THE DIOCESE of Norwich has 659 “wonderful medieval church buildings”, says the Archdeacon of Norfolk, the Ven. David Hayden. Having been given the task of encouraging tourism among them, he noticed that one of the rail companies had started a tea-room trail, offering people a prize of free rail tickets if they had their brochures stamped at a given number of tea rooms close to the line. So, why not a church trail?
A company called “One” agreed, and the Church Rail Trail was recently launched at Norwich station (above). “One” railway teamed up with the Bittern and Wherry lines that go to Sheringham, Lowestoft, and Great Yarmouth. More than 20 churches are within walking distance of the stations on these routes, including St Margaret’s, Herringfleet; St Mary’s, Wroxham; St Nicholas’s, Great Yarmouth; and St Peter and St Paul at Cromer.
The scheme should really get going next spring, says the Archdeacon, when there will be rubber stamps in the churches so that people can stamp their brochures as proof of their visit. He is also encouraging the churches to tell the human stories of their buildings rather than just details about Early English and Perpendicular.