If you live in Norwich, doubtless you will have – at least once during your time here – have passed by somewhere that was a complete mystery to you. Somewhere that held your interest for more than just a fleeting moment, and somewhere with a door that you were desperate to see behind.
Personally, I have two such ‘doors’ in the city. The first is the Stonemason’s Lodge at St Clement’s Church, Colegate. I have walked past that church nearly every day for five years, and seen people working on stone behind the railings, but have never been over the threshold to have a look around.
My second door isn’t really a door; it’s a hill. Kett’s Heights in Norwich was feature on Channel 4’s ‘Most Tudor Town’ earlier this year, as a place of enormous historical significance and in possession of one of the most fabulous views of the city. Could I find it? No. My housemate and I even took a detour home one evening and drove around for a good 20 minutes trying to locate it, based purely on a vague idea of where it could be and a memory of its fleeting appearance on TV.
This weekend is your chance to see behind the city’s doors, and gain access to places not normally open to the public. What’s better, these events are all free. This weekend is the second of the ‘Heritage Open Days’ weekend, so if you really want to know this city, over the next few days Norwich is handing over the keys, and you can have a look around. Like Cribs, but bigger and with more Dutch Gables.
Below is a list of our highlights of drop-in events, coming up on the 14th, 15th and 16th of September. More information and full listings can be found here.
Bishop’s House Garden – Open!
13th & 14th Sept, 10.00 – 16.00
This historic, four-acre formal city centre garden has belonged to the Bishops of Norwich for over 900 years (Queen Elizabeth I stayed there during her visit!). This is a rare opportunity to see the long herbaceous borders, roses, hosta walk, meadow labyrinth, a jungle walk, bamboos and extensive shrubberies.
Tower Tour at the Cathedral of St John the Baptist
14th & 15th Sept, 11.00, 11.30, 12.00, 13.00, 13.30, 14.00, 14.30, 15.00 & 15.30
This is the highest vantage point overlooking Norwich, and the top of Norwich’s beautiful Catholic Cathedral is afforded views stretching as far as Great Yarmouth, Happisburgh and Swaffham. These not-to-be-missed tours last about 35 mins, and have a minimum height restriction of 1.35m. You will be climbing narrow spiral stairs, so wear sensible shoes and clothing!
Kett’s Heights – Tour (meet at St Matthews Church, Telegraph Lane West)
I mentioned it above, and now is your chance (and mine!) to discover this fascinating, overgrown part of Norwich’s history. One of Norwich’s best-kept secrets with a fine view over the city, it is from here that Robert Kett and his 10,000 followers besieged the city in 1549. Discover the history of this site, in this exclusive tour which lasts 1 hour.
Norwich Castle Museum and Art Gallery
15th, 10.00 – 17.00
Originally a royal palace built by Normans 900 years ago, and soon to undergo a major redevelopment, discover Norwich Castle for free. Find out what it was like in the castle when Henry I visited in 1121, with drop-in talks and demonstrations happening throughout the day, on arms, armour and Castle life.
Norfolk’s Victoria Cross Heroes – Norfolk and Norwich Millennium Library
13th & 14th, 10.00 – 19.00 ; 15th, 09.00 – 17.00
This display by local historian and author Neil Storey (he writes some fabulous books!), charts the moving and dramatic stories of the eight Norfolk men who were awarded our nation’s highest award for gallantry during WW2.
Norwich Print Fair – St Margret’s Church
13th & 15th, 10.00 – 17.00
The 23rd annual Norwich Print Fair takes place in this beautiful church, on leafy St Benedict's Street. Showcasing some of the best contemporary printmakers from across local Norfolk and Suffolk. See some of the most exciting print artists working at the moment, with a range of styles on display.
The South Asia Collection Museum and Shop – Tour
15th, 11.00 – 14.30
Dr Phillip Millward – who owns the Old Skating Rink along with his wife Jeannie – delivers this tour of this unique building, dating from the late 19th century. The building houses the South Asia Decorative Arts and Crafts Collection, and the Country and Eastern Shop, so well worth a look around before or after the tour! There’s nothing else like it in Norwich.
The Stonemason’s Lodge – Open Doors
13th, 14th & 15th, 10.00 – 16.00
16th, 11.00 – 16.00
At leafy St Clement’s Church (just off Magdalen Street), the Stonemason’s Lodge will be open to visitors, with a chance to meet apprentices and Guild members, and learn about the ancient craft of stonemasonry. Now’s your chance to find out what happens behind the railings!
COMING TO VISIT?
Greater Anglia has Advance fares from £10 one way between London Liverpool Street and Norwich. Trains run every 30 minutes. Greater Anglia also serves Colchester, Ipswich and Diss on the Norwich line. Direct trains also run from Cambridge.
East Midlands Trains runs services from Liverpool, Manchester and Nottingham. Flights into Norwich served from Edinburgh, Manchester, Exeter, Aberdeen and Amsterdam, and seasonally from Guernsey and Jersey.
To plan a trip to Norwich check out our website www.visitnorwich.co.uk