Anne-Sophie at UEA

An International Student of Literature in England.

Norwich Museum at the Bridewell

Here’s another cool place I visited in Norwich at the end of my first year, but unfortunately I didn’t have time to write an article about it sooner: Norwich Museum at the Bridewell. Since my visit to Norwich castle (my review is available here), I wanted to learn more about the history of this area. While the castle is more focused on medieval life, this museum is about the history of the city between the 18th century and nowadays.

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The entry fee is reasonable (£5 for adults) but, like for Norwich castle, you can pop in for only £1 an hour before closing! That’s what I did but you’d need to stay for at least two hours to see everything. I visited the ground floor but will need to go again to see what’s on the first floor.

Norwich museum highlights the power and prosperity of the city in the 18th century: it was the second city of England at the time — which I think is quite impressive! The museum therefore investigates the reasons for this incredible development.

The first part of the museum (a large glass showcase) represents religious and political life in Norwich with the type of objects that reflect the medieval heritage and that are on display in the castle.

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The following mythical dragon echoes the much bigger one I saw in Norwich castle. Apparently, they were used for celebrations in the city over 200 hundred years ago.

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These books are very important and reflect an important aspect of the history of Norfolk: Norwich was the first city in England to have a library (St Andrews Hall in 1608). Books could be borrowed from 1716!

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The invention of printing changed the world: this early 19th century press is basically a metal version of the wooden printing press invented by Gutenberg around 1450.

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In the 1560s, the textile industry was in crisis. Therefore, city leaders invited 30 families of Protestant refugees from the “Low Countries” (Holland, Flanders, Belgium and northern France) to settle and share their skills. These people were called “Strangers” and were allowed the religious freedom denied in their homelands. I found this part so interesting!

And do you know why the canary is the mascot of Norwich City Football Club? The Strangers kept canaries and would hang a canary cage next to their loom!

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The textile industry was also predominant from medieval times to the 18th century: more people were employed in making textiles in the Norwich area than in any other industry! “Norwich stuffs” were very popular between 1600 and 1800 and were used for quality clothing and furnishing. Norwich products were in demand across the world.

Some very interesting recipe books were preserved: dye recipes were kept secret and the books were sometimes destroyed after the dyer’s death!

Dyer's recipe book.

Dyer’s recipe book.

Norwich also used to be a centre for trading and shopping: here are some of the items of clothing and objects on display.

This jacket made me laugh a lot but I can easily picture it in a modern fashion show!

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Doggie caps were quite popular. I don’t know when these were made but my grandfather would wear similar caps.

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Items sold in the 20th century! Your grandparents or great grandparents might remember some of these.

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There a lot more the museum so if you ever want to do something different and know more about the city you live in, it’s a pretty cool place! 

See you soon 🙂

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One comment on “Norwich Museum at the Bridewell

  1. Pingback: 10 Things to do in Norwich | Anne-Sophie at UEA

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