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Acres of enterprise to be found here in West Acre




Washed Up column, by Sarah Juggins, Tuesday, September 29, 2020

In a small West Norfolk village a revolution is taking place.

The ruins and grounds of West Acre Priory is now home to a small but increasing number of outlets.

Work under way at the historic barn at West Acre in December 2019
Work under way at the historic barn at West Acre in December 2019

These range from a shop/workshop that creates mosaics and teaches mosaic-making courses, to a full-on beer experience, including tasting, touring and becoming immersed in the craft beer world.

There is also a gallery that has a wide range of work by local artists, a woodwork studio and shop and a soon to open coffee shop and roastery.

Whale of a Time clothing also has its home at the centre, which is housed at Abbey Farm.

Duration Brewery. Washed Up column
Duration Brewery. Washed Up column

The outlets are all within the grounds of the Abbey and have been sensitively set-up to not detract from the ancient buildings. The atmosphere is one of calm, safety and quiet absorption in the day-to-day creation of the products on sale.

On a Saturday, people visit the brewery, which is called Duration Beer. It is the brain child of Miranda and Bates Hudson and visitors can tap into this couples’ extraordinary knowledge and passion for the range of beers they are creating by tasting the beer and touring the brewery.

If this all sounds like an advertorial for the vendors at Abbey Farm, I apologise but it is an enterprise that, for me, symbolises the wealth of experience that can be found in unexpected places.

West Acre is a quiet sleepy village that sometimes seems stuck in its 13th century glory years but here it is leading the field in a new way of shopping. Here is ‘socially distanced’, ‘short supply chain’, ‘meet the producer’ shopping at its best.

It is not unique: there are places like this across West Norfolk. A trip to Drove Orchard just outside Thornham will uncover a number of independent retailers, ranging from a Gelato seller to a Danish-inspired clothing store.

The General Stores at Ringstead is a whole marketplace in its own shell. At first glance it is a shop that sells household goods. Take a step out of the main shop and the building turns into an Aladdin’s cave of antiques, bric-a-brac and one of the best supplies of magazine titles in the county.

We are a county with a growing number of people setting out to produce and sell things that they love and are passionate about for us all to enjoy.

If this is to be the new ‘normal for Norfolk’, then I’m a fan.



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