This week’s shopping spotlight is all about one of the most beautiful – and loved – areas of the city: The Norwich Lanes. An award winning pocket of cobbled streets, pedestrianised roads and alleyways, here you’ll find over 300 cafes, bars, shops and restaurants to explore.
It’s the ideal place to do your Christmas shopping: picture book winding streets, independent shops all dressed up in their Christmas finest, and plenty of places to get a decent coffee/cake/wine when you inevitably lose momentum. You’ll find something for everyone here, so if you have some particularly awkward family members then this is certainly the place to go for inspiration.
This is our spotlight on some of our favourite places, and where to find them… so pull on your sensible shoes and on head out; Christmas is just beginning…
From the Western outskirts of Norwich City Centre, gently uphill towards City Hall, St Benedict’s Street to St Giles has a huge array of shops where you’ll find something for everyone (and probably yourself too).
St Benedict’s Street is rapidly becoming more and more popular, helped not least by the presence of some really exciting - and independent - bars and restaurants, such as Hawthorn, The Tipsy Vegan and the famous Benedict’s. The street is a haven for music lovers as well as food lovers, as you’ll find record stores Soundclash, Circular Sound and Press to Play here, as well as Cookes Music Shop for your pick of instruments and equipment.
Walking towards the market, onto St Gregory’s Green, you’ll pass one of Norwich’s many medieval churches (one of 31 that survive within the city), which now houses a treasure trove of antiques and collectables. St Gregory’s Antiques and Collectables is a beautiful and unusual shopping experience, as well as a great place to go if you’re feeling uninspired: something here is certain to catch your eye (and you never know; it might be neon).
Further up the hill on Lower Goat Lane, you’ll find loads of places to stop and eat such as Moorish Falafel, or Biddy’s Tea Room, before arriving a Norwich-based gift and jewellery shop Lisa Angel. Selling all sorts of beautiful, contemporary jewellery, homewares and gifts (they’ve got some amazing indoor planters in stock at the moment…), this is a good one to visit if you’re looking for something with a touch of sparkle.
Onto St Giles and Upper St Giles, you’ll find contemporary homeware and furnishings at The Futon Company, before you might fancy stopping for a Hot Dutch Apple Waffle and glass of Mulled Wine at the Waffle House. Keep going after that though, because on Upper St Giles you’ll find the beautiful work of designer Carol Lake.
After studying textiles in the 1980s and working as part of the Veranda Collective, Carol opened her shop in the Norwich Lanes 4 years ago, around Christmastime. Her shop and studio are incredibly beautiful: wide panes of glass meet antique interiors, to create a space that feels modern, but exactly at home in this former Victorian sweet shop. You might recognise a flavour of Carol’s own work on the shop interior if you’ve been to newly opened (and amazing) Turkish restaurant Haggle (on St Benedict’s Street), as Carol designed all three floors of their Turkish-inspired interior.
The products at Carol Lake are gorgeous, and it feels even more special to buy them direct from the designer herself. Carol’s rich, colourful botanicals can be found on cushions, cards, and on an exclusive collaboration with Van Dal shoes (which are only available from her shop). Her silk scarves would make a very special thing to unwrap on Christmas day, and you’ll find a beautiful range of delicate, printed kimonos if you’re still at a loss for what to get your favourite lady. The shop will have extended opening hours at Christmas, opening on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays, from 11.00 – 4.00pm.
If you’re looking for a gift for the design-conscious person in your life, this is a good place to start. For men’s fashion that’s relevant and creative, to the famed Philip Browne on Guildhall Hill you must go. With an emphasis on progressive fashion since the shop opened its doors in 1986, the Philip Browne name has since become synonymous with experimenting with new, up-and-coming designers (they sold the first collections from Alexander McQueen, Helmut Lang, Jean Paul Gaultier and John Galliano in the 80s and 90’s).
Just up the hill from there is the wonderful, fairytale-esque shoe shop Imelda’s. The footwear here has to be seen to be believed, from jewel-encrusted and extravagant masterpieces, to contemporary leather boots that would do you right for some autumnal leaf kicking.
From Guildhall Hill down in the direction of Charing Cross, you might go down Dove Street, where you’ll find three very excellent places to visit on your travels: The first, Elm, was only opened in September this year, but already has a reputation as one of Norwich’s most exciting and contemporary lifestyle stores. Small, but very beautiful, this delicate shop is completely unique, and packed full of worldly, woolly, printed and painted gifts that you won’t find anywhere else. In a city that has felt the influence of its Art School for over 170 years, Elm feels completely at home here, and even has a ceramics studio upstairs (workshops to follow in the new year – keep an eye out!). Favourites for Christmas include colourful sheepskin moccasins, which have been handmade by a women’s group in Poland; a perfect choice for the winter months. In December Elm will be open late night on Sundays, and late night Thursdays too!
Leaving Elm, you’ll find the Strangers Roastery, and Sonkai Jewellers. Strangers sells beautiful coffee, and opened their roastery 2 years ago following the success of their shop on Pottergate, which opened in 2009. The passionate team here are absolute masters of speciality coffee, so while you’re there buying your cappuccino definitely pick up some freshly roasted coffee beans too.
Sonkai – right on the corner of Dove Street – sells contemporary jewellery that you won’t find anywhere else. I’ll be featuring them in next week’s blog, so keep an eye out for a closer look at the exceptional work that goes on here.
Of course, here you’ll find the unmissable, dazzling spectacle of Norwich’s only independent department store, Jarrold. I wrote about this famous shop in my spotlight last week, so if you missed it you can read it here.
Opposite Jarrold on Exchange Street is The Tannery, which – if you’re a Norwich Native – you may remember was in the historic Royal Arcade for 7 years. Having moved premises in February this year, The Tannery still retail the same, extremely high-quality leather products, sourced from all over Europe.
The business began after owner Lindsay couldn’t find the beautiful leather briefcase she had in mind as a gift for her husband. So like any determined wife she decided to open a shop in Holt, North Norfolk, that specialised in beautiful leather briefcases and more besides. The Tannery have a spectacular range of sumptuous handbags, weekenders and suitcases, as well as smaller gifts such as pencil cases, hip flasks and notebooks. These products come from all over: Italy, Germany and Spain, as well as Britain, and are all sourced by Lindsay herself. They currently have a fabulous winter collection by Italian company Boldrini, in a range of buttery leathers dyed all sorts of warm and earthy colours. Plus while you’re in the shop, take a look at their spectrum of cashmere gloves and capris scarves – perfect gifts!
If – like me – you have some particularly practical, industrious members of the family (you know the ones; you text them asking what they want on December 22nd, because you know they’re going to ask for some kind of spanner), then Thorns is unmissable. Even if you don’t need to buy a spanner, I recommend you go anyway, as this hardware and DIY shop is one of the most interesting stores in the Norwich Lanes, and has been in the city since 1835.
Opposite Thorns you’ll find Sevenwolves, above independent womenswear store Catfish (who’s menswear-retailing brother Dogfish is just a few hundred yards away on Bedford Street), and if you turn left up Lobster Lane, you’ll see Wilkinson’s of Norwich – a Tea and Coffee Merchants with a fascinating array of speciality products.
Finally, London Street is beautiful at Christmas – Independent Jewellers Winsor Bishop always put on something spectacular for Christmas, and the Ronaldo’s Barrow is a near permanent installation on the street for hot roasted nuts.
At the top of London Street you’ll find the magic emporium that is The Book Hive; a book shop that sells beautiful, and often unusual titles from Cookbooks to Children’s Fiction. Beside there you’ll also find charming toy shop Tickety Boo, with a wide range of traditional, quality children’s toys.
Taking a turn down Bridewell Alley, you’ll pass Sue Ryder’s fantastic Vintage shop, before arriving at very special Skincare Deli Palm and Sole. Owner (and wizard) Kathy Webb creates and blends all of her fantastic products herself, which have been designed to not only make you look well but feel it too. As a trained aromatherapist with years of experience, Kathy is an expert in working with you to recommend the product that you need to get you feeling your very best, and as such you’ll find all sorts of unique blends, grounds, creams and balms in there. For Christmas gifts, Kathy’s black fig and drizzled sultana massage candle is ideal (it smells incredible), and her versatile and natural Facial Skin Mezze can be used as a deep cleanse, mask and facial scrub all in one luxurious cream. Plus, if you feel like something extra special (and personalised), ask Kathy about her exciting and very bespoke beauty subscription packages… pop in Wednesday to Saturday 11 - 4!
Fancy a shopping trip to Norwich? Click here for more on Christmas in Norwich and where to stay.
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, Jersey*, Guernsey* and Amsterdam.
To plan a trip to Norwich go to www.visitnorwich.co.uk