East Anglia Norwich




Tourist Information Centre, Augustine Steward House, Tombland, Norwich. 0603 20679.

(posted Nov 2011): Norwich (0603 22012).

An excellent place to visit, especially for train visitors, Norwich is a fascinating city to explore and an excellent centre from which to make forays to the surrounding Norfolk countryside and coast. The whole city has charm and gives the impression of being a series of villages, each with its own medieval streets, side by side with fine Georgian terraces and modern architecture. St James’ Hill on Mousehold Heath is a fine vantage point from which to see the buildings of old Norwich clustered round the Cathedral, hemmed in by city walls and river. This is a place of the independent-minded: Norfolk yeoman farmer Robert Kett led a rebellion against tyranny in 1549, and Admiral Lord Nelson was a schoolboy in the city; Edith Cavell, heroine of World War I, was born at Swardeston outside the city and is buried beside the Cathedral, and Elizabeth Fry lived in Magdalen Street.

A good starting-off point for exploring old Norwich is Tombland, once the Saxon Market Place, and burial place of Black Death victims in the Middle Ages. Close by is the Cathedral Close and it is only a short walk from there to Pulls Ferry, the old watergate into the city. A few yards from Tombland is the start of Elm Hill, a narrow cobbled street of timber-framed houses which delight the eye. Close to the top of the hill is Bridewell Alley. Eighteenth-century and nineteenth-century Norwich is every bit as impressive. Colegate is worth seeing, as is Gentleman’s Walk, where dandies of two centuries ago once paraded. Even twentieth-century Norwich has something to offer: the Market Place, which has been the heart of the city for nine hundred years today has England’s largest and probably most colourful open-air market. It is surrounded by the black-and-white flintstone fourteenth-century Guildhall, Gentleman’s Walk, the City Hall, with its tall tower, a contribution of our present century, and in the distance Norwich Castle.

Guided Walks start from the Tourist Information Centre and Town Trails are marked on the city maps. With the Tourist Information Office’s specially written leaflets it is also possible to follow special interest trails through the city. The ‘Macabre Trail’ starts from the haunted Tourist Information Centre itself and follows a blood-stained path round buildings which have seen some of the darker incidents of the city’s story, some relating to kings and others to such unfortunates as Spooky Sara and Peter the Wild Man. The ‘Norwich Silver Trail’ is a guide to some of the treasures of this city which was renowned for its silverwork. Although it is necessary to book a visit in advance, it is worth arranging to call at the City Hall to see the Civic Regalia, the best outside London. Norwich can also be enjoyed from the river on Boat Trips during the summer, starting from the British Rail station or Elm Hill.