Skip to content

You are here: Home > Old Norwich

Old Norwich

Set in the heart of East Anglia, the historic city of Norwich has everything you would desire of a vibrant regional capital.

Norwich is the most complete medieval city in Britain. It’s also one of the top 5 places to shop! Such contrasting boasts show a rare blend of historic interest and modern sophistication. Explore the intricate network of winding streets and over 1,500 historic buildings, from the splendor of the Norman Cathedral and Castle to charming Elm Hill with its timber-framed houses. Museums, galleries, theatres, concerts, cinema, a buzzing nightlife and a year round programme of festivals, celebrating everything from music and literature to food and beer, combine to offer vibrant and dynamic entertainment and give the city a truly cosmopolitan feel.

Norwich, the capital of Norfolk, was once second only to London in importance, growing out of several small Saxon settlements at the lowest fording point along the River Wensum.

Before the Norman Conquest of 1066, Norwich was one of the largest towns in England. The conquerors built a castle and a cathedral, and established a new market place which is still in use today.

Norwich Cathredral from sports field in winter

In 1194 Norwich was granted the status of a city, while in 1404 it was given the privilege of appointing a mayor, two sheriffs and aldermen to run its affairs. Norwich grew in size and wealth during the Middle Ages. It was the principal market for one of the most densely populated parts of England and by the late fourteenth century was the chief centre of worsted manufacture. It remained one of the most important textile manufacturing centres until the nineteenth century.

Over the centuries Norwich has been the scene of many riots and has suffered attacks by rebels. Perhaps the most famous incident was the 1549 Kett's Rebellion. Robert Kett and his brother led a mob protesting against the enclosure of land in Wymondham; they threw down the fences in the locality and then, with growing confidence, marched on Norwich itself. Kett and his followers camped on Mousehold Heath at first. The King's army eventually defeated the rebellion and the rebel leaders were hanged.

Despite the damage done to the city during this and other rebellions, and heavy bombing during World War II, Norwich has survived the ravages of time well. Fortunately the most important historic buildings escaped severe damage, but some areas were badly hit. Much of historic interest remains within the boundaries of its ancient walls.

Did you know... Norwich was granted city status in 1194.