From Academic Kids


City of Norwich
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Shown within Norfolk
Status:City (1195)
Government Region:East of England
Administrative County:Norfolk
- Total
Ranked 322nd
39.02 km²
Admin. HQ:Norwich
ONS code:33UG
- Total (2003 est.)
- Density
Ranked 154th
3,165 / km²
Ethnicity:96.8% White
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Arms of Norwich City Council

Arms of the City of Norwich
Gules a Castle triple-towered and domed Argent in base a Lion passant guardant Or.
Leadership:Leader & Cabinet
Executive:Liberal Democrats
MPs:Charles Clarke, Ian Gibson
Post Office and Telephone
Dialling Code:01603

Norwich (pronounced variously "Norritch" or "Norridge") is a city in East Anglia, in Eastern England, the regional administrative centre and county town of Norfolk.

In effect the City expands a long way beyond its actual borough boundary, with large suburban areas on most sides. The Parlimentary seats cross over into adjacent local government districts.




The Romans had their regional capital at Venta Icenorum on the river to the south which is now at modern day Caistor St Edmund. No sign of Roman influence can be seen in Norwich.

Early English/Norman Conquest

Norwich was a construct of the Anglo-Saxons, the Danes and the Normans. The word Norvic appears on coins minted during the reign of King Athelstan (early 10th century AD). The ancient city was already a thriving centre for trade and commerce in East Anglia when Swein Forkbeard the Viking destroyed it in 1004 AD.

At the time of the Norman Conquest the city was one of the largest in England, and it continued to be a major centre for trade, especially wool. The River Wensum was a convenient exporting route to the sea.

The main area of the city south of the Wensum was destroyed by the construction of the Norman castle during the 1070s creation of a "New" or "French" borough.

In 1096 Bishop Losinga, then Bishop of Thetford, began construction of the cathedral, then moved his See there to what became the cathedral church for the Diocese of Norwich.

Middle Ages

By the middle of the 14th century the City Walls, about 2 1/2 miles long had been completed, these along with the river enclosed a large area, larger than that of the City of London.

The wealth generated by the wool trade throughout the Middle Ages resulted in the construction of many fine churches. Norwich still has one of the highest number of medieval churches in Western Europe.

The great immigration of 1567 brought a substantial Walloon community of weavers to Norwich. Norwich has been the home of various dissident minorities, notably the French Huguenot and the Belgian Walloon communities in the 16th and 17th centuries. Primarily through trading connections with mainland Europe, ideas of religious reform and radical politics were introduced to Norwich.

English Civil Wars

The eastern counties were profoundly Parliamentarian in nature and Norwich followed suit, at the cost of some discomfit to the Lord Mayor, a Royalist, and the Bishop (Joseph Hall) a moderate but targeted because of his position.

The Norwich Canary was first introduced into England by Flemish refugees fleeing from Spanish persecution in the 1500s. They brought with them not only advanced working skills in textiles but also their pet canaries, which they began to breed. The canary is the emblem of the city's football team, Norwich City F.C., nicknamed "The Canaries".

Norwich remained a major provincial capital and rated closely after London alongside Bristol.

Norwich's geographical isolation was such that until 1834 when a railway connection was established, it was often quicker to travel to Amsterdam by boat than to London. The railway was brought to Norwich by Morton Peto who also built the line onto Great Yarmouth




Norwich is connected to Peterborough via Kings Lynn by the A47, the (port of) Ipswich by the A140, Cambridge (and the motorway M11 to London) by the A11.


Rail links are to London Liverpool St Station and Peterborough. Norwich formerly had three stations but now the rail terminus is at Thorpe Station.


The river Yare is navigable from the sea at Great Yarmouth all the way to Norwich.

Traveller's comments

In 1507 the poet John Skelton (1460-1529) wrote of two destructive fires in his Lament for the City of Norwich.

All life is brief, and frail all man's estate. City, farewell: I mourn thy cruel fate.

Thomas Fuller in his The Worthies of England described the City in 1662 as -

Either a city in an orchard or an orchard in a city, so equally are houses and trees blended in it, so that the pleasure of the country and the populousness of the city meet here together. Yet in this mixture, the inhabitants participate nothing of the rusticalness of the one, but altogether the urbanity and civility of the other.

Celia Fiennes (1662-1741) visited Norwich in 1698 and described it as

a city walled full round of towers, except on the river side which serves as a wall; they seem the best in repair of any walled city I know.

She also records that held in the City three times a year were-

great which resort a vast concourse of people and wares a full trade.

Norwich being a rich, thriving indusrious place full of weaving, knitting and dyeing.

Daniel Defoe in his Tour of the whole Island of Great Britain (1724) wrote of the City-

the inhabitants being all busy at their manufactures, dwell in their garrets at their looms, in their combing-shops, so they all them, twisting-mills, and other work-houses; almost all the works they are employed in being done within doors.

John Evelyn (1620-1706) Royalist, Traveller and Diarist wrote to Sir Thomas Browne-

I hear Norwich is a place very much addicted to the flowery part.

He visited the City as a courtier to King Charles II in 1671 and described it thus -

The suburbs are large, the prospect sweet, and other amenities, not omitting the flower-garden, which all the Inhabitants excel in of this City, the fabric of stuffs, which affords the Merchants, and brings a vast trade to this populous Town.

George Borrow in his semi-autobiographical novel Lavengro (1851) wrote of Norwich as-

A fine old city, perhaps the most curious specimen at present extant of the genuine old English Town. ..Thre it spreads from north to south, with its venerable hoouses, its numerous gardens, its thrice twelve churches, its mighty mound....There is an old grey castle on top of that mighty mound: and yonder rising three hundred feet above the soil, from amongst those noble forest trees, behold that old Norman master-work, that cloud-enriched cathedral spire ...Now who can wonder that the children of that fine old city are proud, and offer up prayers for her prosperity?

In 1812, Andrew Robertson wrote to the painter Constable-

I arrived here a week ago and find it a place where the arts are very much cultivated....some branches of knowledge, chemistry, botany, etc. are carried to a great length. General literature seems to be persued with an adour which is astonishing when we consider that it does not contain a university, as is merely a manufacturing town.

Famous names associated with City

Throughout its history, Norwich has been associated with radical politics, nonconformist religion, political dissent and liberalism. Between 1790 and 1840, many of the famous names associated with the City flourished. These include:

  • Robert Ket(t) Norwich's very own Robin Hood or Wat Tyler. Kett was a Norfolk landowner from Wymondham who lead the peasant's revolt in 1549 in the name of the common man against the corrupt Norfolk landowners. This eventually lead to the Battle of Dussindale against the King's forces on the 27th August 1549 in which 3000 of Kett's men were killed. He was hanged for Treason at Norwich Castle on the 7th December 1549.
  • William Crotch (1775-1847) Composer, artist and teacher. Norwich's Mozart. He gave daily public organ recitals aged two and a half. Crotch played God Save the King before the King aged three. He had performed at every major town in England and Scotland by the age of seven. Crotch became Organist of Christ Church Oxford and for 50 years he was Oxford's Professor of Music. Unlike Mozart however his precocious musical talents failed to mature.
  • The prison reformer Elizabeth Fry (1780-1845) and leading Quaker was born in Gurney Court in Magdalen Street, and was one of several philanthropists associated with the city (her portrait is currently upon the new Bank of England 5 note).
  • Joseph John Gurney (1788-1847 was a banker and philanthropist who worked with his sister Elizabeth Fry (see above) in prison reform. He was also active in the movement to abolish the slave trade and in the temperance movement.
  • Harriet Martineau (1802-1876) daughter of a Norwich manufacturer of Huguenot descent. She suffered from ill-health and deafness throughout her life. A devout Unitarian, her writings include Illustrations of political economy (1832-1834). Harriet Martineau supported the abolitionist campaign in the United States writing Society in America (1837). She translated writings by Auguste Comte. Her first novel was entitled Deerbrook (1839). A radical in religion she published the anti-theological Laws of Man's Social Nature (1851) and Biographical sketches (1869).
  • Amelia Opie (1769-1853), Norwich author and Quaker. Opie wrote The dangers of Coquetry when aged 18 and married John Opie in 1798. Her novel Father and Daughter (1803) is about misled virtue and family reconciliation. Encouraged by Mary Wollstonecraft she wrote Adeline Mowbray (1804) an exploration of relationship between mother and daughter. Adeline Mowbray discusses in an un-self-conscious and frank manner and delivers the moral that the desires of women as much as men can override their families' wishes and thus jeopardise their future. Most of Amelia Opie's life was divided between London and Norwich. She was a friend of Sir Walter Scott, Richard Brinsley Sheridan and Madame de Stael. In 1825 she drastically changed her life as a socialite, party-goer, and attendant at literary soirees, to become a Quaker. Late in her life she received George Borrow as a guest. After a visit to Cromer, a seaside resort on the North Norfolk coast, she caught a chill, retired to her bedroom and died a year later.
  • George Skipper (1856-1948), architect. Examples of George Skipper's Edwardian Art-Deco style architecture can be seen throughout the city. The splendid 'Royal Arcade', the Norwich Union Marble Banqueting Hall and the 'Hotel de Paris' at the seaside resort of Cromer are each fine examples of the so-called Gaudi of Norwich.
  • Alan Partridge, fictional radio DJ played by comedian Steve Coogan. Despite being a fictional character, Partridge is arguably the most famous Norwich resident of recent years. Partridge has a huge chip on his shoulder about the pedestrianisation of the city centre.
  • Delia Smith, majority shareholder of Norwich City Football Club (note: she was born in Surrey and lives in Suffolk). The infamous cook who taught us all how to boil eggs to perfection and make toast that isn't "sweaty" (i.e. place it in a toast rack - don't lie it down) has been a favourite of the city ever since she arrived; helping save the club from going into administration.


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Norwich City skyline

The University of East Anglia on the outskirts of Norwich was one of the New Universities founded in 1963, following the Robbins Report. UEA adopted the city's motto of independence Do different. The university campus houses the Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts. Norwich International Airport is a feeder to KLM's Schipol hub. Apart from that smaller national airlines fly to UK destinations and there is a strong holiday charter flight business. The airport was originally the RAF airfield at Horsham St Faith. This was once the home of Air UK, which grew out of Air Anglia and was then absorbed by the Dutch airline KLM.

Satirical comedian Steve Coogan located his fictional, unbearably vain, cheesy broadcaster 'Alan Partridge' in Norfolk, specifically hosting the pre-breakfast show on the fictional independent station 'Radio Norwich'. It exploited the county's reputation as being somewhat detached from modern trends, past its prime, and rather peripheral to national life.

Other comic entertainers who have drawn comedy from that stereotype include Allan Smethurst 'The Singing Postman' and The Kipper Family lately represented by 'son' Sid Kipper, though these are associated with Norfolk in general and not just the City.

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Norwich City Hall
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Norwich Market

Each year the Norfolk and Norwich Festival celebrates the arts, drawing many visitors into the city from all over the eastern England.

The city's economy, originally chiefly industrial with shoemaking a large sector, has changed throughout the eighties and nineties to a service-based economy. Norwich Union, now Aviva, still dominates these, but has been joined by other insurance and financial services companies. Recent developments include the first of the controversial PFI hospitals, the new Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital on the city's periphery at Colney, the 'Forum' which replaced the old Norwich Central Library building which burned down in 1994, and is now the home of the Millennium Library and the regional BBC broadcasting office.

New developments on the former Boulton and Paul site include the Riverside entertainment complex with nightclubs and other venues featuring the usual national leisure brands. Nearby the football stadium is being upgraded with more residential property development alongside the river Wensum. A new shopping mall is being built on the Chapelfield site where the 'Caleys' (later Rowntree Mackintosh and Nestle) chocolate factory once stood. Due for completion in September 2005, this is being described as a major new shopping experience and will feature a new four-floor flagship House of Fraser department store.

Archant is a publishing group that has grown out of the city's local newspaper, the Norwich Evening News and the regional Eastern Daily Press (EDP). Independent radio stations are Broadland 102 and Classic Gold Amber. BBC Radio Norfolk and the University of East Anglia's Livewire 1350 all broadcast to the city.

Norwich has long been associated with the manufacture of mustard. Colman's was founded in 1814 and continues to operate from its factory at Carrow.

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Norwich is occasionally portrayed by the media as a city out-of-step with national trends (see Alan Partridge); This is primarily due to its geographic isolation which has contributed greatly to its 'unspoilt' and insular character. There has always been a general tolerance of "incomers" by the 'native' population of Norwich and Norfolk, though becoming a "local" is still reckoned to take decades. There are good rail links from Norwich railway station to Peterborough and London, and direct services to Cambridge were added in 2004. It is considered to have a wealth of historical architecture.

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The Forum, housing (among other things) the Millennium Library

Recent attempts to shed the backwater image of Norwich and market it as a popular tourist destination, as well as a centre for science, commerce, culture and the arts, have included the refurbishment of the Castle Museum and the opening of the magnificent 'Forum' which, apart from housing the Norwich and Norfolk Central Library, provides an new venue for exhibitions, concerts and events although the city still lacks a dedicated concert venue. The proposed new slogan for Norwich, England's Other City, has been the subject of much discussion and controversy - and it remains to be seen whether it will be finally adopted.

Twinned Cities

The city is twinned with Rouen, France, Koblenz, Germany, Novi Sad, Serbia & El Viejo, Nicaragua.

External links

Districts of England - East of England Flag of England

Babergh | Basildon | Bedford | Braintree | Breckland | Brentwood | Broadland | Broxbourne | Cambridge | Castle Point | Chelmsford | Colchester | Dacorum | East Cambridgeshire | East Hertfordshire | Epping Forest | Fenland | Forest Heath | Great Yarmouth | Harlow | Hertsmere | Huntingdonshire | Ipswich | King's Lynn and West Norfolk | Luton | Maldon | Mid Bedfordshire | Mid Suffolk | North Hertfordshire | North Norfolk | Norwich | Peterborough | Rochford | St Albans | St Edmundsbury | South Bedfordshire | South Cambridgeshire | Southend-on-Sea | South Norfolk | Stevenage | Suffolk Coastal | Tendring | Three Rivers | Thurrock | Uttlesford | Watford | Waveney | Welwyn Hatfield

Administrative counties with multiple districts: Bedfordshire - Cambridgeshire - Essex - Hertfordshire - Norfolk - Suffolk


no:Norwich sv:Norwich


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