These run daily on the hour from 11am to 3pm. Advertised as taking an hour, we took 75 minutes with a further 25 minutes to visit the cloisters. The guides are enthusiastic and knowledgeable and cover the “history of the cathedral,”:http://wasleys.org.uk/eleanor/churches/england/norfolk/norwich_cathedral/cathedral_one/index.html some of the characters as well as pointing out many of the highlights. These include things likely to be missed by visitors, like the medieval graffiti, the wall paintings of Herbert de Losinga high on the south aisle, the tomb of Anne Boleyn’s grandfather, the relic niche in the ambulatory and the stained glass window of Julian of Norwich complete with her cat.
There was the story of Osbert Parsley, the singing man who began singing in 1535 with the monks. He survived the Dissolution of the monasteries and continued to sing in the Cathedral for fifty years in both Latin and English. His tomb is on a pillar in the north arcade.
It also included bits of information not included in the guide books, like the C19th glass in the great west window which created such a fuss when it was installed it was covered with brown varnish. This was eventually removed 120 years later revealing the glass in all its glory again.
The modern copper font was given to the Cathedral by the Rowntree Chocolate factory in Norwich when it closed down. It had been used to boil up the chocolate. The monks of the Benedictine Monastery would not have needed a font…
We were shown close up pictures of the bosses in the nave, which are too far above to see clearly, unless you come prepared with binoculars. Examples of the beautiful C15th misericords were pointed out, including one of the school maser smacking the bare bottom of a naughty boy.
If you have the time, it is well worth while trying to fit in a guided tour. I came away with a much better understanding of the cathedral than I got from reading the guide book and internet research.