Our Aims...

The purposes of the group are to:-

1. Learn collaboratively about the history, heritage, archaeology, architecture, people and environment of Norwich
2. Develop resources and activities that contribute to the wider community’s understanding of history and archaeology
3. Develop activities that enhance/maintain the wellbeing and emotional resilience of club members
4. Be actively inclusive - open, accessible and welcoming to all
5. Represent the area’s heritage and residents by publicizing, commenting and co-ordinating responses on planning, transportation and other proposed changes for the area.

Wednesday, 28 September 2016

Magdalen Walks: 'Passing on the Craft - Stonemasonry in North Norwich' with Colin Howey

In this film, Colin gives us a glimpse of a very special project that is building within St. Clements Church, Colegate. The Guild of St Stephen & St George are training the next generation of stonemasons. There’s more to this than meets the eye!

For details about Colin's walk on October 8th, see below:

To enlarge, please click on image

Magdalen Walks: 'Walking with Strong Women' - Susan Kyd

In this film Sue shares her love of Magdalen Street and her sense of connection with the people who’ve walked it, including her grandparents, who she discovers have a very special connection with St. Saviours Lane. For details about Susan's tour on October 8th, see below:

Please click on image in order to enlarge

Magdalen Walks: 'The Nature of the North City' with Ernie Woodrow

In this film Ernie shares his love of nature and why it’s important to him. It’s amazing what you can see in green spaces around Magdalen Street – it’s all about knowing where to look...

For details about Ernie's walk on October 8th please see below:

To enlarge, please click on image

Tuesday, 27 September 2016

Magdalen Walks: 'Your Money or Your Life' with Stuart McLaren

In his film, Stuart whets our appetite about a tale of civil war, slavery, religious strife, highwaymen and worsted weaving: the woeful tale of Mr Bryant Lewis, 'barbarously murdered upon ye heath at Thetford in 1698'. 

For details about Stuart's talk in St George's Church on Saturday 13th please see below:

Tuesday, 20 September 2016

Magdalen Walks: 'Viking Norwich - the defences and heart of Northwic'

In this short film Magdalen Walks member, Trevor Nuthall, gives us a glimpse of the 'hidden' history of Viking Norwich. If you wish to learn more, follow the Magdalen Walks blog and keep an eye out for dates when Trevor will be offering this walk to the public.

For details about Trevor's walk on October 8th see below:

To enlarge, please click on image

Magdalen Walks - 'Colegate's Architecture through the Ages' with Andrew Eeles

Magdalen Walks, a group that meets to build and give local walks, has made a series of 6 films based around Magdalen Street in Norwich. Each one has been made by a different person and each shares with us something special that they have noticed about the area. 

In this film Andrew gives us a glimpse into his world, one of wandering down hidden passages and noticing the often missed detail on buildings. What does it reveal about the people that lived there?

For details about Andrew's walk on October 8th see below:

To enlarge, please click on image

Friday, 16 September 2016

Textile Manufacturing in and around Georgian Colegate

Dear Magdalen Walkers,

The congregation at St George’s Colegate, Norwich, are delighted to host a talk on 'Textile Manufacturing in and around Georgian Colegate’ by Dr Michael Nix on Saturday 22nd October at 6pm, followed by drinks.

The fine medieval church of St George's Colegate is a celebration of the weavers and manufacturers who created the wealth to help build and shape it over the centuries. The recent renovation work on its exceptional Georgian interior is in turn being celebrated by a talk given by Dr Michael Nix at the church on 22 October at 6pm, followed by drinks. The talk will focus on various aspects of the trade: from the merchant-manufacturers who produced fabrics sent all over the world including South America and China; to woolcombers and yarn-makers and the factors who dealt in wool, worsted, cotton and silk; to dyers whose skills in using rich, vibrant dyes transformed natural coloured yarns and cloth into articles desired by customers. Amongst those discussed will be the Anglican merchant-manufacturer John Tuthill, whose monument can be seen in the church, the Quaker John Lindoe who had commercial connections in north America; the Unitarian wool and yarn factor John Taylor whose wife Susannah was at the centre of the community's intellectual life, and the Anglican Michael Stark, noted for his scientific talents and the father of the Norwich School artist James Stark.

Dr Michael Nix, formerly Research Manager Textiles and Technology, Glasgow Museums, will be drawing on his recent studies of the production of Norwich Stuffs  and the complicated international trade based upon these between 1750 and 1820; he has added to earlier scholarly literature with a wealth of new information, including that gathered during his recent study visit to the Winterthur museum in Delaware, US.

Any queries to Catherine Waddams (c.waddams@uea.ac.uk).

Saturday, 3 September 2016

Viking Norwich - the defences and heart of Northwic'

In this short film Magdalen Walks member, Trevor Nuthall, gives us a glimpse of the 'hidden' history of Viking Norwich. If you wish to learn more, Trevor will be offering a tour of Viking Norwich on the day of the Magdalen Festival on Saturday 8th October (time and assembly point to be confirmed). 

Our thanks go to photographer and writer, Nick Stone, for agreeing to let the Magdalen Walks project share his images of North Norwich. Please explore his website here:
Invisible Works

Sunday, 3 July 2016

The Murder & Mysteries of Bryant Lewis

Magdalen Walks member, and author, Stuart McLaren, revealing the fascinating and hitherto unknown story behind the murder of Bryant Lewis in 1698. Bryant Lewis is buried under a ledger slab in the Church of St George, Colegate, North Norwich, where these photos were taken.

Stuart will be sharing this story with the public during the Magdalen Festival in October. 

Stuart gathering Magdalen Walks members around Bryant Lewis' ledger slab. 

Monday, 27 June 2016

Magdalen Walks

If you are interested in joining us, please email Colin Howey at howeychoosetouseit@gmail.com. Thanks!

Sunday, 19 June 2016

An unsung hero of Norwich Over the Water; the Rev Jack Burton

   © Nick Smith, 2016

We probably take for granted now that what is old and special in neighbourhoods such as Colegate and Magdalen Street should be protected and conserved, but not so long ago this was not the case. Whilst the grand buildings within the Cathedral Close have been preserved for centuries, other streets of similiar vintage such as Botolph Street had been torn down and erased from memory in the name of post war progress.

Therefore we are lucky that a considerable amount of the everyday but historic buildings remain intact in our study area; we have a rich subject matter to do walking tours that can bring history to life. 

But this may not have been the case without the work of others, such as the Rev Jack Burton who founded the campaigning Norwich Over the Water Group in the early 1970s. At this time Norwich was in economic decline and was suffering from some of its most brutal town planning and highway schemes that had cleared vast swathes of old Norwich. The north city centre  was depopulating and the long standing industries of shoe making and printing steadily declining, churches were being abandoned, ending centuries of continual ritual and traditions of parish life. 

Amidst this spiral of seemingly terminal decline, the Rev Jack Burton started his ministry at St Georges Colegate whilst also being a local bus driver. The Norwich Over the Water Group sought to cherish the unique urban character of the area and defend it from insensitive change such as road widening of Duke Street. This highway scheme would have seen the demolition of the Golden Star and the entire row of perfectly good homes and medieval courtyard build along its east side between Colegate and Muspole Street.  

Thanks to the efforts of the Rev Jack Burton and the Norwich Over the Water Group the area survived to prosper and is now the vibrant historic yet contemporary neighbourhood we enjoy today. Yet there is no statue, blue plaque or visible mention of a modern day activist. Perhaps we need to wait for the passage of years before we can truly take stock and celebrate our unsung heroes. 


Kieran Yates 

Do it yourself walking tours; how to do it

Walking tours are simple; someone talks while they walk right?
Yes, most of the time this is the way its done, but can it be done any differently?

People have roamed around cities with guidebooks for over a 100 years, from a railway tourist using Bradshaws, to an early 20th century motorist using a Baedecker or Michellin guide, locally Jarrolds have printed Norwich guidebooks for decades. Only recently have travellers relied on digital content from the ubiquitous Tripadvisor with user generated reviews and locally produced smart phone apps such as Visit Norwich http://www.visitnorwich.co.uk/get-to-know/discover-norwich-app/ that include walking 'City Trails' and interactive content where you can 'check in' and unlock points to demonstrate you have completed it and gain incentives such as a free pint enroute.  

 the question in my mind, that I havent been able to answer yet is; 
Q: could we generate a self guided walking tour?
Q: could this have audio and visual content?
Q: could the content be tailored to personal taste? 
Q: can this be done without any cost?

Perhaps someone reading this blog might be able to help answer these questions. 
I think it would enable valuable research to be made much more publicly available, and potentially be a resource that can be added to and edited over time by various contributors. It would be innovative and help to ensure that the perception of history being dusty and fusty  is blown away by a contemporary medium. Perhaps the age of the expert author is being challenged by user generated content, this can be seen by websites such as History Pin that have geographically indexed photograpshs that can be grouped as a tour; http://www.historypin.org/en/ . There are several examples in Norfolk showing what can easily be done. 

I hope this is interest to the Magdalen Walks group
Kieran Yates
June 2016

Tuesday, 17 May 2016

Jermiah Ives of Colegate, north Norwich

Mayoral portrait of Jeremiah Ives, who is buried within St Clement's Church

An evocative excerpt from Parson Woodforde's Diary, shared by Magdalen Walks member, Keiran:

'After breakfast I got in my Curricle and drove to Norwich., we got there about Noon. And it being Guild day when the new Mayor is sworn in, there were great doings, the Court going in Procession to the great Church and from thence to the Guild-Hall, & then to St Andrews Hall to dinner. 

Old Mr Alderman Ives is the new Mayor, and it is the second Time of his succeeding to thst Office. Some of the old time doings exhibited to day such as he did the last Time if being Mayor- A fine & curious Triumphal Arch of green Box intersped with many Flowers & variegated Lamps hung in the Centre of the Arch, near Mr Ives's House and by St Clements Church near Fye Bridge. 

At the Mayors Door there was a similar Arch with three golden Crowns on it and the Prince of Wales's Feather in the middle, of Gold, with a continual Firing of Cannons & Guns. Flaggs flying throughout the Mayors Parish &c. A vast Number of People at Norwich to day indeed...'

Kieran Yates

Thursday, 5 May 2016

Hidden Watercourses of Norwich

How many watercourses do you know that run through Norwich?
The river Wensum is the obvious answer.
But did you know its tributories run under modern city streets too?

Before city folk could culvert and cover these streams they shaped city life by dividing parcels of land, draining marshy areas and influencing where local people walked along. As a result some of these now hidden watercourses are reflected in the streets and alleyways that we walk along today. 

The Great Cockey ran from higher ground at All Saints Green and ran downwards towards Back of the Inns and towards the Wensum at the back of what is now Dukes Palace Wharf.  A shorter length of stream was also called the Little Cockey that led along Westwick Street towards the New Mills area. 

The Dalymond ran from Magpie Road towards Blackfriars Street and discharges in the Wensum near Fishergate. 

The Muspole ran unsurprisingly along Muspole Lane, Colegate and discharged near Fye Bridge.

The Dallingfleet was a shorter length of stream that ran from St Faiths Lane towards the river south of Pulls Ferry. 

As part of the current pedestrianisation of Westlegate a commemorate stone plaque will be installed to celebrate the city's secret watercourses, and a flowing shape will be part of the paving design to bring this reference to life again for modern day folk who probably didnt know what flows underneath their feet.

Kieran Yates
5th May 2016
For Magdalen Walks

Friday, 22 April 2016

Time Out of Mind Tour

We're doing two fundraising tours for the Magdalen Street Festival on Sat 30th April so please come along, 'share' and spread the word...

'The Time out of Mind Tour'

What/how/why/who do we remember? Join historian and stonemasons' guild Clerk, Colin Howey, as he uses an array of sources, artefacts and techniques to explore the theme of 'remembering' in order to interpret the historic heart of Norwich, north of the river.

Suggested donation £3 per person

Start times: 11am and 2pm in Anglia Square

Wednesday, 2 March 2016

Notes on visiting the Colman Collection

Here is a lovely piece written by Magdalen Walks member, Mary Beardwood, about her research using the Norfolk Heritage Collection held within the Millennium Library in Norwich...
On Saturday 13th February, our Magdalen Walks group had a fascinating introduction to the Norfolk Heritage Collection at the Millennium Library. ‘The Stack’, as it is known, is a purpose-built system for protecting and storing old records, was an eye-opener to us all. After the fire at the old Norwich Library, when many precious records and books were burnt, it became apparent that a modern, fire-proof, computerised system should be installed. This is now in place, with a huge collection of items of interest regarding the history of Norfolk and Norwich.
Little did I know that my day out was to prove very helpful in a task that I was asked to do the following week for a U3A Gardening Group that I belong to. Each member was given the name of an explorer/seeds and specimens collector to research and report back to the Group. I was given Joseph Hooker (1817-1911). The area that seemed the most important was the work he did on an exploration of Sikkam-Himalaya where he painted, made extensive observations and notes, and collected seeds of different species of Rhododendrums. I put ‘Rhododendrums of Sikkim-Himalaya’ into my search engine, and was excited to discover there was a copy in the Colman Collection at the Millennium Library. So back I went to request to see their copy of this book, and it was retrieved for me immediately.
It was, in fact, two volumes, very large in size (60 x 40 cms) and contained the most exquisite paintings of the Rhododendrums, all done on site, with detailed observations and drawings of the plants. It also contained fascinating facts about the royal and important members of society lending the exploration their support. I feel very proud to be able to take this information back to the Gardening Group.
‘One thing leads to another....’ research is always full of surprises and knowing where to look for information is a skill. Thanks to Colin for pointing me to this resource.

Monday, 1 February 2016

St Augustine's at Sundown

As I walked past St Augustine's Church yesterday at sundown I was struck by the beauty of the church and trees silhouetted against a clear winter sky. A lot more to our area than a cut-through for cars!

Wednesday, 27 January 2016

The 'Barbarous Foes' of Bryant Lewis

In the middle of a day full of meetings, I decided to listen to my own advice and take some quality time doing some informal learning. Given that Norwich has the largest collection of urban medieval churches in northern Europe it isn't difficult to wander in, explore and learn something new. And so it proved when I visited St George's Colegate...

There are many wonderful things within this lovely well-lit church. On this occasion the thing which grabbed my attention, and stretched my imagination, was the ledger slab (grave stone) just inside the nave entrance...

The first thing that seized my attention was the simple skull and crossbones. Just to make sure we get the message, the crossed bones over the hourglass speak of the sands of time and mortality. And in the centre is a death shroud - "Remember death for you shall die". 

When I read the inscription I was fascinated to learn that this is the memorial to a man - Bryant Lewis - who, on September 13th 1698, was murdered on a heath near Thetford, having been stabbed fifteen times. 

There's a story here, and I would love to discover more about it. But, even if we are not able to establish any further facts about this case, we can imagine...

... We can imagine:

* The shock and pain of his loved ones upon hearing the news of his murder
* The tears that splashed down on the cold church floor as his body was lowered into the earth
* The sense of vengeance his surviving relatives must've have felt
* The desperation of the perpetrator - or perpetrators - of this terrible crime, to cover their tracks and escape the hangman's rope

And reading the epitaph on this monument one is struck by the searing anger felt by Bryant's loved ones:

'"Fifteen wide wounds this stone veils from thine eyes,
But reader, hark their voice doth pierce the skies.
Vengeance, cried Abel’s blood against cursed Cain,
But better things spake Christ when he was slain.
Both, both, cries Lewis ’gainst his barbarous foes,
Blood, Lord, for blood, but save his soul from woe.'

Be curious - explore

Colin Howey

Sunday, 17 January 2016

Heritage: the Power of Playfulness

© Ragged Society of Antiquarian Ramblers, 2002
Eek! Young people at a heritage site! The Gunton Dandy

As those of you who have been attending the Magdalen Walks project will have gathered by now, I like to be relaxed and playful (in the right places) in my approach to heritage. Because of my personal story, I am interested in outreach and engagement, and it is my view that too much of the heritage sector is too earnest, elitist and pompous. Because some of my work has been around engaging young offenders and excluded pupils units with history, I know something about the challenges of relating something that can seem abstract and 'stuffy' to people. I don't dumb down the ideas, but I will invent games, activities and use humour to relate the past with the present. Being playful isn't only about energising and engaging audiences, it is - in my view - a key part of wellbeing. Over the past few years I have taken this philosophy and made some new things; heritage-inspired ventures that have taken on a life of their own and seem to be meaningful and fulfilling to people. 

One of these 'projects' is The Ragged Society of Antiquarian Ramblers: 'a creative collective of friends who are inspired by historic sites, quirky spaces, a love of laughter - and cake!' I have been told that our blog is one of the most popular heritage blogs in Britain, with around a quarter a million hits thus far. 

I am a writer for the Heritage Open Days national blog and wrote a piece about the background to the Ragged Ramblers and thought that you Magdalen Walkers might be interested in taking a glimpse into this world:

Playful Heritage

I'm not proposing that the Magdalen Walks project takes the Ragged Ramblers' model as its template, but I would encourage people to experiment and be playful with the heritage in our community. I can tell you, it can be a very rewarding experience! 

My friend Paul as Queen Victoria in Stiffkey Church, Norfolk

Saturday, 16 January 2016

Spreading Our Wings Along Magpie Road

Why is this building curved?
A large group of Magdalen Walks members went exploring along Magpie Road today. As I suspected, we didn't get very far because of two main reasons: there is actually a lot to be discovered wherever you go. Also, in a group like ours - full of lively minds and generous souls - there is a lot of knowledge and insight to be shared. Looking at a locality, by prioritising depth over breadth, is necessarily eclectic. However, as we cover more ground we can begin to relate things thematically and chronologically, as well as in relation to wider events. 

From my perspective, the thing that pleases me most is the feeling of a group being excited by collective discovery. Also, our emerging 'style' isn't too earnest - we can be playful and creative as we seek to interpret the history, heritage and archaeology of the inner north of the city. 

Thanks to everyone who came along today! 


Friday, 15 January 2016

Memories of Bells & Beaky

Here, Magdalen Walks member, Mike Beardwood, shares his childhood memories about Canon Gilbert Thurlow and St Clement's and St George's Churches along Colegate - part of our patch. 

"My memories of St. Clements starts as a typical Beardwood tale! I went to the Cathedral to try and get a place in their choir. I was rejected but Rev. Gilbert Thurlow* - known as 'Beaky' for obvious reasons i.e. his nose - asked me to join his choir at St. Clements. It was a pleasant little church but very much dominated by St. Georges, Colegate, both of which had 'Beaky' as vicar. Most of my memories are of St. Georges where Gilbert decided to re-install the bells, which had been taken and melted down for the war effort. He was very much an expert in bells - somewhere I have his book on bells and bell ringing -  and arranged for a new set of bells to  be cast at Bow. I went there to see the (6) bells being cast. We had a service at which the bells were stood in the chancel and we, the choristers, struck the bells with rubber mallets in time with the organ playing. The bells were hung in tower and I became a (incompetent) bell ringer - if you ever want to hear the presence of the devil in church, go into the bell chamber when someone has missed a call from the bell master and just listen to his  words! 

'Beaky' lived in a flat, just across the road from St. Clements, where we often met to practice hand bell ringing. Not as exciting as real bells, but less stressful."

Wednesday, 6 January 2016

Mapping Our Area

In the immediate run-up to Christmas Magdalen Walks members gathered at St Augustine's Church Hall and we were delighted at the turn-out, especially given the seasonal distractions AND a soggy, grey day. 

During the session, we had a think about our personal experiences of heritage tours: both, good and bad. Our purpose in doing this was to reflect on the elements that go to make a positive experience for audiences. Among our many thoughts, was the importance of feeling welcomed, valued and included. Orientation is also important: people like to know how long a walk will be (in duration and distance) as well as a broad overview of what is to be covered. In addition, folk don't like to be bombarded with facts, facts - FACTS!! Much better, therefore, to have coherent themes and tell a 'story' that people are able to comprehend and engage with. Crucial also, to relate what you are talking about to the people in front of you. There was more, but that gives you a flavour. 

After that we had a tea break and a good old chin-wag, before taking a look at some maps of our area drawn up in during the 18th and 19th centuries. I'm a big fan of maps as historical sources: they potentially reveal so much about the development of an area. Thus, for instance, we noted that the parish of St Clement's not only includes the church on the north of the river Wensum, it also encompasses an area beyond the medieval city wall (modern day Magpie Road). The question we asked was, 'Why?' The most plausible explanation is, because this church was almost certainly the earliest foundation (dating from the Anglo-Saxon/Scandanavian period), with a huge original parish. Known as a proto-parish church, the subsequent church parishes - St Margaret's etc - were 'carved' out of this original one. There is supporting archival evidence for this, in fact, as the medieval tithing records show that churches in this area were paying fees to the 'mother' church of St Clement's. 

Among the many other things prompted by this exercise were areas of potential future research. For instance, one member noted with interest the presence on these maps of various green spaces in the north of the city that no longer exist. Another, was interested in finding out more about the 'lunatic' asylum that existed near the junction of modern-day Waterloo and Magpie Roads during the 19th century. 

In terms of developing our research skills, we have booked a session at the Millennium Library on Saturday February 13th, on the second floor (gathering near the reception desk at 10:30 on that day). Here, we will be having a tour of the remarkable Norfolk Heritage Collection, which is held at the library. It contains around half a million Norfolk-related items: photographs, books, maps, postcards - there is even an early 15th century Wycliffite bible, once owned by the Boleyn family and probably read by Anne Boleyn herself! 

Please do come along Magdalen Walkers - you're in for a real treat, and it will be so useful for you to be introduced to such a treasure trove of potential sources. 

NOTE: we next meet at The Stage on St Augustine's on Saturday 16th at 10:30. After a quick cuppa and catch-up we will brave the elements and going for a walk - a Magdalen Walk in fact! Time to start exploring our area together. This one will be going along Magdalen Street itself, via St Augustines and Magpie Road, so it's right at the heart of our project. Look forward to seeing you on the day! 

FINALLY, if you read this and are interested in joining the project, please email Niki Taigel via magdalenprojects@gmail.com. Thanks!