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Visiting Elm Hill, Norwich, Norfolk, England: cobbled street maybe typical of an idealized picture of old England

Updated on June 20, 2014
Flag of England
Flag of England | Source
Cobbled street in Norwich: Elm Hill
Cobbled street in Norwich: Elm Hill | Source
Norwich: former church of St Peter Hungate. A fifteenth century church in Princes Street.
Norwich: former church of St Peter Hungate. A fifteenth century church in Princes Street. | Source
Map location of Norwich, Norfolk
Map location of Norwich, Norfolk | Source

But no elms (no stiletto heels, either!)

Some of my hubpages — I am thinking especially of the one on Bishop Bridge, Norwich — carry the definite suggestion that people's possibly idealized views of old England need considerable modification.

However, when it comes to Elm Hill, a picturesque, cobbled street in the City of Norwich, Norfolk, the vicinity does indeed seem to transport the visitor into typical old England, with its uneven road surfaces and narrow streets. This would certainly be a principal reason why the street attracts so many visitors. In places, brightly painted walls and ancient, timbered beams add to the photogenic character of Elm Hill. At night time, especially, with the street dimly lit — some of the streetlamps are old fashioned in style — the visitor may wonder whether the scene beheld has changed much in hundreds of years.

In any case, the name is poignant and maybe even unfortunate. Elm Hill is named for a fine species of tree, which today is noted for its absence.

So: Elm Hill is without elms, though other trees have been planted in their place. Since the 16th century, elms are known to have grown in the vicinity. But in more recent years, Dutch elm disease is to blame for the demise of this species at Elm Hill.

Although Elm Hill might occasionally be referred to as Medieval-looking, yet the results of a fire in the 16th century makes it almost certain that very few of the houses now present in the street date from Medieval times. However, the stone church of St Peter Hungate at the top of Elm Hill is indeed Medieval: John and Margaret Paston, of the prominent Paston family, from whom were derived the Paston Letters which chronicle their times, are known to have funded the rebuilding of the church in the 15th century.

Elm Hill runs between Norwich's Princes Street and Wensum Street.

So go to Norwich and see what seems like a typical English street as it might have looked hundreds of years ago. This is a genuinely cobbled street, the stones being from local flint.

But a warning must be given to any lady visitors with stiletto heels: make sure you leave the stilettos at the

hotel. (Don't let Elm Hill's cobbles tempt you to test your travel insurance coverage!)

Also worth seeing

In Norwich itself, visitor attractions include: Norwich Cathedral, Norwich Castle, Norwich Guildhall, Norwich City Hall, Pull's Ferry, Cow Tower, and many others.


How to get there: United Airlines flies to London Heathrow Airport, where car rental is available. Norwich is served by rail from London Liverpool Street Station. Norwich is 233 kilometers from Heathrow Airport. Some facilities may be withdrawn, without notice. You are advised to check with the airline or your travel agent for up to date information.

MJFenn is an

independent travel writer based in Ontario, Canada.

For your visit, these items may also be of interest


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    • MJFenn profile image

      MJFenn 5 years ago

      Ryan Kett:

      Well, it doesn't surprise me that it's on Hollywood's orbit because it is so 'typical' of old England. Thank-you for your comment.

    • profile image

      ryankett 5 years ago

      In recent years this was used as a filming location for the film Stardust which grossed $135m!