Last week we had friends from Australia come to visit and it gave us the opportunity to show off our new home and county, and Norwich proved to be a particular surprise for them. Far from finding a provincial country town they discovered a vibrant city steeped in history and culture. As the mural near the castle says, Norwich really is ‘a city of stories’.
To get into Norwich from Pulham Market we used the Park and Ride Bus from Harford (No. 502) – an easy drive up the A140 from our place. We bought our tickets from the bus driver, who very helpfully made sure we got the best value tickets for our group, and we were off. Once in Norwich we hopped on the City Tour Bus which gave our visitors a good overview of the city. It was lovely to hear them ‘ooh’ and ‘ah’ as the commentary pointed out fragments of the medieval city wall and told tales of 15th century archers training in Chapel Field Gardens before going off to fight at Agincourt. I was especially surprised to learn that Chapel Field had been used as a mass burial site for victims of the plague in 1666.
At the Cathedral we hopped off, as one of our visitors has an interest in church architecture. It wasn’t surprising to find GoGo Hares in the Cathedral, they have taken over Norwich in the most delightful way, but the one outside the Cathedral is particularly lovely as it features William Blake’s poem ‘Jerusalem’ and art work reminiscent of delf pottery.
Once inside the cathedral we were all pretty awestruck. Unlike a lot of cathedrals it is still free to go into Norwich, but donations are welcome. The architecture is magnificent and with three of our little party being nurses (or ex nurses) we sort out the grave of Edith Cavell, a remarkable woman and nurse who was executed by the Germans in World War I for helping allied soldiers caught behind enemy lines.
After a quick cuppa in the refractory café we popped across the road to Tombland and the amazing Tombland Bookshop http://www.tomblandbookshop.co.uk/ . Specialising in antiquarian and second hand books this place is a must for book lovers. It is somewhat of a miracle that we all managed to exit the shop without buying anything. Back on the tour bus and we went up to a very parched Mousehold Health before coming back down to the Riverside area, passing the River Wensum where women accused of witchcraft were once dunked and St. Julian’s Church were the anchoress or hermit, Julian of Norwich lived and wrote her book, The Revelations of Divine Love.
We ended our bus tour of the city at the castle and wandered up to The Lanes where we found a lovely little café for lunch. The Copper Kettle Cafe in Lower Goat Lane was a lovely haven on a very hot day. Not only the food great, I am reliably informed by one of our visitors that the vegetable risotto she had for lunch is one of the best she has ever eaten, but it was also air conditioned. I know what you’re thinking, surely Australians should be used to the hot weather, well yes but we are also used to air conditioning which, quite literally, takes the sting out of the heat of the day, so I suppose you could say we go a bit soft – but please don’t tell them I said that.
Our trip to Norwich ended with a meander through the markets where ice cream, fresh fruit, flowers, and mobile phone covers were purchased accommpanied by some friendly banter from the stall holders, which is always thrown in for free.
On the way back to our car one of our friends commented on how surprised they were with Norwich and how they hadn’t realised it had so much to offer. Norwich truly is a city of stories, far more than can be unearthed in one day, but whether you enjoy exploring Cathedrals, browsing antique book shops, wandering through markets, or simply sitting and watching the world go by, Norwich has plenty to offer and is frequently a surprise.
Park and Ride £8.70 for 6 adults
City Sightseeing Tour / Hop on Hop off Bus £12 per adult
Norwich Cathedral Free
Browsing the book shops and markets Free
Lunch approximately £12 per person
Day out with friends Priceless