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“Great for vintage, second hand and independent shops” 5 of 5 stars
Review of Magdalen Street

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Magdalen Street
Magdalen Street, Norwich NR3 1JF, England
44 1603 666071
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Ranked #30 of 76 Attractions in Norwich
Type: Landmarks/ Points of Interest, Landmarks
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Attraction details
Recommended length of visit: 2-3 hours
Norwich, United Kingdom
1 review
16 helpful votes 16 helpful votes
“Great for vintage, second hand and independent shops”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed August 2, 2013

First of all, I want to clear something up. There seems to be a bit of snobbery going on here - people saying they're afraid to walk down Magdalen Street because it's full of dealers (?!), or writing it off as "cheap" because there's a good selection of £1 stores in Anglia Square (which I would class as an advantage, personally!). I live just off Magdalen Street and I've never felt unsafe at any time of night - or at least, no less safe than walking anywhere else in a city in the middle of the night. Walk responsibly, people.

So much for the night-life! As far as shopping goes, if you want identikit chain stores and glossy fashion boutiques then yes, you will be disappointed here. BUT if you want two of the biggest and best second hand and vintage emporiums (emporia?) in the East, it's the place to go. Aladdin's Cave and Loose's Emporium are both huge two-storey buildings crammed full of vintage, retro and just plain old second-hand furniture, homewares, records, clothing, books, ornaments, old shop fittings...you name it, they sell it. As well as these two behemoths of the second-hand market, there are countless charity shops, two brilliant vintage clothing boutiques (Back In Time in Anglia Square is great for 60s and 70s gear), and the brilliant little Junk & Gems which sells vintage homewares, fabrics, china, magazines and books. Add to that the independent fabric and craft stores (Anglia Fashion Fabrics, Anglia Home Fabrics and Sew Creative) and the Anglia Fabrics "Make Place" where you can take classes and workshops on a range of fabric crafts, and you've got a lively, vibrant, creative shopping destination.

Food-wise, Magdalen Street is often known as the Brick Lane of Norwich, with at least three or four great curry houses lining the street (I've lost count). There are also cafés and pubs (including the popular Kings Head, a real ale pub) and home of the best breakfast in Norwich, The Street Café.

If you're looking for "attractions", perhaps Magdalen Street isn't the place to go. But there are some points of historical interest if you care to look for them. At the far end of the street you can see one of only 15 remaining pieces of the original 14th century city wall which once dominated the city at over 12ft high. Access to and from the city was via one of the twelve fortified toll gates. At the end of Magdalen Street was the Magdalen Gate, the frame of which can still be seen today. There is also a rather lovely (19th century?) church called St Saviour's, which although no longer in use as a place of worship is still part of the community, hosting youth and theatre groups. It also looks jolly nice in spring because it has a large flowering cherry tree outside the main door.

For fans of more modern architecture, the brutalist Anglia Square complex, built in the 1960s, is quite something to behold. Yes, it's full of pound shops and burger vans. Yes, the clientele are usually overweight parents and sad looking dogs. But it's a perfect example of 1960s architecture and it has a band stand and I think it's rather lovely. Not everyone shares my view on this. There's also the (now world famous, thanks to the recent Alpha Papa premiere) Hollywood Cinema, which was once home to the biggest screen in England (yes, really), and which caused controversy in the 1970s when its owner decided to charge £1 for the premier seats, making it among the most expensive cinemas in the country.

So - to sum up my review, if you want something a bit different to the branded stores in the city centre, Magdalen Street is the place to come. It's full of hidden gems, and if you can get a bottle of shampoo for 99p. If you like your shopping experiences glossy, soulless, and absolutely unbearable on a Saturday, go to Chapelfield. You'll like it there.

Visited August 2013
Was this review helpful? Yes 16
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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24 reviews from our community

Visitor rating
Date | Rating
  • English first
  • Any
English first
Norwich, United Kingdom
1 review
4 helpful votes 4 helpful votes
“Lively and Vibrant”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed August 1, 2013

This area is great for spending hours perusing vintage and antique shops filled to the brim, there are many world food shops and lots of opportunity for purchasing delicious baclava, there are many indian restaurants and a great cafe called Namaste India, charity shops a plenty, fabric shops, the list goes on. The area has been described as run down, but it feels more like a city than any other part of Norwich, this is where the people live! It's a lovely walk leading down from Tombland by the Cathedral and well worth the walk.

Visited August 2013
Was this review helpful? Yes 4
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Norwich, United Kingdom
12 reviews 12 reviews
Reviews in 5 cities Reviews in 5 cities
9 helpful votes 9 helpful votes
“Magdalen Street is FABULOUS!!!”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed August 1, 2013

Magdalen Street in Norwich seems to have received some poor reviews, but I for one think that it is a fantastic place! Choc-full of wonderful independent shops (check out Loose's and Aladin's Cave for great antiques/retro stuff), charity shops (brilliant Oxfam with a great book section), curry houses, haberdasheries/fabric shops, ethnic food shops, fab little cafes etc. and then as you get further along the road you come to some wonderful 'retro/collectables' shops like the amazing 'Junk and Gems', and Retreat Vintage for some fabulous vintage clothes.

If you want an alternative to the usual fare on the high street, you love retro, and you are not afraid of cultural diversity then head on down to Magdalen Street for a very happy day (or more!) of browsing and buying.

Visited August 2013
Was this review helpful? Yes 5
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Norwich, United Kingdom
1 review
6 helpful votes 6 helpful votes
“Great for those looking for interesting and independent shops”
4 of 5 stars Reviewed August 1, 2013

I don't think you can see the true nature of any city without exploring streets like this that may be regarded as 'off the beaten track'...and as with most cities, areas like Magdalen Street host many independent businesses and traders, and can sometimes offer some interesting shopping and culture.
The area may be slightly 'run down' in parts, but it is busy, and in my opinion, is not as potentially dangerous as some like to profess it is!
Best for vintage shoppers and second-hand bargain hunters and charity shop shoppers. Also good for picking up everyday essentials.
A good few car parks around and some limited free parking all along the street too.
Travel the whole length of the street (the 'flyover' /Anglia Square section is just the middle) to see the whole range of eclectic shops and services.

Visited August 2013
Was this review helpful? Yes 6
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Norwich, United Kingdom
Senior Contributor
42 reviews 42 reviews
31 attraction reviews
Reviews in 16 cities Reviews in 16 cities
30 helpful votes 30 helpful votes
“Not the best”
2 of 5 stars Reviewed April 16, 2013

Definitely not the best area of Norwich, full of charity shops and cheap shops. Area has a really bad reputation, I would only dare walk down it in the middle of the day.
Only good thing, some good fabric shops!

Visited March 2013
Was this review helpful? Yes 1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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