A Glimpse of Elizabethan Norwich

My novel, The Bridled Tongue, is set partly in Norwich. Although Norwich suffered extensive bombing during World War II, there are numerous areas where Norwich’s history is still plain. In 2016 I visited Norwich and so was able to glimpse the streets and sights that would have been familiar to my 16th century characters. While these photographs are not exactly professional, they still give a good sense of of Elizabethan Norwich.

The Maid’s Head Hotel

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Maids Head

Elm Hill   

Elm Hill



The Guildhall

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Norwich Guildhall

Strangers Hall

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Strangers Hall

Norwich Cathedral

Norwich Cathedral

Norwich Castle


A post on the history of Norwich Castle can be found here.

The Bridled Tongue

England 1586
Alyce Bradley has few choices when her father decides it is time she marry as many refuse to see her as other than the girl she once was—unruly, outspoken and close to her grandmother, a woman suspected of witchcraft.
Thomas Granville, an ambitious privateer, inspires fierce loyalty in those close to him and hatred in those he has crossed. Beyond a large dowry, he is seeking a virtuous and dutiful wife. Neither he nor Alyce expect more from marriage than mutual courtesy and respect.
As the King of Spain launches his great armada and England braces for invasion, Alyce must confront closer dangers from both her own and Thomas’s past, threats that could not only destroy her hopes of love and happiness but her life. And Thomas is powerless to help.

Image of Norwich Cathedral viewed through the Erpingham Gate, via Pixabay

12 thoughts on “A Glimpse of Elizabethan Norwich

    • Thank you Carolyn, the photos do help me imagine I am there in the 16th century.
      The Bridled Tongue is at the stage where I feel it is an absolute mess and I am just looking forward to finishing it. But that seems so far off.


    • It is so wonderful that they have survived. There are moments, too, when you feel that you are walking on the footsteps of those who were there before us. I had that feeling intensely in the crypt of Cantebury Cathedral – that is a place absolutely worth visiting.

      Liked by 1 person

    • That is the Guildhall, the centre of government in Norwich into the 20th century. There was a chapel there as well as the Assize courts for the City of Norwich and a prison on the ground floor. It was a ‘free’ prison as the prisoners were not chained. One of the most horrifying things I have discovered in researching Norwich was that prisoners held in the common cells, including those on remand, were not routinely segregated in to male and female sections until the 19th century. This was the case at the Guildhall prison and at Norwich Castle although places like Newgate, Bridewell and even Bury St Edmunds had separate accommodation for men and women by the end of the 16th century.

      Liked by 2 people

        • The Norfolk Archives say the prison was in the cellars but other sources say the ground floor, though the cellars sound more likely. I imagine conditions were pretty grim no matter where they were. There were no rules about minimum condition so, no doubt, they were packed in, although the prison population would have been relatively small. The population of Norwich was around 16,000 in the 1580s and the Guildhall only dealt with City matters (courts and prison for County matters were at the Castle). Also anyone who could afford it paid bail to stay out of these places. Many didn’t make it to trial though. The prison moved from the Guildhall to an former inn nearby in 1597, but it sounds like conditions were no better – in 1689 there were 13 inquests relating to prisoner deaths, eleven of the thirteen were debtors rather than criminals.
          We visited the dungeons in Norwich castle when we were there and, honestly, I think I would not have made it to trial sane if I had been locked down there.

          Liked by 2 people

          • 13 deaths is a lot. I’m surprised they kept that many people in prison long enough for them to die. I suppose that time in prison was a punishment by then. In the Middle Ages you were only usually imprisoned until someone came to try you. It could be a few days or a few weeks. Your punishment was hanging, or a fine or something similar.


  1. Pingback: The Bridled Tongue – Some Background | Catherine Meyrick

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