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Guide leading walkers at Cathedral

Norwich heritage walk

Enjoy a wander around the cobbled medieval quarters of Norwich exploring the architectural and historical legacies of the Paston family, including visiting the site where the world's earliest Valentine letter was delivered.

With the audio tour let Margery Brews Paston entertain you with family dramas, tell you what plants to use to avoid the plague and all about the Queen's visit. Her husband, John Paston III, will also accompany you on the walk and share insights into the Pastons' enterprising life in the city during the Wars of the Roses.

Good for

  • FAMILIES: a buggy friendly walk with an 'Explorer Hunt' activity and family friendly things to do nearby (NB: some need to be pre-booked)

  • PHOTOGRAPHY: with picturesque cobbled streets, medieval buildings and independent shops there is a photo opportunity around ever corner.

  • CREATIVITY: as a UNESCO City of Literature, creative expression is the thriving pulse of Norwich and the Paston story offers ways in for those using self expression for wellbeing purposes through to budding authors or poets.


Walk details

LENGTH: full walk 2.5 miles (4km). 

Short route: Elm Hill to Bishopgate.

Medium route: to King Street, ending at the Castle.

Long route: continue through the markets and return to Hungate.

Download a walk map or follow the walk overview on your phone. 

TERRAIN: mostly pavements: some uneven or cobbled.

PARKING: Monastery Court car park is the nearest to the start of the walk. For other options please see City car parks

PUBLIC TRANSPORT: the start of the walk is a 15 min walk from Norwich train station and many buses stop 2 mins away at Tombland. There is also a taxi rank outside Erpingham Gate at Norwich Cathedral.

FACILITIES: City toilets.

Norwich walk

Download a page with map and directions. Click arrow above for Word version, button below for pdf.

Norwich accessibility audit

Active Trails' photo and text description of terrain. Information useful for wheelchair or pram/buggy users, those with restricted mobility, or needing facilities.

GPX code

Walking for fitness? Download your GPX code for fitness watches and other health devices here

Norwich walk
phone app

While you walk listen to the audio guide; access activities for children, see a 3D overview of medieval Norwich and discover more historical context.

Enhance your walk experience

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2104 Paston Footprints copyright Charlot

Family friendly activity: see if you can spy these Paston objects on your walk.

Experience a 3D flyover reconstruction of medieval Norwich.

Photography competition: can you capture the spirit of Paston country?

Tag #pastonfootprints

Connect with your surroundings and be inspired by the Pastons' love of words.

2104 Paston house big Charlotte Knee Pho

Norwich heritage walk overview 

Start at St Peter Hungate Church at the top of Elm Hill.

St Peter Hungate Church was the Norwich parish church of the Pastons, who paid for substantial repairs around 1460. Inside the church are roof corbels reputed to be of Margaret and John Paston. (See animation at bottom of this page.) There is also a Paston Footprints information board.

The church is usually open at weekends. It is run by a charity who host free medieval art exhibitions and occasional talks (donations welcome). With the exhibitions, enjoy the visual culture of Paston days! Visit Hungate Medieval Art 


Brass rubbings can be done inside and you can relax in the garden outside. You never know, you might be able to imagine the Pastons in the garden ... What herbs do you think the Pastons would have planted for protection during the plague years? (Hint: listen to the podcast!) 

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Margaret Paston plaque

See if you can spot Margaret Paston's alternative blue plaque that the Norfolk Heritage Society's History Hunters and Young Heritage Collective youth groups made in collaboration with Rosie's Plaques to mark the contribution of the Paston women and help un-silence their voices as part of our Rebel Women campaign


Walk down Elm Hill to Strangers' Club, which is about half way down the cobbled hill.

As you will see from the blue plaque on the wall, this was the site of the Pastons' house. It is from here that Margaret Paston wrote many of her letters. Also at this site is where John Paston III received the first Valentine letter written in the English language on 14th Feb, 1477, from Margery Brews. Elm Hill was the centre of the Pastons' activities in Norwich.


Hear a Letter!

Listen to Margery's letter, the world's first ever Valentine letter being read in the original Middle English:  

2104 Paston House plaque Charlotte Knee

At the bottom of Elm Hill, turn right toward the Cathedral and pass the Maid’s Head Hotel on the corner on the left.

The Maid's Head hotel has stood here since the 13th century. It is mentioned in the Paston Letters and would have been well known to generations of the family.


See a letter!

You are welcome to enter the foyer to see a framed facsimile (a copy) of the Paston letter that mentions the hotel (the earliest known written reference to a named hotel in the English language). Can you make out any letters in the handwriting?

2104 Maids Head  Charlotte Knee Photogra

Walk towards the Cathedral and walk under the main Erpingham Gate into the Cathedral Close.

The first prominent Paston - Good Judge William Paston - was buried in the cathedral, although no tomb remains to be seen as the chapel was destroyed during the reign of Elizabeth 1st. You will see the remains of the chapel a little later on.


Bear right across the cathedral close and take the path past the statue of Nelson.

Walk past the flint houses until you reach the far side of the close. Take a left and walk down past the herb garden to the square with a green.


At the green take a left towards the cathedral.

To the left through the archway enter the cathedral cloisters (free entry). Here you will also find the cathedral cafe where you can stop for refreshments.

2104 cathedral near cloisters Charlotte

Explore the cloisters.

Here you will find a labyrinth in the grassed centre to complete. To find out the spiritual meaning of Norwich's labyrinth, click here. 

In the cloisters, also make sure you look up and admire the decorated ceiling - can you spot unusual faces, green men and other interesting bosses? Watch a video of the bosses here.

Inside, in the Cathedral library, is a first edition copy of John Fenn's publication of the letters. We hope you enjoy the peace and calm of the Cathedral, which is an oasis in the busy city. 


Leave the cloisters and return to the south gate of the cathedral.

Look up at the cathedral spire and see if you can spot any peregrine falcons who like to roost here.

With the south gate in front of you, turn right and continue round the side of the cathedral. Just past the grave of Edith Cavell you will come to the ruined chapel where Judge William Paston was buried. 

2104 ruined chapel Charlotte Knee Photog

Keep following the path and leave the Cathedral Close at the bottom exit by the flint wall.

Turn left as you come through the gates and follow Bishopgate round to the left and past the Adam & Eve pub, one of the oldest (and smallest) in the city. Reference is made to it in the 1240s; so it would have been known to the Pastons. Continue down Bishopgate, passing St Martin at Palace Plain Church on your right. At the T-junction you have the option to take a short detour to Whitefrairs Bridge.


Optional detour: walk to Whitefriars Bridge.

The area now in front of you and to your right on the opposite side of the river where the mill now stands is the site of the Whitefriars Priory where Agnes, wife of the first William Paston, and her son Clement were buried. 

Turn back and retrace your steps to the junction with Bishopgate.

2104 Paston Footprints copyright Charlot

Continue down Palace Street and back to Tombland, bearing left at the Maid's Head.

Walk past the main cathedral gate you entered before and stop a few hundred yards further in front of the south gate of the Cathedral pictured here. This gate is over 1000 years old. See if you can spot the dragons. Dragons feature strongly in the city's history. The Guild of St George was a powerful institution in medieval Norwich, with members including Judge William Paston and son John Paston.

This is the end of the SHORT route. Continue for the MEDIUM and LONG routes.

2104 Paston Footprints copyright Charlot

Continue onto upper King Street and cross over using the traffic lights on Prince of Wales road into King Street.

Cross over across another junction and continue along King Street. There are some community and independent cafes along King Street where you can get a coffee or lunch.

After walking around 200 yards on King Street you will reach Mountergate on the left. The white house on the corner here was the Tudor house formerly owned by the Heydons, once enemies of the Pastons until Bridget Heydon married William Paston in 1502.

2104 Paston Footprints copyright Charlot

Continue along King Street to Dragon Hall

Dragon Hall is on the site of an impressive merchants' hall owned by  Robert Toppes, a friend of the Pastons in the 15th century. The Pastons traded from this part of the river (behind Dragon Hall).

2104 Dragon Hall Charlotte Knee Photogra

Continue along King Street until you reach the Music House

The Music House was owned by John Paston III and later by William Paston, who put in the windows on the first floor.

2104 Music House Charlotte Knee Photogra

Retrace your steps past Music House Lane and take St Julian’s Alley on your left.

You pass St Julian’s Shrine on your left (pictured) before emerging on to Rouen Road. Turn right and walk to the end of the road. Cross the road and continue along Farmers Avenue opposite for a short while.

Turn right into the Castle Green gardens. From here you can visit the Castle Museum. 

The Castle is the 'Gateway to the Medieval'.


The 1,000 year old Norman keep is now a museum, with  immersive visual and aural experiences. It is home to the famous Paston painting, 'The Paston Treasure'.. For information and an interactive picture visit our heritage site here.

Pay to enter. NB: the Castle is completing a major £15million NHLF building redevelopment. See here for details to plan your visit. For families with children there is a slide and seesaw in the gardens, which are free to access.

This is the end of the MEDIUM route. Continue for the LONG route and to come full circle.

2104 St Julien's shrine Charlotte Knee P

From the Castle make your way down to Castle Meadow by taking the lift or retracing your steps and continuing down Farmers' Avenue.

Cross over the road and take the passageway with the UNESCO City of Stories mural (pictured) towards the Royal Arcade.




Go through the Royal Arcade and merge on to Gentleman’s Walk, where you will experience Norwich market, which has been here since medieval times.

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Turn right and follow the market until you can see the Guildhall on your right.

This impressive flint fronted building next to the more modern city hall was built in the first half of the 15th century and housed the law courts. The Pastons would have been very familiar with it.

2104 market and guildhall Charlotte Knee

Turn right at Jarrolds, bear left at the junction and keep walking up London Street until you reach St Andrew’s Hill by the Hive bookshop.

Turn left down the hill and at the bottom you will find an open space and a large hall. This is St Andrew’s Hall adjoining Blackfriars Hall. The Pastons paid for roof repairs in both halls, and provided the oak door to St Andrew’s Hall, which carry the crests of the Pastons and the Mautbys (Margaret Paston’s family). As you come away from St Andrew’s Hall, turn left up Princes Street until you reach the junction with Elm Hill, and St Peter Hungate Church – your starting point.

2104 St Andrews Hall Charlotte Knee Phot

Share your walk experiences

We'd love to hear about the highlights of your walk. Tag your photos #pastonfootprints for a chance to win local prizes.

Why not try another Paston heritage walk?

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Explore the Paston story further

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Watch animations to learn more about Margery Brews and John Paston III

Listen to Margaret's letter about affairs at Dragon Hall.

Help us bring the Paston story to more people by taking one of our creative challenges

Find out more about the Pastons in Norwich on our sister site

Things to do nearby

Norwich Cathedral

St Peter's Hungate

The Lanes

Norwich Castle (£)

Norman castle with museum, art and activities for children

Norwich market

Iconic covered market selling all sorts including local food and street food stalls. 

Museum of Norwich at Bridewell (£)

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