Pulham Market is a vibrant village hosting many social events, clubs and groups. These include the local theatre group, the Pulham Players, particularly well known for their annual pantomime, but who have also performed a variety of shows such as The Rocky Monster Show and Run For Your Wife. The Pulham Players are, as they say on their website, ‘…An amateur group who have a professional outlook in all that we do’ and are very much part of the Pulham Market community, regularly seeking fresh, new talent to join them on the stage. Another talented amateur group, The Pulham Orchestra, is well respected both locally and further afield. They rehearse in the Memorial Hall and perform at concerts throughout South Norfolk and North Suffolk. New members are assured of a warm welcome.
Other groups and activities which take place in Pulham Market range from Pre- school Playgroup to Workers’ Educational Association and WI, Bowls and Badminton to over 60s Keep Fit and Bell Ringing to Yoga, to name but a few.
Small rural villages often lack useful amenities but Pulham Market is extremely self-sufficient with a strong infrastructure in place. The village has its own doctors’ surgery, primary school, post office, village shop and builders’ merchant, as well as a medieval church, Methodist Chapel and two public houses, both overlooking the village green. The Crown is a seventeenth century thatched building offering excellent food and a relaxing atmosphere, whereas The Falcon is livelier, offering band nights and quiz evenings. The famous Pulham Market Music Day is held on the village green in June each year and every September the village organises a colourful carnival with many brightly decorated floats. The green is also frequently visited by travelling circuses and funfairs. At Christmas time the Memorial Hall hosts the lighting of the village’s Christmas tree, with carols sung by locals and school children. Mince pies and mulled wine are then enjoyed by those attending the Yuletide celebration.
South Norfolk and North Suffolk have long attracted artists, some of whom live and work locally and others who travel to be part of the rich creativity in the area. Their work is showcased at events such as the Norfolk & Norwich Festival and annual open studio events, including the Norfolk & Norwich Open Studios and the Harleston & Waveney Art Trail. Workshops in The Gables Yard have often been included in these events resulting in increased footfall and commissions. The Gables Yard tenants occasionally run their own open studio events, particularly around Christmas time.
Pulham Market is popular with tourists and visitors to the area. South Norfolk Council is very keen to promote the area and really helps encourage art and craft based businesses and organisations. Waveney District Council also works hard to endorse the region with audio guides for nearby Harleston, Diss and Eye. The Boudicca Way passes through Pulham Market making the area extremely popular with walkers and cyclists.
South Norfolk is home to several World War II American airbases, most of which have a visitor centre and small museum. These regularly attract enthusiasts from the USA as well as the UK. Pulham St. Mary, a mile away from Pulham Market, was the site of a naval air station in the early 20th century, home to the famous Pulham Pigs airships. A fascinating exhibition dedicated to the air ships and air station is housed at The Pennoyer Centre in the heart of Pulham St. Mary. The Pennoyer Centre itself has a fascinating history. The oldest part of the building was a guild chapel which was originally attached to the church but moved to the centre of the village in 1401. A school was established in the guild chapel in 1670 by Puritan merchant William Pennoyer and the building was extended in 1870 when Victorian classrooms were added. Despite strong local opposition the school finally closed in 1988, and the building stood empty until 2005 when a small group of dedicated local people obtained funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund, South Norfolk Council and many others to restore and convert it to create a centre for recreational, business and educational purposes. It regularly hosts art and photographic exhibitions. Designed by architect Terry Hickman Smith, the diverse architectural features and careful historical preservation of The Pennoyer Centre has earned many design awards.