After devouring some cake and coffee at No. 33 Cafe, my friend and I had about an hour to waste before heading to the cinema (we saw Gravity and Sandra Bullock was amazing). While heading up Bridewell Alley our attention was captured by the large panoramic mosaic of Norwich, made up of thousands of local pictures. Truly amazing!
It came out that neither of us had been to the museum and while admiring the artwork our eyes landed on the admission times & prices. The prices are very reasonable, allowing for numerous concessions, however, the museum lets you in for £1 an hour before closing and as luck would have it the clock had just struck 3:30pm.
As soon as we got through the doors we immediately went to inspect the Norwich mosaic, we could have happily stayed there for hours immersed in the images spanning centuries of our fine city. Alas, there was much to see and we had limited time so we ventured on to purchase our £1 entry. The lady at front of house was a delight, you could tell she had a keen interest and passion for the museum, gave us some quick direction – “follow your nose” – and asked us to let her know our thoughts of the venue.
The place was packed with relics and treasures (surprising in a museum, huh?) from Norwich of old. It was amazing to see items which were used hundreds of years ago and trying to translate them to the Norwich we know today, a rather absurd image as you can imagine! The museum is split into sections chronicling Norwich through time and while some are what you would expect from a place such as the Bridewell Museum there are other areas dedicated to things such as “the coffee shop”, a rather interesting meeting place for people back in the day…perhaps things haven’t changed all that much?
There was so much to see: a stunning chemists with shelves of lotions and potions stacked high, the loom which we were told afterwards is occasionally used in a demonstration, lots of shoes, handcrafted valuables and general finery. There is also a crypt which we didn’t mange to see but, as the museum once held prisoners, I can imagine it’s pretty creepy!
What was great about the museum was that you could go at your own pace, it had interactive aspects with bite-sized information, dressing up points (which we definitely took advantage of) and audio sections to further engage you. It was all clearly numbered and annotated with few dense chunks of text, something that can occasionally be off-putting.
The Bridewell Museum is like Dr. Who’s Tardis (bigger on the inside) and astounding that so much history can be packed into it. I would recommend if you want an insight into the history of our fine city, a brief meander to look at well-crafted pretty things, or if you’re looking for something different to do when you have a couple of hours spare.
We were only able to stay for about 45 minutes before having to leave for the cinema but we both decided to come back another day, especially after walking through the final part of the museum and wanting to stay and investigate. On the way out we gave our thanks to the front of house staff and they told us about the upcoming events to do with Jack Valentine and his history – something else that peaked our interest. Then off we went to see Sandy Bullock in space having enjoyed our impromptu tour of old Norwich.