2024-02-22T17:35:00Z By Keeley Rodgers
Take a journey on foot around a beautiful historic city and discover one of the most complete medieval street patterns in England - Norwich, the City of Stories.
Norwich is a city with plenty of stories, but it is also home to dozens of charming hidden gems. On a 1,000- year journey across the city - from the Normans to the Millennium - experience Norwich through museums, food, art, architecture and historic buildings such as its two cathedrals, Norwich Castle, Marble Hall, The Assembly House and The Royal Arcade.
Here’s what you could pack into a day…
10am: Start your day at Norwich Cathedral (coach drop off at Tombland): one of Europe’s finest Romanesque cathedrals, with the second tallest spire in the country and the largest monastic cloisters. There’s plenty to experience as well as free tours (on the hour between 10am and 3pm at the front of the Nave). Don’t miss the 1,000 plus medieval roof bosses – centuries old carvings which form the largest collection of its kind in the word.
Sitting in 44-acres, this area is known locally as ‘the village within a city’. The site of the cathedral offers riverside walks, outdoor sculpture, a village green and the grave of Edith Cavell – a heroine of World War One.
11.30am: From the cathedral walk into Tombland – see The Maids Head Hotel which lays claim to being the oldest hotel in the country having been a place of hospitality since the middle of the 1090s when the early Norman Bishops of Norwich established a guest house. The Maids Head caters for groups for refreshments, lunch, afternoon tea and dinner as well as accommodation.
From Tombland, head into Elm Hill, Norwich’s most complete medieval street and certainly one of the quaintest. Find this cobbled hill lined with Tudor buildings made up of small independent shops specialising in antiques and collectables, fine jewellery, second-hand book shops, art and local crafts.
Perched at the top, The Britons Arms is one of only five thatched buildings in Norwich and has stood since the 13th Century (it was the only building on Elm Hill to survive the Great Fire of 1507). Today it’s a charming café and restaurant which welcomes groups, so a great place to enjoy lunch with a focus on local produce.
12.30pm: Walk from Elm Hill to St Andrew’s Street, passing 15th century St Andrew’s & Blackfriars Halls (originally the home of the Dominican friars), and into Bridewell Alley where you can visit the Museum of Norwich which tells stories of the city and its residents through the centuries in imaginative ways.
There is loads of culture to absorb, from a copy of Julian of Norwich’s Revelations of Divine Love (14th century) and Norwich’s world-famous Edwardian hat maker Rumsey Wells, to the manufacturing of shoes, mustard and chocolate (the ‘Rolo’ comes from Norwich) and Captain Canary – Norwich City Football Club’s yellow and green mascot
Or head to Norwich Castle. Since 2020 the castle has been under redevelopment to restore the historical and architectural integrity of the Castle Keep. On reopening in late spring 2024, the castle will become one of the most important and impressive secular buildings of its time in Europe.
For the first time in its history, the castle will be accessible from the dungeons to the battlements providing stunning views of Norwich and its other surviving Medieval buildings. It will also have a first-of-its-kind British Museum Gallery of the Medieval Period to highlight the importance of Norwich within Britain and on the international stage.
The gallery will showcase national medieval treasures alongside objects from Norfolk’s own internationally significant collections. Other developments include new visitor facilities including a café overlooking the atrium with an internal glass bridge into the Keep, and a new shop.
2.30pm: Time for shopping. Norwich is a city with a good mix of independents as well as all the popular high street names. Don’t miss a visit to Jarrolds – Norwich’s only independent department store. Spread over five floors, there are also restaurants and a popular deli and wine bar. Other areas to explore for shopping include the Norwich Lanes, The Royal Arcade and Norwich Market – the largest six-day-a-week covered market in the country.
4.30pm: If after all your exploring you want to end the day with something very special, then consider Afternoon Tea at The Assembly House. Savour this traditional and glorious pastime in Grade I Georgian surroundings taken in the dining room or one of its beautiful private dining spaces.
Evening: There are plenty of dining options (for all budgets) in Norwich for group or individual bookings such as Farmyard, Benedicts, The Ivy, Yalm, The Britons Arms, The Maids Head and Namaste Village. As well as cosy city pubs serving food such as The Ribs of Beef, by the river, just a short walk from Norwich Cathedral.
An alternative is booking a night out at Norwich Theatre Royal with a pre-theatre dinner in the restaurant. Norwich Theatre Royal is an art-deco theatre with an incredible programme of music, dance, comedy and musicals all year round. And with ticket prices from £10 upwards and welcoming group bookings, it presents the opportunity to see West End shows at much lower costs than London.
For more ideas and inspiration in the city, head to www.visitnorwich.co.uk/groups.