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UEP Subang Jaya Malaysia
The Fair City of Norwich
Oct 07, 2003 02:58 PM 2745 Views
(Updated Oct 07, 2003 02:58 PM)

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Norwich : A Mighty Fine City I first visited Norwich many, many years ago when as a ATC cadet I spent a most enjoyable two weeks camp at the then RAF Horsham St Faith’s and still remember vividly the joys of the city. My next visit, as a young man, included a trip to Carrow Road to watch Norwich City in the FA Cup 5th or 6th Round and my most recent, which was a tour of North Norfolk including stays at Great Yarmouth and Cromer, confirmed all my boyhood beliefs that Norwich is a mighty fine place: not too small and not too big, a lovely blend of the old and the modern, and an exceptionally clean city. Norwich was founded by the Saxon “North Folk” – “North Folk” later became Norfolk – at the confluence of the Yare and Wansum rivers in the 6th century. It seems the name Norwich did not appear until the 10th century, but by the time of the Norman Conquest, Norwich was the third largest city in England after London and York. Today as you approach the “Capital of East Anglia...” you will come across a sign indicating ... “...Norwich: A Fine City..” which, I think, is most appropriate. The city is competing to be the European Capital of Culture, 2008, and if I were a judge, I think it would get my vote. Over the centuries Norwich has certainly adorned many different hats: it was a major port in Anglo-Saxon times, the prosperous centre the wool and cloth trade in the Middle Ages, a major centre of banking in the 18th century, an engineering and shoemaking centre in the Victorian era and today is the bustling centre of a large agricultural region and a very modern, forward-looking, city. George Barrow in Larengro in 1851 indicated that Norwich was “ .. The genuine Old English town ... its mighty mound which of tradition speaks true was raised by human hands to serve as the grand heap of an old heathen king...” More than a century later in 1962 Sir Nikolaus Pevsner wrote “... Norwich has everything.” Norwich has long had a tradition of great civic pride and its more than 30 medieval parish churches –n which have been lovingly preserved and conserved - exemplify that tradition. The city dates back to Saxon times and by 1066 it was one of the biggest towns in England. Work started on the Norman Cathedral in 1096 and the honey-coloured Castle – which still dominates the town – was constructed not long after. The city has a Roman Catholic Cathedral as well. This East Anglian city prospered and by the early part of the 16th century was the second largest city in England and until the Industrial Revolution retained a pre-eminent position among provincial towns in England. The city managed to avoid the ravages of the Industrial Revolution and remains environmentally once of England’s nicest cities coupled with a rich architectural elegance. There are plenty of reminders of its illustrious past particularly in the attractive cobbled lanes of Elm Hill and in the areas of Pottergate and Tombland.


The City showcases its past well in four museums – Castle, Cathedral, Strangers Hall and Bridewell. The Castle Museum also contains a fine art gallery, silver, glass and porcelain, as well as archaeological remains and armour. The dungeon and castle battlements can be visited. Culturally Norwich is no slouch. It houses the fine Theatre Royal which stages opera, ballet, pantomimes and pre-West End productions. The Madder market Theatre and The Sewell Barn are also good venues for theatre whilst the Norwich Arts Centre seems to attract many of the best fringe acts. Another very pleasant aspect of Norwich is the range of book and record shops which are much appreciated by students at the University of East Anglia and bookworms, as the new library in the city. Historic houses abound in Norwich. The prosperous city wool merchants built some fine medieval town houses. The Bridewell Museum was once the residence of William Appleyard, the first mayor of Norwich in 1404. Stranger’s Hall, in Charing Cross, is another lovely old house built in 1520 whilst the Music House in King Street is believed to be the oldest domestic dwelling in the city. It was constructed in 1175 by Isaac Jurnet, a wealthy Jewish merchant; it is now part of Wensum Lodge, an adult education centre. The Great Hospital in Bishopgate is attached to the St. Helen’s Church and was founded by Bishop Suffield back in 1249, initially as a sanctuary for poor and infirm priests of the diocese. The Guildhall, built in 1407, was the seat of government in the Norfolk city for some 500 years and was the biggest medieval city hall built outside London. The City Hall, with its very imposing clock tower, is much more modern having been built in the 1930’s and opened by King George V. An easily accessible part of Norwich’s old defences is the so-called Cow Tower; this stands on a bend in the river not far from the Cathedral and is a good example of a free-standing defensive tower. It was initially constructed in 1278, then later rebuilt in brick towards the end of the 14th century. The very grand Georgian Assembly House in Theatre Street was built in 1754 but after being gulfed by fire, it has been sensitively restored and today hosts exhibitions, meetings and concerts. Coming up to date, Norwich, is a regional shopping centre of considerable importance. It has a good mix of department stores and high-street branches of the multiples such as Jarrolds, Bonds, Debenham’s Woolworth’s etc together with a fine range of specialist shops, many housed in magnificent medieval and Georgian buildings. There is also a very lively open-air market located close to the imposing City Hall. Social life is well catered for in the “Capital of East Anglia.” It may be a comparatively small city of about 125,000 people but the place has almost 300 pubs, many of which have their own very distinctive character. The oldest pub in the city is the Adam and Eve and this was reputedly originally built in order to provide refreshment for the builders of Norwich Cathedral. There are also night clubs and wine bars and a wide range of restaurants, tea rooms and cafes in this provincial capital. As regards culinary matters it is far from provincial and the visitor will find Chinese, Indian, Greek, Italian, French, Spanish, American and British restaurants are all to be found. Soccer fans can make their way to Carrow Road to watch Norwich City – the Canaries – perform. Visitors will find that in and around Norwich there is a wide choice of accommodation including the historic Moids Head Hotel in Tombland which boasts that Queen Elizabeth I stayed there in 1578, the Ramada Jarvis, the Best Western George Hotel and the Annesley House Hotel. In addition there are plenty of moderately-priced guest-houses and family-run bed and breakfast establishments in and around the city. Norwich with its highly attractive environment, its blend of the old and new, its rich history and cultural heritage, is undeniably one of the most pleasant provincial cities in England to visit. It exercises appeal to most age groups, there is plenty to see and do, and it has not been spoilt by insensitive development.


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