Norwich – A Travel Guide

Getting there

Norwich is the county town of Norfolk and lies approximately 100 miles (161 km) north east of London.  Getting to the city is easy with excellent road links, regular rail services and an airport five miles from the centre.  Trains leave London’s Liverpool Street Station every 30 minutes with a journey time of 1hr 50 minutes, with connections via Peterborough from the Midlands and the North.

Attractions:

The Guildhall

The Guildhall, Norwich
The Guildhall, Norwich

This historic building, located in Gaol Street was constructed between 1407-1413 and served as the seat of city government from the early 15th century until the 1930’s.  At the time of the building’s construction and for much of its history, Norwich was one of the largest and wealthiest cities in England.  Nowadays the Guildhall is used as an events venue and cultural centre.

Norwich Anglican Cathedral

Norwich Cathedral
Norwich Cathedral

Originally Norwich’s market place and set on a 44 acre site, the cathedral is one of the finest Romanesque churches in Europe boasting the second tallest spire in England, after Salisbury.

Cloisters of Norwich Cathedral
Cloisters of Norwich Cathedral

Enter the cathedral through the largest monastic cloister in England and admire the stunning medieval high arches and roof bosses.  The interior of the cathedral is beautiful with its sumptuous decorations, elaborate carvings and stained glass windows.

The copper font, Norwich Cathedral
The copper font, Norwich Cathedral

Take a look at the unusual font and read about its history.  The confectionery company Rowntree Mackintosh was a major employer in Norwich and in 1969 Rowntree took over the Mackintosh factory which made toffee.  The factory eventually closed in 1994 and later gifted to the cathedral two of its burnished, copper bowls formerly used in the manufacture of toffee.  These bowls now form a shining, modern font with historic links to the city.  Norwich Cathedral

Museum of Norwich at the Bridewell

Museum of Norwich at The Bridewell
Museum of Norwich at The Bridewell

The museum focuses on the lives of the residents of Norwich from medieval times to the present day.  The galleries tell the story of how Norwich became a thriving merchant’s city, gaining its wealth producing textiles, chocolates, shoes and mustard.

Museum of Norwich at The Bridewell interior
Inside the museum

Discover how the industrious citizens worked and spent their free time, view a recreated 1920’s chemist’s shop and a 200 year old jacquard loom.  Museum of Norwich at the Bridewell

Surrey House

Surrey House, Norwich
Surrey House, Norwich

One of the most elegant and opulent Edwardian office buildings in England.  It was constructed between 1900-1912 as the new headquarters for the Norwich Union Insurance Company who are now known as Aviva.

Norwich Union Clock at Surrey House, Norwich
Norwich Union Clock at Surrey House,

Surrey House is still in use as an office building for Aviva but visitors are welcome to look around its Marble Hall during office hours with free one hour guided tours of the building bookable in advance showcasing the company’s history.

Marble Hall, Surrey House, Norwich
Marble Hall, Surrey House, Norwich

The splendid yet functional Marble Hall office space was designed to incorporate Greek influences with the themes of insurance, protection and well-being.  The effect of this was to re-assure policy holders of the company’s strength and prosperity.

The Boardroom, Surrey House, Norwich
The Boardroom, Surrey House, Norwich

No expense was spared in using the finest marble and wood to furnish the entire building.  The Marble Hall is adorned with 15 types of Italian marble, originally destined for Westminster Cathedral.  The spectacular glass domed ceiling contains an innovative Edwardian air-conditioning system whilst the marble columns are reputedly the finest of their kind in the world.  Surrey House

St. John the Baptist Catholic Cathedral

St. John the Baptist Catholic Cathedral, Norwich
St. John the Baptist Catholic Cathedral, Norwich

The imposing St. John the Baptist Catholic Cathedral is a fine example of the great Victorian Gothic Revival.  Constructed in this style, it appears older than it actually is, as it was only completed in 1910.  Originally built as a parish church, it is believed to have been the largest in England and in 1976 became the cathedral of the new diocese of East Anglia.

View from Crossing Balcony, Norwich Catholic Cathedral
View from Crossing Balcony, Norwich Catholic Cathedral

Pre-arranged tours of the tower can be taken with guides leading small groups up the spiral staircase consisting of 280 steps to the top of the cathedral tower.  Pause mid-way for a breather on the crossing balcony and take in the stunning views of the transept and nave from a great height.

View from the rooftop of Norwich Catholic Cathedral
View from the rooftop of Norwich Catholic Cathedral

Pass through a small, ancient oak door out onto the roof and be rewarded with magnificent views of the historic city.  An excellent tour, more details of which can be found here.

Plantation Garden

Plantation Garden, Norwich
Plantation Garden, Norwich

Adjoining the Catholic Cathedral this heritage garden was created in a medieval chalk quarry between 1859 and 1895.  The garden comprises of almost three acres and features a gothic fountain, Italianate terrace and woodland walkways.  Plantation Garden

Norwich Castle

Norwich Castle
Norwich Castle

Perched high on Castle Meadow, Norwich Castle was built 900 years ago by the Normans as a Royal Palace with lavishly decorated interiors.  By the 14th century it had been transformed into the county gaol but after the prison’s relocation in the late 19th century the castle fell into disrepair.  It was eventually converted into a museum as we see it today.

Norman Keep, Norwich Castle
Norman Keep, Norwich Castle

Take a self-guided tour and explore the Norman Keep learning about medieval Norwich life in the castle.  There are further galleries on natural history, fine art, archaeology, costumes and textiles.  Norwich Castle

Elm Hill

Elm Hill, Norwich
Elm Hill

This historic, cobbled lane is the most complete medieval street in Norwich with many of its buildings dating back to the Tudor period.

Dragon Hall

Dragon Hall, Norwich
Dragon Hall, Norwich

The beautiful Dragon Hall used to be a medieval merchant’s trading hall.  Its Great Hall was built in the 15th century with some other parts of the building being even older.  It’s now the National Centre for Writing and supports the rapidly changing world of writing.  Dragon Hall

Strangers Hall

Stranger's Hall, Norwich
Stranger’s Hall, Norwich

Another of Norwich’s historic buildings, this Tudor house has since the 14th century been home to several of the city’s merchants and mayors.  By 1890 Strangers’ Hall stood empty until a local solicitor saved it from demolition and ten years later opened it to the public as a folk museum.

The Great Hall, Stranger's Hall, Norwich
The Great Hall, Stranger’s Hall, Norwich

The building looks quite small from the exterior but stepping inside it’s deceptively spacious.  The Great Hall was the heart of the medieval home with its huge oak table laid out with fine tableware, pewter and a feast for guests to enjoy.  Each room in the Hall is presented in the styles of its successive owners between the 14th and 19th centuries and demonstrates how the architecture of the building changed over time.

The Garden, Stranger's Hall, Norwich
The Garden, Stranger’s Hall, Norwich

From the Great Hall, an oak door leads out into the garden with old fashioned varieties of rose bushes surrounded by traditional box hedges.  Stranger’s Hall

Riverside Walk

Riverside Walk, Norwich
Riverside Walk, Norwich

This circular walk around the city centre of Norwich follows the lovely riverside path along the River Wensum.  The walk starts near the forum in the centre of Norwich where parking is available.  You could also start at the railway station as the river is just a short distance away.  There is a path on both sides of the river for most of the way with the option of taking a short detour to visit the impressive cathedral.  There’s lots to see along the river with a series of bridges and historical buildings such as the New Mills Pumping House and the medieval watergate of Pulls Ferry.  You’ll also pass Cow Tower, a 14th century artillery tower with a fascinating history.

Shopping

The Royal Arcade

Designed by George Skipper and opened in 1899, it is one of the most beautiful covered streets in Norfolk.  At the time of construction, arcade shopping was immensely popular and it’s now home to many high-end retailers.

Royal Arcade, Norwich
Royal Arcade, Norwich

 Norwich Market

Outdoor Market, Norwich
Outdoor Market, Norwich

An outdoor market takes place on Gentleman’s Walk with over 200 stalls selling everything from fresh produce to household items. 

Norwich Lanes

A series of alleyways, courtyards and open spaces.  Wander along these car free lanes with their delightful array of small independent shops, cafes and galleries.

 

If you have enjoyed this post you may also like:

A weekend in Norwich

A day in Great Yarmouth

 

If you use Pinterest consider sharing and pinning the image below or follow me here:

Norwich

 

63 thoughts on “Norwich – A Travel Guide

  1. jasonlikestotravel

    Wonderful read, definitely covered the best bits of Norwich. It’s really interesting seeing the inside of the castle, I tried to visit one Sunday morning only to discover they don’t open until the afternoons on Sunday’s which wasn’t much good to me haha.
    Off to Norwich for a day in July but tempted to book a hotel and make a weekend of it after reading this. Hope all is well with you 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Pingback: Norwich – A Travel Guide – bkoda

  3. Pingback: Norwich – A Travel Guide – Insigght

      1. Yes, my husband went to University there and my grandparents lived in Suffolk/Norfolk for a long time so plenty of visits. As with all these things though, when it’s on your own doorstep you never do the touristy things! So next time I visit I will 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Great post and beautiful photos, Marion. It’s amazing how much there is to see and do in Norwich, but then again; all through Medieval times and the Early Modern Age, Norwich was the second-largest city in England after London. Norwich Cathedral is very impressive and so is Wensum Riverwalk. Thanks for sharing and have a good day. Aiva 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Looks like you can spend a comfortable weekend exploring all of these spots in Norwich! I was especially captured by the details of The Guildhall, as well as the Marble Hall in the Surrey House, the interior AND exterior of St. John the Baptist Catholic Cathedral, and the Royal Arcade. I’ll definitely need to spend more time exploring the UK, and should I have extended time whilst revisiting London someday, I wouldn’t mind taking a day trip over (or an overnight) to check out Norwich!

    Like

    1. I do hope you have an opportunity to fit in a visit to Norwich sometime Rebecca as it is a fascinating city. Visiting Surrey House and taking a tour around its opulent offices and visiting the cathedrals were probably the highlights for me but I enjoyed everything the city had to offer. Marion

      Liked by 1 person

  6. We have passed through Norwich several times to visit friends at Stalham, but, never made it beyond the train station. Wish we had had more time to explore this city. Thanks for the tour Marion. Allan

    Liked by 2 people

  7. Norwich is such a beautiful city … I would say it is the perfect combination of historic and modern. The Cathedral is a stunning building – those cloisters are truly beautiful!
    Thanks for taking us on a tour through this city Marion 🌸.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Norwich is indeed a beautiful city and hopefully with the easing of restrictions people who might have taken a foreign holiday will enjoying exploring this and some of our other great cities. Thank you for reading and commenting. Hope your week is going well, it’s bitterly cold here and we had snow flurries yesterday. So different from last week when we were eating lunch on the patio and I was wearing just a cardigan!

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Oh dear, and here I was hoping you are enjoying the beginning of summer weather! We are still in shorts and t-shirts, but I can feel the evenings are getting colder … but then, our winter temperatures are more like your cold summer days.
        Hoping for more sunny days for you … soon 🌞.

        Liked by 2 people

  8. Looks like such a charming city filled with so much history. There are so many historic buildings where each one is so different from the other on the outside and in. It’s great when these historic buildings get converted into a museum and you are able to learn to catch a glimpse into what life was like back then and learn more about the history of the place and period of time.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Norwich is a delightful city and does contain a wealth of historic buildings. I particularly enjoyed taking a tour around Surrey House, the opulent headquarters of Norwich Union now Aviva with its stunning interior. Thank you for taking an interest in this post, it’s much appreciated. Marion

      Liked by 2 people

  9. It’s a place I would like to visit once travelling is permitted again. I just feel it’s unjustifiable at the moment while so many people still haven’t had their second vaccine, but I must admit I do sometimes think “oh sod it!” We haven;t given in, but it’s been tough. Norwich goes on the list, though having once spent a Saturday night in a hotel in the city centre, that’s not a mistake I’ll make ever again! We spent the entire night being repeatedly woken up by people screaming and shouting, and at one point throwing up noisily in the street outside.

    Liked by 3 people

  10. Great work! I once spent a morning in Norwich on my way back to London from a nearby English language summer camp. I didn’t have time for anything other than breakfast, hence this article was quite the eye opener. It all looks very quaint, particularly Surrey House and Plantation Garden. The interior of the castle reminds me very much of Colchester Castle.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Thanks Leighton, we spent a weekend there a couple of years ago and enjoyed the city very much. If you get an opportunity to visit, do try and pre-book a complimentary tour around Surrey House as that was one of the highlights of our trip. I’ve not visited Colchester but hopefully one day! Marion.

      Liked by 2 people

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.