Did you know...
Under the freemen’s governance, Norwich grew to become England’s second city after London for 200 years – 1525 to 1725.
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.
Norwich Guildhall was built by the freemen to house the new city government, law courts, a gaol, assemblies and administrators set up in 1404. It was used as the centre of city government until 1937 when it was replaced by City Hall.
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.