Inside the Bishop’s Garden in Norwich

by Anisa // 0 Comments
view of the bishops house between the shrubs of the bishops house garden

Hidden in the centre of Norwich is a lovely private garden for the Bishop with herbaceous borders, a woodland walk, a wildflower labyrinth, and much more. On select days, the public is allowed in to enjoy this secret garden.

Thanks to the Norfolk Heritage Open Days, I finally got my chance. Let me tell you more about the Bishop’s Garden in Norwich.

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Herbaceous Borders, grass in the middle of two rows of colourful flowers
The herbaceous borders were my favourite section of the garden.

The History of the Bishop’s Garden

There has been a garden of sorts on this site since Bishop de Losinga began to build the cathedral and palace (around the beginning of the 12th century). It has undergone a lot of change over the years to become the Bishop’s Garden we know today.

The entrance to the Bishop’s House and Gardens is marked by the Bishop Alnwick’s Gate which was started by Bishop Alnwick in the early 1400s and completed by Bishop Lyhart in the mid-1400s. The high walls you see around the Garden are nearly 700 years old.

bishop garden wall with view of Norwich cathedral behind it
This garden has a history going back to when Norwich Cathedral was founded.

In the early 14th century, Bishop John Salmon purchased more land to increase the size of the garden which moved Bishopgate northwards. He also added a large hall with a grand porchway. While the hall has not withstood the test of time, you can still see the ruin of the porchway which is called Bishop Salmon’s Porch.

roof of bishops salmon porch, there are some medieval bosses, not in good condition though
Don’t forget to look up when you are inside Bishop Salmon’s Porch.

The Chapel on the upper lawn was built by Bishop Reynolds in 1662 after he destroyed the original 36 metre long chapel.  They used some of the stained glass windows from the previous building. Unfortunately, you will not be able to go inside this building as it is now Bishop Reynold’s Library and used by Norwich School.

The general design of the garden took shape at least 300 years ago. The lower end was planted and separated by a wall which you can still see by the large London Plane tree that dominates the garden.

view of the bishops house through the trees
The Bishop’s House is a new edition, built in 1959.

The Old Bishop’s Palace was completed in around 1860, but is now used by Norwich School. The Bishop’s House used today was built in 1959.

At the same time, the garden was reduced from 6 ½ acres down to the present 4 acres. While up to 15 gardeners were employed in the 1940s today the garden is looked after by one full-time and one part-time gardener.

What to See at the Bishop’s Garden

As you wander through the four-acre garden, there are a few features that you won’t want to miss. Be sure to bring your camera as it is quite photogenic.

Bishop Alnwick’s Gate

gate to enter the bishop's house garden
The Alnwick Gate leading to the Bishop’s House Garden looks similar to the cathedral gates.

The gate to enter the Bishop’s House and Gardens is grand enough that many people think it is the entrance to the Cathedral. It was finished in the 15th century and named after the Bishop that started building it.

Bishop Salmon’s Porch

bishop salmons porch a ruin by the garden entrance
You have to imagine the grand hall that would have been attached to this ruin.

This porch would have led to a grand hall that was built in the 14th century. Step inside and look up to see the medieval bosses.

Bishop Reynold’s Chapel

view of bishop reynolds chapel and norwich cathedral
The Chapel is now part of Norwich School, so you can’t go inside.

While you can’t go inside this chapel, you can admire it from the outside. Stand in front of it and take in one of the best views of the Bishop’s Garden.

Top Path

view looking down at the formal gardens from the top path, there is a church tower in the background
You can get a good feel for the size of the Bishop’s Garden from the Top Path.

Follow this path and you will see the white gate leading to Norwich Cathedral, this view of the North Transept of the cathedral can only be seen from the Bishop’s Garden.

white gate that leads to Norwich Cathedral from the bishops garden
The Bishop can walk to Norwich Cathedral through this gate.

Woodland Walk

path through the woodland section with a small wooden structure to store wood
You feel like you are in the woods, but it is in the middle of Norwich.

The path for the woodland walk is a little hidden but worth finding. It’s a short journey that feels miles away from the city centre.

Main Lawn

main lawn with chapel and cathedral in the background
It’s not surprising that the main lawn has been impacted by the drought.

The main lawn is a large area of grass in the centre of the garden that is used for garden parties, charitable events, and other events. Although the grass on the main lawn was greener than many other places in Norwich, you could see the impact of the recent drought when I visited.

Parterre and Pond

looking down a row towards the centre of the parterre
The hedges frame the pond in the centre of the parterre nicely.

This section was created in the early 1900s when the box hedging, pergola, and fountain were added. It was recently redesigned to be a herb garden focusing on plants with a medicinal use. Be sure to walk to the centre to get a good view of the pond and listen to the soothing sound of the fountain.

small pond with lily pads and other plants
You have to go to the centre of the parterre to see the pond.

Hosta and Rose Walk

path with flowers on the side and church tower in the distance
Unfortunately, when I visited many of the flowers on the Hosta and Rose Walk were past their prime.

Along the wall closest to the parterre, you will find the hosta and rose walk. When I visited in September, the flowers were a little past their prime, but I can imagine this is quite a pretty area especially with the church tower in the background.

Orchard & Perennial Wildflower Labyrinth

beehives by the hedges around the labyrinth
It’s nice to see they have beehives in the Bishop’s Garden.

I enjoyed walking through the wildflower labyrinth even though the flowers were no longer blooming. The Orchard was recently planted as part of The Queen’s Green Canopy for her Platinum Jubilee. You can also see beehives by the hedge border.

Queen Victoria’s Hebe

a basic bush with a sign under it
It may look like your average bush but it is quite historic.

It may look like your average bush but it was grown from a clipping of Queen Victoria’s wedding bouquet in 1840. Cuttings have been given to Queen Elizabeth II for her Silver Jubilee in 1977 and for Golden Jubilee in 2002 and to The Princess of Wales for her wedding bouquet in 1981. The last clipping given to the Queen was planted at Sandringham.

Herbaceous Borders

close up of a vase with flowers in the background
You will definitely want to walk through the herbaceous borders to get a closer look.

The herbaceous borders section of the Bishop’s Garden was my favourite. The bright and vibrant colours of the flowers combined with the views of the rest of the garden were special.

Also don’t miss the classical sculpture hidden just behind the herbaceous borders (it’s not marked on the map).

sculpture of a lady with blurred leaves in the background
This lovely sculpture is a bit hidden amoung the hedges.

Jungle Walk

boardwalk going though area of ferns
The jungle walk is a bit unexpected.

The Jungle Walk was another unexpected area that felt almost like somewhere on a tropical island with the moai statue and palm trees.

moai sculpture
This sculpture reminds me of the ones on Easter Island, just a bit smaller.

Plant Sales

Those that want their own piece of the Bishop’s Garden at home can purchase plants in the section between the herbaceous borders and the kitchen garden.

Kitchen Garden

some kind of squash from the kitchen garden at bishops house garden
They grow some interesting food in the kitchen garden.

They grow quite an array of organic fruits and vegetables in the kitchen garden which are used by Bishop Graham and his family as well as for his ministry of hospitality. I wish they would have had more signs labeling the plants but there were quite a few familiar ones.


greenhouse with plants inside it
The peppers and other plants seem to be thriving in the greenhouse.

While you can’t go inside the Greenhouse, it’s easy to see the plants (tomatoes and peppers) growing there.

Bamboo Walk

The bambooserie is another unexpected walk where you feel as though you have been transported far from Norwich city centre with 45 different species of bamboo.

Norwich Bishop’s Garden FAQs

Where is the Bishop’s Garden?

The Bishop’s Garden is located by Norwich Cathedral. The entrance gate is off of St. Martin-At-Palace Plain.purple flower with blurred leaves in the background

When is the Bishop’s Garden open to the public?

They open the gardens to the public on select days to raise money for charity. You can confirm the dates here.
The Bishop’s Garden does usually open at some point during Heritage Open Days for free.view of church tower through the trees

How much is it to visit the Bishop’s Garden?

The admission charge is £5 per adult. Accompanied children under 16 years old and wheelchair users are flower with blurred green leaves in background

Do they have food and drink for purchase at the Bishop’s Garden?

Yes, they have refreshments for sale at the Granary Court.bushes and an archway in the bishops house garden

Are there public toilets at the Bishop’s Garden?

Yes, they are located at Granary Court.view of the bishop's house

Are dogs welcome in the Bishop’s Garden?

The only dogs allowed in the Bishop’s Garden are assistance dogs.two orange flowers with slightly blurred leaves in the background

Is the Bishop’s Garden in Norwich worth visiting?

Yes! It’s a quiet (and pretty) place to relax in the city centre. It’s too bad that this hidden gem is not open every day.

If you enjoyed the Bishop’s Garden, be sure to also check out our list of the best gardens to visit in Norwich.

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