Obituary: Norwich tour guide Barbara Miller MBE dies aged 92

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Posted:
6:00 a.m. December 17, 2021



A longtime Norwich tour guide who was inspired to get involved in the role by a visit to the Tower of London has died aged 92.

After taking a guided tour of the world-famous attraction with her daughters, Barbara Miller left the capital with a heart set on work for herself.

As someone fascinated by history, especially Norwich architecture, she was instrumental in establishing a group of Blue Badge Guides in the mid-1960s.


Barbara Miller (center) inside Blackfriars Hall

A familiar figure across town as she led people on a variety of walks until her 80s, she had an infectious enthusiasm for her adopted home, coupled with dedicated and meticulous research.

Her family describes her as “an indomitable woman of great vitality, with a big heart”.

An only child, Barbara Baker was born in Stowmarket, Suffolk, in 1929. The family moved to Norwich when she was four years old. Soon after, she attended the College’s Primary School and from there got a scholarship to Norwich Girls’ High School.

When she left school in 1947, she was offered a place to study history at the London School of Economics, but her father was convinced that college was not the right place for her. She went to Norwich City College instead and took a secretarial course. She then worked in the administrative team for the next three years.


Barbara Miller in the Great Hall of Dragon Hall, presenting a day of lectures and discussion

Barbara Miller in the Great Hall of Dragon Hall presenting a day of lectures and discussions
– Credit: Evening News © 2008

In 1949, she met Norwich-born Martin Miller at Horning on the Norfolk Broads – one of her favorite sailing spots. They tied the knot on September 4, 1951 and celebrated their platinum wedding anniversary that year.

In 1969 Ms Miller returned to Norwich High School as part-time secretary to principal, Dorothy Bartholomew, and worked for three principals until her retirement in 1989.

In addition to city walks, Ms. Miller has become a much sought-after speaker across the country. Various groups and societies booked her regularly to shed light on a range of local history topics, including Georgian Norwich, Edith Cavell and the town’s shoe industry.

For years she relied on 35mm slides, but during her 80s she converted her slides to digital images and mastered new techniques and technologies to do so.


Barbara Miller's blue badge for city tours.  Photo: DENISE BRADLEY

Barbara Miller’s blue badge for city tours
– Credit: Copyright: Archant 2014

In 1994, she received an MBE for her 30 years of service as a Blue Badge Guide. It wasn’t the only time she met the Queen however. On two occasions she has been invited to speak at the Sandringham Women’s Institute Christmas reunion.

During her volunteering, which began in 1964, her main destinations included Norwich Cathedral, Colegate and St Michael’s Church in Coslany, the Great Hospital, Carrow Abbey and the Georgian buildings around the city.

In addition to her lectures and walks around town, Ms. Miller has embarked on a number of other activities.

For years she served on the board of the Norwich Society and worked tirelessly for the Norwich Preservation Trust and the Norfolk Record Society. One of her most important contributions was to Norwich’s St Peter Mancroft, where for many years she served as churchwarden and fundraiser.


Mancroft Advice Project (MAP) celebrates 25th anniversary.Barbara Miller.PHOTO: Nick Butche

Mancroft Advice Project (MAP) celebrates 25th anniversary with Barbara Miller
– Credit: Nick Butcher

In addition to her efforts to help establish the Octagon Building on the corner of Norwich Haymarket, she also helped raise funds for a new organ at the west end of the church, and set up the charity , Mancroft Advice Project (MAP), serving as trustee until his death.

Her family added, “She was the beloved matriarch of a great family that she adored. She will be sadly missed by many people whose lives she touched in so many different ways.”

Ms Miller died at her home in Norwich on December 1.

She is survived by her husband, her daughters Charlotte, Louise and Alexandra, her three sons-in-law, eight grandchildren and 11 great-grandchildren.

Her funeral will be held at St Peter Mancroft at 11:30 am on Tuesday, December 21 and will be webcast live via the church’s website.

Donations collected for MAP through Allcock Family Funeral Services, Falcon House, 96a, City Road, Norwich, NR1 2HD or online at allcockfunerals.co.uk.

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