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Norwich Heart, Heritage Economic & Regeneration Trust

About us

Norwich HEART logo


Norwich HEART is a private, charitable trust that strategically plans, regenerates, manages and promotes Norwich and Norfolk's heritage and acts as a best practice model internationally for developing heritage as a social and economic regeneration vehicle.

HEART will be passing on activities to partners in December 2015.


HEART emerged from a perceived need to fill a gap in heritage management in the city since the management of resources was fragmented with no single vision of where heritage was, and should be, going.

There was a growing realisation of what an amazing collection of buildings, artefacts, people and stories there are in Norwich and how, if they were unified under one 'umbrella', they would have greater presence and a far stronger story to tell.

This would mean Norwich's assets could meet their full potential in improving the quality of life for local people and visitors, supporting the renaissance of the local economy, maximising the city's cultural attraction and providing a truly sustainable use of resources.

What we do

HEART run a diverse range of projects with the aim of engaging different audiences with local heritage, which include:


Winner of the 2014 European Union Prize for Cultural Heritage / Europa Nostra Award

The SHAPING 24 project was a pioneering, EU funded, €4.5M cultural heritage tourism initiative linking the iconic 'Norwich 12' buildings with 12 heritage sites in Ghent, Belgium, and was led by HEART. Following on from its predecessor, the HM Treasury funded Norwich 12 project, we estimated that the overall initiative has delivered £2M of direct investment in the city with a further £2M in matched funding and an overall economic impact of £8M over 6 years. These benefits range from job creation associated directly with the project, the generation of work for local suppliers (designers, web agencies, printers, electronics hardware suppliers) and the direct (expenditure in attractions) and indirect (expenditure on shops, restaurants, transport, hotels) expenditure flowing from additional visitors.

Heritage Open Days

In 2004, Norwich put on 12 events attracting 5000 visits for Heritage Open Days - the Europe-wide, 4 day, annual event which seeks to make normally closed or hidden heritage available, free, for public visits. HEART offered to take over co-ordination and promotion of the event locally in 2005 and, securing the national launch for the event in Norwich, we delivered 134 events attracting nearly 100,000 visits over 4 days. Regular impact surveys have shown a huge public appetite for the event and a constant complaint that 'there isn't enough'. By 2013 we'd exceeded 200 events across most of Norfolk and around 200,000 visits. Most significantly though we'd managed generate an economic impact of £807,000 over just 4 days in September. In 2015, the 4-day free festival attracted over 62,000 visitors to 247 events across Norwich and Norfolk, making it the biggest HODs outside of London, and ensuring that Norwich is in the top 1% for heritage activities and events in the country, according to the Heritage Index.

Colman's Mustard Shop & Museum

In 2009 the Anglo-Dutch conglomerate Unilever announced its intention to close the Colman's Mustard Shop & Museum in Norwich – the only one of its kind in the UK. After a public outcry, HEART stepped in and took the business over, ultimately transforming a business that was making major losses into a cost neutral operation which has contributed significantly to raising the profile of the area's industrial heritage. In 2014, we celebrated 200 years of Colman's in Norwich, with a series of special events that has included a My Colman's Antiques Day, Mustard Bake Off, a mustard tin makeover with City College Norwich, Colman's 200 Year Quiz, Norwich industry walking tours, recipe and photography competitions, and even a 'Mustard Club' murder mystery night! The shop/museum turns over around £300,000 annually, creating demand for local goods and services while augmenting the area's tourism offer by functioning as one of the most popular tourist attraction in the city. In 2015, HEART facilitated the Colman's Connections project - a Heritage Lottery Fund backed project where a group of volunteers researches dug into the archives to explore Colman's First World War history. The project culminated in a pop-up exhibition at the Forum (later shown at Museum of Norwich at The Bridewell) and the publication of the book Colman's Connections.

Norwich Dragon Festival

In 2009 HEART attempted an experimental initiative to engage people in heritage activity who might normally regard heritage as 'not for them'. The 'subversive' promotion of medieval heritage within the guise of a Dragon Festival was so popular that we had to repeat it in 2011. Dragons returned again to the streets of Norwich between 10-23 February 2014. The successful Norwich Dragon Festival 2014 - Warming Up Winter saw two weeks packed full of dragon-related activities and events linked to the symbology of the dragons in medieval heritage. Events spanned a wide range of interests from academic lectures on the iconography of dragons in Norse mythology and Beowulf to a fire breathing, animatronic dragon performing outside the Fourum and day long workshops for kids. Over 38,000 visitors enjoyed the festival, making over 99,000 visits to events, and 85% of them told us that, to their surprise, they'd leaned a lot about local heritage while having a good time. As critically though, during the deadest retail period of the year, the Festival brought people into the city and created a positive benefit of £805,000 for the local economy.

The Medieval Discovery

The story of medieval England told through the country's most complete medieval city and its historic region. The Medieval Discovery gathers the fascinating heritage of Norwich and Norfolk - the richest concentration of medieval English architecture, townscape, collections, archives and people's stories in the country - to interpret the creation of England in the Middle Ages. Just as York is synonymous with Vikings, Colchester with Romans, Ironbridge with the Industrial Revolution and Bath with the Regency, we'd like Norwich and Norfolk to become the place to start the discovery of Medieval England. The Medieval Discovery is an ongoing project with partners across the heritage, academic and commercial sectors, with cultural, educational and leisure strands furthering local economic development. You will be able to make your own Medieval Discovery through special events, learning, community engagement activities, improved physical access to sites, and digital access through new technologies.

Local Distinctiveness

As the Nobel Economist Robert Solow observed, places that fail to capitalise on their distinctive assets risk morphing into the globalised 'wallpaper' of chain burger bars and shops, ultimately becoming 'anywheres-ville' and sacrificing any attributes to distinguish them from the pack. Over the last 10 years we've worked with local businesses and people to fight against that trend by making cultural heritage part of distinctive, local offers. Working with the Lanes Traders and the City Council, we led a project between 2005 and 2007 which created the Norwich Lanes as a visitor destination. Deploying £500,000 of paving, landscaping, waymarking, art and heritage interpretation we helped to create an attraction that now rates as one of the key destinations for visitors in the area. At the conclusion of the project, the New Economic Foundation undertook an independent impact assessment finding that an investment of £500,000 was likely to create a value of £17M for the locally economy over a 10 year period. This work has led to HEART facilitating similar projects in Norwich (Cathedral Quarter) as well as other parts of the region (Thetford, Colchester).



HEART run many learning and education opportunities for all ages. We're putting together an exciting new Arts Award-based education programme for The Guildhall, covering all aspects of history, from its medieval origins through to its most recent history as a gaol and court in the 1980s. Our young person's history group, Heritage Heroes, explores the history of the city and The Guildhall building. We run education days including The Medieval Experience, Norwich Guildhall sleepovers, the mock trial of William Tuck, Mustard twilight sessions and much more. 

Our education work extends well beyond young, school-age people however, and embraces an extensive range of activity with the University of East Anglia, internships for overseas students through the Erasmus Programme as well as work with language schools and a broad range of work with adults.

Learning and education at HEART



HEART continues to develop its partnership work with both the Norwich 12 partners (now including the Sainsbury Centre), and a wide range of local heritage bodies, as well as its consultancy role throughout the region. If your business or organisation is interested in collaborative partnership working with HEART, then please do get in touch via