Not the best of August weather, but
Ann our guide strode boldly through the drizzle whilst
we all scurried along behind, just about keeping in
touch but seeing parts of the city centre that we had
never seen before. Buildings constructed of square
flints, blue plaques on walls and multi-coloured plaques
in pavements suddenly became strangely interesting.
We stood briefly at the highest point
in the city, and later passed along London Street where,
in the past, goldsmiths had contrived to make Norwich
the second richest city in the land. There are still
jewellers on that street, and a place where you can sell
your spare gold, should you be lucky enough to have any.
Narrow lanes abound, with overhanging buildings, at
least one still thatched, and a remarkable range of
small and unusual shops. With so little traffic able to
penetrate you can easily imagine yourself in the Middle
This walk had a target – The
Guildhall, on the market square. It is much bigger than
you might expect from the outside, round which we were
led by a guide, learning a great deal more about flint
on the way. Inside we crept down into the forbidding
dungeons and then gladly climbed to the upper floors
where we sat grandly in the Sherriff’s and Lord Mayor’s
Courts. On the ground floor was a pleasant café where
we lunched. Two things about the café stick in my
mind: the best ever cherry liqueur chocolates and a very
public entry to the toilet!
After lunch, another slightly damp
walk included a visit to the church of St Peter Mancroft
– an impressive city centre parish church. There are
ambitious plans to alter the bell-tower and to develop
as a bell-ringing education centre. There are no fewer
than twelve bells, and are or will be some “dumb bells”
– an interesting term.
On our final trek we stopped off at
Marble Hall, the astonishing entrance hall of Surrey
House. This is, in fact, the old head office of Norwich
Union (now Aviva) and is quite impossible to describe.
Try “marble” - everywhere, above, below, and on the
stairs and all around. It has to be seen to be
understood. We sat proudly and slightly pompously in the
magnificent Board Room for the last part of our tour,
and then left to walk our final few yards; wondering
quite how the bus station and Marble Hall came to be
such close neighbours.