War memorial, Fakenham
Fakenham is located in Norfolk
Location within Norfolk
Area9.04 km2 (3.49 sq mi)
Population7,617 (2011 census)
• Density843/km2 (2,180/sq mi)
OS grid referenceTF918296
Shire county
Sovereign stateUnited Kingdom
Postcode districtNR21
Dialling code01328
AmbulanceEast of England
EU ParliamentEast of England
UK Parliament
List of places
52°50′08″N 0°51′04″E / 52.8356°N 0.8510°E / 52.8356; 0.8510Coordinates: 52°50′08″N 0°51′04″E / 52.8356°N 0.8510°E / 52.8356; 0.8510

Fakenham is a market town and civil parish in Norfolk, England. It is situated on the River Wensum, about 19 miles (31 kilometres) north east of King's Lynn, 19 miles (31 kilometres) south west of Cromer, and 25 miles (40 kilometres) north west of Norwich.[1]

The civil parish has an area of 3.49 sq mi (9.0 km2) and in the 2001 census had a population of 7,357 in 3,292 households, the population increasing to 7,617 at the 2011 census.[2] For the purposes of local government, the parish falls within the district of North Norfolk.[3]

The name Fakenham is Saxon, possibly meaning Fair Place/Place on a Fair River,[4] or Hamlet (Ham) on the river (Ken) Fa/Fair (Fa).


In 1086 (Domesday Book) Fakenham had only 150 residents. Hempton, on the opposite side of the river, was the larger community and had an abbey that played host to pilgrims on their way to Walsingham. Fakenham became the dominant centre when the abbey was dissolved by Henry VIII. It has been a market town since 1250, when it was given a charter. The stalls probably occupied space around the parish church of St. Peter & St. Paul. Fakenham's modern-day Thursday market is still situated very close to its original positioning and around the market place.

Its major industry in the 19th and 20th centuries was printing, but the major printworks (Cox and Wyman) closed in the 1970s. Nevertheless, there are still more than ten small printing firms in industrial premises around and near the town. A large number of printing blocks have been set into the surface of the market place as a memorial to this lost industry.

Recent history

In the late 1990s the town was listed by contributor Robert Woods to The Knowhere Guide as "the most boring place on Earth".[5] The contribution was specifically referring to Wednesday afternoon which is 'early closing' day in Fakenham. This comment, made by Woods, was taken and quoted out of context as 'voted' the most boring place on Earth" and very rapidly the story was running in national newspapers with the town council defending the town and spending considerable time, money and effort trying to prove that this was not the case. Fakenham was recently voted the seventh best place to live in Britain in Country Life's quality of life survey.

Recent investment in Fakenham has seen the town centre being renovated and pedestrianised. It now enjoys a popular farmers' market on the morning of the 4th Saturday of each month.

Fakenham is now the home of Kinnertons Chocolate employing some 700 people. Established in 1978, Kinnerton Confectionery is now Britain's largest manufacturer of chocolate and novelty confectionery specialising in character licensing.

The town was the base for North Norfolk's first independent commercial radio station, FTR FM, broadcasting for a short period between 4 and 30 August 1997, using an RSL broadcast licence.[6] Other RSL radio stations followed, between November 1998 and May 2001, including FCR 107.2 and Central Norfolk Radio.[7]

On 25 May 2014 the historical Aldiss building, which had been a feature of Fakenham town centre for many decades, was destroyed by fire. The building was at the time host to the Original Factory shop, after the Aldiss outlet had been moved in the 1990s. There is a currently a petition circulating around the local area for the site to be cleared and remain free of new building work, due to the scenic view of the local church now visible from the town square.[8]

Fakenham parish church (St Peter & St Paul)

Fakenham Parish Church was built in the 14th Century and replaced an earlier Saxon Church.[9]



A map of Fakenham from 1946

Historically, Fakenham had two railway stations. Fakenham West railway station was on the Midland and Great Northern Joint Railway, and closed in 1959. The site is now a builders' depot, although 7 yards of the platform has been preserved. Fakenham East railway station was on the Great Eastern Railway and closed in the 1960s although goods trains carried on until the 1980s. This railway station site is now sheltered housing.

Although now without a railway, the Mid-Norfolk Railway plans to return trains to the town, and intends to build a new railway station near the gas works. The line would link Fakenham to East Dereham, Wymondham and Norwich. Sections of the former railway lines have been protected from development that would be prejudicial to the creation of railway transport links by North Norfolk District Council and Norfolk County Council.[10]

Another scheme, the Norfolk Orbital Railway plans to link the town to the coast at Sheringham, and owns a section of trackbed of the former GER line heading from the town towards Great Ryburgh.[11]


Fakenham is served by bus routes operated by Lynx, First Eastern Counties and Konectbus, which run to King's Lynn, Norwich and Dereham respectively.


Preserved Gas Works

Attractions in the town include Fakenham Racecourse and the Museum of Gas and Local History.[12]

The Fakenham Museum of Gas and Local History is the only surviving town gasworks in England and Wales, complete with all equipment used for the manufacture of gas from coal: retorts, condenser, purifiers, meter and gasholder.

Youth and community provision


1st Fakenham Scouts were established on 3 May 1923, with their headquarters listed as being on Bridge Street. The group was re-registered on 21 October 1948 as part of the North West Norfolk District. At this time the group was meeting at the Congregational Schoolroom on Norwich Road, which is now part of an antique centre. On 1 April 1968, 1st Fakenham Scout Group, now a part of the Fakenham District, asked for permission to change their name to Fakenham Wensum Scout Group.

2nd Fakenham (Salvation Army) Scout Group were first registered on 10 February 1954, meeting in the Salvation Army Hall on Oak Street.

In February 2008 the Baden-Powell Scouts opened Fakenham Lancaster Baden-Powell Air Scouts, giving the town two active Scout groups for the first time in 39 years.[13]

Notable people

Famous people from Fakenham include:

Other notable people from the town include footballing brothers Ryan Jarvis and Rossi Jarvis formerly of Norwich City [14] and Adam Tann who currently plays for Chelmsford City and is the cousin of both Jarvis brothers, is also originally from Fakenham. Another former Norwich City footballer, Matt Gill, grew up in the town and attended the local junior school and high school. [14]

Popular culture

'Fakenham' is the alias that the character Redmond Barry adopts after deserting his regiment and impersonating a messenger in the Stanley Kubrick film Barry Lyndon.

The setting of Super Hans' wedding in the second episode of the 9th series of Peep Show.


  1. ^ Ordnance Survey (2002). OS Explorer Map 251 – Norfolk Coast Central. ISBN 0-319-21887-2.
  2. ^ "Town population 2011". Retrieved 1 September 2015.
  3. ^ Office for National Statistics & Norfolk County Council (2001). Census population and household counts for unparished urban areas and all parishes. Retrieved 2 December 2005.
  4. ^ History of Fakenham
  5. ^ "Inside Information in Fakenham" from The Knowhere Guide
  6. ^ Fakenham Town Radio
  7. ^ Radio Authority/Office of Communications (OFCOM)
  8. ^ https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-norfolk-27564523
  9. ^ The history of the church on the church website
  10. ^ North Norfolk District Council Strategic transport network[permanent dead link]
  11. ^ Norfolk Orbital Railway website
  12. ^ Museum of Gas and Local History
  13. ^ Scouting in Fakenham
  14. ^ a b >"City Signing's Fakenham Link". Dereham Times. Retrieved 10 June 2009.

External links

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