If you’re wondering how you’re going to keep the kids entertained over a weekend in Norwich, don’t worry as you don’t have to break the bank. There are plenty of free things to do with your children in and around Norwich from visiting one of the many museums or art galleries to exploring the nearby coast. With 48hrs to spend in the beautiful medieval city of Norwich, we've investigated the historical aspects of Norwich on day one, giving over the other to investigating it's cultural, social history.
So where better to start than a short bus ride (Nos. #25) followed by a short walk through the spring daffodils / snowdrops to the Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts at the impressive University of East Anglia campus to the west of the city centre. Both girls recently punted across the Backs of the Colleges of Cambridge University, but the East Anglia campus swops historic architecture for inspiring new building like the Norman Foster designed 'Sainsbury Centre'
The girls were delighted to find out that the Queen had recently visited the impressive 'Fiji Exhibition' and the contents inside more than match the amazing exterior design. Both girls have loved seeing some of Europe's finest architecture - Santiago de Compostela's Cathedral or Cordoba's Mequito (Spain), Florence's Duomo or Rome's Colosseum (Italy), Mont St Michel or Chateau de Villandry (France) or unique places such as Brussels 'Atomium' or Gustav Eiffel's bridge in Porto...
Art museums often divide opinions for those seeking family visits... Do they inspire or bore young children? I guess it depends on how you approach it beforehand and what practical, interactive efforts each individual museum makes to help. The Sainsbury Centre were great in providing some interesting practical tasks including the opportunity to take a child suitcase with you around the museum. It certainly compares well with Salvador Dali's museum in Spain and Da Vinci's museum in Italy and we'd recommend it to other families considering a visit to Norwich.
The exhibits are well laid out so there's plenty of space to explore at your own pace, whilst numerous comfy seating areas provided an opportunity to sit and discuss each of the exhibits. It really is a world wide collection of figures and artefacts that definitely stimulates debate... We also visited the impressive 'Masters of Japanese Photography' exhibition due to Lottie's increasing interest in travel photography.
But every good family friendly opportunity needs to have somewhere to grab some food quickly and easily. The superb glass fronted cafe is impressive in it's design and also the quality of the food... we'd return again just for those impressive Victoria Sponges!!!
But before long, we were heading back on the bus, past Eaton Park towards the city centre to see the impressive 11th Century Norwich Cathedral with it's stunning Caen Limestone and beautiful Cathedral Close... It was interesting to compare Norwich Cathedral. Especially as we've seen a variety of Cathedrals on our visits to Exeter, Lincoln, York, St Davids, Durham.
It's certainly extremely tall (2nd highest in England at 96m) and is famed for it's links with the Benedictine Order... it's well worth a look but in truth our girls have seen so many we did not fully do it justice. But as we've tried to work our way across Europe deliberately leaving at least one big thing to return to see at destinations where we know we will want to return to in the future... this Cathedral fits neatly into that category for Norwich.
But by mid-afternoon, the girls were ready for food, and where better than at the Grovesnor Fish Bar. Just like our recent trip to Burton Road Chippy in Lincoln, this is no normal fish'n'chip shop.... it's award winning and may well even be in line for future honours in the Visit England Awards for Excellence It's menu is simple, the service snappy and it's got a certain industrial chic feel - we'd certainly return again!!!
Leaving in time to spend 2hrs at the popular 'Museum of Norwich Life' at the Bridewell, it reminded us of the recently visited 'Lincolnshire Life' Museum. We think these type of museums offer the best value as they engage the girls from the very first exhibit due to the running narrative on real people's lives. It just brings it home to the girls how life has changed. This museum is no different with fantastic hands on activities for the girls, clear and interesting information boards and plenty of 'touch'n'feel' opportunities.
The Museum focuses on Norwich Life from the medieval to the modern day, telling the story of the city’s industries and the people who lived and worked there. Both girls were interested to find out more about local company Colman's whose name is dotted around the city' public buildings/hospitals. But they were equally interested in the fact that Start Rite (shoe company) were based in Norwich (perhaps due to the 'design a shoe' & 'try a shoe on' activities!!!)
But in truth, it was the 'reconstructed rooms' that took the girls continued interest - from the 1910's Public House through to the 1960's sitting room... all offering practical opportunities to keep children interested... even if we did perhaps play the 'Shove Ha'penny' too many times!!! It finished 21-22 to the kids!!!
What else is on in Norwich for families?
If you're interested in looking further afield for ideas and running out of ideas, why not check out the variety of others tours, workshops & exhibitions across Norwich.
or if those don't take your fancy, why not check out these?
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