Friday, 11 January 2019

History On Holiday

On the one day of our Christmas holiday when we had no family events planned, Bob and I decided to stroll through some of the historic parts of Norwich. Reading 'Tombland' had made us realise just how much of the City we had never really explored. We parked the car in the St Andrews Multi-Storey, then made our way to Colegate.
Here we stopped first at St Georges Church, with its beautiful old drinking fountain outside [a tradition which Norwich ought to consider reviving, perhaps?]

Wayfaring man for thee this faucet was given, a channel to impart the boon of heaven. Drink and thank God! and in this water trace an earnest of His love and emblem of His Grace
[interesting use of the word faucet for tap back in 1860. We tend to think of it as an |American term now]

Inside the chapel was a memorial to John Crome, Norfolk landscape artist, and information about his 250th anniversary, which had been celebrated the week before.
St George is the patron saint of Norwich and this chapel dates back in part to the 13th Century.
Further in up the street, more places of worship; 
The Octagon Chapel- formerly Presbyterian, now Unitarian. It is a fascinating shape [but sadly was not open to visitors] This was built in 1756

We then walked on to the Old Meeting House Congregational Chapel. This is old - built in 1693, just after the Act Of Toleration [very important for those of us who are Nonconformists] Again, we were unable to go inside, but I found some useful information and a panoramic gallery online [click here]

The Old Martineau Sunday School Rooms nearby have a fabulous curved window. Also on Colegate is Henry Bacon's House, he was a wealthy merchant from Worstead who became Mayor of Norwich twice- but at the time of Kett's Rebellion he was Sheriff of Norwich. We crossed the River Wensum, over the Fye Bridge - passing the old Norwich Quayside- so pretty
Here's The Maid's Head - where everybody who is anybody seems to have stayed at some point. My in-laws stopped here once. And in Tombland, the hero, Matthew Shardlake stops here both before and after Kett's rebellion.
Into the Cathedral area - so beautiful on a frosty winter morning. Inside, men were diligently polishing the copper font - outside, by the Light Of The World Sculpture was a tree, decorated with prayers for loved ones.
Up Queen Street, past "St Michael-at-Plea" - the 14th church where the Archdeacon's Court was once held. The clock [put up in 1827] has a lovely "Forget-me-not" message on its dial.

Our historic walk was almost over, lunch beckoned! Past the ancient Guildhall - mentioned frequently in Tombland, and then on up past City Hall and the Market to the Forum. But that deserves a blogpost of its own.
One final sad picture- in 1938, sculptor James Woodford produced bronze panels depicting the historic characters and trades of the City. One of these depicts the execution of Robert Kett.
This is the picture Sansom has on the front of his book.

A lovely stroll round this fine city, so much to see and to learn and to enjoy. I cannot believe it was only a fortnight ago, I seem to have been so busy since that gloriously relaxed morning!


  1. I love visiting places I have read about in novels.

  2. Thank you for sharing your walk with us! I enjoyed seeing all the photos!


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