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View of Hunstanton Front From The Beach.jpg
View of Hunstanton front from the beach
Norfolk UK location map.svg
Red pog.svg
Location within Norfolk
Area6.07 km2 (2.34 sq mi)
Population4,229 (2011)
  Density 697/km2 (1,810/sq mi)
OS grid reference TF6740
Shire county
Country England
Sovereign state United Kingdom
Postcode district PE36
Dialling code 01485
Police Norfolk
Fire Norfolk
Ambulance East of England
UK Parliament
List of places
52°56′N0°29′E / 52.93°N 0.48°E / 52.93; 0.48 Coordinates: 52°56′N0°29′E / 52.93°N 0.48°E / 52.93; 0.48

Hunstanton ( /ˈhʌnstən/ ( Loudspeaker.svg listen ) [1] ) is a seaside town in Norfolk, England, which had a population of 4,229 at the 2011 Census. [2] It faces west across The Wash, making it one of the few places on the east coast of Great Britain where the sun sets over the sea. Hunstanton lies 102 miles (164 km) north-north-east of London and 40 miles (64 km) north-west of Norwich. [3]



Hunstanton Town Hall and the statue of Henry Styleman Le Strange Hunstanton Town Hall and Le Strange statue (geograph 5686415).jpg
Hunstanton Town Hall and the statue of Henry Styleman Le Strange
Remains of St Edmund's Memorial Chapel in 2016 St. Edmund's Memorial Chapel, Hunstanton.jpg
Remains of St Edmund's Memorial Chapel in 2016

Hunstanton is a 19th-century resort town, initially known as New Hunstanton to distinguish it from the adjacent village of that name. The new town soon exceeded the village in scale and population.

The original settlement, now Old Hunstanton, probably gained its name from the River Hun, which runs to the coast just to the east. It has also been argued that the name originated from "Honeystone", referring to the local red carr stone. The river begins in the grounds of Old Hunstanton Park, which surrounds the moated Hunstanton Hall, the ancestral home of the Le Strange family. Old Hunstanton village is of prehistoric origin and lies near to the head of Peddars Way. In 1970, evidence of Neolithic settlement was found. The quiet character of the village remains distinct from its busy sibling and complements it with clifftop walks past a redundant lighthouse and the ruins of St Edmund's Chapel, built in 1272.

In 1846, Henry L'Estrange Styleman Le Strange (1815–1862), [4] decided to develop the area south of Old Hunstanton as a bathing resort. He brought a group of like-minded investors into building a railway line from King's Lynn. In 1861, Le Strange, as principal landowner, became a director of the railway company. By 1862 the line had been built. Le Strange died that year at the age of 47, leaving his son Hamon to reap the rewards of his efforts. The Lynn and Hunstanton Railway became one of the most consistently profitable in the country.

Le Strange moved the ancient village cross from Old Hunstanton to a new site in 1846. In 1848 the first main building, the Royal Hotel (now the Golden Lion), was built by Victorian architect, William Butterfield, a friend of Le Strange. Overlooking a sloping green and the sea, and for several years standing alone, it earned the nickname "Le Strange's Folly". In 1850 Le Strange, an amateur architect and painter, appointed a land agent to survey the site and prepare a plan. Le Strange drew and painted a map and a perspective of the scheme, showing shops, a station and a church. He consulted William Butterfield on the design. Their shared passion was for an "Old English" style of architecture for domestic buildings, owing much to medieval precedents and the earnest Victorian Gothic Revival. Hunstanton came to exemplify a 19th-century estate seaside town. Most of the fabric and character of that development survives.

In 1915, during the First World War, Hunstanton was the headquarters of the West Norfolk training programme of the Queen's Own Cameron Highlanders, as they prepared for active service on the Western Front. [5] Among them were regimental bagpiper Iain Eairdsidh MacAsgaill (1898-1934), and poet Dòmhnall Ruadh Chorùna (1887-1967).

Hunstanton was hit badly by the North Sea flood of 1953. The wall of water on the night of 31 January – 1 February killed 31 people, 16 of them United States military personnel and their families. There were 35 more victims in neighbouring Snettisham and Heacham. [6]


The Hunstanton electoral ward belongs to the Borough Council of King's Lynn and West Norfolk. [7] Its 2011 population was 5,420. [8] Hunstanton has a mayor and a 17-member town council that meets twice a month at Hunstanton Town Hall. [9]


The stratified Carstone (orange), red chalk limestone and white chalk cliffs on the beach at Old Hunstanton. Hunstanton Cliffs.jpg
The stratified Carstone (orange), red chalk limestone and white chalk cliffs on the beach at Old Hunstanton.

The coastal cliffs include the type section of the Hunstanton Formation of lower reddish limestone, which was laid down during the Lower Cretaceous. This is topped by a white chalk layer from the Upper Cretaceous period. [11]


Climate data for Hunstanton 28m asl, 1991-2020
Average high °C (°F)7.1
Average low °C (°F)2.2
Average rainfall mm (inches)51.6
Average rainy days (≥ 1.0 mm)
Mean monthly sunshine hours 60.081.7120.7177.6197.6187.2202.4188.6147.7112.468.060.31,604.2
Source: Met Office [12]


Former lighthouse in 2016 Old Hunstanton Lighthouse 2016.jpg
Former lighthouse in 2016
Hunstanton Beach at dusk, August 2013 Hunstanton Beach at Dusk Aug 2013.jpg
Hunstanton Beach at dusk, August 2013

Hunstanton's summer crowds are smaller than in the 1980s, although its relative popularity with day-trippers and holidaymakers has endured, despite the decline in British seaside holidaying. Businesses in villages south of Hunstanton (Dersingham, Ingoldisthorpe and Snettisham) complained in the 1990s of a loss in trade after being bypassed by the A149 to Hunstanton.

Looking out to the Wash from Hunstanton. Boat on the Wash at Hunstanton.jpg
Looking out to the Wash from Hunstanton.
Place name sign in Hunstanton UK Hunstanton (SideA).jpg
Place name sign in Hunstanton

The town has several Victorian squares. Boston Square provides a view across the Wash to Boston, Lincolnshire where Boston Stump is visible on clear days.

Hunstanton has a fairground, aquarium and seal sanctuary, leisure pool, theatre, large caravan parks with amenities (Searle's Holiday Park opened in 1936), some amusement arcades, and a long promenade. The centrepiece remains the large sloping green from one end of High Street to the promenade.

Hunstanton has markets on Wednesdays and Sundays selling fresh fish and fresh fruit and vegetables attract greater visitor numbers in the summer months through to the autumn. The main shopping streets have stone buildings, some with glazed canopies, evoking the Victorian and Edwardian eras of their construction.

In good weather, excursion boats take visitors out to view grey and common seals that have colonised sand bars in the Wash and to the north of Norfolk. The countryside around Hunstanton is hillier than most of Norfolk and sparsely populated, the only large settlement nearby is King's Lynn, 12 miles (19 km) to the south.

Hunstanton Pier

The town once had a Victorian pleasure pier, with a pavilion and miniature steam railway. The pier pavilion was destroyed by fire in 1939, the pier was damaged by fire again in the 1950s, before almost the entire structure was washed away by a storm in 1978. What remained extended just 15 feet out from the amusement arcade and cafe built on the site of the original entrance. In 2002, the entire building, with the remains of the pier, was destroyed in a fire. The building was too badly damaged for the cause to be determined. Today, the site is occupied by an arcade and bowling alley complex.

The pier featured in the 1957 Ealing Studios comedy film Barnacle Bill (released in the US as All at Sea) starring Alec Guinness. [13]


The town is linked to King's Lynn by a frequent Lynx bus service. Other services run to Sandringham, Wells-next-the-Sea, Sheringham and Cromer. [14]

Hunstanton railway station offered services to King's Lynn until 1969, when the line was closed as uneconomic.


The Smithdon High School (formerly Hunstanton Secondary Modern School) is an early building designed by the architects Peter and Alison Smithson, built in 1949–1954 in a radical style of international architectural significance. It is a Grade II* listed building. [15]

The school epitomised architectural experiment in post-war Britain and growing acceptance of modernism by public authorities. It was praised for an intelligent layout and formal elegance. [16] The Smithsons deliberately left many of the service elements of the school exposed, making a feature of the water tank by turning it into a tower. The disposition, steel frames and panels of brick and glass echo the work of Mies van der Rohe at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. [17]

Hunstanton is home to Glebe House School, an independent co-educational preparatory school.

Theatre, cinema and culture

The Princess Theatre is a 472-seat, year-round venue for shows from comedy to drama, music for all tastes, and children's productions. It also has a six-week summer season and an annual Christmas pantomime. Films are screened in the week. Opened as the Capitol Cinema in 1932, it is noted for its Norfolk carr stone construction, of which it contains the largest gable wall in existence. It was designed as a theatre as well as a cinema, but closed in the 1960s and was sold in 1974. It reopened as the Kingsley Centre for summer seasons and films for about two years, but declined into a bingo hall before closing again. The Borough Council of King's Lynn and West Norfolk purchased it in 1981, and in honour of Lady Diana Spencer, who married the Prince of Wales in July 1981, it was renamed the Princess Theatre and officially re-opened on 5 July 1981.

Hunstanton Concert Band plays in and around Hunstanton at a wide variety of venues including churches, fêtes, concerts and the town's bandstand. The Deaf Havana album Fools and Worthless Liars featured a track called "Hunstanton Pier", a nostalgic recollection of the town where James Veck-Gilodi, its lead singer, grew up.

Literary associations

Wreck of the Sheraton Wreck of the Sheraton - - 1553402.jpg
Wreck of the Sheraton

Between the world wars, P. G. Wodehouse often visited his friend Charles Le Strange at Hunstanton Hall. It influenced a number of locations in his comic novels, as Aunt Agatha's country seat Woollam Chersey and the inspiration for the setting for Money for Nothing (1928). The octagon in the garden featured in "Jeeves and the Impending Doom". Norfolk also furnishes names for many of Wodehouse's characters, such as Brancaster, Jack Snettisham and J. Sheringham Adair.

L. P. Hartley knew the Hunstanton neighbourhood from childhood holidays and used it as a setting for The Shrimp and the Anemone (1944), the first novel in his Eustace and Hilda trilogy. It is at Hunstanton Hall, fictionalised as Anchorstone Hall, that Eustace enters the privileged world of the aristocracy and eventually inherits a small fortune. The layered chalk, red chalk and carr-stone cliffs at Hunstanton provide a backdrop for Eustace and Hilda's games among the rock pools.

Patrick Hamilton's novel Hangover Square opens with George Harvey Bone walking on the cliffs in Hunstanton. Hamilton lived for many years at Martincross in Sheringham and spent time in the 1930s in a cottage in Burnham Overy Staithe, with his first wife, Lois.


Paragliding above the cliffs in Hunstanton Paragliding over Hunstanton sea cliffs.jpg
Paragliding above the cliffs in Hunstanton

Hunstanton attracts thousands during a week in August, for the ITA Hunstanton Lawn Tennis tournament – the biggest in England after Wimbledon, inaugurated in 1920. All ages can play from the young (Under 8 Round Robin) to senior veterans. It acts also as a big social event.

Hunstanton Golf Club, founded in 1891 by Hamon Le Strange, is an 18-hole championship links along the sandy coast of Old Hunstanton. It has a classic "out and back" design on either side of a central spine or dune ridge. The 12th, 13th and 14th holes play across the ridge.

The town has hosted several international sporting events, including the 2005 World Water Ski Racing Championships.

Notable people

In birth order:


Coat of arms of Hunstanton
Granted 9 September 1955.
On a wreath of the colours a sea lion Or supporting an ostrich feather erect Argent.
Barry wavy Argent and Azure on a pile reversed Gules two arrows in saltire points downwards enfiled with a coronet of four fleurs-de-lys set upon a rim Or on a chief also Gules a lion passant of the first.
Alios Delectare Juvat (It Is Our Pleasure To Please Others). [18]

Related Research Articles

Norfolk County of England

Norfolk is a ceremonial and non-metropolitan county in East Anglia in England. Norfolk has an area of 5,371 km2. It borders Lincolnshire to the northwest, Cambridgeshire to the west and southwest, and Suffolk to the south. Its northern and eastern boundaries are the North Sea and to the northwest, The Wash. The county town is the city of Norwich. With an area of 2,074 square miles (5,370 km2) and a population of 859,400, Norfolk is a largely rural county with a population density of 401 per square mile. Of the county's population, 40% live in four major built up areas: Norwich (213,000), Great Yarmouth (63,000), King's Lynn (46,000), and Thetford (25,000).

Snettisham Human settlement in England

Snettisham is a village and civil parish in the English county of Norfolk. It is located near the west coast of Norfolk, some 5 miles (8.0 km) south of the seaside resort of Hunstanton, 9 miles (14 km) north of the town of King's Lynn and 45 miles (72 km) northwest of the city of Norwich.

Cromer Coastal town in Norfolk, England

Cromer is a coastal town and civil parish on the north coast of the English county of Norfolk. It is 23 miles north of Norwich, 116 miles north-northeast of London and four miles east of Sheringham on the North Sea coastline. The local government authorities are North Norfolk District Council, whose headquarters is on Holt Road in the town, and Norfolk County Council, based in Norwich. The civil parish has an area of 4.66 km2 and at the 2011 census had a population of 7,683.

Smithdon High School Academy in Hunstanton, Norfolk, England

Smithdon High School is a small comprehensive school academy, with 627 students in Hunstanton, Norfolk. Its buildings are Grade II* listed. It changed its status, joining the West Norfolk Academies Trust in 2016. Ofsted rated the school as 'requires improvement' in 2019.

Heacham Human settlement in England

Heacham is a large village in West Norfolk, England, overlooking The Wash. It lies between King's Lynn, 14 miles (23 km) to the south, and Hunstanton, about 3 miles (4.8 km) to the north. It has been a seaside resort for over a century and a half.

A149 road Road in Norfolk, linking Kings Lynn and Great Yarmouth

The A149 is commonly known as "The Coast Road" to local residents and tourists as this road runs along the North Norfolk coast from King's Lynn to Cromer passing through small coastal villages. The road then leaves the coastline at Cromer and reaches the Norfolk Broads.

Old Hunstanton Human settlement in England

Old Hunstanton is a village and civil parish in the English county of Norfolk. It covers an area of 5.35 km2 (2.07 sq mi) and had a population of 47 in 25 households at the 2001 census. The population had risen to 628 at the 2011 Census. For the purposes of local government, it falls within the district of King's Lynn and West Norfolk.

Holkham was a railway station which served the coastal village of Holkham in Norfolk, England. Opened by the West Norfolk Junction railway in 1866, it closed with the line in 1952.

Stanhoe railway station Former railway station in Norfolk, England

Stanhoe was a railway station which served the village of Stanhoe in Norfolk, England. Opened by the West Norfolk Junction Railway in 1866, it closed to passengers in 1952.

Sedgeford railway station Former railway station in Norfolk, England

Sedgeford was a railway station which served the settlement of Sedgeford in Norfolk, England. Opened by the West Norfolk Junction Railway in 1866, passenger services ceased with the line in 1952.

Hunstanton railway station Former railway station in Norfolk, England

Hunstanton railway station served the seaside town of Hunstanton in Norfolk, England. Opened in 1862, the station was the northern terminus of the Lynn and Hunstanton Railway. The line was brought to public notice by John Betjeman in the British Transport Film John Betjeman Goes By Train. The station closed with the line in 1969.

Snettisham railway station Railway station in North Norfolk, England

Snettisham was a railway station on the King's Lynn to Hunstanton line which served the village of Snettisham, a few miles north of King's Lynn in North Norfolk, England. Opened in 1862, the station closed along with the line in 1969.

The West Norfolk Junction Railway was a standard gauge eighteen and a half-mile single-track railway running between Wells-next-the-Sea railway station and Heacham in the English county of Norfolk. It opened in 1866 and closed in 1953. At Wells the line made a junction with the Wells and Fakenham Railway and at Heacham it connected with the line from Hunstanton to Kings Lynn.

Golden Lion Hotel, Hunstanton Building in Norfolk, England

The Golden Lion Hotel is in the coastal English town of Hunstanton, King's Lynn and West Norfolk, Norfolk, England. It is a three-star hotel and has been a Grade II listed building since 20 September 1984.

North Sea flood of 1978 Storm surge on the east coast of England

North Sea flood of 1978 was a storm surge which occurred over 11–12 January causing extensive coastal flooding and considerable damage on the east coast of England between the Humber and Kent. Higher water levels were reached than during the devastating North Sea flood of 1953 from North Shields to King's Lynn, but values were lower towards the Thames. Locally severe flooding occurred in Lincolnshire, The Wash, north Norfolk and Kent. Improvements in flood protection following the devastating flood of 1953 meant that the catastrophic losses seen during that storm were not repeated. The storm caused severe damage to many piers along the east coast of England.

Lynn and Hunstanton Railway

The Lynn and Hunstanton Railway was a line in Norfolk, England that opened in 1862. The railway was a major factor in developing Hunstanton as a seaside resort and residential community. The company was allied to the West Norfolk Junction Railway which built a line connecting Heacham, south of Hunstanton, to Wells-next-the-Sea that was not a financial success. The companies amalgamated in 1874 to form the Hunstanton and West Norfolk Railway, and in 1890 the company was sold to the Great Eastern Railway.

West Norfolk Academies Trust is a multi-academy trust, serving schools in or close to King's Lynn, Norfolk.

Hunstanton Hall House in Old Hunstanton, Norfolk

Hunstanton Hall, Old Hunstanton, Norfolk, England is a country house dating originally from the 15th century. The gatehouse, now detached from the main building, is dated 1487. The wings were built in the seventeenth century and there are Victorian additions. The house was the ancestral home of the L'Estrange family, resident from the time of Domesday until after World War II. During the early 20th century, P. G. Wodehouse, a friend of Charles Le Strange, was a frequent visitor and the hall features in his novel Money for Nothing (1928) and his collection of short stories Very Good, Jeeves (1930). The hall has also been suggested as a model for Blandings Castle. The building suffered two major fires, in 1853 and 1947. In 1948, the hall was sold and converted into apartments. Hunstanton Hall is a Grade I listed building.

Hunstanton Town Hall Municipal building in Hunstanton, Norfolk, England

Hunstanton Town Hall is a municipal building on The Green in Hunstanton, Norfolk, England. The structure, which is the meeting place of Hunstanton Town Council, is a grade II listed building.


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  2. "Town population 2011" . Retrieved 28 August 2015.
  3. UK preferences. Retrieved 27 January 2019.
  4. Source: Hunstanton Civic Society
  5. Mary Mackie: Hunstanton's Highland Heroes: West Norfolk 1915 (King's Lynn: Morningside Publishers, 2018) ISBN   0-95759-782-7.
  6. Eastern Daily Press memorial issue, 1 February 2013 Retrieved 8 September 2018.
  7. Borough site Retrieved 4 December 2016.
  8. "Ward population 2011" . Retrieved 28 August 2015.
  9. Council site Retrieved 4 December 2016. Archived 18 October 2016 at the Wayback Machine
  10. anonymous (2018). Hunstanton Guide Book. Hunstanton & District Civic Society.
  11. "Hunstanton Formation". British Geological Survey.
  12. "Hunstanton 1991–2020 averages". Met Office. Retrieved 26 February 2022.
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  16. "Hunstanton School – Data, Photos & Plans – WikiArquitectura".
  17. "Revisiting Alison and Peter Smithson's Hunstanton school".
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