Posts Tagged Norwich
We’re all familiar with the marketplace in Norwich, we’ve been shopping in Chapelfield and the Castle Mall and sat in the sun in Chapelfield Gardens. Many of us have wandered around the Lanes and peeped into the boutiques and coffee shops tucked away there. But have you paid a visit to Dragon Hall or investigated the enchanting Riverside Walk?
The Riverside Walk runs alongside the River Wensum close to the railway station. The two-mile walk leading from Cathedral Close wouldn’t be out of place in the depths of the countryside and is a real escape from the hustle and bustle of the city centre. Along the way you’ll come across Pulls Ferry, a 15th century arch named after a ferryman who worked there. It was once a water gate over a canal which was used by the Normans to ferry stone from France along the Rivers Wensum and Yare to get as close to the construction site as possible.
Another famous structure along the walk is Cow Tower, a medieval brick defensive tower built in 1398-9 at a strategic bend in the river as part of the city defences. The water meadow which it stands on was once known as Cowholme, and it is from this that the tower gets its name. The 14th century tower is a rare example of a freestanding medieval artillery tower, and, although appearing to be almost complete, it was damaged severely in the rebellion led by Robert Kett in 1549.
Cow Tower Pulls Ferry
Elm Hill runs between Princes Street and Wensum Street and is one of the oldest streets in Norwich. There are a number of Tudor houses still standing which were built after over 700 houses in the city were destroyed in the great fire of 1507 – in fact, there are more original Tudor houses standing in Elm Hill than in the whole City of London! The cobbled street is now home to a number of independent shops (such as the Dormouse Bookshop and The Bear Shop), as well as the Briton’s Arms coffee house and the Stranger’s Club. It is also a popular destination for film and television crews and was notably featured in the 2007 film Stardust when it was transformed into the streets of Stormhold.
Dragon Hall is a medieval hall hidden away on King Street, close to the river. It can be accessed easily via the new bridge on Riverside. The hall gets its name from the intricate dragon carving on one of the spandrels (triangular spaces between the beams and the braces) in the Great Hall. The Hall was built in about 1430 and is the only surviving medieval trading hall in Western Europe that was built by an individual. Robert Toppes owned the site in the 15th century, when the great trading hall was built, but after his death in 1467 it was divided up and sold. During the 19th century Dragon Hall housed pubs, shops and businesses. But in the early part of the 20th century, the hall and the surrounding area became neglected and it was in danger of becoming derelict. It was eventually bought and restored by the City Council in the 1970s and is now a Grade 1 listed building. The architecture is now complemented by displays showing the role the Hall has played in the history of the city.
Dragon Hall The Great Hall
Stranger’s Hall is one of the oldest buildings in Norwich. Situated on Charing Cross, it was once a merchant’s house and now is home to a museum of English domestic life. The hall dates back to the early 14th century when it was likely built for a merchant named Ralph de Middilton. The house stood well back from the street, and the upper storey originally ran at right-angles to the street following the line of the undercroft (vaulted cellar) that it was built above. William Barley rebuilt the hall in around 1450, turning it round so that it ran parallel to the street. Until Nicholas Sotherton, wealthy merchant grocer and Mayor of Norwich, built the present front door, porch and steps in the 1530s, the living quarters could only be reached through a passageway and narrow staircase at the back of the undercroft. The hall staircase and window were added in 1627 by Francis Cock, a grocer who lived in the Hall from 1612 to 1628 and who also became Mayor of the city. The Hall was bought by Joseph Paine, a Norwich hosier, in 1659. As Mayor, in 1660 he went to London to present King Charles II with one thousand pounds in gold from the citizens of Norwich, and was rewarded with a knighthood. By the end of the 19th century the hall was standing neglected and almost derelict. It was almost demolished, but was saved by Leonard Bolingbroke, a local solicitor and for many years treasurer of the Norfolk Archaeological Society who bought the house in 1899. His family had been silk mercers, and he was the grandson of James Stark, the Norwich School artist. He was an enthusiastic collector, and furnished the house with his own collection of antiques. He appointed a caretaker and in May 1900 he opened it to the public as a folk museum, one of the first of its kind in Britain. Bolingbroke wanted to display objects used in everyday life as an alternative to the stuffed birds and fossils on show in most museums at that time. When the museum failed to pay its way Bolingbroke moved in with his wife and family of five children. He continued to admit the public to some rooms and in 1922 presented Strangers’ Hall and its contents to the City of Norwich as a museum of domestic life.
The museum now has one of the largest domestic life collections in the country, with different rooms depicting different eras, including a Regency music room, an Edwardian dining room and a room made entirely from paper.
Stranger’s Hall The Regency music room
The Bridewell Museum
The Bridewell Museum (although currently closed for refurbishment) is tucked away in Bridewell Alley and is dedicated to the local life and industry in days gone by and the fashions that Norwich was once famous for.
Originally a house built by Geoffery de Salle in about 1325 and enlarged in 1386 by William Appleyard (both of whom were wealthy merchants), the house was bought by the city authorities in 1538. Part of it was made into a workhouse to correct and punish the city’s vagrant population, known as a ‘Brydewell’. The first of these workhouses was near St. Bride’s well in London, and the name ‘Bridewell’ came to be used for similar places elsewhere in the country. Most of the building was destroyed by fire in 1751, but it was rebuilt and remained in use as a prison. The courtyard was used as an exercise yard, and the initials and dates carved by prisoners can still be seen in the left hand corner of the yard, just past the museum entrance.
After the inmates were transferred to a new prison in 1828, the building was bought by James Newbegin and turned into a tobacco factory, before it became Lilley & Skinner’s leather warehouse in about 1890, and then Thomas Bowhill’s boot and shoe factory in about 1896.
After the factory moved to Heigham Street in 1923, Henry Nicholas Holmes, another shoe manufacturer, purchased the building and set about making it into a museum of local industries. It was opened by the Duke of York on 24th October 1925. Today, there are displays featuring the Norwich food industry, iron foundries and examples of early fire appliances, as well as a collection of shoes all manufactured in Norwich. There is also a recreation of a 1930′s pharmacy, one of the most complete examples in the country.
The Bridewell Museum
The Adam & Eve pub
There are records of the existence of the Adam & Eve pub which date all the way back to 1249, when workmen building the Cathedral would come to the inn to be paid for their labours in bread and beer. The building was owned by monks who also gave ale to the patients at the Great Hospital for medicinal purposes. The pub is said to be haunted by the ghost of Lord Sheffield who was killed nearby during Kett’s Rebellion of 1549, as well as by spectres of some of the monks who lived and worked there.
The notorious murderer James Rush is reputed to have plotted his crime in the Adam & Eve. In 1849, thousands watched him hang for the murders of Isaac Jeremy, recorder of Norwich, and his son. In the mid-19th century, the pub was frequented by the Norfolk author George Borrow, best known for his novels Lavengro and Romany Rye. Between 1845 and 1860, the landlady of the pub was a Mrs Howes. She had a wherry of the same name and famously transported sand from Great Yarmouth which she sold to local pubs for their floors and spittoons. She became very popular from this trade – it was not unknown for contraband items to be concealed in the sacks along with the sand!
The Adam & Eve
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