For centuries Norwich was one of the largest and wealthiest cities in England and it has a rich heritage with many architectural gems as a result of this fortunate past. If you have a day to enjoy Norfolk’s fine city then our Top 5 iconic buildings are not to be missed!
1. Norwich castle 1067 – 1075
‘Architecturally the most ambitious secular Norman building in Europe.’
Built as a royal palace for William the Conqueror at a time when most buildings were small wooden structures. The castle mound is the largest in the country. From the 14th – 19th C, the keep was used as the County gaol (‘jail’). Alongside impressive fortified architecture, be sure not to miss this museum’s fascinating contents, such as the Boudica Gallery, telling the story of the queen of the Iceni who led a revolt against the Romans in AD60. Marvel at the magnificent Snettisham treasure, the largest collection of Iron Age neck rings found anywhere in Europe. 01603 493625
2. Norwich Cathedral 1096 – 1145
The Cathedral was built over 900 years ago in the centre of Norwich and is still standing robustly. You can see it from afar on many spots in Norwich because it has the highest Norman tower (40 metres) and largest monastic cloisters in England! Do visit the east part of the Cathedral which has four chapels with paintings and ornaments from 14th to 16th century.
It is remarkable and wonderful that these ornaments have been preserved for centuries. 01603 218300
3. The Guildhall 1407 and 1413
The beautiful historic building is on Gaol Hill in the heart of the city (next to Norwich Market) and is the largest surviving medieval civic building in the country outside London. It served as the seat of the City’s government from early 15th century until 1938, when this role transferred to the then new City Hall. You can’t miss it on your walk as the exterior shows off beautiful flint work that Norfolk is well-known for. According to historic sources, it was built from ‘flint rubble faced with knapped flint and infill’. And the east side was crafted from ‘alternate squares of faced flint and ashlar stone’ presenting a ‘chequered’ effect.
4. The Assembly House 1754 – 1755
‘One of the most glorious examples of Georgian assembly rooms architecture in the country.’
Designed by architect Thomas Ivory to be a ‘house of assemblies’ for the gentry of Norwich, the building over time has also been the Norwich High School for girls and a school for camouflage during the second world war. It is now a registered arts charity supporting a wide programme of visual and performing arts. If events allow, take a peek in The Grand Hall, The Noverre Suite ballroom and the Music Room with its chandeliers, Steinway piano and minstrels gallery. 01603 626402
5. The Forum 1999 – 2001
‘A landmark millennium building for the East of England and a stunning example of 21st C design.’
Pictured here, a range of businesses are housed in The Forum including regional BBC, our county library complete with comprehensive local history section, and the Tourist Information Centre. Take time to enjoy a coffee in its mezzanine café while gazing at the gothic church tower of St Peter Mancroft and the spectacular glazed cityscape view.
If you have more than 24 hours to spend in Norwich, also explore these impressive buildings:
The Great Hospital, The Halls – St Andrew’s and Blackfriars’, Dragon Hall, St James Mill, St John’s Roman Catholic Cathedral, Surrey House and City Hall.