Settee of Stories: A sit down with Clive Harvey

Norwich. A city of mavericks and makers, creators and trail blazers. A big-hearted city beneath even bigger skies, and open air, open minds. In Norwich, everyone has a story to tell. And we’ll be sure to tell it. Every month, we’ll be sitting down with local writers, designers, makers, artists and influencers to discuss life in Norwich. This week we sat down with Clive Harvey, owner of Gothic House B&B in Norwich.

Clive Harvey
Clive was born in Norfolk, in the little village of Salle. Aged 18 he moved to London at the tail-end of the swinging 60s, enjoying a variety of jobs. In many circles, Clive is well known for mixing with the stars, having been kissed by Hollywood screen legend Marlene Dietrich and rubbing shoulders with Beatles legend, Paul McCartney! Clive’s colourful life has seen him work at Liberty London, luxury goods firm Dunhill, and he’s even spent some time in the film industry. A lover of ocean liners, Clive spent many years as the chairman of the Ocean Liner Society, and has published several books and magazine articles on the subject. Today, Clive owns and runs Gothic House B&B, a stunning Grade II-listed Regency house that offers peaceful breaks in the city of Norwich. We sat down with Clive to discuss life in the City of Stories.

How did you get into your chosen career/profession, and why did you decide to pursue this in Norwich?

In 2005 I decided that I’d had enough of living in London. I chose to live in Norwich as I had friends living in Norfolk and it was also in easy reach of London. Apart from buying a house I came here on a whim, nothing more was planned. I had assumed that I’d be able to walk into a Temp Agency and just get a job. I was able to do that in London but not here! So there was job hunting in earnest, but to no avail. So my decision to run a B&B was simply born of desperation, as no one wanted to employ me I would have to employ myself.

Photo: Gothic House, credit Hannah Hutchins

What do you love most about Norwich and why?

Having spent so many years in such a large city as London I like Norwich because it is a manageable size. Living in the centre means that everything is within walking distance. It is a beautiful city and as I am very well-travelled, I feel that I can say that confidently. This part of the city, Magdalen Street, is especially good being rich in history and culturally quite diverse. There is a real sense of community here, more than I have ever felt anywhere that I have lived before. However, it is not just a friendly community here, the city is a very friendly place and has so much to offer.

Photo: Gothic House, credit Hannah Hutchins

Favourite place(s) to eat in Norwich?

Norwich abounds in great restaurants but my favourites are The Dining Rooms at Cinema City, Dhaba at 15 on Magdalen Street and Benedicts on St Benedicts Street.

Favourite place(s) for a coffee/beverage?

Shock, horror!! I never go out for coffee. I am probably the only person in the western world that has never been to Starbucks. ‘Other beverages’ of the alcoholic variety are a different matter altogether. I have two favourite places, the first just being across the yard from my house, The King’s Head, a wonderful, friendly real ale pub. No music, no TV, no gaming machines, just wonderful real ale and very nice people that drink there. My second favourite is the quirky cocktail bar, Arboretum, on St Benedicts St.

What are you most looking forward to doing in Norwich now lockdown is easing? What did you miss most?

I am looking forward to going to the cinema. A friend and I are regulars at Cinema City, we see a film and then have dinner at The Dining Rooms. I am really missing that.

Cinema City

Photo: Cinema City

Any lockdown tips/recommendations for our readers?

During these months I’ve done decorating, cleaning, gardening, writing and many of those jobs that normally get put off, to be done ‘one day.’ It was a bit of a shock to find that the day had come! I have not followed the ‘fad’ for baking and have barely watched TV at all. My TV goes for weeks and sometimes months without being turned on!

And finally, what does ‘Norwich’ mean to you, or can you tell us your favourite memory of the city?

What does Norwich mean to me? Home. I can’t have a favourite memory of the city when I hope there will be many more events ahead yet to enjoy!

Find out more about Gothic House here