Norwich gears up for Heritage Open Days

As some of Norwich's best known and most cherished buildings prepare to throw their doors open to the public, KATE SCOTTER takes a look at some of the highlights of this year's Heritage Open Days.

A re-enactment of a 14th century trial, a sculpture tour and a sneak peek around television studios will all be on offer when the annual event gets under way today.

England's largest and most popular voluntary cultural event, Heritage Open Days (HODs), will run until Sunday, offering free access to events and interesting properties that are usually closed to the public or normally charge for admission.

Favourites once again feature, including tours up the tower of Norwich's Roman Catholic Cathedral, free trips on the city's open-top sightseeing bus and a look at the old skating rink in Bethel Street.

There are also several new events this year, some of which are already fully booked, including a sculpture tour around Norwich, an opportunity to ring the bells in St Peter Mancroft church and a Colman's Mustard talk and tasting in the Forum.

The event is coordinated by Norwich HEART (Heritage, Economic and Regeneration Trust) in partnership with the district councils.

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Michael Loveday, chief executive of HEART, said: 'Some HODs events were fully booked within days, which shows the great appetite for heritage in Norfolk.

'Don't despair if you haven't managed to get tickets for a particular event though; this year's programme is even more varied, reaching further afield and offering a larger number of drop-in events so you should be able to find plenty of alternatives to enjoy.'

Other highlights of the four-day event, which is taking place throughout Norwich, Great Yarmouth, South Norfolk and Thetford, include backstage tours at Norwich Playhouse, Cathedral Quarter walking tours and tours of the St Giles Rooms. There will also be a live mock trial, in period costume, from 1361, immediately followed by a re-enactment of a modern-day trial held in the historic Guildhall courtroom on Saturday and Sunday at 11am and 2pm.

Brenda Arthur, leader of Norwich City Council, said: 'Heritage Open Days are always very successful and attract a lot of people to the city to take an inside look at its fascinating history and amazing buildings. I am looking forward to this event, and expecting it to be just as exciting and popular as ever.

'The city council supports HEART's work, and this chance to see glimpses of Norwich's past, which are rarely open to the public, means we can open up our heritage to everyone in the city.'

Tickets are still available for many of the popular pre-bookable events and these can now be booked in person at Norwich Tourist Information Centre (TIC). Call the TIC on 01603 213999 to check availability or visit

There are also more than 100 things to do and see that don't require any booking – just simply turn up on the day.

Look out for the free events brochure in cultural venues, tourist information centres, libraries, local post offices, cafes and shops across Norfolk. Events are also listed on and you can keep up-to-date by following HEART on Twitter – @NorwichHEART – and on Facebook.

Are you holding an event to celebrate Norwich's heritage? Call reporter Kate Scotter on 01603 772326 or email