From leaving the Camping and Caravanning Club site, with a Neolithic Henge on the opposite bank of the River Yare you will be able to enjoy some of the older buildings as well as modern architecture. There will be opportunities to explore museums, art galleries, shops, old cobbled streets and the glorious Norwich Cathedral. The main route will take in certain places of interest with small detours that will allow you to explore other locations that you may find interesting.
The city owes its origins to the Anglo-Saxons who settled near the confluence of the Rivers Wensum and Yare. This created an inland port which became an important trading centre and was used from those times until relatively recently. Unfortunately, the Danes came to Norwich and razed it to the ground, giving their own names to local streets and places such as Pottersgate and Tombland. Norwich again began to thrive due to the port, market and local industries such as wool and leather. The tanneries and leather works were continuing on a large scale up until the end of the 20th Century.
Norwich Cathedral was constructed in 1096 after the Bishop moved his seat from Thetford to Norwich. The other dominant building from that time would have been the castle, originally built of wood soon after the Norman Conquest, it was replaced in 12th Century by a stone one.
The street names give an insight into the influence the church had within the town and surrounding area, Blackfriars named after the robes worn by Dominican Friars; Greyfriars for the same reason after the Franciscan Friars: and Whitefriars after the Carmelite Friars who all established themselves in that part of the town. There were also Priories and Abbeys across the town / city connected to the cathedral.
From first appearances it may not be appreciated that the suburb of Lakenham through which the route passes has its origins in the times of Edward The Confessor when it was a small hamlet belonging to the nearby manor at Thorpe. The area along the river, Old Lakenham, is within a conservation area managed by Norwich City Council. During the 18th and 19th Centuries the area was frequented by day trippers from the city, the Camping and Caravanning Club site is actually where the lido was once enjoyed by many.
The Cathedral from the time of its initial build would have had a significant impact on the growth and development of Norwich. With this Monastic centre and a market being held in Tombland immediately outside the gate this soon became the centre of the city, with roads such as the quaint Elm Hill becoming home to the rich and famous during medieval times. There are still some buildings dating back to the mid 1300’s with many being a 1600’s.
The Norwich Market moved to its current more central location during Norman times and soon became one of the largest and most prosperous in the country. Although in the same location the market was completely refurbish between 2003 and re-opening in 2006. At the side of the market are two interesting places, The Guildhall – said to be England’s largest and most elaborate provincial medieval city hall and was the centre of administration from early in the 15th Century until 1938. The second is The Royal Arcade, with architecture influenced by Art Nouveau which was opened in 1891 and remains a thriving shopping location today.
George Skipper who designed The Royal Arcade and many other buildings across East Anglia was also responsible for Surrey House. This is better known as the home of Norwich Insurance, now Aviva. The styles are completely different with Surrey House having a Palladian exterior and a very impressive Marble Hall within. Although it is a working office building it is possible to enter the reception to see this amazing sight.