I would occasionally be asked if a book would emerge from the Colonel Unthank’s Norwich blog but I had to wait until the second Covid lockdown before I had the opportunity. I rewrote selected posts, sorted out which pictures could or could not be used, wandered the city with my camera and generally saved my sanity during the great isolation. The resulting book – Colonel Unthank’s Norwich: A Sideways Look at the City – is a collection of articles on the history and buildings of Norwich.
All chapters are based on personal research yet this was never intended to be a straight-on history book that followed a timeline. Topics are eclectic but, as characters and buildings are encountered in different contexts, patterns emerge and – hopefully – provide a sense of how the city came to look the way it does.
One of the articles is about the city’s fine collection of Georgian doorways. In this, I followed the path of Kent and Stephenson who, in a book published in 1948, showed 20 doors that had survived the war. The fact that I was able to find 17 of the 20 might seem to give cause for optimism that we have protected our heritage. However, another survey in 1945 by photographer of vanishing Norwich, George Plunkett, showed how much we lost, not just in the war, but in the slum clearances of the twentieth century. The city’s built heritage is a fragile thing and we must question the loss of everyday items that enrich the texture of our streets. Not everything should fall into the maw of progress.
One chapter, On Golden Ball Street, never appeared as a blog post but is based on my Tweet about the sculpture outside the Eastern Daily Press building.
My very first blog post was on angels’ ears. The angel cult of the Late Medieval period fascinates me and I returned to the topic on two further occasions with Angels’ Bonnets and Angels in Tights.
The book is 144 pages long and contains 30 richly-illustrated chapters. Priced £14.99 it can be bought from:
Jarrold Book Department, Norwich (Pressing this link takes you to the mail order page)
City Bookshop, Norwich (Pressing this link takes you to the mail order page)
Waterstones, Castle Street, Norwich
©Reggie Unthank 2021