The Old Forge is a few-hundred years old and originally housed 2 forges and a wheelwright. A lot of the equipment is still in place including possibly the only 18th centrury beam drill in Norfolk, which was used to penetrate thick metal. The brace was turned by hand.
Much like Cley, The Old Forge suffered a lot of damage from the 1953 flood and had to be gutted before being restored. After the restoration in 1968 it became a gallery and gift shop until it was converted into the delicatessen by John Pryor in 1984.
Cley was once one of the busiest ports in England, where grain, malt, fish, spices, coal, cloth, barley and oats were exported or imported. The many Flemish gables in the village are a reminder of this period. Despite its name, Cley has not been “next the sea” since the 17th century, due to land reclamation. Some of the buildings that once lined the quay remain, notably the 18th-century Cley Windmill. As recently as 2018 the harbour at Cley has been restored and dredged to allow new access for larger boats, and has even won an environmental award from NNDC.
The marshes around Cley are internationally important for their populations of rare breeding and visiting birds. Cley Marshes bird reserve has been in the care of the Norfolk Wildlife Trust since 1926, making it the oldest county Wildlife Trust reserve in Britain.