I’ve always wanted to visit Norwich and on the last bank holiday weekend we spent a day visiting this beautiful city. It was my husband, my dog “Bambino” and myself this time.
We arrived in Norwich at about 11 AM and we parked the car in the town centre at the Rose Lane Car Park. We walked in the direction of the riverbank as we wanted to walk all the way up to the Cathedral via the river Wensum.
It is a lovely walk by the river, and we wanted to see the Pull’s Ferry, a 15th Century Watergate built in flint stone. The attractive building was the home of John Pull who was the ferryman from 1796 to 1841. The building with its arched gateway was built across the canal that was used to transport building materials and the stones to build the Cathedral. Nowadays the building is privately owned and is used as a residency.
Continuing the walk by the river we reached the “Cow Tower” a large 14th century artillery blockhouse dated from 1398/1399. It was built to house guns to defend medieval Norwich from threats of France and English rebels.
From there we went to Norwich Cathedral. With spectacular Romanesque architecture there is a lot to see in this magnificent building, including historical artefacts and pieces of art. You can spend a good hour or two exploring the Cathedral and its grounds and it is free to get in. Dogs are allowed.
Leaving the Cathedral we crossed the Ethelbert Gate, passing the Erpingham Gate and down the Tombland in the direction of the Quayside. We turned on Pigg Lane to look at its old houses and walked via the Quayside, then we turned on Wensum Street and left on Elm Hill. Elm Hill and all this area in the centre of Norwich is very typical with very old buildings with interesting architecture. Elm Hill is a cobbled street full of buildings from the Tudor era and one of the most visited places in Norwich. It is very charming. We walked around the area until we explored everything.
We continued with our walk in the direction of Norwich Castle. Unfortunately, the castle is under refurbishment and only the museum was open to the public at the time, so we didn’t go inside, we crossed the road and went to the market via “The Royal Arcade”.
The Royal Arcade is a shopping gallery constructed in the Arts and Crafts style with decorated tiles, hanging lanterns, stained glass and the most beautiful façade. It opened in 1899 and it was restored to its original glory in the 1980’s. Today still houses interesting and elegant shops and cafes. Amazingly, Langleys toy shop, has been situated at the arcade from its opening in 1899.
From there we walked around the market, but because it was a Sunday the stalls were closed and there was not much to see, even though the place was quite busy and full of people. I suppose when the market is open, on Saturdays, the place is quite busing. We wanted to buy pizzas at “Brick Pizza” (locally famous for its pizza) in the market and sit at “The Garnet” (pub that accept dogs and welcomes food from other places), but the pizza place was closed.
It was quite late and at this time, we decided to look for a place to eat somewhere else as we were both hungry and needed to have a seat and rest. We walked on the direction of St Andrews Street and found a café with tables outside. That was ideal as it was hot, and we had Bambino with us. We had a nice lunch with panini sandwiches and coffees and Bambino got a couple of dog treats from the friendly staff.
After lunch we walked to the car park via the city centre to take the car out as we wanted to visit the Plantation Garden. This was outside the town centre and about 10 minutes by car. It was easy to park on the road where the garden is. We went inside but we were quickly stopped by one of the staff to say that dogs were not allowed. We did not notice the sign in front of the gate saying dogs were not allowed. My husband gladly said he would stay outside waiting with Bambino as he was not very interested in the garden anyway.
I was a bit annoyed because they didn’t allow Bambino to get in, but I still wanted to find out what this garden was all about. There is an entrance fee of £2 that is to be paid on an honesty box as there is no ticket office.
Once inside I could understand why it is called the Secret Garden, it is a hidden treasure in the middle of town where you can escape from all the buzz of the town centre into a peaceful and tranquil oasis of calm. The garden is exquisite and is kept by a team of volunteers with the entrance fee also going towards the up keeping of the garden. It was created between 1857 and 1870 by a Norwich furniture maker, Mr Henry Trevor on what used to be a lime quarry.
The garden was famous at the time and very much celebrated, however after Mr Trevor’s death and various owners passing through the site, the garden was neglected and impenetrable for many years. It was only from 1980 onwards that a community group started the project of restoration of the forgotten garden. Today the garden is back to its former glory, and it is a gem in the middle of Norwich. It is certainly worth a visit even though your dog will not be allowed inside.
I enjoyed visiting this beautiful garden, but I was conscious of the husband and the dog waiting for me outside. After a quick exit we all went back to the car and drove back home.
We had the most enjoyable day out and it is perfectly possible to do the same from London or somewhere else by train if you have no access to a car during your trip.
What to see and do in Norwich in a day:
1 – Walk on the Riverbank
2 – See the Pull’s Ferry building
3 – See the Cow Tower
4 – Visit Norwich Cathedral
5 – Walk on the medieval town centre via Pigg Lane, Quayside and Elm Hill
6 – Visit Norwich Castle
7 – Visit the Royal Arcade
8 – Visit the market
9 – Eat at “Brick Pizza”
10 – Visit the Plantation Garden