“ Wroxham Barns, Tunstead Road, Hoveton, Norfolk. Tel = +44(0)1603 783762. „
I love this place and I am really lucky as it is right on my doorstep (well almost!). It has a great mixture of craft shops which on almost any day you visit you can see the real craftsmen and women demonstrating their craft and they are all really friendly and happy to answer any questions you may have. I personally love the Apple Shop as it sells the most amazing apple juice in my opinion as well as a great range of ciders and other apple treats although there have been a few occassions I have visited when they have not been open which has been a bit of a disappointment so I would strongly recommend that if you want to visit a particular outlet contained within the barns that you phone first to check opening times etc. The apple shop also always has free samples to try which always please my kids (and me!).
As an added bonus included in the barns is a fabulous shop selling craft supplies for all different sorts of crafts and a junior farm (for which a small admission is charged but is well worth every penny as the kids and adults always seem to love seeing the pigs, goats, sheep etc. You can also pass away many an hour or two waiting for the hens to lay some fresh eggs to take home.
My kids always look forward to playing on the free playground equipment, playing golf and riding on the fairground rides which are suitable for any smallish children (mine are 6 and 3 and they both love them).
Be warned though as although it is free entry to get into the barns themselves if you have children with you then you can easily get through quite a lot of cash once you have paid for all the kiddy friendly attractions.
Having said that we have spent many a happy day at this attraction and would highly recommend it to everyone.
NAME OF LOCATION: Wroxham Barns, Tunstead Road, Hoveton, Norfolk. Tel +44(0)1603 783762.
BACKGROUND: My boyfriend Robert and I wanted to go on holiday with his best mate Richard and his girlfriend Michelle so we collected tokens from my parents Daily Express for their holiday offer.
Cider barn, stained glass window craft shop, steel craft shop, jewellers, candle shop, fudge makers, lavender/perfume and toiletries shop, food shop, and much more
There was a tearoom, junior farm, funfair (closed when we went in October), a craft workshop studio (closed on the day we went in October) and decent toilet block on site.
TRANSPORT: We used our own cars to travel down to Wroxham Barns from Wroxham and there was a decent sized car park (on gravel) near to the shops.
2006 OPENING TIMES: Open most days of the year 10am to 5pm, but check before you go as it is closed at Christmas and may be closed at other times.
PRICE: Free entry and car parking to the craft centre shops, but you have to pay to go into the Junior Farm, (about £3 per person) although we had a ticket to get a free feed for the animals we chose not to go in this part of the attraction due to the inclement weather.
1. Plenty to see, if you are interested in different crafts and things to entertain the children such as the fun fair and farm.
2. Somewhere different to go if the weather is bad as you nip between the shops
3. You may be able to pick up craft materials you need or learn a new craft as some places offered classes.
1. As with all craft places, the prices of items seems to be very expensive, but the crafts people were very knowledgeable about their particular talent and willing to talk about what they do.
2. Dont go expecting demonstrations of crafts as they only do this at certain times of the year.
Go home and plan where to go next year!
MORE INFORMATION FROM
Wroxham Barns, Tunstead Road, Hoveton, Norfolk. Tel = +44(0)1603 783762.
Directions: From Wroxham (Roys garden centre car park) turn left and continue out of the town as if going towards Horning, turn left at mini roundabout, turn right and then follow the Brown signs for Wroxham Barns, about a mile down the winding narrow road.
Wroxham Barns is situated approximately 10 miles from the city of Norwich. Follow the A1151 towards Wroxham, then follow the 'brown and white' tourist signs for 1.5 miles on the Tunstead Road. We always find it easy but we have been visiting for many years.
We visit Wroxham barns approx 2-4 times a year, my recent visit was July 2006 on a School trip with my daughter. Between May and July many schools visit here during the week.
2006 opening times and costs:
Open everyday 10 am to 5pm except Christmas Day, Boxing Day and New Year's Day.
Admission to Wroxham Barns is FREE.
Entry to Junior Farm costs £2.85, under 3's go FREE.
Parking is free.
The Barns are set in a farm like setting with plenty of Crafts shops which include:
Botanical, bird and animal paintings
Cider and apple juice pressing
Patchwork and Quilting
Historic model shipwright
Local sketches and printmaking
Minerals and jewellery
Pine and country furniture
Handmade children's clothes
New for 2006: Bill Legrice Roses have a superb new shop and roses display, unique to Wroxham Barns. In addition, the new The Garden Room, offering exclusive gifts for inspired gardeners.
The barns are great for christmas shopping, the chocolate has gone down really well with my family. At the barns you can find some really unusual gifts for all the family.
This lovely farm is suitable for all ages with plenty of hands on experience, my children have brushed and washed the horse's, bottle fed lambs, collected eggs, cuddled rabbits and little chicks. Oh lets not forget trying to catch a baby goat who made an escape, oh so much fun. For a small fee of 50p you can buy bags of food for the animals, beware of the goats. The junior farm is ideal for the family as children just love to handle those animals and they go home feeling happy and also they learn how to treat animals with love and respect. Feeding times for the Junior Farm lambs are 11am, 1:30pm and 3:30pm
The fair is mostly for the young ones up to about the age of 12 years, my son aged 11 finds it a bit boring and goes in the arcade while my daughter goes round the park. Rides are 50p to £1.50 each. you have to get tokens for the rides from the fair kiosk.
The fun fair has separate opening times which are as follows:
The children's funfair is open weekends; 18th March to 29th October, open daily; 1st April, 1st May (May Day), 29th May to 11th September, 21st October to 29th October (weather permitting).
All opening times and dates are subject to change, weather and demand.
The Teashop is very friendly with a lovely selection of food, we had some lovely scones. The prices are the same as most cafes you would visit.
Note to be missed: Cider and Apple juice testing, collecting eggs.
I ALSO HAVE REVIEW ON CIAO
Wroxham Barns Craft Centre is, most definitely, a tourist attraction. You know the kind of place. It is tantilisingly advertised along all the approach roads by way of brown tourist signs - "Craft Centre --->". Many such signs are reknowned for attracting your attention whilst on a drive and causing you to go on an hour long detour because you become determined to find out where on earth the attraction is. Invariably, you arrive and the place is shut or is disappointing.
Well, Wroxham Barns is some of these things.
Situated not far from the Norfolk town of Wroxham, the barns are actually on a fairly main road and once you pick up the brown signs it really won't be far. The problems come when you actually arrive.
By way of background, and just to put you in the picture, I wasn't in a terribly good mood when we visited back in late September 2005. My husband and I had planned a great day out, a long cycle ride, lunch in a pub then a ride back to where we were staying in Wroxham via the Barns. We got as far as lunch. Having eaten, we were about to ride off again when my husband noticed he had a flat tyre. It was a Sunday and unusually husband had left his puncture repair kit back at the cottage. We locked the bikes up at the pub and started on the long trek across fields back to our cottage to pick up the car to go and collect the bikes. We therefore ended up driving, rather than cycling to the Barns! Cue one tired and tetchy wife!
Car parking at the Barns is pleantiful with clearly marked disabled spaces. Parking, although not covered, for bikes is also provided, as are tether posts for dogs.
The Barns themselves are restored 18th Century buildings set up in an almost circular arrangement. The single storey barns are split into individual units housing the various "craftsmen". This is where things start to go wrong.
There are some genuine cottage industries here, in particular a glass workshop and a wood turners. Other industries are a little more suspect. Whilst the website gives details of lovingly crafted articles almost every shop had commercial goods for sale - imports from the East - together with their craft-ware. We were at the end of the season, but only one workshop actually had a craftsman (well woman) performing her magic.
For me the joy of craft fairs and centres is the opportunity to view unusual goods and see handmade products. Thus the presence of imports and goods that you could easily buy on the high street being sold at craft centre inflated prices was very disappointing. I appreciate that imports might be a way of making a quick bit of money, but for me this really did detract from the whole enterprise.
That brings me neatly onto the only two storey building in the complex. This houses the "gift shop" comprising a clothes section, a food section and then a "craft" bit. The clothing was again commercial, yes there were some unusual lables but when you looked, the Thais and Chinese were producing them. The food section, including a rather yummy fudge shop, fared a little better (pardoning the pun). Local producers were represented, although again, not exclusively. The "craft" bit was a joke. This was a commercial enterprise full of plastic nicknacks to appeal to the kids.
So, is it worth a visit?
Well, there is a little bit more to the Barns than just the crafty craft centre.
For those with children there is quite a nice little Junior farm. Rather like a traditional pets' corner, this area allows children to get up close to some lovely farm animals and to help with some of the more fun chores such as egg collection. There's a regular timetable of events so you can call up in advance to find out when certain things are happening if that is your bent.
In the season (late March through mid September) there is also a children's funfair. Payment for the rides is by token. The fair had closed when we visited and so I cannot comment on how good (or busy) it was. It might just provide some entertainment though!
There is also a fairly large area of open space where one could picnic or have a bit of a run around. This area, at the end of the season, was a bit muddy, but provided it is dry, high season shouldn't be a problem.
Wroxham Barns provides the usual convenience facilities. The toilets were functional. Not outstanding but useable without the need for breathing apparatus. Baby changing and disabled facilities were available. There is also a café serving a range of snacks and meals. Prices were as you would expect for tourist trap - rather on the high side for basics.
Unusually for a tourist honeypot, entrance to the Barns and parking is free. You have to pay extra for the Junior Farm (just under £3) and the Fair.
Would I go again? Probably not, and I certainly wouldn't detour to visit. For me, as much pleasure can be gained from wandering around some of the local villages and visiting the local industries there.
I would say it was worth a short detour for those with young families, although if you use a buggy or wheelchair several of the shops will not be accessible.
You can cycle or walk there from the popular base of Wroxham, if you walk you can do so safely without having to walk on the roads (as the lady in the tourist office said, you walk on the path, when the path runs out you walk on the verge, when the verge runs out you nip behind the hedge on your right where there is a footpath that brings you out at the barns!).
Wroxham Barns Limited,
Open daily 10 - 5 apart from Christmas Day, Boxing Day and New Year's Eve. Note, however, that not all units will be open at all times.
If you enjoy seeing craftsmen at work then Wroxham Barns is a centre I can really recommend. This centre has been established in a collection of restored 18th Century barns in Hoveton, Norfolk. There are thirteen craft workshops, each with it's own craftsman where you can see a large selection of items being made, and have the opportunity of buying anything you may want. The craft barns are all situated around a large courtyard area which has a lot of seating available, so if you want to sit and wait why other members of the family look at a particular workshop then there are plenty of places to rest your legs. In the main barn there is a large gift shop, which also has gifts and crafts from other local craftsmen. There is also a selection of clothing and knitwear for sale. We felt the prices for all the shops were quite reasonable and there were certainly some unusual craft items for sale. There is a very nice coffee shop, which serves both meals and snacks and drinks. The Fudge Shop should be avoided at all costs if you have any worries about calories. The wonderful selection of fudges mean that it is almost impossible to leave this shop without being tempted into buying something. Entrance to the craft centre, and car parking is free. The centre can be found easily by following the brown tourist signs from Wroxham. It is about 2 miles from the centre of Wroxham. I would recommend a visit to all craft lovers.