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Unlocking History: Norwich Castle - The Ultimate Day Out

Let's take a trip back in time and explore Norwich Castle, the huge medieval fortress situated right in the middle of Norwich city centre. Built after the Norman Conquest, it has a rich history, serving as a royal fortification and later as a prison. In 1894, it was transformed into the Norwich Museum, housing a fascinating collection of regional and national treasures and is an essential visit while on a trip to Norwich. Come along as we delve into the story…

Norwich Castle after the addition of the stone keep


Norwich Castle, was built by William the Conqueror between 1066 and 1075, starting as a simple motte and bailey structure, with the stone keep was added between 1094 and 1121. The castle played a crucial role in the Revolt of the Earls in 1075, during the violence of 1190, and afterwards, in Robert Kett's rebellion, a revolt ended with Robert Kett's hanging at Norwich Castle in 1549. Kett, and the Peasants Revolt is commemorated in the castle, reminding visitors of the leader's courage and sacrifice.

After 'decommissioning' as a Royal fortress, the castle acted as a prison for much of the 19th Century, with famously poor conditions. The castle's prison era ended in 1887 with the opening of HMP Norwich and in 1894, Norwich Castle was transformed into a museum, with the keep, galleries and dungeons open to the public.

The Castle Today

The castle has, for many years, been a fascinating visit, housing archeologically important treasures, such as the Happisburgh hand axe, a half million year old flint axe, found on the Norfolk coast, and thousands of Anglo-Saxon and and Roman artefacts.

The Happisburgh Hand Axe

The castle keep and dungeons are second to none, and the museum does an excellent job of balancing the ancient with the more modern (and gruesome) history of the castle as a prison.

Currently, the castle is undergoing a multi-million pound renovation, due to finish in Summer 2024. The project’s big focus will see the iconic Norman Keep restored to how it looked in the 12th century, and completely opened up to the public. Once the project is complete, visitors will step into the castle and get a feel for how it was when first built as a royal palace, like in the 1120s during Henry The First’s visit.

The upcoming changes include a new glass bridge and lifts, making all castle floors, including the battlements, accessible for the first time. The entrance will be revamped, offering a clear view of the castle's walls that were hidden for years.

Moreover, new facilities like toilets, including an accessible Changing Places toilet, will be available. The project also involves adding a new shop, restaurant, and spaces for learning. These enhancements aim to make the Norwich Castle experience more enjoyable and accessible for everyone.

Whether you live nearby or you're visiting from a distant place, make sure to visit Norwich Castle. It's a unique opportunity to step into the past and present, experiencing the incredible history within these ancient walls. Don't let this chance pass you by!

You can learn more about the castle, including opening times and admission here:

And about the renovations here:

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