Monday, 22 May 2017

Norwich Castle - Small Stories

Norwich its rich in heritage and the Castle is one of the "Norwich 12" heritage sites. It dates back to William the Conqueror, first being mentioned in history books in 1075, serving as a Royal residence throughout the centuries and finally becoming a museum in 1894 (I never knew there had been a museum there for that long!)

Norwich has been voted one of the top shopping centres in the UK and Norwich Castle sits prominently in the centre the City.  

Norwich Castle is open all year round (with the exception of 24/25/26 Dec and 01 Jan) and prices start from £9.15 for adults and £7.30 for children, concessions are available as are family discounts. 
Situated at the top of Castle Meadow, it is accessible via the slope or lift facilities. 
The Castle does have wheelchair access however, due to the age of the building some parts are restricted access.

Small Stories.
We were excited to visit Norwich Castle as I had heard about the Small Stories exhibit. Here you can see 12 doll's houses on loan from the V&A Museum of Childhood. Some of these houses are 300 years old and the attention to details is amazing!

Houses on display include those from the Victorian age when Doll's house gained their popularity, mansions, town houses and even a high rise! 

In this exhibition visitors can complete a treasure trail for fun, so Mollie took on this task, searching for the clues, some of which were audio, and discovering little hidden secrets of the houses and their background story.


Emily was magically shrunk to doll size and found the 1960's sitting room and enjoyed dressing up and exploring in there, even having a try at doing the "Twist!"

In another part of Small Stories you can travel even further back in time to work in a 1840's kitchen! In both of these areas you will find dress up clothes for children. 

Visitors can enjoy playing with a lovely wooden doll's house and there were a few other toys for youngsters.

The last exhibit on the Small Stories area was the project titled "Dream House 2017"

These are a series of rooms created by artists, students and local school groups, each entirely unique and well worth taking your time to explore these - not all is what it seems in some!

What else can you find in the Castle?
Natural History Galleries.
Now, we didn't get time to see everything the castle museum has on offer as there was simply so much! But we particularly enjoyed the Natural History Gallery. This showcase animals from around the world, preserved in all their natural beauty. Displays house animals typically found in habitation together. 
The girls took ages exploring these creatures and reading about them. 

Emily was particularly keen on reading up about Taxidermy!

The Castle Keep
I have strong memories of this part of the castle from school trips many years ago, to be honest back then I found it really (dare I say it) quite boring! However, nowadays I was pleasantly surprised to find how it had changed, whilst keeping the history of the castle alive, the museum curators have developed an interactive and fun discovery centre. 

With craft activities going on in the keep, dress up, you can also pop into an historic dragon suit as part of St Georges Parade from years gone by.

Around the upper perimeter of the Keep you can peer into the ancient toilets! Learn more about the Castle on the interactive screens, see the beautiful stain glassed windows and see a cut through section of the castle of how it would have been when used as a royal residence.

The Castle Dungeons.
The dungeons offer the chance to view the grim existence of prisoners hundreds of years ago, why not pop in the cell and have a try of the "bed."
Chris and the girls tried their hand as stonemasons - trying to build a weight baring arch! 

What else is there?
In other parts of the castle you can learn about the ancient Egyptians, discover about "barmy" Boudica and her Roman army, study Anglo-Saxons and the Vikings, view stunning art in the various art galleries to take in the beauty of art throughout the years, dating back to 17th century!

Norwich Castle also houses a delicious cafe selling scrumptious cakes, sausage rolls, scones and much more, prices here were reasonable, I enjoyed a very tasty fruit scone and a great mocha, costing just £4.80. There is also a small gift shop and, unusually for attractions, you don't have to walk though this to exit! Which means we managed to avoid the pressure put on by the girls wanting to spend, spend, spend!

Well-worth a visit, especially to catch the Small Stories exhibit which is running through until 25th June.

To find out more then check out the Norfolk Museums Service online or find Norwich Castle on Facebook!

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