Harpenden Evening Decorative and Fine Arts Society

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Visit Reports

Visit to Norwich 22nd February 2016

We met at Harpenden Rugby Club from where all future trips will leave. It was raining when we left but by the time we reached Norwich Castle it was dry and it remained so all day. After coffee and cake we divided into two groups, one to first visit the Keep and the other to first view the gallery of the Norwich School of Art.

The gallery displays the paintings of about 100 artists, amongst the most notable being James Stark, George Vincent, Joseph Stannard, John Crome, John Sell Cotman and Joseph Clover. Some say that the landscapes and pastoral scenes lack the sharpness of the Dutch masters but the paintings certainly have their own charm and attention to detail.


Some paintings show a sense of humour, as in one where the sheep are entering a sheep wash with black faces and coming out with white faces.


Joseph Clover painted a portrait of George Vincent but made him paint his own landscape background. Many of the artists had to supplement what they made from their paintings by tutoring wealthy ladies.

The Keep was built by the Normans in 1067 on what had been the site of a 100 Saxon homes.


In its time it has been a palace and a prison. In 1894 it became one of the earliest town museums. It is built of stone which was imported by sea from Caen in Northern France and is said to be the finest example of Norman secular architecture in the world. We could look down the well and the treasury, then on the galleried walkway saw the multi-seated garderobes, located very near the kitchens (!), and the small chapel.

After lunch some visited Norwich Cathedral, with its impressive stone fan vaulted ceiling and painted medieval bosses, and a magnificent cloister. Others continued in the Castle or wandered round the historic streets in the neighbourhood.


We arrived back in Harpenden in the early evening, having enjoyed an informative and interesting visit.

Susan Aldridge