From Viking settlement to bustling market to thriving independent trading place, Harleston is a shopper’s paradise!
Harleston is an ancient market town situated in the Waveney Valley. Old coaching inns, like the Swan Hotel, remain as a legacy from the days when the town was on the main coaching route from London to Great Yarmouth and it was an important trading centre. You can visit many of its distinctive buildings by following the Discovery Trail.
Local traders have always been an important part of community life. Wednesday has been market day since 1259 when the town was granted charter status. It remains a vibrant, bustling market town and was voted Norfolk’s town of the year due to its excellent array of individual speciality shops and eating places. From butchers to bakers, women’s wear to kitchenware, it’s fair to say this town has it all!
You can find out more about the town’s illustrious history at Harleston Museum. The museum displays artefacts relating to the life and times of the local residents and the immediate surrounding parishes from pre-historic times to the present day.
Every year, this market town plays host to the Harleston and Waveney Festival. Since its beginnings in 2002, the festival has been growing every year and now includes a vibrant mix of music, arts and literature.
With a diversity of artists, writers, actors and musicians living in the area, Harleston has a vibrant arts community. The annual Harleston & Waveney Art Trail takes place over three weekends in the summer, More than 30 professional artists open their studios to the public, showing and selling their work, and talking about their techniques and approaches.
Harleston has a little place in national history. Allegedly, during World War II, Churchill stayed at the Magpie Hotel, where he met with General Eisenhower who was lodging at nearby Selboune House. The story tells of a tunnel running from Selbourne to a nearby building, said to be the reason the General stayed there.