October 20, 2019 by Hilary Jenison
We left London at noon on Friday and set out via train to Hingham, Norfolk. It’s about a two-hour train ride North East of London and it was fairly easy to navigate. The train brings you to Norwich (pronounced N-aw-rich) which is about a 30-minute taxi ride through the beautiful English country to Hingham.
We arrived in Hingham, Norfolk on Friday around 2:30 pm and were given a warm welcome at the White Hart Hotel by Carol Harris (pictured above), a long-time resident of Hingham and member of the local Historical Society. Hingham, Norfolk is a small countryside town with an approximate population 2,500. It is filled to the brim with history, charm and friendly people. Carol is a local treasure and she was our go-to resource for learning all-things Hingham during our trip.
Carol began our tour with a trip across the center of town (which they refer to as the Marketplace) to St. Andrews Church which was built in the 1300s. The likeness to St. John’s Church in Hingham, MA is uncanny. It is a beautiful church with history oozing from every stone. Within the church there is a bust of Abraham Lincoln to commemorate the Lincoln’s who left Hingham, Norfolk for the Americas in the mid-1700s. Within the church they currently have an exhibition linking Hingham, Norfolk to the Americas and note that great Americans including the Bush family, Bill Gates as well as many English Royalty all have connections to Hingham, England. Fun fact, Bill Gates’ great, great grandparents were married in St. Andrews Church!
We left St. Andrews for a quick tour of the marketplace – including the local Butcher, the Baker (unfortunately, we didn’t find the Candlestick Maker) – and a few other shops before heading back to the White Hart Hotel to settle in for the night.
The White Hart Hotel is located in the center of the Marketplace and being the only pub in town, it is THE spot to be. When we called to book our stay at the White Hart, Katie (the owner) confirmed that we would likely meet the entire town on Friday evening – and we quickly learned that she was not exaggerating.
We were welcomed with open arms, many pints (and, maybe even a few tequila shots) by the locals. You can read a full review of The White Hart and meet the lovely owners (Katie and Matthew) here.
We met so many local characters that it is hard to name them all. Immediately, we were welcomed by a table of “chaps” who loved to give us a hard time about our American accents and lovingly renamed the Hingham Anchor to “The Hingham Wanchor.” We even met a British "cowboy" named Vic who often rides his horse for a pint at the White Hart!
We then met two lovely women – Eve and Sam – who were two mums out for a night on the town to let loose before “half term.” They told us – with a familiar fear in their eyes – that half term is their version of our school vacation week and therefore, their children will be home all of next week with no school to keep them busy! We knew the feeling all too well and connected with these local "mums" on many levels.
Before we left the #02043 we hit up some local spots to gather “new Hingham” swag, including the museum shop at the Old Derby, Acquired Good and the booths at Hingham Homecoming to give as gifts to people we met --- and the locals ate it up. The “Entering Hingham” wine glasses and pint glasses were especially a hit! It was hysterical to walk around the restaurant and see Harbormen Hockey water bottles, Hingham Soccer magnets and Hingham Basketball bracelets all around!
One thing that is noticeably different about Hingham, Norfolk is how dog-friendly the town is – dogs are welcome anywhere including church and in the bar! We met so many new #HoundsofHingham that we lost track but three of our favorites were Marley & Rocky (brothers) and Ferris.
A lovely local couple Phil and Diana came and introduced themselves to us early on in the evening and graciously took the liberty to introduce us to some new folks around the pub. Including, Louise, Sam and their daughter Molly – the owners of Mongers – a local antique and architectural salvage shop that sources an abundance of beautiful antique clawfoot tubs, bath fittings, antique doors and other treasures. Chip and Joanna Gaines would have had a field day in their shop! And, they may have the coolest car in all of Hingham – The Mongers Defender (we may or may not have tried to buy Sam’s car). Louise and Sam also own a gorgeous Bank Cottage that they rent through Air B&B which is the second option for a place to stay in Hingham outside of The White Hart Hotel.
Another local couple, Angela and Jeremy were proud parents sharing pictures of their daughter’s recent wedding in Hingham which looked like it was out of the pages of Martha Stewart Weddings. The entire wedding walked from St. Andrews Church through the marketplace to their home that is located right at the edge of the marketplace center to their garden for a tented reception.
The night continued well into the evening (ahem, maybe the morning) and the memories will stay with us forever (well, what we remember anyway).
The next day, after a delicious breakfast of fresh croissants, coffee and omelets we once again met up with Carol Harris to continue our historical tour. She literally knows everyone and toured us around telling many stories that began with “Well, when I was a little girl in Hingham” filling us in on the ways in which Hingham has both changed, and remained the same, in recent years.
We visited Lincoln’s Tea Room for hot “Americanos,” the local Hingham antique shop, The Bond Street Shop and Normandy House – a beautiful private home that was once a farm and then a school for boys (it is now owned by the lovely Alison & her mother).
We also did a quick walk to check out the local school which educates approximately 200 children ages 4-11.
We ended our tour with Carol back at the White Hart Inn for a few final pints and a few final laughs and goodbyes before we found our way back to London to start our journey home to “our Hingham.”
While there are a few differences, mainly size, between “old Hingham and new Hingham” – there are many similarities. Locals shared that it’s a “small town and small-town people talk” noting that everyone knows everything about everyone and that town “politics and gossip” can be tricky to navigate. Sound familiar?! Funny enough, they also have local Hingham Facebook group that is popular among locals for buying, selling (and, maybe a bit of the aforementioned gossip). However, most importantly and similar to our town –Hingham is an absolutely gorgeous community and locals resoundingly confirm that people in Hingham ... "look out for each other."
When asked why do you love living in Hingham? Sam Coster, of Mongers, answered it best saying “Well, it’s a very beautiful place and beautiful places tend to attract beautiful people.” And, we have to agree with him!
While the beauty of Hingham is quite outstanding – there is charm and history around every corner – it is the people of Hingham that made our trip so memorable. They are beautiful inside and out.
We are forever grateful for the memories of this trip and the people we met along the way that were so kind and welcoming. We have invited all to come visit us in Hingham, Mass and we sincerely hope they take us up on the offer so we can attempt to show them the same hospitality.
If you have the chance, we highly recommend adding Hingham, Norfolk to the top of your bucket list. It was just a hop, skip and a … (plane, train, taxi) ride away and it is certainly well worth the trip.
Tell them the Anchor sent you (or, on second thought maybe we’ll just have to come with you).