Historic Norfolk market town Downham Market contains numerous historic buildings from a stunning listed Norman church to the beautiful Victorian Town Clock on Market Place. Downham Market is a centre for local produce in Norfolk and hosts two weekly outdoor markets. A great choice of real ale pubs, gourmet restaurants, tearooms and character historic hotels also cluster in the town centre.
Downham Market is an ideal gateway into the Fens and has fast rail links to King’s Lynn, Ely and Cambridge. Attractions in the area include the stunning Denver Windmill with onsite bakery and tearoom.
Things to Do & See in Downham Market
Downham Market is one of Norfolk’s oldest market towns situated on the edge of the Fens. The River Great Ouse flows right down from The Wash and King’s Lynn to Downham Market. The river is very much at the heart of Downham and the nearby Denver Complex is an important Fens drainage site of locks and sluices. The Fen Rivers Way long distance path (80km/50miles) follows the route of the River Cam from Cambridge via historic Cambridgeshire settlements like Ely all the way up past the Denver Windmill and Downham Market to King’s Lynn and The Wash.
Downham’s centre is packed with beautiful historic buildings including the distinctive black and white Town Clock dating from 1878 and Town Hall dating from the year of Queen Victoria’s Jubilee 1887 situated around Town Square. Find out more at the heritage centre located within the town hall. Many of the town’s buildings are built from local carrstone, hence Downham’s nickname ‘Gingerbread Town’. Don’t miss a tour of Downham’s oldest building, Grade I Listed St Edmunds church dating from the Norman period.
Nature reserves and walking trails like the Fen Rivers Way are around Downham and just east of the town is the National Trust’s Oxburgh Hall and Gooderstone Water Gardens. To the south is Welney Wetland Centre, a mecca for birdwatchers. Opportunities for horse riding, cycling, fishing, boating, sailing and golf are all widely available in the area. Find out more at the Downham Market Tourist Information Centre situated in the Priory Centre off Priory Road.
The Denver Windmill situated just south of Downham Market on the Sluice Road is the last commercially working Norfolk Windmill. Craft baking and traditional cereal, milling and new flour producing technology all take place here at the Denver Windmill, which offers baking classes, holiday cottage accommodation and features the onsite Denver Mill Teashop and Mill Store.
Guided tours of the Denver Windmill are available inclusive of demonstrations of the Blackstone oil engine and tour to the very top of this stunning historic Fenland/Norfolk Windmill. A range of local produce, gifts and the 20 varieties of flour and cereals produced by the Denver Mill are available to buy in the not to be missed Denver Windmill shop.
Just west of the Denver Windmill is the famous Denver Sluice resembling a giant lock. This fascinating piece of drainage engineering is crucial in controlling water levels and drainage in this area of the low-lying Fens. The Denver Sluice is the focal point of the flood defence system protecting the low lying Fens. The grand schemes of fenland drainage in the 17th century, undertaken by Dutch engineers like Cornelius Vermuyden, still form the basis for drainage control of the Fens. Denver Sailing Club is also located close to the Sluice.