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C. J. Sansom (1952-

Sansom's historical whodunnit Tombland - published in 2018 - is set largely in Norwich and features many well known landmarks and locations.

Plaque on the Wall of the Maid's Head Hotel

The book, which takes place in the year 1549, features the London lawyer Matthew Shardlake who works for Lady Elizabeth - the daughter of Henry VIII. When Edith Boleyn (the wife of John Boleyn) is visciously murdered - Shardlake heads for Norfolk with his assitant Nicholas Overton. In Norwich he is reuinted with his former assistant Jack Barak.

Shardlake's arrival in Norfolk coincides with the peasant's rebellion of the same year led by Robert Kett. Kett leads a force of thousands against the Norfolk landlords and establishes his camp near St Michael's chapel on Mousehold Heath overlooking the city.

Barak throws in his lot with the rebels but Overton, who is opposed to them, becomes a prisoner in Norwich Castle. Shardlake has to decide where his loyalties lie and he soon discovers that the murder of Edith Boleyn may have connections reaching into the heart of the rebel camp and also into the Norfolk gentry.

Shardlake travels up to Norwich via Wymondham and Kenninghall and stays in the Maid's Head Hotel in Tombland. The hotel, which is still there today, has put up a plaque on the wall to commemorate its link with the book.

Other locations featured in the book include: Norwich Castle, St Peter Mancroft Church, the Shirehall, Norwich Market, the Guildhall, Stranger's Hall, St Andrew's Hall, Elm Hill, Augustine Steward House (Tombland), St Martin's Plain, the Adam and Eve Pub, the Great Hospital, the Hermitage, Bishop Bridge, Lollards Pit, Cow Tower, Kett's Heights, St Michael's Chapel, Mount Surrey and Mousehold Heath.

While preparing the book Sansom actually lived in Norwich - so he was able to meticulously research all the locations. Today, there are walking tours available led by Paul Dickson - retracing all the major locations in the book. Incidentally, Tombland doesn't actually mean a 'land of tombs' but rather derives from the Old English for 'empty space'.

More location photographs from Tombland




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