11 secrets to Norwich’s past hidden in plain sight
PUBLISHED: 09:14 11 January 2020 | UPDATED: 09:54 14 January 2020
Around every corner in Norwich there is a nod to the city’s vibrant history, with statues, carvings and tiles representing the secrets to the past.
1. Stag above the Mango-T
A stag sculpture towers majestically above the Thai restaurant at 8 Orford Hill and it dates back to the 1890s where it was first put up as advertising by gun maker George Jeffries who owned the shop below.
The cement original was taken down in 1973 and then replaced with a fibreglass copy in 1984 by the Blyth-Jex School art department, which was previously located in north Norwich.
Orford Hill was originally known as Swynemarket, due to the pig market moving there from All Saints Green in the late 13th century, it then became Hog Hill and then got its current name in honour of the eccentric 3rd Earl of Orford George Walpole, the grandson of the country's first prime minister Robert Walpole, whose family owned the Houghton Hall Estate in west Norfolk.
2. The Royal Arcade angel
Next time you wander past the Royal Arcade make sure to have your eyes to the heavens and look out for the angel at the entrance nearest Norwich Castle.
The site of the arcade was the home of The Angel Inn from the 15th century until it was sold in 1840 and it regularly hosted unusual entertainment, including a pair of elephants in 1685 and Monsieur du Pain who visited in 1825 and, according to legend, dipped his feet in boiling lead.
It also played its part in civil unrest when Lord Albemarle and TW Cooke, a Norfolk MP, were chased inside by an angry mob and the military were called in to help them leave.
3. Carvings above Jarrold
Jarrold first opened in the south side of London Street in the 1820s selling books and stationery and then moved to its current location in 1840.
As the business grew and expanded its products, they commissioned famous city architect George Skipper, who also designed the Royal Arcade, in 1903 to build a new store.
The intricate carvings on the front of the store are where Skipper's own office used to be, which used to neighbour the store but is now part of it, and they showcase the work of architects and builders.
4. Wooden blocks along the River Wensum
Along Quayside, which joins Fye Bridge with Whitefriars Bridge, there is a row of wooden blocks made to look like packages discarded from barges.
They celebrate the lives of the people that lived and worked there and the businesses that occupied the historic wharf and among the things written on them include a newsagents, a lodging house and a merchant.
The area was the centre of port activity in the city for much of its history, with paintings showing heavy traffic there up until the 19th century.
5. Roundels on the doors at Norwich City Hall
Norwich City Hall was opened by King George VI in 1938 and the building was designed by Charles Holloway James and Stephen Rowland after winning a competition.
A year later in 1939, Britain was at war and Norwich was targeted with bombs which left many building destroyed - fortunately City Hall remained intact and there has been speculation that Hitler admired the building and wanted to use it as Nazi offices after invasion.
The three pairs of bronze front doors were designed by James Woodward and the 18 roundels celebrate local heroes and trades, including bottling wine, piping chocolate and Thomas Kett.
6. Tiles showing where the George Birch Apothecary and Golden Lion Public House were
George Birch was Sheriff of Norwich in 1604 and then became Mayor of Norwich in 1621 and he was a grocer and apothecarist, who formulate and dispense medicines.
The tile is located in London Street, next to Cosmo buffet restaurant, and in nearby St John Maddermarket there is another one marking where the Golden Lion public house was.
The pub first opened in 1867 and shut in 1965 and there is also records of damage by enemy forces in August 1942.
7. The white statue of Amelia Opie
Amelia Opie was an author and poet, whose father was local physician James Alderson and husband portrait painter John Opie, and her most famous novel was Father of Daughter in 1801.
She was born in 1769 and lived in Colegate in her early years and then retired at the junction of Castle Meadow and Opie Street, which is now named after her.
There is a white statue of her above Cafe Gelato and she is in traditional Quaker dress, which she devoted herself too during her life, and it was created in 1956 by sculptor by Z. Leon and designed by J.P. Chaplin.
8. Blue tiles along Westlegate
Norwich's blue brick road, running along Westlegate outside John Lewis, marks where The Great Cockey river once flowed through.
The city is home to a number of lost rivers, including the Muspole, Dalymond and Freshflete, and there is also thought to have been a Little Cockey, rising somewhere near Chapelfield.
These bricks and the plaque were added as part of the multi-million project to pedestrianise and ban traffic from the area, which was completed in 2017.
9. Duke's Palace Bridge
The Duke Street Bridge was built in 1822 by designer Henry Lock, but it was taken down from its original location in 1972 so the roads could be widened.
Thankfully, it was saved by the Norwich Society and reused above the main car park at Castle Mall from 1992 and it has now been painted blue and green.
It was previously at the location of the former Duke's Palace, which occupied the land where St Andrews Car Park now stands, which was first built as a town house in 1547 and then redeveloped into a palace in 1602, with courtyards, a tower and even a bowling alley.
10. Roundel showing the Castle Fee boundary
The Castle Fee was the area around the castle which was not ruled by the Crown or the city authorities and as a result, Norwich laws, taxes and regulations did not apply.
The fee was controlled by the Sheriff, who was a representative of the monarch, and it had its own church, courts and prison.
Residents were known as 'The Men of the Fee' and its boundaries are marked by roundels on the floor in the area, including outside the old Warings store in Cattle Market Street.
11. Silhouette of a man
Between St Andrews Brew House and Amaretto Deli is a silhouette of a man attached to the bricks and its significance is explained in a blue plaque above.
The Dutch and Flemish came to Norwich in the 16th century and influenced the landscape and local languages.
From the Dutch 'plain', the Norwich 'plains' define the squares and open spaces within the city's maze of streets, including St Benedict's Plain and St Andrew's Hall Plain.
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