'It's the people' - The secret to the most sought after village in Norfolk

Mark Eldridge, owner of the Massingham Stores, Post Office, and Cartshed Tearoom in Great Massingham

Mark Eldridge, owner of the Massingham Stores, Post Office, and Cartshed Tearoom in Great Massingham village, with his tearoom team. From left, Mel Whitmore, Talia Hollister, and Lily Barlow. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY - Credit: DENISE BRADLEY/Archant2021

Reporter ABIGAIL NICHOLSON asks the people of Great Massingham how they feel about being named one of the UK's most fashionable 'It towns' by The Telegraph.

It's safe to say Norfolk has many beautiful villages and towns, and Great Massingham with its stunning greens, church, and community has proven to be up there with the best.

The Great Massingham village sign. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

The Great Massingham village sign. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY - Credit: DENISE BRADLEY/Archant2021

The once sleepy village, believed to date back to the 5th century, is now a thriving hub for locals, ducks, and visitors alike.

Blossom on the green in front of the Dabbling Duck pub in Great Massingham village. Picture: DENISE

Blossom on the green in front of the Dabbling Duck pub in Great Massingham village. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY - Credit: DENISE BRADLEY/Archant2021

Now when houses in the village are listed for sale, they are ''snapped up' straight away and have proven to be more and more desirable.

Mark and Sally Dobby, owners of The Dabbling Duck in the heart of Great Massingham, said the village had become busier with people moving their lives to Norfolk over the last few years.

The Dabbling Duck pub owners Mark and Sally Dobby in Great Massingham village. Picture: DENISE BRADL

The Dabbling Duck pub owners Mark and Sally Dobby in Great Massingham village. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY - Credit: DENISE BRADLEY/Archant2021

Mr Dobby said: "You have everything you could need in this village, a church, shop where you could do a weekly shop if you wanted to, GP, two schools, a social club and a pub." 

His wife added: "No matter how much it grows, It still feels like a village.

The Dabbling Duck pub owners Mark and Sally Dobby, front, with staff members, back from left, Jazz H

The Dabbling Duck pub owners Mark and Sally Dobby, front, with staff members, back from left, Jazz Hollister, waitress; Dale Smith, head chef; Rachel Eagle, general manager; Dan Mooney, assistant manager; and Joe Clark, bar manager, in Great Massingham village. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY - Credit: DENISE BRADLEY/Archant2021

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"As beautiful as the coast is unfortunately a lot of that is a little bit lost which is a real shame.

"You need that balance of locals and visitors and we have that."

After being mentioned in The Telegraph's list of 'it towns' - despite Great Massingham being a village - some residents did not agree.

Gary Dawes said: "A beautiful Norfolk village that is rapidly being changed by people moving in from outside the county, people who are looking for their idealistic country life, but not understanding country life."

The Dabbling Duck pub in Great Massingham village. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

The Dabbling Duck pub in Great Massingham village. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY - Credit: DENISE BRADLEY/Archant2021

Other locals were also concerned the attention would turn the village into a tourist hot-spot like the Norfolk coast, something which Hugh Symington and his wife, Heidi, who own Hill Farm Barns, disagree with.

Heidi and Hugh Symington who run the Hill Farm Barns in Massingham. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Heidi and Hugh Symington who run the Hill Farm Barns in Massingham. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY - Credit: DENISE BRADLEY/Archant2021

"I don't think Massingham can become like the coast," said Mr Symington. "It doesn't have the facilities or the makeup for it, it can only be what it is.

"Down at the coast, people who are visiting there are only staying in that area, the beauty of our village is that people come here to go to the coast and also inland."

Speaking on why they love Massingham, the couple, whose luxury barns are booked up until Christmas 2021, said the community spirit and character of the village were something they were in awe of.

A dabbling duck and her 14 chicks in one of Great Massingham village ponds. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

A dabbling duck and her 14 chicks in one of Great Massingham village ponds. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY - Credit: DENISE BRADLEY/Archant2021

"We all work together," said Mrs Symington. "Whenever we have people stay here we always point them in the direction of the pub, shop, butchers, and local attractions.

"The other businesses all do the same with each other and we work together to make sure we're doing everything we can to support each other, especially over the last year."

The renovated barn conversionsat Hill Farm can accommodate 32 guests and includes heated indoor swim

The renovated barn conversionsat Hill Farm can accommodate 32 guests and includes heated indoor swimming pool and a county standard tennis court. Picture: Max Andersson - Credit: Archant

Mr and Mrs Symington are not the only residents and business owners who have spoken of the community spirit in the village. 

Massingham Stores and Post Office owner, Mark Eldridge, who took over the shop with his wife, Kerry, two and a half years ago said they were humbled by the local's warm welcome.

Mark Eldridge, owner of the Massingham Stores, Post Office, and Cartshed Tearoom in Great Massingham

Mark Eldridge, owner of the Massingham Stores, Post Office, and Cartshed Tearoom in Great Massingham village. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY - Credit: DENISE BRADLEY/Archant2021

The store, which now boasts the brand new Cartshed Tearooms, helped serve the community during lockdown by donating to the village's food bank and offering home delivery.

"It's like serving my friends and family, every day," Mr Eldridge said. "It really is lovely and I couldn't wish for a better job, it's my prolonged extended life highlight. Everybody welcomed us with open arms.

The Great Massingham village sign. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

The Great Massingham village sign. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY - Credit: DENISE BRADLEY/Archant2021

"The businesses all work together to make the village what it is so when we saw there was a gap in the village for a tea room and we knew that we wouldn't be stepping on anybody's toes, we created Cartshed.

"I can't imagine living or working anywhere else now."


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