Norwich's big Tudor day out

13 September 2019

Norwich’s big Tudor day out

Originally published 2018

Norwich is going to be on telly.

On Saturday the 28th of April, at 8pm, Channel 4 will be screening the ‘Tudor Norwich’ episode of Britain’s most historic towns. Featured will be some of the city’s most recognisable landmarks such as Elm Hill, Mousehold Heath and Norwich’s magnificent Romanesque Cathedral.

Norwich is famously a historic city, beginning life as a Saxon settlement, and from the Middle Ages until the industrial revolution was the second largest city in the UK. During the Tudor times, the city had a flourishing wool and textile trade, which flourished further following the arrival of The Strangers from Northern Europe – a group of people who changed the fabric of the city forever.

The legacy of Tudor Norwich can still be found around (almost) every corner here, for those who know where to look…

Elm Hill

Britons Arms

Photo: Britons Arms

Elm Hill is one of the best preserved Tudor Streets in England, and can be found in a quiet part of the city beside the river and the Cathedral. During the 15th and 16th century, it was home to some of Norwich’s wealthiest merchants, as the river was an important thoroughfare into the city. However, in 1507 a major fire here destroyed almost everything – in fact, the street is said to be haunted with the ghost of a man who managed to save his family as the fire spread, but sadly died himself. What followed was the rebuilding of the street, but this time the houses were sturdier and with fire-proof roofs. As a result, the Tudor Street withstood the test of time, and its beauty can still be enjoyed today.

The Britons Arms

The Briton’s Arms is one of the oldest buildings in Norwich – one of the only buildings to survive the Elm Hill fire in 1507, and now one of 5 buildings in Norwich with a thatched roof. You might even recognise it from a cameo in the film ‘Stardust’; it was transformed into Stormhold’s hostelry, The Slaughtered Prince. In its life off-screen, it is a cosy coffee house run by two sisters, with seating tucked in every corner, a secluded garden and some of the best cake you can get your hands on in this city. It really is a hidden gem.


Photo: Mousehold Heath

Mousehold Heath

During 1549, Mousehold Heath was the backdrop of a fierce rebellion. Tensions between groups of peasants and wealthy landowners around Norwich was at an all time high. Gradually the number of peasant rebels grew, and eventually became a 16,000 strong army led by one of the (sympathetic) landowners – Robert Kett. The army made camp at Mousehold Heath, which is a grassy hill high above Norwich, and from there formed a governing council and planned their acts of political rebellion. That summer the rebels repeatedly met the king’s men in battle, and eventually – after many lives had been lost – were defeated, and Kett and his brother were executed. Kett’s rebellion has been described as one of the “worst crises of the 16th century”. Nowadays, Mousehold Heath is a perfect place for a walk in the woods, with spectacular views across the city, and the wonderful Britannia Café.

In the Pub

The Lollards Pit Pub is currently a charming establishment, but has a rather gristly history…
During the reign of Queen Mary, over 50 people were burned to death at the chalk pit on the site of this pub, which is so named after the religious group who were persecuted here: The Lollards. Now, the pub – situated by Norwich’s river Wensum – is a great local establishment (with a pool table), and attracts “gatherings, ghost hunters, historians, bingo players, pub quiz fanatics and ale enthusiasts” alike.

In the Theatre

Finally, Henry’s VIII’s six wives have decided to put their differences aside and write a musical.

Well, sort of.

Fresh from a handful of sold-out previews in London’s theatre-land, SIX premieres at Norwich Playhouse on July 11-15. The six remarkable stories of Henry’s wives are revealed as a Beyonce meets Little Mix style pop concert joining contemporary music and sassy lyrics to a historical narrative. With songs including Ex Wives, Haus of Holbein and Don’t Lose Ur Head, this pop concert remixes five hundred years of historical heartbreak into 75 minutes of 21st century sass.  Book your tickets here – we think this looks AMAZING.