27th May 2022
It’s a family-friendly seaside town which Sarah Hardy just can’t get enough of
It’s one of our most popular coastal towns and quite rightly so. From that stunning beach with its photogenic beach huts, to the busy quay with its large 19th century granary and overhanging gantry, the maze of streets and alleyways and the handsome Buttlands, Wells-next-the-Sea, to give it its full title, is a lovely place to both live in and visit.
Around 2500 people now call the town their home and it boasts good facilities, with primary and high schools, and has its own thriving arts venue, The Maltings, two supermarkets, lots of independent stores and essentials, too.
Wells was a harbour as far back as the 11th century, protected by rare salt marshes, behind a sand bar. It was central to both fishing and malting industries and retains a busy fishing fleet (crabs, lobsters and whelks).
Wells is blessed with many independent shops, with stylish fashion boutiques and great options for home lovers, too
Simply Coastal offers perfect seaside dressing options, with much from cheerful labels like Joules and Lily and Me; North (find them on Facebook) is the place for beautiful easy-to-wear separates and colourful kimonos. Christopher William Country and Coastal (www.christopherwilliamcountry.co.uk) stocks a great selection of men’s clothing and womenswear, from brands including Barbour, Ariat and Fjällräven.
Nomad & the bowerbird (www.nomadandthebowerbird.co.uk) is a gorgeous place to explore, with a real mix of clothes, books, cards, homeware, children’s clothes and toys, and more. There’s an effortlessly cool vibe, with everything from vintage-inspired dresses from Dutch label, King Louie, to snazzy knitwear from Brighton’s Sugarhill. We love it!
Bringing the outside in (www.bringingtheoutsidein.co.uk) has some great menswear (Far Afield and Tanta rainwear) plus masses to help you create that ‘outside in’ feel – think houseplants, ceramics, vintage pictures, textiles and the like – you won’t leave empty handed!
Simply Norfolk (find them on Facebook) offers ‘loveliness for you and your home’ with pretty bits ranging from zany socks to contemporary jewellery – do look out for their Norfolk smocks which are on my birthday list!
Over the Garden Wall (find them on Facebook) is a fun place, from the piped bird song to the amazing bird boxes and outdoor furniture – you can really add to your garden’s appeal.
The Alder Tree (find them on Facebook) has sophisticated tableware, vases, lamps, plant pots and more while Staithe Street Drugstore is also packed with attractive offerings for your home, especially any lighting needs, although we loved their huge clocks and tactile throws, too.
Glitter and Mud (www.glitterandmud.co.uk), right on the quay, calls you in with a little bit of everything, from kitchenalia to beauty goodies and just about everything in between – their range of Norfolk produced candles from The Candle Brand are recommended.
Family-owned Ele and Me (www.eleandme.com) specialises in wooden toys and ethically produced children’s clothing. It’s packed with colourful cuddly toys, games and more and is well worth a visit.
Debbie Fisher has just relocated her popular Studio Designs (find them on Facebook) from the town’s narrow gauge light railway station to bustling Staithe Street. She sells her own intricate pictures, often a mixture of watercolours and embroidery, plus textiles, homeware, gifts and prints inspired by the North Norfolk coast. Look out for Sue Welfare’s atmospheric lino prints, too.
Gallery Plus (www.gallery-plus.co.uk) on the coast road is where you’ll find work by local artist, Trevor Woods, a painter who has gained a reputation for interpreting Norfolk scenes and the use of a very individual blue which somehow captures the county’s skies. Work by other artists and makers is also on display, including colourful ceramics, original prints, glass, jewellery and sculpture. There’s always a relaxed atmosphere so it is a lovely place to browse, and they offer a picture framing service, too.
Quay Art (www.quayartgallery.com), in the heart of the town, shows work by Brian Lewis. We all love his quirky depictions of the local landscapes, especially his fun-loving seals! Also expect artisan jewellery, contemporary coastal paintings, ceramics, glass, and sculpture.
Photos © Tim Steele Photography, www.timsteelephotography.co.uk