Norwich – the most Tudor town in England! If you’re looking for somewhere new to visit, you should definitely head there to check it out.
Norwich was originally an Iceni settlement before it was taken by the Romans in 60 AD. The Roman settlement eventually fell into disuse in 450 AD and the Anglo-Saxon’s settled on the site between the 5th and 7th century before the Norman conquest in the 11th century.
The Norman’s built the castle, cathedral and market square. And by the 14th century it was the largest city in England outside of London due to its role in the wool trade and became a popular escape from London for the rich.
Getting there and around
We didn’t have a car at the time, so we opted to take the train from Nottingham which takes around 3hrs. Trains between towns in the UK are not particularly cheap, in fact they are ridiculously overpriced! But sometimes you’ll get lucky and you’ll find something for a reasonable price – if you have a car, use it! Or look into taking the bus which will probably be a similar travel time but cheaper.
If you do choose to take the train, I highly recommend using Trainline to find the best prices – and from my experience, it doesn’t seem to matter how far in advance you book!
There is a bus route around Norwich, as there is in all cities, so you’ll be able to get around fairly easily by bus. But the city is pretty compact so we walked everywhere, I also find this is a better way of exploring the city.
There are loads of places to stay in Norwich so finding something suitable shouldn’t be too difficult. We looked on Booking.com and found the Stracey Hotel which was only a 5 min walk from the train station and about 20 min walk from the city centre.
But if you want to stay somewhere a little more central there are a few nice options to check out:
- Premier Inn – this one is literally right across the road from the train station
- St Giles House
- St Benedicts
- Norwich Central Modern Apartments
Things to do
A Norman cathedral built in 1096 and completed in 1145, but the final erection of the spire dates to 1480. The cathedral has over 1000 bosses decorating the ceiling (though without binoculars they’re had to make out detail!) and the second largest cloister in England. Some of the best things to see there are the 61 misericords which date back to 1480, the copper baptismal font (once used to make chocolate!) and the burial place of Edith Cavell – a nurse who was executed during WWI.
- Admission is free but they welcome donations
- Opening Time: 7:30am – 6:00pm
Norwich Castle Museum & Art Gallery
The castle stands on top of a small hill overlooking the city with an art gallery and museum attached. The castle keep itself houses a collection about the history of the castle, while the rest of the museum is dedicated to different aspects of history. Construction of the stone keep began in 1094 by King William (Rufus) II but he did not live to see it completed. The castle was designed to be a royal palace, however no kings actually lived in it and from the 14th century, it was used as a county jail instead!
- Admission: Adults – £9.90 and children £8.50 (for details on other tickets check out their website)
- Opening Times: Monday to Saturday: 10am – 5pm and Sunday: 1pm – 5pm (according to their website, closing time will be 4:30pm from 23rd Sep onwards)
Norwich is famous for it’s outdoor market which has been going in the same place for the last 900 years! There are over 200 stalls to check out under colourful striped rooves.
- Opening Times: 8am – 5pm and closed on Sunday
Despite the name, it has nothing to do with tombs! It is an old Scandinavian word meaning “open space” and was once used as the site of an Anglo-Saxon market place and centre of administration before the Norman’s arrived. Today, it is a beautiful area to wander around and have a relaxing drink or something to eat at one of the many restaurants and bars. Make sure you check out Maid’s Head Hotel and Ethelbert Gate.
- Open at all times
The oldest parts of the building date back to the 14th century and now houses a domestic history museum. The house is laid out in period furniture to show what each room may have looked like while in use as a residence of numerous Norwich Mayors. There is a little Tudor design garden out the back which you’re allowed to have a wander through but we didn’t spend much time out there as it hailed pretty heavily (it looked like it had snowed!). Make sure you keep a look out for the stairs that go nowhere!
- Admission: Adults – £5.40 and Children – £5.15 (further details on their website)
- Opening Times: Wednesday, Thursday and Friday: 10am – 4pm and Sunday: 1pm – 4:30pm
St John the Baptist Cathedral
This cathedral is a little (OK, a lot!) newer than the main cathedral – construction started in 1882 as a parish church and it became a cathedral in 1976. It is now the second largest Roman Catholic Cathedral in England, the largest being Westminster Cathedral. You can even climb the 230 steps to the top of the tower for 360-degree views of Norwich – this is only available as a tour though (see below).
- Admission: Visiting the Cathedral is free (Tours cost: Adults – £5 and children – £3.50)
- Opening Times: 7:30am – 7:30pm (Tours are available on Saturdays from 11:30am, or 1:30pm for the tower – summer months only)
Norwich Ghost Walks
I haven’t done the ghost walk in Norwich as it wasn’t going while we were there but we’ve always loved joining these when we can, as it’s a good way of seeing the city and hearing more about it’s history. Norwich Ghost Walks offers three different walks so you can take your pick and hopefully there will be one available on whatever night you’re there
- Admission: £8 – Adult, £6 – Concessions
- Times: Elm Hill Walk – Tuesday’s 7:30pm (April – December), Norwich Castle Walk – Thursday’s 7:30pm (April – December), The River Walk – Monday’s 7:30pm (July – December)
- All walks leave from the Adam & Eve pub and last approx. 2hrs
I hope you enjoy your long weekend in Norwich! If you find something else you think is worth checking out in the city, feel free to drop me a message!