Three Norwich Walks have been devised to give you, the visitor, the chance to discover the many historic passages, alleys, buildings and ancient churches in the medieval city of Norwich. This may change over the years, but the best way to find out what’s on as far as guided walks are concerned is to visit the Tourist Information Centre next to the Forum.
These guided or self-guided Norwich walks visit all the nooks and crannies of a city you probably wouldn’t otherwise discover.
Norwich was a very important city in its day. In fact it was once the 2nd most important city after London around the time the Normans arrived in 1066, so it has a huge amount of historical interest as you wander slowly around the cobbled lanes, tight alleyways and back streets and in amongst the old factories.
Unfortunately for me, I had a rainy day for my guided Norwich walk which was titled "Passages Through The Past", but you know what, it didn’t matter at all. It took about 2 hours, but the speed with which we walked was very do-able for most people.
But if you don’t want to go on a guided tour you can buy a brilliant book from the Tourist Information Centre in The Forum called Norwich’s Nooks and Crannies which will guide you through the tours with a detailed map of three Norwich walks. The walks vary from 1.5 miles to 2.2 miles each
We started at the Forum, a very modern building in comparison to what awaited us, and were taken to the ancient Market Place where you get a good view of Norwich Castle and the museum, and in the distance, Norwich Cathedral. We had an excellent guide who kept us entertained with all the relevant information needed for a tour of this nature.
I did think we would go along more ancient streets and courtyards than we did, but actually, when I think back on it, Norwich has obviously evolved over the years and where palaces (yes palaces!) once stood, now car parks reign. So a little imagination on your part is a good thing to bring along on these historical tours!
It was fascinating walking down Bethel Street where we were told Bethel Hospital once was; the first mental hospital in the country established in 1713. Interestingly, the hospital continued to operate until 1980, but I can’t remember whether it was just a normal hospital or a mental hospital until that date.
We weaved in and out of alleys and streets, passing some wonderful Tudor chimneys and walking along alleys that used to have Tudor wooden archways overhead.
On we walked, stopping at St Benedict's Church, one of Norfolk’s round tower churches. The round tower is all the remains due to bombing in 1942 and it sits amongst some rather modern residential flats. It is also the closest we came to the city wall which surrounded the west and north side of Norwich. The east didn’t need a wall as that was protected by the River Yare, which incidentally goes all the way to Gt Yarmouth and which you can walk along on the Wherryman’s Way.
We were taken past one of six remaining thatched buildings within the walls of Norwich, a rather pretty house and which used to be a pub.
As the walk continued, I began to get more and more of a sense of what Norwich must have been like many years ago. Just what the walk is designed to do, I’m sure.
On we went, passing yet another church (there is a saying that there was a church for every week of the year and a pub for every day of the year in Norwich!) and down some very ancient steps called St Lawrence Steps.
There in front of you is a wonderful huge old brewery building of Bullard and Sons. This is now residential housing, but still the signage remains.
Heading towards the river, we walked over an original 1804 iron bridge, the oldest iron bridge in the city and continued along more historic and cobbled streets and finishing off at the timber structured Maddermarket Theatre.
I think the second half of the walk held more interest for me personally but overall, this really was a very interesting walk. Especially when I have lived in Norfolk for a while now, and wanted to make sure that it wasn’t one of those things that is on your doorstep but you never do!
If you want to discover more of Norwich and the history it holds, these Norwich walks are well worth investigating. You can find more details about them here.