarmouth has been surrounded by one of the most complete town walls in England. Eleven of the original towers - built between 1261 and 1400 - have survived. Our quaysides along the river Yare showcase fantastic examples of historic merchant houses, while the seafront offers one of the best collections of Edwardian entertainment architecture in the country.

To help us maintain and deliver heritage, arts and tourism schemes, the Council issues the following grants to local organisations:

  • St Georges Trust: £25,000 in 2020-21 to provide artistic performances, including community engagement through the Community Cafe, on the stage at the theatre and where possible with partners. 
  • SeaChange Arts: £58,500 in 2020-21 to provide artistic performances, delivering against their Service Level Agreement objectives, delivering the Out There Festival and reprogramming to alternative events/activities where possible should the festival not be possible. 

Great Yarmouth's outstanding culture and heritage mean that it is a future ambition for the town to become a key cultural destination. Visit the heritage pages of the Visit Great Yarmouth tourism website for more information (opens new window) or, to find out about some of the work that is carried out on our historic environment, visit the website of the Great Yarmouth Preservation Trust (opens new window).

What theatres, museums and galleries are there in Great Yarmouth?

What local events or festivals can I attend?

Great Yarmouth hosts a number of exciting annual festivals and events:

More information on festivals and outdoor events can be found on the following websites:

How can I enjoy the local heritage sites?

You can go on guided walks (opens new window) from Easter to October, or attend a heritage open day event (opens new window) in September to see buildings that are not usually open to the public. Great Yarmouth has several museums and heritage sites (opens new window) you can visit.

See our Conservation areas information for details of where our protected areas of natural beauty are located - this includes an interactive map and individual maps of all 19 conservation areas.

Visit the Great Yarmouth Preservation Trust website (opens new window) for news and opportunities related to local heritage sites.

Do you run any guided heritage walks or talks?

Walks

Guided Heritage Walk taking place
A Guided Heritage Walk taking place

Our team of dedicated heritage guides run a large number of walks usually from Easter to October. 

Delve into the history that surrounds Great Yarmouth on one of our fantastic guided heritage walks. Explore the rich history of this ancient seaside resort, fishing port and market town with our official team of Guides. 

The borough of Great Yarmouth has some fantastic history and architecture to admire, and some colourful stories of past local residents and visitors to go with it. An exciting range of  walks, written and designed by some of our heritage guides will take you off the beaten track and out into the local area to discover more about what went before in Great Yarmouth.

Usually starting from April until the end of October, Guided Heritage Walks, led by an official Great Yarmouth heritage guide, are one of the most interesting ways of discovering more about the area.

Walk Prices (excluding Yucky Yarns)

Children on a Yucky Yarns Walk
Children enjoying a Yucky Yarns walk

Adults £5.50
Children (7 - 17 years) £3
Under 7's FREE (No unaccompanied children on any walk)

Yucky Yarns Children's Walk

Children must be accompanied by an adult (Recommended age 6-11)
Adults and children £4 per person
Yucky Tea (on selected dates) £12 per person
Starting point: Front Gates of Great Yarmouth Minster (NR30 1NE)
Approx. 60 minutes

Join Jemima or Jeremy Black, the custodian of the big book of Yarmouth Yucky Yarns on a guided walk to learn about horrendous history in Great Yarmouth. 

We'll talk about gory stories and ghastly goings on with pirates, graveyard tricks and secret chests! 

Activity book included, bring a pen/pencil.

Wednesday 21 February, 11am
Wednesday 10 April, 11am
Wednesday 29 May, 11am

The below dates include a yucky themed afternoon tea at Kirsty's Cakery after the walk. 

Sunday 28 July, 2pm
Thursday 31 October, 2pm

Register online (opens new window) for Yucky Yarns.

Quayside and Seaside at Gorleston-on-Sea

Starting point: Welcome to Gorleston sign on Gorlesto Promenade near The Pier Hotel (NR31 6PL)
Approx. 90 minutes / 2 hours including Theatre visit

Gorleston-on-Sea has a fascinating heritage, often overlooked by its sister town, Great Yarmouth. Located south of Great Yarmouth, at the mouth of the River Yare, this walk takes in the beautiful promenade, the pier and the river. Walkers can also take a look inside the fabulous Edwardian Pavilion Theatre after the walk.

Wednesday 3 April, 11am
Wednesday 22 May, 11am
Wednesday 19 June, 11am
Wednesday 10 July, 11am
Wednesday 14 August, 11am
Wednesday 25 September, 11am
Wednesday 16 October, 11am

Register online (opens new window) for Quayside and Seaside at Gorleston-on-Sea.

Medieval Town Wall

Starting point: Front Gates of Great Yarmouth Minster (NR30 1NE)
Approx. 90 minutes 

Great Yarmouth has the second most complete town wall in the UK! Isolated on the east coast, fear of pirates and invasion gave the people of Great Yarmouth a distinct last frontier mentality. Once King John granted the twon its Charter, a wall was the answer.

Come along to discover why and how it was built, how it was reinforced in times of rebellion and civil war, and whilst never coming under serious attack, how it defined the development of the town.

Wednesday 17 April, 2pm
Thursday 13 June, 2pm
Sunday 25 August, 11am
Sunday 22 September, 11am
Wednesday 23 October, 11am

Register online (opens new window) for Medieval Town Wall.

Gravestones and Tombstones of Great Yarmouth Minster

Starting point: Front Gates of Great Yarmouth Minster (NR30 1NE)
Approx. 90 minutes 

Join us at Great Yarmouth Minster, England's largest parish church for some fascinating stories about the characters laid to rest next to the Medieval Town Wall. 

Discover the bricked up gate through which some of Nelson's sailors set sail for the final time and visit the town cemetery where sailors, merchants and circus owners lie side by side. 

Sunday 21 April, 2pm
*Wednesday 8 May, 11am 
Sunday 19 May, 2pm
Wednesday 5 June, 11am
Thursday 20 June, 2pm
*Thursday 18 July, 11am 
Wednesday 21 August, 11am
Sunday 1 September, 2pm
Wednesday 9 October, 11am

*On selected dates, the walk will also include tea/coffee and cake at Kirsty's Cakery afterwards. Adults £10.50, Children (7-17 years) £6.50, Under 7's £5.50

Register online (opens new window) for Gravestones and Tombstones of Great Yarmouth Minster.

Rows, Fishwives and Red Herrings

Starting point: Fishermen's Hospital (NR30 1PB)
Approx. 90 minutes / 2 hours including Lydia Eva visit

Great Yarmouth Rows are quite unique and are full fo strange and sometimes macabre tales. Hear about the wealthy merchants that lived at one end and of the bars and brothels that had their place at the other! 

Taking in the historis South Quay, learn about how the herring industry was important for the town. See where the fisher girls sang, knitted and worked their passage home. 

Some narrow areas included on this walks.

Take a tour of the Lydia Eva after the walk - the last steam drifter. Lydia Eva can also be spotted in the 2023 hit move, Wonka.

Wednesday 24 April, 2pm
Sunday 5 May, 11am
Wednesday 15 May, 11am
Sunday 16 June, 11am
Thursday 4 July, 11am
Wednesday 7 August, 2pm
Wednesday 4 September, 2pm
Sunday 13 October, 11am

Register online (opens new window) for Rows, Fishwives and Red Herrings.

Forgotten Inns and Taverns of Great Yarmouth

Starting point: Stone Sofa Statue, Row 111 (Middlegate Car Park, NR30 2RG)
Approx. 90 minutes 

In 1908 there were 295 licensed prperties in Great Yarmouth, now there are less than 45! Discover the story of a landlady who was hanged because she would not reveal a true murderer, the tavern run by a Pilgrim Father, the inn where Dutch officers were kept as prisoners-of-war, or where you would stay on holiday if you were teetotal.

Every adult attending this walk will receive a voucher to be used online for Lacons Brewery.

Sunday 28 April, 2pm
Sunday 26 May, 11am
Wednesday 12 June, 11am
Sunday 23 June, 11am
Wednesday 3 July, 11am
Sunday 14 July, 2pm
Thursday 15 August, 2pm
Sunday 29 September, 2pm
Sunday 6 October, 11am

Register online (opens new window) for Forgotten Inns and Taverns of Great Yarmouth.

Tales of the Old Cemetery

Starting point: Front Gates of Gorleston Cemetery (NR31 7BN)
Approx. 90 minutes 

Gorleston has had many interesting residents over the centuries. Learn about heroes, clowns and a pioneering woman all within the surroundings of a quant Victorian cemetery. 

Wednesday 1 May, 2pm
Sunday 9 June, 11am
Wednesday 17 July, 11am
Sunday 4 August, 11am
Wednesday 2 October, 11am

Register online (opens new window) for Tales of the Old Cemetery.

Sun, Sea, Stars and Circus

Starting point: Front of Britannia Pier (NR30 2EH)
Approx. 90 minutes 

Great Yarmouth has played host to many famous faces over the years. Take a trip down memory lane and learn how the holiday and entertainment industry has played its part in how the seafront looks today.

Sunday 12 May, 2pm
Thursday 6 June, 2pm
Wednesday 26 June, 2pm
Sunday 7 July, 2pm
Sunday 21 July, 2pm
Wednesday 31 July, 11am
Wednesday 11 August, 2pm
Wednesday 28 August, 11am

Register online (opens new window) for Sun, Sea, Stars and Circus.

2,000 Years of Caister-on-Sea

Starting point: Caister Roman Fort (NR30 5RN)
Approx. 90 minutes 

Discover how Caister-on-Sea became a heroic lifeboat community from Roman beginnings and how the phrase, 'Caister men never turn back' came to be. 

Thursday 30 May, 2pm
Wednesday 18 September, 2pm

Register online (opens new window) for 2,000 Years of Caister-on-Sea.

Gory Stories on a Wicked Walk

Starting point: Front Gates of Great Yarmouth Minster (NR30 1NE)
Approx. 90 minutes 
Suitable for children aged 12 and over

From the strange and curious to the dark and murderous, Great Yarmouth is home to many gruesome and macabre tales. Learn about mrders committed in the Rows and see where trials were held by the Witchfinder General. Hear how the market place was used for grim entertainments, whippings and savage punishments. A wealth of terrible tales will make this a walk to remember.

Thursday 27 June, 6pm
Thursday 11 July, 6pm
Thursday 25 July, 6pm
Thursday 1 August, 6pm
Thursday 8 August, 6pm
Thursday 22 August, 6pm
Sunday 20 October, 6pm
*Sunday 27 October, 5pm

*Season Finale includes a Gory Reption at Kirsty's Cakery before the walk. Adults £12, Children (12-17 years) £9.

Register online (opens new window) for Gory Stories on a Wicked Walk.

Booking is essential to join us on a guided heritage walk. Please register online (opens new window) for your chosen walk. Note - you'll need to register your interest in a walk before a payment link is sent to you. Your place on the walk is confirmed once payment is received.

Talks

New for 2024, our Guides are offering some fascinating talks at the Town Hall (see address at the bottom of the page) on the second Tuesday in February, March and April. Lasting for approximately one hour, the talks will include a cup of tea or coffee plus the chance to ask questions at the end. 

The Fall of Yarmouth Suspension Bridge on Tuesday 13 February, 1pm. 

Mourning Manners - A Guide to Victorian Funeral Etiquette and Customs on Tuesday 12 March, 1pm.

Yare! Yare! Yare! The Beatles - Yesterday and Today on Tuesday 9 April, 1pm.

Talk Prices

Adults £5.50

Booking is essential to join us on a heritage talk. Please register online (opens new window) for your chosen talk. Note - you'll need to register your interest in a talk before a payment link is sent to you. Your place on the walk is confirmed once payment is received.

Groups, Clubs and Educational Groups

Private Walks and Talks

Private walks for groups, clubs or coach tours can be booked for a minimum of 8 people on any day of the week at any time of the year and are eligible for a special group rate. 

We are also happy to hear from schools and educational groups where we are always willing to assist in matching our walks to your requirements. We can also offer a great new educational rate where teachers and accompanying adults go free! We have a child friendly walk called Yucky Yarns, aimed at primary aged school children which also comes with an activity booklet. 

If your group or school would prefer our Guides to come to you, we are also able to offer talks where you can learn about the history of Great Yarmouth from the comfort of your own setting. 

For more details

How is the Council working to preserve and protect our heritage?

Great Yarmouth features a number of remarkable heritage sites, some of which are at risk and in need of repair and restoration. 

Venetian Waterways and Boating Lake

In partnership with the Great Yarmouth Preservation Trust, Great Yarmouth Borough Council was awarded £1.7m from the National Lottery Heritage Fund (NLHF) for the restoration and enhancement of the unique Grade II listed park dating back to 1926-28. The scheme reinstated the beautiful and vibrant planting that originally existed, reopened the Boating Lake and provides a variety of training opportunities and activities linked to horticulture and traditional building skills.

Work on the site took place between the summers of 2018 and 2019, with the site reopening on 20 August 2019. The Island Cafe, currently run by the Access Community Trust, includes the hire of pedalos and rowing boats on the lake. You can get involved in helping to look after this community park by visiting The Waterways website (opens new window)

The Winter Gardens

Great Yarmouth Borough Council is working with a team of consultants to prepare a Stage 1 application to the NLHF in order to repair and conserve the remarkable glass and iron structure dating back to 1883. The Winter Gardens were originally erected in Torquay, but moved to Great Yarmouth in 1903. The Winter Gardens are currently listed on Historic England's Heritage at Risk Register. An outdoor exhibition around the Winter Gardens is available to view and showcases some of the town's historic tourism posters and photographs accompanied by a timeline of events. 

If you have any queries, or would like further details, please contact our Conservation team.

What is the Council doing to promote arts and culture?

Culture, Heritage and Tourism Strategy: Our Place is Your Stage

Great Yarmouth's Culture, Heritage and Tourism Strategy: Our Place is Your Stage was collectively devised by the Great Yarmouth Culture and Tourism Board, and launched in August 2020. The Council and its cultural partners use this strategy to develop and deliver ambitious projects and initiatives that expand and enrich the town's cultural and heritage offering for residents and visitors alike.

As stated in the document: 'By 2030, we want the Borough of Great Yarmouth to be a place where culture and creativity are valued, where it enables wellbeing and economic prosperity, where visitors come all year round to enjoy our natural and built environment and engage with our rich and diverse culture'.

The Culture Board is currently developing a new version of the Culture and Tourism Strategy to reflect the significant collaborative progress that has been made against the ambitions set out in the current version, the evolving expectations/preferences of residents and visitors and new opportunities.

Culture Support Package (UKSPF Grants)

A series of grants has been made available to provide a flexible subsidy to help our cultural organisations grow, improve resilience, and extend impact or reach. Grants are available to any micro, small or medium sized business involved in arts, culture, or heritage within the borough.

The first round of applications took place in October 2023 and saw the UKSPF grant awarded to St. George's Theatre in Great Yarmouth, to promote safety, accessibility, and engagement with the theatre via the installation of new bollards to prevent unsafe parking and enclose the historic theatre, along with the plaza and café.

For more information, please contact Hannah Woodruff Cultural Support Officer: hannah.woodruff@great-yarmouth.gov.uk.

How can I best look after my historic property?

Excellent advice on caring for older homes can be found on the Historic England website (opens new window).

Historic England also provides comprehensive guidance on looking after listed properties which can be found in this Guide for Owners of Listed Buildings (PDF) [3MB] .

For advice on listed buildings or Conservation Areas you can contact the Conservation Team.

How can I get involved in preserving the town's natural beauty?

Visit the Great Yarmouth Preservation Trust website (opens new window) to see how you can help.

The Waterways has a volunteers scheme to help in the important maintenance and continuation of the park. You can register your interest here (opens new window).

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