A Glimpse of Elizabethan Norwich

I am currently revising my next novel, The Bridled Tongue, which 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 20160904_102138 (2)
Maids Head

Elm Hill    Elm Hill

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20160904_103126

The Guildhall
20160904_104812 (2)

Norwich Guildhall

Strangers Hall20160904_155625 (2)
20160904_154320 (2)        Strangers Hall 2.jpg          Strangers Hall
Norwich Cathedral
Norwich Cathedral

Norwich Castle
norwich-castle-1818317_1920

The Bridled Tongue
Life has taught Alys Bradley not to expect what others take for granted: love, family, status. When she returns to her parents’ house after twelve years absence,  her father,  a wealthy Norwich mercer, decides that it is high time she married. Under pressure from her family, Alys is forced to choose between her father’s former apprentice, Robert Blunt, and Thomas Granville, a privateer fifteen years her senior. Both men seem more interested in the benefits that will come from marriage to Alys than the woman herself.
With England facing the threat of immanent Spanish invasion, Alys makes her choice and is forced to confront both her own and her husband’s past.
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The Bridled Tongue is in the revision stage and I hope to publish it around the middle of 2019.

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

9 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.

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    • 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.

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    • 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.

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        • 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.

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          • 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.

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