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Norwich History, United Kingdom

Norwich is the capital of Norfolk County and an important tourist destination, thanks to the natural beauty of the surrounding area, but also due to its numerous restaurants, nightclubs and shopping centers. Many visitors come to the city solely with the purpose of shopping, given that Norwich is today one of the UK’s most important shopping destinations, but there are many cultural and historical attractions in the city that are worth visiting. This Norwich History Guide offers a short review of the major historical events that shaped this charming city.

Norwich History Guide - Foundation and Early History

During the Roman occupation of Britain, several settlements were founded around the site of modern day Norwich, but they fell into disuse after the Romans retreated from the Isles. The Anglo-Saxons founded the village of Northwic in the 7th century, and this settlement later became known under the name of Norwich. Shortly after its foundation, Norwich became an important trading centre. In the 10th century, the town already had its own mint and produced its own coins. When the Normans conquered England, Norwich was a flourishing town, and according to the Doomsday Book, it was the largest town in the Isles, richer than London. Norwich Castle, one of the city’s tourist attractions, was built during this period, as well as the Market Place which still survives and it’s being used today.

Norwich History Guide - Middle Ages to Victorian Era

In the Middle Ages, wool was England’s main export, and much of it was produced in Norwich. The wool trade improved the economic standing of the town even further, and Norwich was known to trade with many important European cities. The first known case of blood libel against the Jews in England happened in Norwich, when the Jews were accused of murdering a young boy, William of Norwich, who was later canonized. In the 16th century, the town received a large influx of immigrants from the Netherlands, and they helped strengthen the trading ties with Europe. The immigrants also brought new wool weaving techniques, and Norwich became the chief textile manufacturing town in England. Despite its commercial importance, Norwich was very isolated from the rest of the country until the 19th century when the railway was introduced. Until then, it took less time to travel by boat to Amsterdam than to London.

Norwich History Guide - 20th Century

In the 20th century, the city’s economy decreased a bit, but it still remains a major manufacturing centre. Bombings during World War II destroyed a large part of the old city centre and many priceless Victorian buildings, but the city has completely recovered since then. The University of East Anglia was built in the 1960’s and its creative writing department achieved international fame and it is currently on the same notch as the departments of Cambridge or Oxford.

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