Norfolk Famous People
When you visit Norfolk, you are walking in the steps of many famous men
and women. Heroes and heroines from history as well as modern celebrities
are among the list of names associated with the area.
Many famous people come to live and holiday in Norfolk because it is
one of the most unspoilt parts of the country.
Local people tend not to bother them for autographs and the media keep
away. We therefore respect their privacy and only list people below
who have openly talked about Norfolk in media interviews.
Royalty and Politicians
Boudica, queen of the Iceni people in ancient Britain and
scourge of the occupying Roman Army, was born in the part of Norfolk that
is close to Norwich, at a settlement near the River Wensum.
The Royal Family have a home at Sandringham.
Diana, Princess of Wales, first wife of Charles, Prince of
Wales, was born and grew up near Sandringham.
John Major British Prime Minister from 1990 to 1997, has a holiday home
Samuel Lincoln, great-great-great-great-grandfather of Abraham Lincoln,
18th President of the United States of America, came from Hingham, Norfolk.
In 1637, at the age of 15, he sailed to the colonies, settling in Hingham,
Comedy & Actors
Comedians Charlie Higson, Paul Whitehouse, Eddie Izzard and Arthur Smith
all studied in Norwich at the University of East Anglia. Stephen Fry, and
Roger Lloyd Pack ('Trigger' from Only Fools and Horses, and 'Owen'
in Vicar of Dibley) have their homes in Norfolk.
Ruth Madoc who played Gladys Pugh in the 1980s BBC television comedy
Hi-de-Hi was born in Norwich. She also plays Daffyd Thomas's mother
in the comedy series Little Britain. Not forgetting the the fictional
character Alan Partridge played by Steve Coogan.
Norfolk's Harry Potter star, Chris Rankin plays the charracter Percy Weasley.
Actor John Hurt (The Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter, Elephant Man) has
moved to live near to Cromer in Norfolk.
Sir John Mills (Great Expectations, Goodbye Mr. Chips, Scott of the
Antarctic, Swiss Family Robinson, The Colditz Story, Gandhi) was born
in Norfolk and went to Norwich School for Boys where it is said that
his initials can still be seen carved into the brickwork on the side
of the building in Upper St Giles Street.
Actress Naomi Watts (The Ring, King Kong) flirts between New York and
North Norfolk and her Mother has an interior design business called
House Bait in Norfolk.
Actor Hugh Jackman's (star of Van Helsing, and X-Men) mother lives
in Norfolk and he says his favourite pub is in Norwich. The pub is now
called The Kings and is on King Street, in Norwich. Acccording to The
Times, his first love is cricket, but due to the fact that his mother
is from Norfolk, he lets it be known he follows Norwich City football
Actress Sienna Guillory (Inkheart, Resident Evil: Apocalypse, Eragon,
Love Actually, and The Time Machine ) was also the Milk Tray girl and
the face of Boss perfume. Sienna moved to Norfolk when she was 11, won
her first major role in a TV adaptation of Jilly Cooper's Riders when
she was just 16 and studying for A levels in French and theatre studies
at Gresham's school in Holt. But even though she's now based in LA,
she still describes Norfolk, where she grew up and got her first big
acting break, as her “favourite place in the world.”
Sebastian Shaw from Holt in Norfolk played the unmasked Darth Vader
and ghost of Anakin Skywalker in the Star Wars movie Return of the Jedi.
Terry Molloy, who lives in Bawburgh, terrorised a generation of children
as evil scientist Davros (creator of the Daleks) in Dr Who. Mr Molloy
is also known to generations of Radio Four listeners as Mike Tucker
from the The Archers. He has played the morose milkman for 34 years
and the show has become a real family affair with his real-life son
starring in the soap too.
Actress Liza Goddard lives near Dereham. Actor Martin Shaw who played
Ray Doyle in The Professionals TV series (1977-81) lives at Hingham.
Actress and Supermodel Claudia Schiffer spent two months in the Norfolk
town of King's Lynn as a young girl, as part of a cultural exchange
between the King Edward the Seventh Secondary School and a comprehensive
in Lynn's twin town of Emmerich, Germany.
Actress Amanda Holden lives near Burnham Market and says of Norfolk
"Norfolk hasn't been spoilt by tourism; it's one of the best places
in the world".
Australian actress Caitlin Stasey who is best known for her role as
Rachel Kinski in Neighbours supports Norwich City and spends a lot of
time in the area. As a seven-year-old she and her family spent almost
a year with living with Grandma and Grandad. Caitlin and little sister
Victoria went to Colman infant school across the road. But, instead
of settling in Norwich as planned the family eventually returned to
Australia, and Norwich became a holiday destination rather than home.
She starred in Snow White in Norwich at Christmas 2008.
From the world of music, the beautiful North Norfolk Coast inspires the
heart-wrenching and emotional songs from singer/songwriters James Blunt
and David Gray at his seaside holiday home near Hunstanton.
Roger Taylor, drummer and backing vocalist of iconic rock band Queen was
born in King's Lynn
in 1949. Cathy Dennis and Beth Orton are from Norwich.
English classical pianist, television presenter, and former member
of the UK pop group Hear'Say Myleene Klass is from Gorleston
near Great Yarmouth. Also from Gorleston is Hannah Spearritt, actress
and former S Club 7 singer.
Rick Wakeman lives near Diss. Also living near Diss is Mick Taylor
who was a member of The Rolling Stones before leaving to be replaced
by Ronnie Wood .
Blues Legend 'Seasick Steve' now lives in South Norfolk. Ed Graham,
drummer of Lowestoft band The Darkness, was born in Great Yarmouth and
has his studio in Norfolk.
The Stranglers released an album called Norfolk Coast, and the Norfolk
Broads are mentioned in the David Bowie song Life on Mars.
Four-time Olympic gold medallist rowing champion Sir Matthew
Pinsent CBE was born in Holt.
Snooker star Barry Pinches from Norwich, and former World Heavyweight Boxing
Champion Herbie Hide is from the area too. Not forgetting numerous famous
Norwich City football
Motor Racing legends Ayrton Senna and Emerson Fittipaldi lived in Norfolk
whilst they were Lotus drivers. Former F1 motor-racing driver, Le Mans
24 Hour winner, and now popular F1 commentator Martin Brundle was born
in King's Lynn and still lives in the area.
F1 Designer & inventor Colin Chapman founder of Lotus Cars was
from Brundall, in Norfolk.
Henry Blofeld, sports journalist and the very ‘English’
voice of Test Match Special on BBC Radio 4 and BBC 5 Live Xtra, was
born and brought up in Hoveton just outside Norwich.
Offering gastric delights are television chef Patrick Anthony, and
celebrity cook Delia Smith, the majority shareholder in Norwich
City Football Club. Her enthusiastic support for the Canaries
has made her Norwich’s favourite adopted daughter!
Other top chefs in Norfolk include Galton Blackiston of Morston Hall,
and Richard Hughes of the Lavender House in Brundall. Even Jamie Oliver
takes his family for holidays in North Norfolk.
Admiral Lord Nelson (1758 – 1805)
Naval genius Admiral Horatio Nelson, the hero of great sea battles
at Cape St Vincent and The Nile, and of course Trafalgar, was born at
the village of Burnham Thorpe
on the North Norfolk coast.
Take a visit Burnham Thorpe,
sit in Nelson's seat at the local pub now called The Lord Nelson which
is still very much like it was in Nelson's days, and have a drop of
the Nelson's Blood drink.
To preserve Nelson's body, it was submerged and pickled in a cask of
Brandy. Nelson was much loved, and his courage, skill and gallantry
so admired by his crew, that during the dark hours they would creep
out and drink from the cask containing his body, praying they would
inherit some of his traits.
Today at Nelsons Local they brew Nelsons Blood ®™ to a secret
recipe. It is sold by the tot in the pub or by the bottle to take away.
Also see the tribute in the local church where his father was the rector.
Nelson learned to sail on the Norfolk Broads. He was a pupil at the
Norwich School next to the Cathedral and there is a statue of this great
local naval leader in the Cathedral Close.
In 1933 the world's most famous scientist was taken into hiding on
an isolated heath in Cromer.
The mathematician and physicist, Albert Einstein stayed in a cottage
at Roughton in Norfolk during the 1930s, after he left Germany when
Hitler came to power.
Einstein was strongly opposed to war, but after Hitler was elected
to government, it was impossible for him to stay in Germany.
Something had to be done to help the world's cleverest man.
Einstein was brought to live in a small hut on Roughton Heath in Cromer.
While he was there, the scientist was still able to work on his scientific
theories. The science he was working on changed the course of history
- he had developed the idea for the world's first nuclear bomb.
Einstein left Norfolk and sailed to America, never to return to Europe.
Einstein developed the special and general theories of relativity and
won the Nobel Prize for Physics in 1921 for his explanation of the photoelectric
here to Watch BBC Inside Out's film about Einstein's time in Norfolk
Daughter of Chief Powhatan of the Algonquinn Red Indians, Pocahontas
has been immortalised by Walt Disney.
Norfolk was the home of Pocahontas.
Inside the church of St. Mary at Heacham there is a memorial to Pocahontas
carved by a pupil of 'Rodin', she is also shown on the village sign of Heacham.
In both she is dressed in a stylish Jacobean trilby hat and great neck ruff.
A picture which is believed to be of Pocahontas and her son can be found
at the Kings Lynn Museum.
Archaeologist who discovered Tutankhamuns tomb was from Swaffham.
In 1549, Robert Kett from Wymondham
put his name down in history with a spirited but unsuccessful peasants’
revolt. Rebelling against the hardships of agricultural workers, he
raised a small army, seized the city of Norwich and set up a base on
Mousehold Heath with a base of up to 16,000 people. Within six months,
however, the uprising was crushed and Robert Kett was put to death,
hanged from the wall of Norwich
Castle which faced the busy market, and his body was left
there to rot as an example to others.
Initially demonised by the local gentry, in more recent times he has
been reclaimed by Norwich as a local hero and symbol of the city. 'Kett's
Hill' in Norwich is the name of the road through Mousehold Heath (a
recreation area) where the followers were based.
In 1949 the council erected a stone plaque in memorial to Kett at the
entrance to Norwich Castle
and its inscription shows clearly how Kett's legend has been revised.
Part of it reads:
"This memorial was placed here…in reparation and honour
to a notable and courageous leader in the long struggle of the common
people of England to escape from a servile life into the freedom of
Edith Cavell (1865-1915)
Commemorated with a statue outside the Norwich
Cathedral gates is Edith Cavell – “Nurse, Patriot
and Martyr”. She was executed for helping hundreds of Allied soldiers
to escape from occupied Brussels during World War I. She was born in
the South Norfolk village of Swardeston and is buried next to Norwich
Elizabeth Fry (1780-1845)
Social reformer Elizabeth Fry was born in Norwich. Most famous for
her work improving conditions for women prisoners, her portrait has
been featured on the Bank of England £5 note. She was a member
of the Quaker Gurney family and in her early years she lived in Gurney
Court, off Magdalen Street, and later at Earlham Hall, now part of the
University of East Anglia.
Norwich has always had a very strong literary tradition.
Julian of Norwich (1342 – 1413)
Mystic and hermit, Julian of Norwich, c1342-1416, is on record as the
first woman to write a book in the English language. She wrote her ‘Sixteen
Revelations of Divine Love’ c1393 after a series of intense visions
of Jesus Christ during an illness.
Anna Sewell (1820 – 1878)
Anna Sewell was born in Great
Yarmouth and wrote 'Black Beauty' at her house in Old Catton
on the outskirts of Norwich.
Lives near Wymondham,
Norfolk. 2003, in conjunction with World Book Day, voters in Great Britain
chose Bryson's book Notes from a Small Island as that which best sums
up British identity and the state of the nation. In the same year, he
was appointed a Commissioner for English Heritage.
In 2004 Bryson won the prestigious Aventis Prize for best general-science
book. 2006 Bryson was awarded an honorary OBE for his contribution to
The influential and highly original writer Sir Thomas Browne (1605-1682)
spent much of his life in Norwich, and a statue of him can be found
in the Haymarket, near the Forum library.
Sir Arthur Conan-Doyle is said to have taken his inspiration for Baskerville
Hall in his ‘Hound of The Baskervilles’ from a visit he
made to Cromer Hall, Norfolk. Some elements of the story were also inspired
by a stay at the Royal Links Hotel in Cromer where he first heard stories
of Black Shuck the Ghost Dog that was said to run along the
coast roads between Overstrand and East Runton.
From Norwich were the author Amelia Opie (1769-1853) and the writer
and liberal thinker Harriet Martineau (1802-1876). Another contemporary
was George Borrow (1803-1881), the novelist and travel writer, who was
born locally and wrote about Norwich in his partly autobiographical
work 'Lavengro'. Philip Pullman, author of the award-winning 'His Dark
Materials' trilogy was born in Norwich in 1946
The Creative Writing course at the University of East Anglia (UEA)
has produced novelists such as Kazuo Ishiguro and Ian McEwan. Agatha
Christie often stayed in North Walsham.
The city of Norwich and its surrounding countryside has been a source
of inspiration to writers and artists through the ages. The area was
the home of the first British art movement based outside London –
the Norwich School of painters.
The artists most associated with this movement were John Crome (1768-1821),
John Sell Cotman (1782-1842) and Joseph Stannard (1797-1830). Other
artists born in Norwich have been the Pre-Raphaelite painter Frederick
Sandys (1829-1904) and Pop artist Colin Self. The Norwich
School of Art and Design was also where Sir Alfred Munnings
(1878-1959) learnt his art.
Inventor and entrepreneur, Sir James Dyson, was born in Cromer and
brought up and educated in the North Norfolk market town of Holt.