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Visiting the City Hall, Norwich, Norfolk, England: substantially based on the design of the City Hall, Stockholm, Sweden
Leading example of Art Deco civic design
In the City of Norwich, the skyline is broken by a number of historic buildings, one being the Medieval Cathedral's spire, another being the keep of Norwich Castle, and another being the tower of the City Hall.
Students of architecture may find the sight of the City Hall, in England's Norwich, Norfolk, to be strangely familiar. This is because the design of the Art Deco building, particularly the tower, was substantially based on the City Hall, Stockholm, Sweden.
Norwich's City Hall was opened in 1938 by King George VI and Queen Elizabeth, with construction having begun in 1936. Despite extensive bomb damage sustained in Norwich in the course of World War Two, the City Hall emerged unscathed.
The City Hall's architects were Charles Holloway James (1893-1953) and Stephen Rowland Pierce (1896-1966). The fruits of the architects' commission came about several years after a competition for the design of the civic building. The wheels of bureaucracy moved slowly before planning and funding requirements for the building could be achieved, but the eventual edifice was critically acclaimed for the excellence of its design.
The building's 111-metre balcony, its central portion sheltered by the portico, with its six, gigantic columns, is the longest in England. The conspicuous clock tower is 56.4 metres high. This tower contains England's largest clock bell.
The building was mainly executed in brick, with work also in Clipsham and Ketton stone. The bricks employed were custom-made, and larger than those of conventional size.
Bronze lions sculpted by Alfred Hardiman are prominent features at the main entrance of the City Hall. One of these lions had previously been displayed at the British Empire Exhibition in 1936.
A Garden of Remembrance, where regular ceremonies commemorating the fallen are held, is laid out facing the City Hall's frontage.
Regular tours are organized around the City Hall.
Also worth seeing
In Norwich itself, other notable buildings include the Guildhall (the former, municipal headquarters), the remarkable Cathedral and the Castle, all well-preserved Medieval structures.
Great Yarmouth (distance: 33 kilometres); its cathedral-like, St. Nicolas's parish church dates from the 12th century.
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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