Take a tour of the new Langham Glass factory (though it’s not a patch on the old one), try your hand at glassblowing and pick up some high-end souvenirs.
Who knew glassblowing could be such fun? But before trying it for yourself, let’s set the scene. Forty years ago, the building we now call home was a hive of activity for the master craftsmen of Langham Glass – one of the UK’s oldest and most acclaimed glassmaking businesses. The Great Barn, where now glasses chink to the relaxed chatter and bon homie of Ivy’s, was then the glasshouse – a lofty space where batch (a pelletised pre-glass mix) was loaded into the intense heat of a huge furnace to melt – at 1,350ºc to be precise. It was ready for blowing when the temperature dropped to a cool by comparison 1,100ºc.
Master glassmaker Paul Miller, who still owns the company, moved the business to larger, more modern premises in 2005, and then again to nearby Fakenham in 2013. The Langham glass blowing experience is now the main attraction in this neat little market town, and the prospect of taking home your very own hi ball tumbler or shot glass as a keepsake is hard to resist (you’ll need to allow time for the cooling process, though they can deliver to your home address if you’re not staying at The Harper long enough to collect). Blowing a bubble of paper-thin glass never fails to entertain the kids, too. There’s a small charge for glassmaking demonstrations, which run all year between 10am and 4pm on weekdays.
While you’re in Fakenham, have a wander around 700-acre Pensthorpe Natural Park, one of Norfolk’s lesser-known but no less beautiful nature reserves. Dotted with lakes, it’s one of the best places to visit with kids in Norfolk, known locally for its flamingo population and fabulous eco play areas.