I have learned about the Norwich wall and that the Castle and Cathedral were both Norman buildings. Most of the medieval population couldn't read so they had stories read to them excitedly. Some people believed the Norwich wall prevented fresh air from getting into the city, so they destroyed parts of it. There was lots of different types of trades then. Nowadays there's even more, but only a handful of the medieval ones. Dan
What I have learnt is that Guildhalls are made by carpenters or engineers. Also that Norwich Castle was built for William the Conqueror. I also learnt that in the Keep it used to be a big dining room. Also that servants used to sleep in the room that the toilets, the dining room and the King's room was. Ellie
Everyone was very religious and went to church. They lived in small towns and cities, guarded by a large surrounding wall. The Castle used to be much bigger, but only the Keep and sections of wall survive today. Amelie
It was quite brutal because people were publicly executed. Jonathan
We had a tour with Blue Badge Guide Paul Dickson, looking at the medieval buildings in the oldest part of Norwich and learnt about the first people who lived here. The Danes built houses and churches in a place called Colegate, which named after someone called Coly. The Vikings called the area Norvic. Paul showed us where Norwich's port was on the river. There would have been wherrys there. We learnt that churches with round towers were probably built before the Normans came and churches with square towers were built by the Normans. Tombland in Norwich was where the market place was and meant a big open space. Tombland had the city's biggest church, but the Normans knocked it down. Thomas Erpingham built the gate at the cathedral. He was a soldier and trained archers. Some of them were trained at Chapelfield Gardens. The archers fought at the battle of Hastings. We went to Norwich Cathedral, which has the largest cloisters in the country. The Hostry is where the monks lived. The Cathedral was built by the Normans, who brought the stone from France. Group 2
We took part in some drama classes with Gavin and Peter, learning about mystery plays and who performed them. They were very visual plays as the population couldn't read or write. The stories were from the Bible, so we looked at Noah's ark. We talked about what we would use for the play - masks, costume, scenery, puppets and props. We had to act out scenes from Noah's ark. Group 1
Norwich Puppet Theatre came into school and we took part in a puppet making workshop. We created our own Noah's ark and angel puppets. We had lots of different materials to use, like tissue paper, buttons, pipe cleaners, jewels, cardboard and wool. Group 2
The opening scene of the play would be god's voice telling Noah that it was going to rain for 40 days and 40 nights. Noah and his family start to build the ark (you could make a big cardboard boat). Two of each animal goes into the ark, one female and one male (you could have people with masks on). The ark has different floors and rooms (so then the predators don't eat the prey) (make different levels on the cardboard ark and make different rooms for all of the different animals). The ark set sail (waves could be paper and cardboard shaped and coloured like waves). Big floods happened for 40 days and 40 nights (big cardboard thunder and sounds of rain). Noah let's out a dove. Ellie
I make the [mystery play] cart an ark. For God's cloud i'd build a platform above the boat. Puppet dove. Actors - Noah, wife, Ham, Shem, Joseph. Build a wooden ramp on hinges for the door. Put people under blue cloth so it looks like they are dead [drowned]. Put branches and twigs through blue cloth whilst it is being lifted to show vegetation disappearing [under the sea]. Blue cloth and wool for water. Make rain by using tiny bits of blue cloth. Random branch for dove's mouth [olive branch]. Costumes, masks, face paint, puppets, shadow. Charlotte
Originally in the medieval era, Catholic plays were performed by monks. However, slowly the shows were getting more and more controversial and unusual. This did not appeal to the pope in Italy. So he banned the monesteries from performing. The townsfolk were upset at the sudden ban on entertainment; they were inspired to do it themselves. Every religious festival or celebration one of the towns guilds would be given the task of presenting the show. It would be whatever guild could provide the props. For example, Noah's Ark would be performed by the Shipwrights because they could provide the boat or the Crucifixion would be performed by the carpenters because they could provide the crosses.
They enjoyed watching plays because it was the only form of entertainment. Snap the Dragon [n Norwich] was used in parades to portray the dragon that St. George killed.
The main surviving play is the Grocer's Guild show which was the Creation story from the Bible. It was re-written in the Victorian era, however and that is the only surviving copy today.
We were given a tour of the Keep at Norwich Castle Museum. The Castle was built by the Normans in 1067. At first it was a wooden castle, but then rebuilt in stone later on. The mound was made by hand. The Castle was built as a palace for the King in case came to stay. The King's soldiers lived there. The Keep had the King's bedroom, his dinner hall, a chapel and some secret toilets. The King often talked about his secret business in the toilets. There is a sink in one wall and a hole to let the water out down the wall outside. They used to shoot arrows out of the thin windows. We went into a coloured room. The walls would have been painted. This was where people waited until they were allowed in. There were a lot of steps up to this room from the outside. We looked down into the well in the middle, which is where they got the water from. Group 1
In the Castle, the front door was great for defending yourself. When attackers enter, the defenders throw anything they have from above.
The toilets were not like ours today, with chains and privacy. Instead there was 4 holes and that was the only privacy medieval people actually got. What happened with the poo and the wee was it went into a pipe and at the bottom there was a bucket. when its was full the servants had to collect it.
Gavin and Peter started the project with us today as part of our elective study. We were given the background about the project and learnt about the medieval period. We talked about where the medieval period comes in history, what came before and what came afterwards. We talked about 1066 and the Norman invasion. The Normans came to Norwich and took over the city. They moved the market place from Tombland to where it is today and built a Castle on a man-made mound to look down on the Anglo-Saxons in the market place. They destroyed Norwich's biggest church, St. Michaels in Tombland and built their own Cathedral. We can see the Cathedral from the classroom window. We looked at some drawings of how Norwich might have looked then. There were very few houses and Norwich was mainly surrounded by fields. We learnt about the importance of the river and how people brought trade into the city by boat. This was the reason why Norwich became so rich and important. Norwich was the biggest and most important city outside London during the medieval period. Group 1
Jane Austen College is a secondary school and sixth form based in Norwich city centre.
Working with Year 7
Lead Teachers: Amy Coombe and Bonnie Sayer
The 2018 Schools Programme is supported by
Photographs by Gavin Bromley, Hollie Harrington and Peter Beck
Norwich Medieval Mystery Plays are produced by Create East Community Interest Company