Norwich’s Arcade/ Castle District has not only been nominated but shortlisted for Great British High Street of the Year again (Norwich also won back in 2014 with the Norwich Lanes), so local Norwich resident Jumara Mulcahy tells us why she thinks beautiful Norwich should definitely win!
“It's easy for someone to say that their city is worthy of an award and recognition. This is different.
I moved here from North London a few years ago (it's been 6!) and I still have no intention of leaving. Norwich is one of those places you think will be a part of your life momentarily and you end up spending a considerably valuable amount of time here. Norwich has seen me venture into the world of Higher Education; Norwich has seen me marry my favourite human being; Norwich has seen me at my best and at my worst.
I can't begin to tell you the number of times I've just needed to go for a walk around the Castle grounds, finding myself wandering around the beauty that is The Royal Arcade and just see the friendly faces of the local business owners. You know it is a truly special place when you can go into a chocolate shop like Digby's, tell them about your mild feeling of ennui and they come up with the perfect concoction of sweet delicacies that eradicate any emotions of despair and sadness.
Norwich has that magical effect on people; it certainly did on me anyway. I've tried to give you my Reader's Digest version of how I came to love Norwich and now here's why I know Norwich is the Great British High Street...
1. The Royal Arcade is just majestic! I mean, have you stood and properly looked at the architecture? Noticed the facets of gold crowns sitting on the red velvet-like cushions? Or the intricate glasswork on the roof?
2. Where else can you get such epic chocolates and treats for all? I am a chocoholic! Fact. So when I say somewhere like Digby's is top-notch, trust me. In fact, do one better and come discover it for yourself. When the caramel centre melts along with the milk chocolate outside, you've got yourself a winner.
3. Berry's and Grey reminds me just how beautiful I can make my home, as I walk in and pick up another trinket (or twelve...). If only I could just move into the store, that would be ideal. Then I can jump across to Marmalades and have my mid-afternoon coffee fix (yes, I drink far too much coffee, especially when it's this good), thinking about what delightful treat I can purchase from Macarons & More.
Image: part of the Olive Edis: Fishermen & Kings exhibition
4. I don't even know where to begin with Castle Mall and Norwich Castle. There's something quite surreal about a shopper’s haven being under the beauty that is the Castle. I've spent countless hours searching through the shops in Castle Mall (confession time - TK Maxx is my downfall! I'll never leave empty handed) and when I've had enough of shopping - it hasn't actually happened yet - I tend to head up to the Castle and wander through their permanent collection. There's always so much to see and explore, plus sitting in the café for a cuppa is a must! I love that there’s always a fantastic exhibition ready to be explored too - the British Art Show 8 was here until recently! But at the moment I get to appreciate Olive Edis’ work; she was Britain's first female war photographer - how amazing is that?! Yet another reason to come visit us here in Norwich. It's a great exhibition and her work is phenomenal. When you can portray the sombre and warmth of a fishermen through your photo, you know you're good! That's what Edis’ work is, and I'm so glad this exhibition is showcasing that.
Image: Norwich Castle Museum & Art Gallery
5. Not only is Norwich Castle a haven for amazing artwork and incredibly educational, it's interactive and very engaging for the public, too - with tours galore! You name it; fighting tours, walking tours, seasonal tours – you can try them all!
6. Just looking at the Castle from the outside is breath-taking and so easy to fall in love with, especially with its amazing medieval fort which was founded by William the Conqueror! There's also the Whiffler theatre (an open-air performance space with a purpose-built stage) down in the Castle Grounds – it’s set in a former moat, actually, and I've always thought about a time not long ago when locals must have put on shows and performances there for the community - hecklers and all!
7. This area of the city, like most parts, looks heavenly regardless of the weather. It glistens in the rain, it glows during the sunshine and it gleams when we're having that standard British weather. You know the weather I mean... and you can always pop into The Murderers for a pint!
Image: The Murderers pub - also known as the Gardeners Arms
I'd like to think I'm not being biased about Norwich being the Great British High Street because I am choosing to live here. I choose to work in this city and help my community because I love Norwich! I've been to plenty a cities in Britain and though they are lovely, nowhere has immersed me quite like Norwich. That's got to say something, right?
So if you feel even a little bit like I do, please vote here for Norwich for the Great British High Street award. Tweet your show of support using #GBHighSt and get those selfies in too. Use Facebook, Twitter, Instagram - whatever social media you're on and spread the word! Let's bring it home - again! <3”
Abellio Greater Anglia have Advance fares from £9 one way between London Liverpool Street and Norwich. Trains run every 30 minutes. Abellio 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, Jersey*, Guernsey* and Amsterdam.