We went to Norwich in the car, and left it in the Park & Ride, travelling into town on a new bendy bus! The driver said it was his first day on the P&R but we really hoped it wasn't his first day driving a bendy bus. The trip took about 20 minutes, and had a wee tour of the UEA campus as well on the way, which inspired the YFG afresh with her midwifery plans.
The inner castle keep - the balcony above is the original level of the main floor, and this floor is apparently a later Victorian addition.
This was our first view of the castle this lunchtime. The sun was shining beautifully, and it was warm. When we came out at half three, it was much fresher and the clouds had come over. The castle is beautiful on the hill, and it looks quite imposing - it's been there over 900 years after all.
There were extensive natural history exhibits, and they were really good for showing us the local wildlife - although I am not sure how local this enormous white pelican was. In another room were some lions that had been shot in Kenya in 1908 - they were in surprisingly good condition being over 100 years old!
We sat in the Rotunda and enjoyed a cup of tea, sitting right next to this e-n-o-r-m-o-u-s teapot! This is believed to be the largest teapot in the world, and it is in Norwich.......there is rather a collection of teapots in the castle - over 3000 of them!
There is a very interesting - and locally relevant - section about the Iceni and Boudicca. This picture shows how the Iceni used to worship - at water sources and rivers, and often by placing valuable items into the water: this chap seems to be putting a knife into some marshy, reedy ground.
We paid a little extra to go on a tour of the dungeons - what an experience that was! Down a long flight of steps, and into some very damp-smelling and dank rooms far underground, a guide showed us the cells and vaults with some gruesome exhibits. There were some plaster casts of heads there, and they were made after the executions of murderers who were put to death at the castle or in the nearby market square. There was also a gibbet - a metal cage in which the murderers were put in later years as a method of execution BUT the bodies had to be left in the cage until it disappeared: the bodies were denied a proper burial. In the deepest of the dungeons we heard a story about a monk, cousin to Henry III's wife, Eleanor of Aquitaine, who killed his prior and was held there in the 1200s......if I have remembered it right!
There is an exhibition in the upper level of the Rotunda connected to the Royal Anglian regiment - it was heartbreaking to read the soldiers' letters home to their families and to read about those who didn't make it back. There were pictures and memorabilia from the First World war in particular, and it was all brilliantly arranged.
We really enjoyed the day out, and would go back again for anther good look around - there was so much to see and do. The exhibits in the keep were very interactive and there were lots of activities for children to do, so it would be great for all ages.