When the Normans arrived in Britain Norwich was the third largest town after London and York. Not even a year later the first Castle had been built here by William I. This was a wooden structure built around a very large motte. It was quite possibly one of the strongest timber Castles in the country and was one of the very few to survive a siege. In 1075 some disaffected barons in the town rebelled against the King. The rebellion failed and its leader, the Earl of Norfolk, fled the country leaving his wife to endure a three month siege by the King, eventually surrendering, Castle intact.
The Keep was probably built by Henry I, based on his own at Falaise in Normandy. The likely date being between 1119 and 1132. Although the keep looks overly decorated it was built this way; although the pristine version we see today is the result of Anthony Salvin's refacing of the Castle in the 1830s.
The last action here was during the Magna Carta rebellion when Prince Louis of France besieged it. From 1294 onwards the Castle's importance declined as Norwich City Walls were built around the town and didn't incorporate the Castle as usually occurred. Edward I was one of the last monarchs to attach any importance to the Castle, building a curtain wall around the top of the motte which has now all but vanished.
By the 18th Century the Castle was derelict, leading to Salvin's work. Today it operates as the City Museum and is open most of the year.
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