New craft shop opens in Norfolk's 'history hotspot'

Sammi Wakelin

Sammi Wakelin, who has launched Castle Acre Craftmongers to give local makers an outlet - Credit: Chris Bishop

A new craft shop gives villagers an outlet for their creativity in the shadow of a historic castle. 

Sammi Wakelin has opened Craftmongers in the village hall at Castle Acre, near Swaffham, next to the remains of the village's Norman fortifications.

Castle Acre Craftmongers

Some of the cute gonks made by a villager on sale at Craftmongers - Credit: Chris Bishop

Castle Acre is currently enjoying a moment in the spotlight after the village was named as one of the top ten in England by archaeologist and broadcaster Ben Robinson.

It is home to not only a ruined castle, but a ruined priory too. And a Heritage Lottery project has been under way there in recent days to search for other evidence of its past.

Castle Acre Craftmongers

Sammi Wakelin at the village hall in Castle Acre, where she has opened Craftmongers - Credit: Chris Bishop

"It's always been something I fancied doing," said Mrs Wakelin, 46. "Then this property came up.

"A lot of people have been making crafts in lockdown, this gives them an outlet for their stuff."

Castle Acre Craftmongers

Locally-made jewellery on sale at Craftmongers, at Castle Acre - Credit: Chris Bishop

More than 20 local producers and artisans are already on the books, with their jewellery, carvings, prints, cosmetics,  wax melts and sewn items on display.

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There are gonks and hares, scents and soaps, and jams and candles.

CB Castle acre craftmongers

Sammi Wakelin with some of the scented items on sale at Craftmongers at Castle Acre - Credit: Chris Bishop

Mrs Wakelin, who manages a supermarket in nearby Swaffham, said selling items gave craftsfolk an extra boost after lockdown.

Environmentally-friendly items on display include bamboo toothbrushes and beeswax wraps which can be used to keep sandwiches and other items fresh instead of cling film.

castle acre craftmongers

Fabric wraps impregnated with beeswax which can be used as an alternative to cling film - Credit: Chris Bishop

A refill station offers hand soap, washing up liquid, detergent and fabric conditioner which customers can decant into their own bottles, to avoid wasteful single-use plastic containers.

Craftmongers is open in the hall, on Pye's Lane , from 11am - 2pm on Saturdays and Sundays.

CB castle acre craftmongers

The refill station at Craftmongers, at Castle Acre - Credit: Chris Bishop

From Easter, it will be open from Thursdays through to Sundays.