Community Integrity Provides Sense of Place in England


By Glynn Burrows


Part 2 of Big Blend Radio’s Excellence in Tourism series on How to Put the “I” Back Into Community through a Responsible Tourism Plan that incorporates the 8 Keys of Excellence.


If I were dumped in your local town from outer space, how would I know where I was? What clues are around to give me information about the area I have landed in? This isn’t as mad it seems, most places in England still have ways to identify areas, simply by building materials, local customs and foodstuffs. It is when we lose these things, that places begin to look the same and it becomes more and more difficult to know where in the country, or even the world one is.

Red brick tiles and steep-pitched gables, (meaning that the house was originally thatched), half-timbered houses, all add up to this view being in Norfolk.

Local Norfolk buildings are usually constructed of red brick and flint walls, with red clay roof-tiles, or sometimes, with older buildings, thatch. Most of our medieval buildings have stone corners and flint walls, with lead or tiled rooves, although thatch is sometimes used on these ancient buildings.

Local customs wouldn’t usually be thought of as an indication of location but if you landed in the middle of somewhere and saw men dancing around, dressed in costumes with bells around their knees, top hats and each one carrying a stick which they used in the dance, you could only be in England, or a very English country. Morris Dancing is a very English custom and won’t be seen in France, Germany or any other country without English origins.

Where would you be if you saw a sign advertising: “The world-famous Pork Pie sold here” or what about “The King of Cheeses made here?” In England, local foods are still a very large part of local life. Although Pork Pies are made and eaten all over the country, the world-famous ones are made in Melton Mowbray and the King of Cheeses is the famous Stilton, which can only be made in Derbyshire, Leicestershire and Nottinghamshire.

Integrity is the quality of being honest, it is also the state of being whole or undivided. Something which is integral is necessary to make a whole complete. Something which is integral is essential or fundamental.

Looking around your own town, is it honest and true to itself? What makes it identifiable? What makes it whole? What is it that makes it fundamentally different to the next town along the highway?

The more national and multi-national chains which come into our towns and cities, the less individual identity a place has. The more we keep local architecture, local customs and local foods, the more we keep our integrity and the more true we are to ourselves and our heritage.


Buy Local Norfolk is an organisation which encourages all to buy from local, independent, businesses and, one of the tag-lines I use is: “Is buying from multi-nationals costing you more than money.” Is it? 

Glynn Burrows is the owner of Norfolk Tours in England where he provides customized, private tours and also helps his clients trace their English family history. If you are thinking about taking a vacation to England, visit

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About the Author:

Glynn Burrows is a tour operator in East Anglia, England and a contributor to Blend Radio and TV Magazine as well as Parks & Travel Magazine.

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