RSA Heritage Index: Norwich and Norfolk

Norwich Castle © David Gill

The 2020 RSA Heritage Index is now available and Norwich is ranked as number 3 as a centre for heritage in England (up from number 9 in 2016). The city’s particular strengths are in Historic Built Environment (3rd up from 4th), Museums, Archives and Artefacts (7th up from 12th), and Culture and Memories (2nd down from 1st). There has also been a marked improvement for Parks and Open Space (28th up from 40th).

Norfolk as a county featured prominently. North Norfolk came 25th (up from 36 in 2016). Its main strengths included Historic Built Environment (33rd up from 71st), Landscape and Natural Heritage (22nd up from 27th), and Culture and Memories (75th up from 86th). There were also improvements in Museums, Archives and Artefacts (135th up from 141st) and Parks and Open Spaces (131st up from 137th).

Great Yarmouth did particularly well moving from 64th in 2016 to 38th. Its particular strengths were Industrial Heritage (22nd up from 40th), Parks and Open Spaces (56th up from 115th), and Historic Built Environment (85th up from 159th).

Kings Lynn and West Norfolk was ranked 54th (with a rise in Historic Built Environment, 39th), Breckland at 150th (with a rise in Historic Built Environment, 41st, and Museums, Archives and Artefacts, 117th), Broadland at 190th (with a strength in Landscape and Natural Heritage, 123rd), and South Norfolk at 219th (with a strength in Historic Built Environment, 63rd).

Across the region, Cambridge also featured in the top 10 at number 9 (up from 12th). Maldon moved from 40th to 37th (with moves in Historic Built Environment, 48th, and Museums, Archives and Artefacts, 125th), while Colchester remained unchanged at 140th (though with a move to 80th for Historic Built Environment). Ipswich fell from 70th in 2016 to 87th. East Suffolk was placed at 98th, and West Suffolk at 122nd.

Heritage for Inclusive Growth

2020

The RSA has published its report, ‘Heritage for Inclusive Growth‘ (2020). It includes a number of case studies:

  • New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP)
  • Dundee, Scotland
  • Mid and East Antrim Museum and Heritage Service
  • St Fagans National Museum of History
  • Don’t Settle
  • Welsh Streets
  • Growth Lancashire
  • Margate Townscape Heritage Initiatives

Heritage tourism: East Anglia

Ickworth © David Gill

The top seven paid heritage visitor attractions in East Anglia (Norfolk and Suffolk) account for 1.1 million visitors a year (2018). Four are properties managed by the National Trust: Ickworth, Blickling Hall, Felbrigg Hall, and Oxburgh Hall. Framlingham Castle is managed by English Heritage.

Norwich Castle Museum and Art Gallery © David Gill

There is a single museum, the Norwich Castle Museum and Art Gallery.

Sheringham Station, the Poppy Line © David Gill

The Poppy Line (North Norfolk Railway) is also in the top seven.

Chart © David Gill

East Anglia’s Heritage and Recovery

Norwich Cathedral, Binham Priory, Framlingham Castle, Castle Rising, Ickworth © David Gill

The rich range of heritage in East Anglia contributes to the visitor economy. In ‘normal’ times Ickworth is one of the National Trust’s most visited properties (with over a quarter of a million visitors in 2018). Norwich cathedral and castle are key attractions for anyone visiting the city.

But 2020 is not going to be a ‘normal’ year.

What sort of sites will attract visitors as the heritage sector starts to re-open? Will they be the out of the way locations like Binham Priory? Or the parkland surrounding Ickworth? What about the landscape surrounding the prehistoric mines at Grimes Graves?

This Thursday, 18 June 2020, Tech East and Norfolk County Council, in partnership with the New Anglia LEP and Norfolk Chambers of Commerce, will be holding Tourism + Tech, a ½ day conference aimed at helping tourism businesses recover and grow. One of the key questions to be asked is how can digital help to grow and transform visitor economy businesses?

Key speakers include Pete Waters, Executive Director of Visit East of England, James Kindred of Big Drop Brewing Co., and Jason Middleton, Programmes Manager at New Anglia LEP.

10 key heritage sites in Suffolk

10 key heritage sites in Norfolk

Top 10 Heritage Sites for Norfolk

Grimes Graves
Galleries at the bottom of Pit 1 at Grimes Graves (2015) © David Gill

I have been thinking about my Top 10 heritage sites in Norfolk. This is very much a personal choice, and the locations are placed in (rough) chronological order. I have tried to include a variety of types of heritage site. How can you decide between Norwich Cathedral and Norwich Castle? Or between Felbrigg and Blickling? Castle Rising and Castle Acre?

Grime’s Graves. You can descend into the Neolithic flint mines.

Burgh Castle
The Roman fort at Burgh Castle © David Gill

Burgh Castle. One of the best preserved Roman forts of the Saxon Shore.

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Norwich Cathedral © David Gill

Norwich Cathedral. The cathedral is an architectural gem and dominates the city.

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Binham Priory © David Gill

Binham Priory. Part of the Benedictine priory is still in use as the parish church.

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Castle Rising © David Gill

Castle Rising. This well-preserved keep is dominated by a series of earthworks.

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Oxburgh Hall © David Gill

Oxburgh Hall. The moated hall at Oxburgh contains fabulous tapestries.

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Felbrigg Hall © David Gill

Felbrigg Hall. The 17th century front to the house is a gem.

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Holkham Hall © David Gill

Holkham Hall. One of the most magnificent houses and Grand Tour collections in Norfolk.

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North Norfolk Railway, Sheringham Station © David Gill

The North Norfolk Railway (The Poppy Line). The journey between Sheringham and Holt provides views of the coast as well as the Norfolk countryside.

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Sandringham © David Gill

Sandringham. The Royal residence sits in the middle of extensive landscaped grounds.

Norwich as a centre for heritage

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Norwich Cathedral © David Gill

The RSA Heritage Index (published in 2016) has ranked the heritage assets for different local authorities in England. Norwich is the only locality in the eastern counties to feature in the Top 10: it is placed at number 9. It is ranked first in England for ‘Cultures and Memories’, fourth for ‘Historic Built Environment’, and 12th for ‘Museums, Archives and Artefacts’.

North Norfolk, and Kings Lynn and West Norfolk are placed 36th and 48th respectively.

Outside Norfolk, Cambridge is placed at number 12, and three parts of Essex are in the top 50: Southend-on-Sea (22), Maldon (40), and Castle Point (41).

See ‘Where in the UK has the most heritage?

Castle Rising: signage

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Castle Rising © David Gill

Castle Rising was placed in State Guardianship in 1958. There is a single Ministry directional sign left in the village.

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Castle Rising © David Gill

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Castle Rising © David Gill

Binham Priory: church

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Binham Priory from the west © David Gill

The nave of the priory church at Binham remains in use.

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Binham Priory, nave © David Gill

Parts of the south aisle lie outside the present parish church.

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Binham Priory, south aisle and northern part of cloister © David Gill

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Binham Priory © David Gill

The choir and presbytery lie to the east of the present parish church and are now in a ruinous state.

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Binham Priory © David Gill

The north and south transepts are clearly marked.

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Binham Priory, south transept © David Gill

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Binham Priory © David Gill

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Binham Priory © David Gill

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Binham Priory, night stairs in south transept © David Gill

The night stairs are located in the south transept. These led to the dorter.

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Binham Priory © David Gill

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Binham Priory © David Gill

The foundations of the late 11th century building are marked out in the north aisle.

The Lady Chapel may have been located on the north side.

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Binham Priory © David Gill

Grimes Graves: DOE Guide

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1984

I have noted before the Young People’s Guide to Grime’s Graves by Barbara Green (MPBW, 1964). This was adapted in 1984 by the Department of the Environment with a rather striking cover (designed by William Brouard). Note that Grime’s Graves has now become Grimes Graves, and the young people’s guide has been dropped.

Additions include a map inside the front cover along with a revised version of ‘how to get there’. The Alan Sorrell reconstructions have also been dropped. The plan of Pit no. 1 has been re-orientated so that north is at the top. The general plan of the site shows that the custodian’s hut was moved from the site of the car-park to a point closer to Pit 1.

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Caistor St Edmund: inscription

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Inscription from Caistor St Edmund, Norwich Castle © David Gill

In 1931 Donald Atkinson discovered a fragmentary Latin inscription cut on a piece of limestone (Collingwood, R. G., and M. V. Taylor. “Roman Britain in 1931.” The Journal of Roman Studies, 22, 1932, p. 226. JSTOR). It was found at a depth of 1 foot and 6 inches [c. 45 cm] ‘beside the road flanking the east side of the forum’. Atkinson suggested that it could be linked to the construction or refurbishment of the forum.

The inscription may have read, ADAT / SVPE (RIB 214). It can be seen in Norwich Castle Museum.