‘Norwich – a fine city’ proclaimed the welcome signs as we arrived in the East Anglian capital.
And it’s a title the city can proudly claim with its striking Norman castle and stunning 900-year-old cathedral, along with a maze of medieval streets, thriving shops and a bustling market square.
With over 1,000 years of heritage, Norwich has earned the status of the most complete medieval city in Britain along with 1,500 historic buildings within its ancient walls.
We were enjoying a three-day break in the city, staying at the Sprowston Manor Marriott Hotel and Country Club – a 16th-century manor complete with its own golf course.
The hotel, situated on the edge of Norwich, offers four-star accomodation, a pool and spa facilities and a restaurant and bar.
For my young family, the biggest attraction was the chance to enjoy a splash in the pool every morning before their full English or continental breakfast and then again in the evening before our visit back to the hotel’s restaurant to sample the exquisite evening menu.
For the golfing enthusiasts, the hotel boasts its own 18-hole championship course complete with pro shop and a coaching academy.
Just down the road is one of Norwich’s park-and-ride facilities which we made use of to travel into the city centre. With a bus every 15 minutes, we were soon on our way to discover what the city had to offer.
First stop was the Norman keep – home to Norwich Castle Museum and Art Gallery – where we discovered the story of the site from its days as a royal palace and then life as a prison.
The keep is full of information and exhibits aimed at both adults and younger visitors and a guided tour – free with our entry ticket – which took us round the building explaining life in the 12th century.
The adjacent museum houses collections of art, archaeology and natural history along with seasonal exhibitions. One of the highlights for our four-year-old son was the Viking’s Guide to Deadly Dragons exhibition, inspired by Cressida Cowell’s best-selling books, which gave him the chance to dress up and experience life as a dragon-trainer.
Making our way from the castle we explored some of the shopping streets, arcades and bustling market, passing Jamie Oliver’s restaurant and Coleman’s mustard shop and museum along with Jarrolds family-run department store.
Our next stop was Norwich’s Norman Cathedral – one of the largest and best preserved places of worship in England. As well as being able to explore the vast building and take time to contemplate its 900-year history of prayer and worship there were also exhibitions and the opportunity to enjoy refreshments in the refectory.
Norwich is also home to many more attractions including the Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts, the Strangers’ Hall – one of Norwich’s oldest and most fascinating buildings – and the Plantation Garden – a Grade II English Heritage-registered garden.
And if you want to explore further afield, the city is perfectly situated as a base from which to visit the Norfolk broads and coastline or the county’s other inland attractions.
Norwich, a fine city? Absolutely – and a fine county full of heritage and natural beauty with plenty for the modern-day traveller to explore.