Few Norfolk Bookshops
complete list of Norfolk's secondhand
days of axle bending loads of books, hoovered up on regular forays
to the more distant parts of the UK, are long gone, we still manage
to buy a book or two on holiday. And the fond hope remains that
the profits from our purchases will go some way to covering our
North Norfolk coast has long been a favourite destination, but
it's been three years since our last trip -- would it still manage
to deliver that vital combination of stunning landscape, and the
prospect of a profit?
After what had
seemed like weeks of rain, the weather in Norfolk turned out to
be clement. Not much sun, but not much rain either -- what more
can you expect from the early British summer? Of course this meant
that we only visited a few bookshops, choosing instead to enjoy
what the North Norfolk coast does best, the outdoors.
we camped at the edge of the marshes seeming vastness, privileged
visitors to a world of seals, marsh harriers, and barn owls. It
was mainly the need for food and drink that lured us back to human
The good news
is that in North Norfolk it doesn't need to be a very large human
habitation to support a bookshop. This must be partly due to the
'Chelsea-on-Sea' reputation of places like Burnham
Market. But whatever the reasons, you can still find books of
every type and price along the coast from Cromer
Our first stop
was just down the road at Cley,
a village famed for it's bird life, deli, and smokery -- and now
the home of Crabpot Books.
Opened since our last visit, I was keen to check it out.
well-lit interior of Crabpot Books
It turned out
to be bright, well laid out, and offered a surprising variety of
competitively priced secondhand books. Norfolk and natural history
are an obvious choice of specialism, and there was a well-stocked
bookcase of New Naturalist titles.
Well laid out
is not a phrase I would choose to describe The
Brazen Head Bookshop in nearby Burnham
Market. Indeed, on the day we visited it was impossible to get
into the architecture room because a bookslide had completely blocked
the doorway. Still, the downstairs rooms are more organised, with
plenty of good books in the front room cabinets.
used to be something of a centre for secondhand books. But with
the closure of Jackdaw Books and the reduction of Baron
Arts stock to a few books above their gallery, Simon
Finch is now the only shop in town.
The Finch empire's
Norfolk outpost has an almost Dickensian air about it. This isn't
really surprising as it doesn't look as if any money has been spent
on its interior since Charles was writing the tomes the shop sells.
Although to be fair, they have at last fixed the hole in the stairs.
A good room-full of art books is a recent improvement, there's lots
of leather, and it's still worth poking about in the dusty corners.
There are some
books in Holt's antiques centre, but as is often the case, slow
turnover means that I'm fairly sure I recognise some of the titles
from our last visit three years ago ...
weirdness at Burnham Overy Town
Back along the
coast to the north is Wells-next-the
Sea, where the Old
Station Pottery & Bookshop is good for children's fiction and
art, and there are two remainder and secondhand paperback shops
in the main street.
The threat of
rain on Friday prompted us to visit Kings
Lynn for the first time. However, we couldn't pass Torc
Books in Snettishham
without a quick look. Although the owner has more or less retired
and is now only open on Fridays and Saturdays, we still managed
to find one or two interesting books.
in Kings Lynn proved to be well worth the visit, with three floors
of better than average books at very reasonable prices. We managed
to find a couple of bags full and I was particularly pleased with
one of my purchases. A short walk away, John
Lowe has a book stall in The Old Granary Antiques Centre, but
we didn't find anything.
have been meaning to visit the National Trust's Blickling
Hall for years but somehow never got round to it. It's a fine
Jacobean house, with interesting gardens, and ... a fundraising
have to confess that the shop turned out to be much better than
I had expected, and the two bags of books we bought rounded off
a most enjoyable visit. As
for the other shops, they will just have to wait till next time
finally, I've included the picture below because it seemed to sum
up the relaxed and strangely timeless quality of much of this area
of Norfolk. Add
newspaper seller in Clay