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The Burnhams are a delightful group of villages spread along the valley of the small river Burn and close to the North Norfolk coast.
I make no secret of the fact that Burnham Market is one of my favourite places in the county. It is the largest of the Burnhams and has a village green surrounded by Georgian houses and cottages and dominated at its western end by the church of St Mary Westgate which has a fine flintwork tower.
Burnham Market is made up of Westgate, Sutton and Ulph. A mile and a half to the south is Burnham Thorpe which is best known as the birthplace of Horatio Nelson . Burnham Norton lies to the north on the edge of a reclaimed salt marsh. Its Saxon round-towered church is isolated on a hill.
Burnham Overy is half a mile to the east and has a church with a square central tower surmounted by a bell turret and an old water mill with a windmill beside it. Overy Staithe was a small seaport in the past and is now a popular place for sailing. The River Burn runs out to sea at Burnham Overy Staithe and its creek winds from the harbour through salt marshes and emerges into the sea between sand dunes which stretch away to Holkham in the east and Scolt Head island to the west.
The Tower Windmill at Overy is a landmark for miles and nearby on the river is a watermill with a row of old cottages.
Burnham Deepdale is two miles west and the Burn ran into the sea here in the Middle Ages before changing its course. Today it is quite detached from the other Burnhams and is joined to Brancaster Staithe.
Up until 50 years ago a number of small industries flourished at Burnham Market including blacksmiths, a foundry, a shoemaker, three bakeries and at least five pubs of which only two remain. There were also several maltings in the Burnhams.
The character of the Burnhams has changed greatly in the past few years with many of the old cottages becoming holiday homes. There are a number of antique and book shops and of course the area is very popular with holidaymakers in the summer months. The area is a Mecca for birdwatchers with great flocks of wild geese arriving from Siberia.