Back Manor House, Acle, Norfolk

An unusual survival from the Second World War is a pillbox built onto the side of Manor House and giving a field of fire along the roads to the south and east and also the open area of the former market place. It is a particularly good example of the care that was often given to camouflage. In this case, the pillbox was designed to look like an outbuilding and was provided with matching bricks and roof tiles to the adjacent Manor House. The embrasures were originally provided with window frames to give greater authenticity. This is a rare surviving example of an ‘urban pillbox’ as most defences of this kind were removed soon after the war.

Acle is a large village in east Norfolk and sits on the edge of a large wetland landscape known as the Halvergate marshes, part of the ‘Norfolk Broads’.

In 1940 the village was designated a Category ‘A’ Nodal Point, an area that was expected to hold out in the event of attack for a week. Such nodal points were to be capable of all-round defence. The key to Acle’s designation was its location. To the east, across the low lying Halvergate marsh was the coastline and the port of Great Yarmouth. Any successful German landing force trying to push inland would have to cross Halvergate via a single road (known as the Acle Straight and still a single-lane highway) and so Acle would be a major bottleneck that could potentially hold up their advance. As befitted its Nodal Point status, the village was heavily defended. A series of infantry defences ringed the village and at least one anti-tank gun was placed in the village itself.

Turn on JavaScript to display the map

Show slideshow