Exploring Norfolk’s fine museums
As a lot of these museums are based in the centre of towns and cities you will often find them near to churches where generations of people who lived or worked in what are now museums came to worship God. Below are some particularly fine church buildings to visit near some of Norfolk’s best museums. All the museums listed here are run by Norfolk Museums and more details can be found on their website.
Standing on its huge earthen mound the elegant bastion that is Norwich Castle dominates much of the skyline of the city and reminds us of the long history of Norwich. It has hosted royalty and rebellions and having previously been a castle and a prison it now finds itself a wonderful museum where one can walk through the stone keep, see exhibitions about Boudicca, the Egyptians, famous Norfolk artists as well as special exhibitions.
But as you stand on the castle mound overlooking the Market you will see another magnificent stone building dominating the view – St Peter Mancroft church. The present building was completed in 1455 it is the largest medieval parish church in the City. The interior holds many points of interest including an impressive reredos (an ornamental screen placed behind the altar in a church) by Seddon and Comper and a fantastic East Window.
To see a different side of Norwich’s history, the Museum of Norwich (often still called by its old name of ‘The Bridewell Museum’) is well worth a trip. From the history of the market, through crime and punishment and on to Norwich’s once booming shoe making industry, this is a quick sweep through the story of a most remarkable city.
If you fancy a bite to eat there is a church building nearby that will not only provide a sense of Norwich’s past but also provides a welcome café stop. Up St Andrew’s Street and past both St Andrew’s Church and St Andrew’s Hall you will find St Michael-at-Plea. This medieval church building with fantastic roof angels is now home of the Revelation Christian Bookshop and Café and is great for both getting a sense of Norwich and some sustenance.
There are even more great museums outside of the Fine City of Norwich. Lynn Museum, for example, tells the story of the thriving Hanseatic League port of King’s Lynn. Nestled next to the bus station it is not only easy to get to but an absolute delight.
The highlight for many is ‘Seahenge’ a bronze age monument 4000 years old which was discovered on a North Norfolk Beach and brought to the museum for preservation.
Nearby is Lynn Minster – familiar to all those who come to the town down the A17. There has been a church on this site since 1095 and it is worth entering below its twin towers to appreciate the magnificent space in the nave.
Cromer Museum is based around a row of cottages that were once part of life on the waves from this coastal town. Indeed, you can see how these houses would have looked (as well as seeing a great fossil display in one of the yard buildings).
Towering over these small houses is Cromer Parish Church – giving us a reminder how many of these families would have prayed for their loved one’s safe return. In the summer months you can go up the church tower and take advantages of its height and cliff top position for magnificent views of the town and the surrounding countryside.