Norwich Guildhall

Bassingham Gate on south side [0116] 1934-06-09
Formerly entrance to house of John Bassingham, a goldsmith, at 57-59 London St and dating from the reign of Henry VIII. It was bought for £12 by William Wilde when London St was widened in 1855-7 and inserted here at the Magistrates' entrance to the Guildhall.
Market Place Guildhall east side [0299] 1934-09-23
Municipal offices until 1938. The annexe to the south was reconstructed in 1861 for the Town Clerk's and Police departments.
South side from Gaol Hill [0300] 1934-09-23
Occupying the site of a humble thatched Tolhouse, Norwich Guildhall was built in 1407-13 in order that the larger self-governing powers conferred under the Charter of 1404 might be administered the more conveniently. In 1412 prisoners first occupied the crypts; that to the east - a relic of the old Tolhouse with its 14c brick groining -holding the most desperate cases. Two towers of timber and tile construction, on the north and south sides respectively, were destroyed when the roof of the Council Chamber collapsed in 1511. By 1534 the new Mayor's Council Chamber was completed, and today form the most beautiful part. Its eastern face exhibits a particularly fine example of contemporary chequered flint work and freestone, and has a central panel containing a fragment of the Arms of Henry VIII, flanked by two others containing (north) the City Arms, and (south) those of St George's Company. Within the Council Chamber is to be seen an open timber roof with panels and pendants, and the seating arrangement, with linen-fold panelling, carved shields of arms and quaint poppy-heads, exemplifies a Tudor Court of Justice. Many of the fragments of 15th and 16c stained glass in three windows came from the adjoining chapel of St Barbara, destroyed in 1625.
Civic affairs were conducted here until 1938, when a new City Hall was opened. However, Magistrates' Courts continued to be held in the old Common Council Chamber, which, with the Sessions Court below (formerly the Sheriff' Court) contained work of the 18c, notably a pillared doorway in the former, and the Judge's seat and railings in the latter. The Civic Regalia (now in the Castle museum) and many portraits of past Mayors, Recorders, and other local benefactors used to be housed in the Guildhall. These included Sir Edward Coke (1552-1634); Augustine Steward (who was largely responsible for the reconstruction of the Guildhall in 1534; he was M.P. in 1547 and thrice Mayor); Archbishop Parker (1504-1575); and full-length studies by Heins of Thomas Emerson (who presented the Sheriff's Chains in 1739) and Sir Benjamin Wrench, an eminent physician of the 18c. Many of these are now in Blackfriars Hall.
The additions to the south side were built in 1861 by Thomas Barry, the City Surveyor.
East front floodlit [0315] 1934-11-20
South side floodlit from Gaol Hill [0319] 1934-11-26
East front Jubilee floodlit [0533a] 1935-05-05
South side Jubilee floodlit [0534] 1935-05-05
From NW [0743] 1935-09-08
Civic Week Lord Mayor's coach [2812] 1938-10-23
A resolution of the City Council, passed on 11th October 1911, explains how the city came by the coach:
"Resolved on the report of the City Committee that the Lord Mayor has presented to the city for the use of future Lord Mayors the coach which was used on the occasion of the visit of His Majesty George V to the city on 18th June last, together with liveries for the servants and State harness for a pair of horses, that the very hearty thanks of the Council be given to the Right Honourable the Lord Mayor (Alderman Sir Eustace Gurney) for his great generosity in presenting so handsome and interesting an equipage to the City." Sir Eustace was Lord Mayor in 1910-11, with Mr H.P.Gould as Sheriff.
Stored in a coach house at the Strangers' Hall, the coach went out of use during the Second World War, but it was restored to duty in 1950 after a call for its reappearance had been made by Basil Cozens-Hardy, a former Sheriff of Norwich. An initial difficulty was soon overcome when a local firm of brewers agreed to lend, free of charge, two powerful grey horses and their driver as and when required.
South side from Garden of Remembrance [2844] 1938-11-05
Bassingham Gate on south side [2900] 1939-03-31
East side [3826] 1949-08-09
Chequered work 1534. Clock turret 1850.
SW corner from St Peter's St [3827] 1949-08-09
The portion to the right of the first floor stringcourse rebuilt following collapse of roof in 1511.
Festival garden adjoining Guildhall [3997] 1951-06-21
From NW [4675] 1962-06-17
Ringbolt at SW corner [6703] 1991-07-07
Said to be where malefactors were tied up and flogged.

Text and photographs copyright George Plunkett