At our April meeting we were entertained by Junya Lewis who told us about the how influential ‘newcomers’ have been to Norwich.
She opened with a Frank Meeres quote (Frank was an archivist at the Records Office). “The human race did NOT originate in East Anglia. EVERYONE is an incomer” She then went on to explain this is true whether they are refugees – people who flee from their native lands, or migrants – those who choose to move.
Norwich itself was first mentioned in print in 980AD in the Book of Ely. It was the Saxon capital, later to be conquered by the Vikings. However, before this Norwich had existed as Venta Icenorum, a Roman Town at Caistor St Edmunds.
After this came the Normans who left their impression in Norwich by building both Norwich Castle and Norwich Cathedral and many of the churches. The Normans also brought with them a large Jewish community, who at this time possessed one third of the city’s wealth. As time went by and due to political reasons, most Jews were expelled from Norwich in 1290, later to return and face expulsion again in 1377 when Richard II was on the throne.
After this came the ‘Strangers’ from the Low Countries of Europe who settled here due to religious unrest in their own countries. This people were weavers of fine cloth for which there was a high demand and the city once more became prosperous. These people also brought with them a passion for breeding canaries, hence Norwich City Football Club having this as their nickname.
There have been one or two notable incomers to Norwich who have also left their mark. Harriet Martineau from Holland settled here and was a great campaigner for people’s rights and Pablo Fanque, the first non-white circus owner in Britain.