Cromer, proclaimed as the “Gem of the Norfolk coast” on its welcome signs, is a rather grand Victorian coastal settlement, with a vibrant property market, which I’ll talk about later.
Cromer lies about 20 miles northwest of Norwich, and came to fame in the Victorian era, with its sea air and sea water being renowned. It now attracts tourists, fossil hunters and families spending time crabbing from the glorious pier.
Jane Austen in “Emma” (published 1815) praises the town:
“You should have gone to Cromer, my dear, if you went anywhere. Perry was a week at Cromer once, and he holds it to be the best of all the seabathing places. A fine open sea, he says, and very pure air. And, by what I understand, you might have had lodgings there quite away from the sea quarter of a mile off, very comfortable. You should have consulted Perry.”
And almost 50 years later, Elizabeth Gaskell described it accurately as “bracing”.
“There was no Spain for Margaret that autumn; although to the last she hoped that some fortunate occasion would call Frederick to Paris, whither she could easily have met with a convoy. Instead of Cadiz, she had to content herself with Cromer. To that place her aunt Shaw and the Lennoxes were bound. They had all along wished her to accompany them, and, consequently, with their characters, they made but lazy efforts to forward her own separate wish. Perhaps Cromer was, in one sense of the expression, the best for her. She needed bodily strengthening and bracing as well as rest.”
Literary allusions aside, Cromer is a very pleasant Norfolk town and has a range of property types and sizes from Studio flats to Victorian piles to new builds. Its architecture is stunning, encapsulated by the Victorian Hotel de Paris, dominating the seafront:
Seven or eight estate agents serve the town, along with others based in its neighbours, Sheringham or the Georgian honeypot of Holt.
So what’s happening in Cromer itself?
Prices have risen exponentially, almost to Norwich levels.
A studio flat would cost around £100,000, a Victorian villa up to £600,000 and new builds at “Park View” range from £320,000 to £470,000.
In Norfolk terms, then, Cromer is well above average.
But how is property selling there, you may ask?
Almost 50% of the 194 properties listed to date on Rightmove are under offer or sold, which again is approaching Norwich levels.
To put this in perspective, where we live, sales are running at about 35% even though prices are much lower here.
So what does Cromer have to offer and why is it moving up, not sideways like its crabs?
If you’ve never been, I’ll try to encapsulate its charm.
Cromer is undergoing some sort of gentrification, just as Gorleston is. You can see this in both town’s resurgent restaurant scene. Margo’s Lounge, Porterhouse, Gamba’s here are being matched by Number One in Cromer, the Pie and Mash shop amongst others.
The town centre has some charming independent shops on streets that wend and wind like the Shambles in York.
But its biggest pull, in my opinion, is the seafront, its promenade.
No flat coastal approach: steep walls and steps lead down to a splendid pier which splices the front in two. The pier holds surprises as well – not only as a great base for catching crabs on lines, which breed on a chalk reef, and give the town its most fame – but also as at the end it holds a small, charming RNLI shop, lifeboat station and micro-museum. The Pavilion Theatre too is housed there.
I have never taken a dip in the sea, mainly because of the fear of that swell and being nipped by crabs.
Crabbing is quite good fun, once you’ve accepted fastening bacon to nets is all part of the deal, though I wonder if the crabs would bite Quorn bacon slices, as a largely vegetarian family.
We have admired sunsets there though as it faces north, unusually for Norfolk.
The surrounding area is beautiful too: fossil hunting is possible at East and West Runton, the National Trust property of Felbrigg Hall is stunning, and the honeypot charms of Burnham Market, Cley, Holt are easily accessible.
Its neighbour Sheringham is arguably even nicer – and I’ll write about that soon.
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