Take a trip to the UK’s most complete medieval city for culture, heritage and a diverse selection of vintage stores
Tips for the first-time visitor
- Just a couple of hundred metres outside the historic centre, The Plantation Garden (plantationgarden.co.uk) is a secret English Heritage green treasure. Carved from an abandoned chalk quarry in the 1850s by Henry Trevor, these Grade II-listed gardens feature a huge Gothic fountain, Italianate terraces, palm trees, woodland walkways, plus a ‘medieval’ terrace wall artfully constructed using broken tile fragments.
- For a pastoral view over Norwich, head for Mousehold Heath – a short walk through the cathedral grounds and over Bishop Bridge. The heath has over 184 acres of woodland and heathland to enjoy along with the splendid city view.
- Four miles from the centre of Norwich, ancient-history fans can explore the ruins of the Roman regional capital known as Venta Icenorum at Caistor St Edmund, on the 36-mile Boudicca Way long-distance footpath from Norwich to Diss. You can get a bus from the city centre.
- Take a short train ride from Norwich central station to the historic village of Wymondham. Admire the ruins of its 12th-century abbey, potter streets lined with Insta-perfect houses from the 15th to 17th centuries, then grab refreshments at the station’s vintage tea room – which served as the Walmington-on-Sea station in the classic BBC comedy Dad’s Army. There’s also a heritage train line that runs from its own special station at Wymondham Abbey into the Norfolk countryside.
One of the finest Romanesque cathedrals in Europe sits within 44 acres of beautiful grounds, and boasts both the second tallest spire (after Salisbury) and largest monastic cloisters in England. Its star piece of historic art is the 1380s Despenser Retable – a magnificent wooden panel painting designed to stand at the back of an altar. But other wonderful details abound, including over a thousand medieval roof boss sculptures, plus medieval graffiti etched into stonework around the building.
- 65 The Close; cathedral.org.uk
Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts
One of the earliest buildings designed by Norman Foster’s practice, this magnificent gallery mainly focuses on contemporary art, with a permanent collection having its full quota of A-list names. There’s also a programme of special exhibitions, currently including Rhythm and Geometry: Constructivist art in Britain since 1951 (until 17 July), offering plenty to please modern design fans. The gallery is a half-hour bus ride (routes 25/26) from the city centre.
- University of East Anglia, Norfolk Road; sainsburycentre.ac.uk
As featured in Reclaim issue 71 – Issue 71 is available to buy here
Compiled by Norman Miller