The area around Tombland and Elm hill is not only picture-perfect beautiful, but also home to some of the finest independent shops and cafes that Norwich has to offer.
Out of the hustle and bustle of the city, The Cathedral Quarter is comprised of some of the most complete medieval streets in Norwich. If you're still looking for those last-minute gifts, or are looking for some inspiration, you're certain to find something here. What's more, this tranquil area is a charming antidote to the hurried crowds of the city centre; the cobbled streets are quieter, and if you know where to look, you'll find secret gardens, open fires and rare treasures that you won't find anywhere else. This is the last shopping spotlight of the year, and I promise it's a special one.
This one-of-a-kind shop is run by a co-operative of local artists; you'll find a different practitioner manning the desk each day, giving you a wonderful chance to find out more about the pieces you're buying. The building itself is very beautiful: small, turquoise and lit up with string fairy lights. Inside, you'll find an array of artwork, ceramic, textiles, illustration, jewellery and other craft pieces, all handmade and original. If you've got people on your Christmas list who are hard to buy for, I really recommend you come here; you'll find items you never expected, and will leave inspired (and with your festive mission complete!).
This STAND jewellery pouch is made from upcycled fabric by Tamara, and all products for STAND go towards schooling for women in the developing world, teaching them how to sew. As well as vibrant pouches of all sizes, you'll also find beautiful cushions made from recycled sari fabric!
The Bear Shop is a paradise for fans of soft toys, and also an excellent stop if you're looking for a present for a little person. They sell all kinds of bears here from collectable Charlie and Steiff bears, to artisanal handmade bears by independent sellers, to familiar Paddington and Winnie the Pooh characters. The shop itself is an experience too; there is nothing else like it in the city. A cosy shop reminiscent of something from a Charles Dickens novel, 'stuffed' full of some of the most irresistible and gorgeous gifts.
This wonderful, unexpected shop houses a wide range of antiques, ceramics, pictures and furniture, with the accent on Arts & Crafts and Art Deco furniture. There is always a few choice pieces of Heals furniture in stock, and this is a great place to pick up a gift for the discerning fan of interiors and collectables.
You won't find a warmer welcome anywhere else. This fantastic and cosy coffee house is an absolute treasure, and the perfect place to escape the hurry of Christmas and relax on your own with a paper by an open fire (as one lady was doing when I visited this morning). There's an array of homemade cakes, sausage rolls and other lunch-y items (plus a particularly special mulled juice), plus the building is from the 15th century, so the setting is very special indeed. They also have a very secluded, very hidden terrace garden, which when I saw it today was frosty and perfect, overlooking the medieval streets and glittering with Christmas lights. For some peace and a frothy coffee, you must go.
This is the bookshop you always imagined. Dreamy and packed to the rafters will all sorts of secondhand and antiquarian books with prices ranging from £1 - £10,000. If you're looking for something niche, you'll find its papery relative here: they stock all sorts from Natural History, to British Topography, to Fiction to Art to Academia. While I was there Pippa showed me some wonderful examples of old illustrations too, plus some beautiful spreads of some old maps of Norwich. With 40 years of book-selling experience, they also offer a book-finding service, book restoration and rebinding. It's a very special place (and comparisons to shops in Diagon Alley are not unfounded)!
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, Jersey*, Guernsey* and Amsterdam.