The county town of Norfolk, Norwich is situated close to the site of an old Roman town in an area of England known as East Anglia. There have been settlements of one sort or another in this area ever since. Although not of the same economic importance to the UK as it once was, Norwich is still a major player in the English city stakes, and is trying hard to regain its second place position.
Although it is steeped in history, don’t run away with the impression that Norwich is a sleepy, old fashioned city. Yes, it does still have old parts to the city (there is some fabulous architecture and it still has cobbled streets in places) but it also has most of the modern stores that you would imagine to find in the UK. Some are in one of the shopping malls, and there is a vast array of restaurants and bars. (Chapelfield shopping mall was built on the site of the Rowntree Mackintosh – later Nestle – chocolate factory and is high ceilinged and modern with spacious shops and plenty of places to stop off for coffee or lunch.) There is still a market in the city, but it is smaller than the one established by the Normans in the eleventh century, although still one of the largest six day markets in the UK.
Mainline trains run from London to Norwich, as do National Express coaches, and some run by other coach operators. Although it has its own international airport, coaches also run between London Stanstead and Norwich at frequent intervals. There is also the Bittern Line – a community railway, 30 miles long, which runs from Norwich to Cromer and Sheringham. The trains may not be very frequent, but the line runs through one of the most beautiful areas in the whole of England. And, in case you were wondering, it is named after the Bittern, a rare bird found in the Norfolk wetlands.
There are a number of theatres in Norwich – the Theatre Royal is the largest and probably hosts the most mainstream shows. The Maddermarket is a replica of an Elizabethan theatre, and, of course, Shakespearean plays are shown there. Norwich also has a number of museums, so if you are a culture vulture, you can entertain yourself. The Castle Museum has collections of paintings, ceramics and archaeological finds, and is well worth a visit.
Nearby Places to Visit
One of the things that I love about Norwich is its proximity to the beautiful coastal towns in Norfolk – only about 45 miles from Kings Lynn, 25 miles to Great Yarmouth, and there are many others, perhaps prettier and less commercialised. One of my favourite places on the Norfolk coast is Cromer.
Also within easy travelling distance are the famous Norfolk Broads (an area in Norfolk that comprises lots of rivers and lakes, thought to have been created by flooding ancient peat diggings). Another place worth a visit is Seething Tower, home of the USAAF 448th Bomb Group during World War II. Lovingly restored by volunteers it is open to the public on the first Sunday of every month.
With so many things to see and do in the area you are sure to have a great time!