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Visiting Norwich Castle, Norfolk, England: William the Conqueror reminding local people who was boss!
Has outlived régime change by many centuries
This fine castle in Norwich, Norfolk, England, is among the most conspicuous structure of the City and region.
Some history and features
was built between the years 1066 and 1075. After the Battle of Hastings of 1066, when the success of the Norman Conquest was assured, William the Conqueror sought rather vigorously to retain his new English possessions and subjects by militarily secure means. Norwich Castle was among the finest of the Norman castles which appeared across the English landscape.
It is built on a prominent mound, which even today, dominates the City of Norwich. Its keep has striking dimensions: 29 metres by 27 metres, and 21 metres high. Made of Caen stone (1), also used in the construction of Norwich Cathedral and the Tower of London, the exterior of the keep features blank arcading.
Once its military use had waned somewhat, Norwich castle gave several centuries of service as a jail: from 1220 until 1887, to be precise (though doubtless the accommodation standards and residential expectations altered significantly over the years!)
Tours are available of the battlements and dungeons.
Museum and art gallery
Since the late 19th century, Norwich Castle has been a museum. The history of East Anglia may be traced through the Roman presence (and resistance to Roman rule), the Viking and Anglo-Saxon eras. A collection called the Snettisham Treasure displays valuable Iron Age artifacts. There is also a well appointed art gallery.
One popular feature of the museum is the Twining Teapot Gallery, displaying over 3000 dispensers of the quintessentially English drink, dating from the 18th century. Temporary exhibitions have included the display of moon rock from one of the Apollo expeditions.
(1) It is thought that the stone was transported from William's native Normandy by boat up the Wensum River. In its day, this was doubtless a major, logistical achievement.
Also worth seeing
In Norwich itself, its many visitor attractions include the Medieval, spired Cathedral and Close, Norwich City Hall, the Guildhall, and picturesque Elm Hill.
Great Yarmouth (distance: 33 kilometres); its ancient, parish church of St Nicholas is on a Cathedral's scale.
How to get there: Continental 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. Please note that some facilities may be withdrawn, without notice. Please check with the airline or your travel agent for up to date information.
MJFenn is an independent travel writer based in Ontario, Canada.
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