England’s Second City
This beautiful gallery explores how in 1700 Norwich was England’s second city, larger and more prosperous than its medieval counterparts Bristol, York, Newcastle and Exeter.
This gallery is split into 3 different spaces.
The first space with the large glass showcase explores religious, civic and political life. Collections highlights include a magnificent medieval door frame, parliamentary chair and sedan chair from Opie Street.
The second space is displayed as a recreated 18th century coffee house, with a chance for you to look at replica archival documents and try out fashionable wigs of the time.
The third space focuses on the city’s early textile industry and features some of the museum’s world famous pattern books and a skirt made from Norwich-made cloth.
Shopping and Trading
Norwich has long been a centre for trading and shopping. This gallery is packed full of collections from the early 1800s through to the 1960s. The displays include Parson Woodford’s shopping trips to the city, a shop window dressed ready to celebrate Valentine’s Eve, hats made by local hat maker Rumsey Wells and the contents of a local corner shop. Collection highlights include the Ladbrooke’s Dairy cart, Jack Shorten’s delivery bike and the life size model of Char Lee, which used to stand in Dakin’s tea dealers on Davey Place.
The Story of the Bridewell
Tucked in one of the oldest, most atmospheric parts of the building, this gallery tells the story of the building, focusing primarily on its time as a house of correction and a prison. Learn about who was imprisoned here and what life was like. Case study stories include those of Jane Sellers, a persistent offender in the C17th, and Peter the Wildman, the only prisoner who refused to leave the prison at the time of the great fire in 1751.
This fine gallery, with its striking fireplace, charts the city’s fortunes through time. Check out the interactive chest of drawers filled with objects to see, touch and smell and ponder the archive maps that show how the city has changed. In the stairwell, marvel at a magnificent collection of paintings from Norwich Castle’s Fine Art Collection.
Made in Norwich
At the top of the stairs, lies a gallery is packed full of artefacts proudly demonstrating Norwich’s industrious heritage. Collection highlights include a desk from the now demolished Corn Hall, a model of a FE 2B plane made by Boulton and Paul and the iconic ironwork sunflower, designed by Aesthetic designer Thomas Jeckyll for Barnard, Bishop and Barnards.
The museum’s star exhibit has had a make over and can now be seen in all its glory through a floor to ceiling screen. A new touch screen presentation tells the story of John Newstead and his amazing collection. Plus, take a sneaky peek into the new drug run interactive, to discover what’s in all those drawers.
Norwich has a rich industrial heritage. Find out more about some of the main industries of the city including heavy engineering, mustard manufacture, chocolate and cracker making and of course, the textile industry. Highlights include the world’s first ever wire netting machine, a chocolate enrobing machine and the newly restored Jacquard loom.
The museum’s most popular collection has been beautifully redisplayed to show the story of shoe making in the city. Collection highlights include machinery from local factories, the beautiful willow pattern exhibition shoe and an incredible snake proof boot made for nurses in Burma during WW2. Listen to local shoe worker’s memories and watch shoes being made. Children can try on some of our more funky shoes.
Life in Norwich: Our City 1900 - 1945
Explore what life was like in Norwich in the first part of the 20th century. This era was one of great change, with Norwich citizen’s coping with two world wars and the hardship caused by the Great Depression. Listen to memories from local lady Ethel George and see archive film in our own recreated cinema area. Collection highlights include the Vine Bar, countless trade signs and Spitfire Cottage, a model house made by firewatchers during WW2.
Life in Norwich: Our City 1945 Onwards
Discover more about what life was like for people in post-war Norwich. Displays cover themes such as the growth of council estates, growing up in the city and how local people enjoyed time outside of work. Collections highlights include a Speedway bike, a model of The Nest football ground and clothes from the 1960s. Hang out in our retro listening booth, pose with Captain Canary and relax in our own recreated 1950s living room.