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My Norwich

Freeman of the city

The origin of ‘Freemen’ goes back in history to the guilds of the medieval merchants and craftsmen whose influence helped to found and stabilise urban communities.

Before the Municipal Corporations Act 1835, Freemen had a significant status and privileges which included the right to trade and vote in elections. Admission to becoming a Freeman was dependent upon birth, purchase or by apprenticeship to a master craftsman who was himself a Freeman.

Through the centuries there has been the gradual elimination of ancient rights and privileges, but becoming a Freeman still passes down from parent to child by right of birth and in certain circumstances, apprentices to Freemen can claim the honour.

Today, Norwich Freemen can benefit from the income from The Norwich Town Close Estate Charity (The Norwich Freemen's Charity) which provides pensions and other charitable allowances, maintenance and grants.

Every year, applications to be a Freeman are invited – one of Norwich’s most historic traditions.

Applications closed for Freeman of the city of Norwich 2024

The application deadline was 8 January 2024. If you would like to apply for the court next year, please email with your name and email address and we will send you information to apply to become a Freeman in 2025, nearer the time.

Applicants must be either:

  • the child of a Freeman
  • have served at least a four year apprenticeship to a Freeman within the boundaries of the city

If more than one family member is applying, please mention this so we can try to seat families together.

The ceremony has a capacity limit of 30, therefore applications are on a first come, first served basis.

Ceremony of admission

Successful applicants will be invited to a ceremony of admission held in the Council Chamber at City Hall. The ceremony includes the oath-taking ceremony followed by a light buffet. 

Please contact the civic office if you have any questions

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