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11 Facts about Norwich, England

Updated on April 23, 2014
Norwich
Norwich | Source

Norwich is a district and cathedral city in eastern England, Norfolk county, 98 miles (158 km) northeast of London and 20 miles (32 km) west of the North Sea coast. It is the chief industrial, commercial, cultural, and administrative city of the East Anglia region, situated on both sides of the Wensum River just north of its junction with the Yare River. Norwich has a population of 140,100 (2011).

1. Norwich is the marketing and distribution center for the cattle, grain, and farm produce of the nearby fertile agricultural area. Manufactures include footwear, textiles, clothing, agricultural machinery, electrical equipment, bricks, wire, furniture, chemicals, candy, and foodstuffs. The city is also a center of printing, insurance, and banking.

Downtown Norwich
Downtown Norwich | Source
Downtown Norwich
Downtown Norwich | Source

2. A Norman castle, built in the early 12th century, occupies a prominent site in the center of the city. The keep or stronghold is exceeded in size only by the Norman fortress in Colchester. The castle was used as a prison for much of the 19th century and then converted in 1894 into a museum and art gallery, featuring a renowned collection of paintings from the 19th century Norwich School.

3. The cathedral is a large Anglo-Norman structure, 407 feet (124 meters) long, the spire reaching 315 feet (96 meters) from the ground. The spire is the second highest in England, after Salisbury. The cathedral contains several ancient chapels, and the cloisters are the most spacious in England with the exception of Gloucester. The Erpingham gate and St. Ethelbert's gate are of considerable interest.

St Peter Mancroft
St Peter Mancroft | Source
St John the Baptist Cathedral
St John the Baptist Cathedral | Source
Norwich Cathedral
Norwich Cathedral | Source

4. Apart from the Norman cathedral, Norwich has more than 30 medieval churches. That of St. Peter Mancroft contains the tomb of Sir Thomas Browne, author of the Religio Medici. A Roman Catholic church, dedicated in 1894, was built with the financial help of the 15th duke of Norfolk. The Congregationalist Old Meeting House (1693), the Quakers' Gildencroft (1699), and the Unitarian Octagon Chapel (1754) are also of interest.

5. The bishop's palace, north of the cathedral, built by various prelates, is a large edifice. St. Andrew's hall, in ancient times the nave of the Church of the Dominicans (Blackfriars), is a noble structure in the Perpendicular style. It is one of the most handsome civic halls in England, with a number of valuable portraits by Gainsborough, Lawrence, and others. The guild hall was built in 1413.

6. Ancient Norwich is notable for showplaces such as Hercules and Samson House (1657), a large mansion facing the cathedral. Its paneled rooms are filled with antique furniture, old china, and other exhibits. The Strangers' Hall (15th century), is a local folklore museum.

7. The grammar school dates to the reign of Edward VI (16th century). Horatio Nelson was one of its notable students. The Norwich School of Art and the Keswick Hall College of Education are in the city. The University of East Anglia, founded in 1961, has a school devoted to East Anglian studies. A little theater, the Maddermarket, was established in 1921 on the model of an Elizabethan theater. It produces both classical and modern dramatic works.

Norwich Castle
Norwich Castle | Source

8. The earliest mention of Norwich is a statement in the Saxon Chronicle relating to the conflict between Saxons and Danes and the burning of the settlement in 1002. With the Norman Conquest came the building of the castle, and in 1101 the dedication of the cathedral by Herbert de Losinga, the first bishop of the diocese. The most stirring events in Norwich arose from the Peasants' Revolt in 1381, and Kett's Rebellion in 1549, both of which were rigorously suppressed. The Black Death, 1348–1349, swept away a third of the inhabitants.

9. Immigrant weavers from Flanders were welcomed to Norwich by Edward III in the early 14th century. Their creation of a thriving woolen industry ensured the town's prosperity through medieval times into the 17th century, when Norwich was second only to London in population. The city's textile industry went into a decline in the late 18th century and the beginning of the Industrial Revolution. Norwich remained an important agricultural market and distribution center, however, and economic activities such as tanning and footwear manufacture grew significantly.

10. Norwich sustained considerable damage from air raids during World War II, when the cathedral and numerous other buildings were struck by bombs. Reconstruction was rapid after the war, and large housing developments were built.

11. Norwich's first charter was granted in 1158 by Henry II, and a second was given by Richard I in 1194. A charter that designated Norwich as a county town came from Henry IV in 1404. Norwich became a county borough in 1888.

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