There’s certainly plenty to do and see in Norwich, with culture coming high up on the list. Did you know, for instance, that Norwich has more medieval churches than any other city in Western Europe? Or at least, those sitting north of the Alps. Here are the top cultural attractions in Norwich.
When first built, back in 1145, Norwich Cathedral was the biggest building in the whole of East Anglia. And, at 131 metres long and 54 metres wide, it’s still pretty big in today’s terms. It is certainly awe-inspiring with its 61 carved misericords on the choir stalls – from the 15th and 16th centuries, and stunning retable in St Luke’s Chapel (which is believed to date from the 14th century).
The entire cathedral has been shaped from limestone which was shipped from north west France. Its cloisters are large too, and second only to Salisbury Cathedral in the whole of England.
Dating back to Tudor times, Strangers Hall was a home for mayors and wealthy merchants. Today it remains a handsome half-timbered house of Grade I listed building status. It’s also a fine museum of life past in Norwich.
As well as a labyrinth of passageways, there are bedchambers from the 17th century, a Medieval vaulted undercroft, an 18th-century Georgian dining room and a pretty formal garden. The Great Hall is particularly impressive, as is the 17th-century Walnut Room – the latter with its beautiful imported panels and two clocks dating from the 1600s and 1700s.
Norwich Castle Museum
Dating back to the turn of the 12th century and boasting impressive Norman Romanesque blind arches, Norwich Castle Museum was formerly a goal (there are still dungeons dating back hundreds of years). It only became a museum back in 1894.
The Museum is a fantastic way to find out about the castle and the centuries of battles in Norwich, thanks to a host of multimedia exhibits and tours. You can also see a collection of paintings by Flemish Baroque artist Peter Tillemans, as well as various Iron Age implements and Egyptian antiques.
Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts
Getting on to more modern times – or at least the 1970s – Sainsbury Centre resembles an air hangar but is actually a museum of some prestige. Art lovers can admire pieces from Francis Bacon, Jacob Epstein, Henry Moore and Alberto Giacometti.
Located on the campus of the University of East Anglia (which itself has sculptures by Henry Moore), the Centre contains the donated collection of Robert and Lisa Sainsbury. It includes art from Medieval Europe, as well as ethnographic items from Africa, North and South America, Asia, and Oceania.
A Jacobean mansion complete with turrets, mullioned windows and plenty of gables, Blickling Estate takes up 4,777 acres – 450 of which is parkland. There are formal gardens complete with topiaries, exotic trees, yew hedges and Grade II listed Victorian ornaments. There’s also a library with one particular book of sermons dating all the way back to the 10th century.
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