It is some time since I wrote about Norwich so this post will feature a walk I took last October – over a year ago! At that time I often dropped Elinor off at college and then wandered about the city until it was time to collect her and take her home again. This year she has longer hours at college and as Richard and I share the driving I don’t need to spend time in the city unless I want to.
I began my walk at the Guildhall in the centre of the city.
The Guildhall was built in the early 15th century after the city was granted a charter in 1404. The building was used for civic and judicial assemblies and courts from 1413 until 1938, when the new City Hall was built and 1985, when the new Court buildings were opened. Some of the rooms are still used today by the City Council; the building also houses the Sheriff’s Chambers.
Norwich Guildhall – showing the knapped flint-work.
Funding for the building came from increased taxes, voluntary contributions and bequests to the city. Despite this, much of the labour went unpaid. The city was granted a warrant in 1407 which instructed men from many different trades to work for no pay, often for fifteen hours at a time; only the highest skilled craftsmen were paid. Most of the construction of the Guildhall was carried out between 1407 and 1413. By 1435 the tower and porch had been added and by 1453 the final windows were glazed.
A photo I took of the Guildhall in April of this year
The building was constructed from flint rubble faced with knapped flint and infill and the east end, which was reconstructed in the 16th century (shown on the first of my photos), was crafted from alternate squares of faced flint and ashlar stone giving the Guildhall its distinctive chequered look.
Guildhall – showing the reconstructed porch. Many of the windows were replaced during the 19th and early 20th centuries.
Much of the exterior is Victorian and Edwardian, as massive reconstruction was carried out in both 1861 and 1908. The porch was reconstructed in the Gothic style, as were the replaced windows. A clock tower was also added. A link here (click on ‘The Guildhall‘ ) shows a drawing of what the Guildhall looked like before the old porch (on the left of the building) was demolished.
At present only the ground-floor rooms and porch are accessible to the general public ( a café and a crystal shop use the space). It is interesting to sit in the café having coffee and realise that you are in a virtually unchanged Victorian courtroom. It is hoped that the rest of the building will soon be open to the public.
I walked to the bottom of Guildhall Hill and into London Street where I saw this ornate facade above Jarrold’s Department Store. The frieze illustrates trades and crafts in Norwich.
I made my way up the hill towards the Castle
This rather strange shaped building on the corner is called ‘Number 12’ and is a restaurant.
This inn is about 250 years old and used to be a popular place to visit to watch the executions at the castle opposite!
I arrived at Castle Green and from there was able to see across the city.
A view of the Norman Castle
Looking towards the Anglican Cathedral
A closer view of the cathedral’s spire
This is the tower of St Peter Mancroft church with the arched roof of The Forum next to it.
I walked from Castle Meadow to St Georges Street and on towards the River Wensum.
I admired this ornate brick wall. Red bricks made in this part of England are soft and weather easily.
St Andrew’s Hall
The Halls are a collection of beautiful flint-built buildings and St Andrew’s is the largest and most ornate. Together, the Halls form the most complete friary complex surviving in England. The first Dominican Black Friars’ priory was destroyed by fire and St Andrew’s was the nave of the new church which was completed in 1449. The site was in danger of being destroyed during the Reformation (during the 16th century) but was saved by the City Corporation which bought it from the King for use as a ‘common hall’. Since then the complex has been used for worship,as a mint and as a workhouse. St Andrew’s Hall has an impressive hammerbeam roof which was a gift from the Paston family whose town house was in Elm Hill nearby.
The slideshow beneath is of photos of some of the headstops decorating the outside of St Andrew’s Hall
The faces were probably of local dignitaries and may not be particularly flattering! A dragon symbolizes Satan, the devil or evil; the dragon next to the carving of Christ may symbolize Christ’s victory over evil. A fish symbolizes Jesus but it can also be used as a warning about the Last Judgement. A bird symbolizes the soul; if the bird in the carving is a dove then it symbolizes God the Holy Spirit. A lion symbolizes many things. It is the emblem of St Mark and is also associated with Daniel, Samson and St Jerome. It can symbolize strength and majesty, therefore Jesus. Carvings or statues of lions are often used in Italian churches as defensive bulwarks. The lion symbolizes vigilance. The lion can also symbolize evil, or the Devil. “Your enemy the Devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour”, says St Peter in his First Epistle. The Green Man, as Roger Deakin says in his book ‘Wildwood’, is “…the spirit of the rebirth of nature. He is the chucked pebble that ripples out into every tree ring. He is a green outlaw and he is everywhere…
Next to St Andrew’s Hall and adjoining the ornate brick wall is…
an archway leading to the East and West Garth, now part of the Norwich University of the Arts.
A Garth is an open space within cloisters; a close or yard; a garden or paddock. Garth is a Middle English word from the Old Norse word garthr related to Old English geard meaning ‘yard’. (The Concise Oxford Dictionary)
I like this chimney!
The back of the main building at the University of the Arts.
This building was originally built for the Technical College which is now City College Norwich. City College was given a new building in 1953 on Ipswich Road and this building was handed over to the Art College.
As you see, the river flows along under the windows.
Crossing over St George’s Bridge I came to the Norwich Playhouse Theatre on the left and a small park or plaza on the right. The Barbara Hepworth sculpture is in this park.
‘Sea Form (Atlantic)’ by Barbara Hepworth
I walked for a little along the riverside.
View over the River Wensum. Beyond the carpark are the rears of the houses in Elm Hill.
Another view of the Art College buildings and St George’s Bridge
Looking the other way towards Tye Bridge
The river steps.
Riverside art student grafitti. ‘Artists should retrieve and learn to enjoy the inner sanctuary of their studios’
I made my way towards Tye Bridge using a little alley-way.
The Comedy Alley – a bar where comedians perform.
The alleyway brought me to St Clement’s church on the corner of Colegate and Fye Bridge Street.
A stone mason at work outside the church of St Clement the Martyr
He was wearing what looked like a folded paper hat.
The church of St Clement the Martyr
A notice pinned on a board outside the church
I have been meaning to go and visit the place for over a year now!
On the opposite side of the road was the Fishmonger and Game Dealer’s shop.
Next to the church was the pub.
The Mischief pub
Fye Bridge Street becomes Wensum Street which then becomes Tombland all in a few hundred yards. At the gate to the Anglican Cathedral I crossed over the road and went up Tombland Alley.
Tombland Alley looking back towards Tombland and the gate to the Cathedral.
The gentleman standing at the entrance to the alleyway is the actor Oliver Ford Davies and I had recognised him as he walked through the alley. He had a map with him and was wandering about the city looking at the buildings. I, my mother and Elinor had seen him on the stage at the Theatre Royal the night before when he was playing the part of Shallow in Shakespeare’s Henry IV Part 2. The night before that we had seen Henry IV Part 1. The great Anthony Sher played the part of Falstaff in both plays – a wonderful double production.
I believe this is a merchants mark on the wall in Tombland Alley
These marks were used by tradesmen to identify themselves and authenticate their goods (wikipedia)
Buildings in Tombland Alley
I soon made my way back to the Guildhall and then to the college where I met my daughter.
Thanks for visiting!