Jess, aged 14, writes: During half term, our family visited Norwich and the Norfolk Broads. Over the course of our two days in Norwich, we visited fascinating museums, ate delicious food, and saw gorgeous sights, such as the castle and cathedral. We were very lucky to have a fair bit of sun, and loved walking around the city. Here are our favourite bits (don’t miss the video which Robert made too – just click on the link!)
We stayed in the Norwich City Holiday Inn, which was very convenient and great for families. We always find inter-connecting rooms useful, and the fact that Robert and I had separate beds was a bonus. The food was good, and everything was clean and tidy. It wasn’t luxurious, but it is a great budget choice for families, and it’s right next to Norwich City’s football stadium!
Sarah says: We decided to start at our trip at the Museum of Norwich at Bridewell and were really impressed by this lovely, informative gem of a museum. The museum gives the story of this city (once England’s second in terms of importance), and taught us a lot, impressing all of us. It is bright and easy to navigate (it’s set out logically) and also very interactive, which appealed to the children.
Norwich’s story includes that of the “strangers” – Huguenots who were invited to come from the Netherlands in the 16th century in order to help the textile industry. Thirty families of master weavers came initially (soon followed by more) and made a huge contribution to the city’s fortunes.
Norwich’s story is not only one of textiles and weaving, but also of mustard (Colman’s of course), plus football (we found out why Norwich City are called the Canaries), chocolate (Caleys and Rowntrees) and shoes (Norwich used to provide eight million pairs of shoes a year!).
We were surprised by how much there was to see in this small museum and I was especially fascinated by its darker side, as it used to be a prison. The stories of some of those who spent time here were really sobering.
The Museum is in Bridewell Alley, off Bedford Street and is open Tuesday to Saturday from 10 to 4.30am. It costs £5.20 for adults and £3.90 for children. You can also pop in for an hour for just £1 which seems a great idea to us.
Robert, aged 10, writes: I really enjoyed exploring the medieval castle. We studied an array of interesting displays on the top floor and had fun taking part in some interactive activities on British History on the first floor. My favourite was an activity where you catapulted a rock and had to try and knock over a wall. The castle used to be a prison and there was a very interesting display about this, including stories of criminals and even a prison cell.
The second floor was my favourite though. When we went there was an exhibition on dragons and the How To Train Your Dragon books so there were loads of things to do on that topic. They included listening to books being read out and arts and crafts. I created my own mini dragon.
Jess says: Norwich Cathedral is one of the most complete major Romanesque buildings in Europe, and has the second tallest spire and largest monastic cloisters in England. It was absolutely beautiful, and we walked around for about half an hour. There are guided tours around the 900 year -old Cathedral but we did not take one, preferring to walk around at a leisurely pace.
We really enjoyed reading the inscriptions on the walls and tombstones, and reading the memorials. We also thought the staff were extremely friendly.The Cathedral is free to enter, although they do ask for donations.
Robert says: I loved going to the Sainsbury’s Centre for Art as it displayed a large assortment of intricate sculptures and detailed painting that had been made over the years. I was stunned by the art and felt so relaxed when I drew some of my favourites on a piece of paper I was given, as it was so quiet and calm. The building itself was enormous; you could go outside and walk around the giant plot of land surrounding the gallery which had a starring role in the second Avengers movie. I really enjoyed going there and it was the highlight of my trip.
Sarah writes: Norwich was a lovely city to walk around and we really enjoyed the combination of the old and new side. There are lovely cobbled streets to walk along and small, independent shops and galleries in the Lanes and the medieval quarter, but there are also all the high street favourites, and it’s so convenient to walk everywhere! Don’t miss the huge market, which is right in the centre, and which is full of all sorts of different stalls (from food to clothes).
We especially enjoyed the fantastic food at the Macarons and More shop in the Royal Arcade (look at their website for some amazing pictures!) and had a terrific lunch at the Britons Arms, which is set in a 15th century building – and which featured in the film Stardust.
We had hoped to visit the Strangers’ Hall, which has been a home to merchants and mayors in Norwich since 1320, but unfortunately it was closed, so definitely check up on its opening times if you’re interested in a visit.
Jess writes: We had a lovely time in Norwich – the castle was beautiful, the museum was fascinating, and I loved my cinnamon pretzel, massive pistachio macaroon, and my raspberry meringue pavlova. Norwich is full of scrumptious food, which was one of the reasons that it is perfect for families. Norwich is full of so many things to see and do, and we would love to go back and see them all.
Disclosure: Our visit to Norwich was organised with help from Visit Norwich. We stayed in the Holiday Inn on a complimentary basis, although neither Visit Norwich not the hotel had any input into this piece. Our rooms at the Holiday Inn would have cost £95 per night including breakfast. Kids eat free at the hotel (we took advantage of this!)
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