The first castle in Norwich was built shortly after the Norman conquest of 1066. Although the date cannot exactly be defined, is most likely that it was built in conjunction with William the Conqueror’s East Anglia campaign of 1067. The first record we have of the castle comes from 1075 when the Earl of Norfolk rebelled against the king. The castle was besieged and the rebel garrison surrendered.
The stone keep of the castle, as we see it today, replaced the earlier keep sometime around 1100. It was again held by rebels from 1173 to 74 but was again returned to Royal control following the end of that rebellion.
Strategically, the castle then seems to have passed out of history. Records show that from 1220 it was used as a prison and over the following centuries buildings were added around the keep to expand its accommodation and a number of alterations on the buildings were carried out in the late 18th and early 19th centuries. Following the opening of a new prison in 1887, on the site of the disused Britannia barracks, the castle ceased to be used for housing criminals. The buildings were bought by the city of Norwich and following a rebuilding programme were opened as a museum in 1895.
The museum today contains a varied collection of art, nature and history with a focus on local interests.
The castle also contains the regimental museum of the Royal Norfolk Regiment