The evocatively-named Tombland has been one of Norwich's best-known thoroughfares since before the Norman Conquest.

But it was not until 2018 that the word began to resonate around the rest of the country and beyond.

That remarkable change was down to author CJ Sansom, whose best-selling book of that year took the name as its title and the city street as its setting.

Sansom, who died at the weekend at the age of 71, used Norwich as the backdrop for his critically-acclaimed historical mystery novel set in Tudor England.

Eastern Daily Press: The Shardlake novel writer, CJ Sansom, has died aged 71

It was the latest in a series of works featuring barrister Matthew Shardlake who, while navigating the religious reforms of Henry VIII, solved crimes and became embroiled in political intrigue.

The character has just been brought to the screen, with a new adaption by Disney, starring The Archers actor Arthur Hughes in the title role and Sean Bean as Thomas Cromwell.

Tombland was the seventh in the series and was set in the summer of 1549, against the backdrop of Kett's Rebellion, which gripped the city.

Shardlake is sent to Norwich by Princess Elizabeth, later Elizabeth I, to investigate the murder of the wife of a distant relative of hers.

When he arrives in Norfolk he discovers the list of potential suspects contains some of the city's most influential men.

Eastern Daily Press: Tombland during the 18th century - after the setting of CJ Sansom's novels

Before writing the novel, Sansom visited Norwich and was given a tour of the Tombland area by Paul Dickson, who works as a guide and historian.

He said the books would remain “a wonderful legacy” of Sansom's. 

“Tombland has done a fantastic job raising the profile of Kett's Rebellion and has brought many people to Norwich for the first time,” he said. 

“I showed CJ Sansom round the Maids Head Hotel and explained its history when he was researching Tombland

Eastern Daily Press: Paul Dickson will lead tours around Cromer

“He was really interested in the historic parts of the hotel, especially the restaurant, which was originally the courtyard of the 15th century Maids Head.  

“When I read Tombland, it was great to see that Mr Sansom had chosen the Maids Head for Matthew Shardlake's Norwich accommodation and that his arrival scene featured him riding into the courtyard.” 

Mr Dickson also hosts two-hour guided walking tours of ‘Shardlake’s Norwich’ in celebration of Tombland. 

The tour visits sites including the ancient Anglo-Scandinavian Market Place, Augustine Steward’s House, Bishopgate – which is Holme Street in the novel – and the Great Hospital, Bishop’s Bridge, Kett’s Height, and the remains of St Michael’s Chapel. 

Eastern Daily Press:

It also includes visits to the medieval Cow Tower and surviving city walls, passing the Adam and Eve pub where Lord Sheffield was taken after he had been mortally wounded during Kett's Rebellion. 

Eastern Daily Press: The Shardlake novel writer, CJ Sansom, has died aged 71 - he set part of his novel Tombland on

Mr Dickson added: “The Shardlake books are CJ Sansom's wonderful legacy. The history is brilliant and you can almost feel and smell Tudor England emanating from the pages.  

“I am sure that new readers will continue to be drawn to his fabulous novels.” 

Sansom was diagnosed with multiple myeloma in 2012. This is a rare cancer affecting bone marrow. He died on April 27.

Eastern Daily Press: The Shardlake novel writer, CJ Sansom, has died aged 71

Eastern Daily Press: The Shardlake novel writer, CJ Sansom, has died aged 71