Did you know...
Ed Balls’ ancestors were Norwich Freemen between 1404 and 1913, but the succession has lapsed and he is no longer eligible.
New freemen have to swear an oath to be ‘buxom’ to the mayor. This is a medieval way of declaring obedience and loyalty to the mayor.
From the early 15th century, the freemen governed Norwich in relative harmony for 250 years – in marked contrast to other large rival towns in England such as Bristol, York and Newcastle.
The key privileges of the Freemen, the right to vote in elections and trading rights, were swept away by the Reform Acts of 1832 and 1835. The Norwich Freemen still kept Town Close Estate – which is now a charity that gives grants to local organisations.