Elm Hill


If you’ve ever seen a brochure or a travel book about Norwich then chances are very good that you will have already seen Elm Hill.

This cobbled street is the very definition of picturesque, consisting almost exclusively of sixteenth century timber framed buildings that make the whole street a fantastic photo opportunity.

When you visit Elm Hill you may notice that elm trees are conspicuous in their absence. This is because almost all of them fell to Dutch Elm Disease which swept through the area many years ago. The sole hardy survivor is now surrounded by benches outside The Briton’s Arms – a restaurant housed in a fourteenth century building.

You can discover more about historic Elm Hill, and the rest of the city at Visit Norwich.



Photo: Mark Oakden of TourNorfolk.


Thomas Paine is one of Thetford’s most famous children, and was one of the greatest political figures of his day. He was born in 1737, in a building 100 metres from the Ancient House in Thetford. Influenced by his humble origins in a corrupt and violent world he went on to write earth shattering pamphlets and books such as Common Sense, Age of Reason and Rights of Man.

Paine’s influence was internationally significant, too. He stirred up the spirit of Independence in America; he defended the ideals of the French Revolution, and shaped democracy and human rights in Britain.

One of the Founding Fathers of the United States, he authored the two most influential pamphlets at the start of the American Revolution, and he inspired the rebels in 1776 to declare independence from Britain.



The Norwich School of Artists, founded in 1803, was the first provincial art movement in Britain. Artists of the school were inspired by the natural beauty of the Norfolk landscape and owed some influence to the work of landscape painters of the Dutch Golden Age such as Hobbema and Ruisdael.

John Sell Cotman (1782 – 1842) was one of the leading lights of the Norwich School of Artists and in the winter of 1806-1807 the 24 year old artist staged a one-man exhibition at his house in Norwich, displaying over 500 works, the largest collection ever shown by a British artist in a solo show.

A slightly smaller exhibition, temporarily opened at Norwich Castle Museum in September 2015, re-imagined that show, highlighting the methods he used to present himself as an ambitious and varied artist.

Don’t miss other works by Cotman and his fellow Norwich School artists, including John Crome and Joseph Stannard, on permanent display at Norwich Castle Museum and Art Gallery.

Inspired by the Norwich School of Artists? Visit the Norwich Castle Museum.

Why not make a weekend of it? Plan your trip at Visit Norwich.

Photo: Tom Cotman by John Sell Cotman, courtesy of Norfolk Museums Service.

at the end of everything else


Another of the plays on Out There Festival‘s programme in 2015 was At The End of Everything Else, by Make, Mend and Do.

At The End of Everything Else tells the story of Icka, who sets off on an adventure to find her friend Tito, a yellow bird. Icka’s journey will take her over land and sea in this performance containing puppetry, projection, music and sound. In the end, it is the audience who must help Icka save her friend.

This performance formed part of the Collaborative Touring Network, a network of promoters from Great Yarmouth, London, Thanet, Torbay, Gloucester, Darlington and Hull.

For more information about the festival, visit the Out There website.

There’s so much to do in Great Yarmouth, year-round. Find out more at Visit Great Yarmouth.




On 19th September 2015, Les Tambours de la Muerte by French company Transe Express, paraded through Great Yarmouth as part of Out There Festival.

This performance, inspired by the Mexican Day of the Dead, was a visual extravaganza through the streets starting at 8pm in the historic St George’s Park. The grand finale at Sealife Gardens featured a multitude of acrobats around a Chinese pole and fireworks exploding in the night sky.

For more information about the festival, visit Out There.

Great Yarmouth is an extraordinary town, particularly during Out There. Plan a trip with Visit Great Yarmouth.

Photo: Emilie Poiré

return of the wildman


One night of HighTide Festival 2015 saw a truly regional collaboration come together. Celebrated storytellers Wonderful Beast brought their newest work, Return of the Wildman, to Aldeburgh Parish Church as part of the festival. Wildman tells the story of the wild man of Orford in a completely re-imagined way.

A wild figure emerges from the sea and scrambles up the shingle. We’ve seen him only once before … hundreds of years ago. The mythical Wild Man of Orford returns, determined to tell his story, and tales of other mysterious creatures that inhabit the folklore of our coast and beyond.

Featuring sea shanties, music and the voices of local children, actor Martin Bonger delivered a shingle-shifting solo performance as the Wild Man – a man who will revive the wildness within us all.

For more information about the next HighTide Festival, visit the website.

Inspired by the folklore of the East? Visit Suffolk is packed full of stories that reward the curious.

Photo: Wonderful Beast



Each year, Norfolk’s county town hosts Noirwich, a deadly festival of crime writing.

Over four days in September, a collaboration between Dead Good Books (Penguin Random House’s crime community), the University of East Anglia and Writers’ Centre Norwich packs in eight sinister events.

Noirwich Crime Writing Festival celebrates the sharpest noir and crime writing over four days of author events, writing masterclasses and a very bloody brunch, in Norwich, UNESCO City of Literature. In previous years. highlights have included Lee Child, Andy McNab (pictured) and Peter Robinson.

The East has a rich history of crime writing, as explored in our previous 365 post, Crime Queens of the East.

If you think it’d be criminal to miss the festival, take a look at their official website and book tickets here.

Interested in solving one of Norwich’s many mysteries – plan the perfect crime (weekend) at Visit Norwich.




BRENDA was a play that premiered at 2015’s HighTide Festival.

Brenda has made a decision. Robert is trying to stop her. An unusual break up is on the horizon.

Broke and losing hope fast, this story is about Brenda and Robert. The former doesn’t think she’s a person. Robert thinks he knows what it will take to change her mind. He’s ready to try anything.

Made by two of the most exciting theatre makers, E V Crowe (Kin, Hero) and Caitlin McLeod (And I and Silence), BRENDA premiered at HighTide Festival 2015 ahead of transferring to The Yard Theatre, London.

This brave play asked what life could look like free from the everyday challenges of being a person. Brenda’s journey into the unknown is more familiar than we all think.

Find out more about High Tide Festival.

Explore the rest of the region with a trip planned via The Suffolk Coast.


cutting a dash


In September 2015, an exhibition at the UK’s home of the craft examined and celebrated the enduring art of the letter carver.

Cutting a Dash – The Female Line presented a wealth of work by fifteen female letter carvers, whose skills contribute towards ensuring that an ancient art remains vital today. Among the featured lettering artists was wood carver Anna Louise Parker, who carved the name of King Richard III, his dates and a Plantagenet Rose into the lid of the oak coffin used for the reburial of his remains in Leicester Cathedral in March 2015.

Seen together, the collection of work offered a vivid and enlightening picture of the letter carver’s art. It illustrated how letter carvers develop and adapt their traditional skills to create contemporary pieces of work, which function appropriately, conveying particular messages or sentiments while remaining authoritative and appropriate, in an age when the carving of letters into stone might appear to be a craft from another time.

Cutting a Dash ran until 7th November 2015 at the Lettering Arts Centre at Snape Maltings, Suffolk.

Explore the rest of the region’s visual arts, and let The Suffolk Coast be your guide.



Did you know the roots of the Tonic Sol-fa system (Do, Re, Mi, Fa, So, La, Ti, Do) can be found in Norwich?

Sarah Glover who was born in Norwich, and died at Malvern, was the inventor of the Norwich Sol-fa, which was taken up and developed by John Curwen into the Tonic Sol-fa system which is still in use today.

Sarah was born on 13th November 1786, and as the daughter of the Rector of St. Laurence Church she was surrounded by music from an early age. She taught music to local people, and developed the Norwich Sol-fa in order to improve standards of amateur music-making amongst all classes of society.

She felt that the system offered a good start for those not musically literate (Curwen’s visit to her school describes a child barely old enough to stand singing with the class), and excellent for use in schools.

Learn more about Sarah Glover’s fascinating life at Norwich HEART.

Feeling inspired? Visit the places that inspired Sarah, including St. Laurence Church and Stranger’s Hall, and let Visit Norwich be your guide.


Photo: Norfolk Museums Service