Short Breaks: 48 Hours in Norwich ; A Church for Every Week of the Year and a Pub for Every Day. This Norfolk City Has a Rich Medieval History, One of the Finest Cathedrals in England, Its Own Distinctive Artistic Movement - and Plenty of Watering Holes to Try, Says CHARLIE FURNISS
Furniss, Charlie, The Independent (London, England)
WHY GO NOW?
This year, to commemorate the Queen's Jubilee, the annual Lord Mayor's celebrations promise to be better than ever. From 10 to 14 July, there will be street theatre, free concerts and fun fairs. It all culminates on Saturday night, with a carnival procession and a spectacular firework display over the castle. For further information call 01603 212136, or visit www.norwich.gov.uk.
Anglia Railways (08700 409090: www.angliarailways.co.uk) operates a fast service from London Liverpool St that takes an hour and 40 minutes. If you book a week ahead you can get an Apex fare for pounds 20. From the Midlands or further north you will have to travel with Central Trains (08700 006060; www.centraltrains.co.uk) via Peterborough. Return fares from Birmingham start from pounds 33. Norwich Station (1) is on the edge of the city centre, and you can walk there in 10-15 minutes.
GET YOUR BEARINGS
Norwich grew out of several Saxon settlements, and was one of the most important towns in England when the Normans invaded in 1066. Today, their legacy can be seen in some of the city's most impressive structures. The castle stands on a mound at its heart, with the cathedral to the north- east. There is no high street as such, but there is a pedestrianised area between Rampant Horse Street and St Andrew's Street. The Tourist Information Centre (2) is in The Forum, Millenium Plain (01603 666071; www.norwich.gov.uk).
A quiet hotel within easy reach of the city centre is The Beeches (3), 2-6 Earlham Road (01603 621167; www.beeches.co.uk). You can stay in one of its three Victorian houses and take advantage of the free entry into the glorious Plantation Garden next door. Doubles start at pounds 82 for B&B or pounds 108 for half-board. Set in cosy, 15th-century merchants' houses full of antiques, By Appointment (4), 25-29 St George's Street (01603 630730), is a luxurious alternative in the city centre. Doubles start at pounds 95. There are plenty of cheap-and-cheerful B&Bs on Earlham Road; the Earlham Guest House (5), 127 Earlham Road (01603 454169), has doubles from pounds 44.
TAKE A HIKE
A path follows the River Wensum from St Crispin's Road to Carrow Bridge. To walk its length takes about an hour. A better option is to do a section starting from St George's St and then spend time wandering round the beautiful Cathedral Close. At the back of the cathedral you pass the Cow Tower (6) - a 14th-century artillery tower - and Bishop Bridge (7), before arriving at Pull's Ferry (8), a 15th-century water gate, which stands over the entrance to a canal. Here, turn right and walk up to the Lower Close, and from there turn right down Hook Walk. You will come out on to Bishopgate, where a left turn will take you back to the close via the back gate.
ICING ON THE CAKE
Although the cathedral dominates Norwich, the city also has a magnificent collection of medieval churches. With 32 within the boundaries of the city walls alone, it claims to have more than London, York and Bristol put together. Although few remain in active service it is still possible to visit most of them. The most impressive is St Peter Mancroft (27), which overlooks the marketplace and was founded for the Norman colony. Re-built in 1430 it has superb flushwork and a fantastic hammerbeam roof. Also worth a look is the 13th-century marble font and ornate tester inside St George Tombland (28) and the memorial brasses at St John Maddermarket (29).
Norwich has a rich cultural heritage and is one of nine cities in the UK bidding to be the European Capital of Culture 2008. In the early 19th century a group of local artists developed a distinctive style of painting that became known as the Norwich School. Influenced by the Dutch landscape artists, their pictures are more realistic than classic British landscapes. …