Record Details

NHER Number:607
Type of record:Building
Name:Norwich Bridewell Museum, Bridewell Alley


The oldest parts of this building date to 1325, and these include the large undercroft. However, the core of the building dates to 1403 when it was used as the residence for the first Mayor of Norwich; William Appleyard. In 1583 the City purchased the house for use as a correctional facility and it was named after the first such institution in the country, which was located near to St Bride’s Well in London. In 1751 a fire ripped through the building and forced extensive repairs to be carried out and by 1828 all the inmates had moved to a new facility outside St Giles’ Gate. The Bridewell operated as a factory and warehouse until 1923 when it was purchased and converted into a museum. It opened as a museum in 1925 and showcased local crafts and industries. As well as possessing an intriguing history the Bridewell also has several notable architectural features. The northern façade is made from flint rubble and knapped flint with stone dressings. This is widely held to be the finest specimen of faced flint work in the country. Additionally, the undercroft is the largest brick-built one in the city with an area of over 300m square. It is also the only example in Norwich to have been originally constructed with an entrance from the street only.

Images - none


Grid Reference:TG 23109 08685
Map Sheet:TG20NW

Full description

Former house, now museum. 15th century with 18th and 19th alterations. Flint rubble, knapped flint with stone dressings to north façade. Brick including north wall plinth. Pantile roofs L-shape plan. North façade: two storeys above plinth and undercrofts. South façade: two storeys plus undercroft. Two brick barrel vaults on ground floor at east end of north range. Extensive series of brick built undercrofts: heavily built double order diagonal and cross-ribs with wall arches beneath north range. Three piers support ten compartments of quadrapartite vaulting with complex rib patterns beneath former hall.
For further information see (S1) to (S8).

The Bridewell, formerly W. Appleyard's house in early 15th century but undercroft is early 14th century. Flint walling.
Doorway on to St Andrew's Hill.

1970s or 1980s. Norwich Survey.
See (S9), which includes (S10).
T.E. Miller (NLA) 23 June 2004.

See schedule in file
Descheduled 1997.

1999. Exploratory works in Schoolroom (to west of south entrance from court).
Revealed that the two ovolo moulded beams of late 17th century type rest on wooden blocks inserted in brick/rubble walling - except for the south end of the west beam, obscured by later stairs etc.
E. Rose (NLA) 15 April 1999.

History and plans by [1] and [2] in file.
See (S11).

See press cutting (S12) in file.
T. Sunley (NLA) 7 November 2007.

August 2009.
A small exploratory hole (0.50m by 0.60m by 0.60m deep) was dug by workmen through the floor in the very south-west corner of the museum (TG 23095 08674), in advance of works connected with a new entrance. Below the lino tile floor and its make-up layers of mortar and a bituminous layer is a layer of very loose soil with brick and rubble fragments and animal bones. Within this there is an east-west wall or wall footing of bricks and mortar at a depth of 0.30m, 0.20m wide and running parallel to the south wall of the museum, and just 0.10m north of it. The internal floor level here is around 0.70m higher than the surface of Bridewell Alley at this point, so presumably there has been some considerable raising of levels and infilling.
D. Gurney (NLA), 27 August 2009.

Monument Types

  • HOUSE (Medieval to Post Medieval - 1325 AD to 1583 AD)
  • UNDERCROFT (Medieval to Modern - 1325 AD to 2050 AD)
  • PRISON (Post Medieval - 1583 AD to 1828 AD)
  • INDUSTRIAL BUILDING (Post Medieval to Modern - 1828 AD to 1923 AD)
  • MUSEUM (Modern - 1925 AD to 2050 AD)

Associated Finds - none

Protected Status

  • Listed Building
  • Scheduled Monument

Sources and further reading

---Newspaper Article: Eastern Daily Press. 2010. 8 May.
---Newspaper Article: Eastern Daily Press. 2012. Plea for photo's to adorn history wall. 7 April.
---Newspaper Article: Eastern Daily Press. 2012. £1.5m revamp for museum. 23 May.
---Newspaper Article: Eastern Daily Press. 2012. First glimpse at new-look city museum. 29 June.
---Newspaper Article: Eastern Daily Press. 2012. Museum opens new chapter in tale of our city. 2 July.
---Archive: Clarke, R. R. and NCM Staff. 1933-1973. Norwich Castle Museum Record Card - Norwich - Post Roman.
---Secondary File: Secondary file.
<S1>Scheduling record: English Heritage. List of Buildings of Historical and Architectural Interest.
<S2>Publication: 1962. Guide to Bridewell Museum.
<S3>Publication: Rye, W. 1916. Norwich Houses Before 1600. pp 7-8.
<S4>Publication: Howard, J. W. 1890. Doors and Doorways of Old Norwich. pl 3.
<S5>Article in serial: Ewing, W. C.. 1852. Notices of the Norwich Merchants Marks. Norfolk Archaeology. Vol III pp 176-228. p 191.
<S6>Publication: Willins, E. P. 1884. Quaint Old Norwich. pl 36.
<S7>Article in serial: Harrod, H. 1855. Extracts from Early Wills in the Norwich Registries. Norfolk Archaeology. Vol IV pp 317-339. pp 324-325.
<S8>Monograph: Blomefield, F. 1806. The History of The City and County of Norwich, Part II. An Essay Towards a Topographical History of the County of Norfolk. Vol IV. p 318.
<S9>Unpublished document: Carter, A.. Building Survey.
<S10>Graphic material: Various. Various. Architectural plans..
<S11>Thesis: Smith, R. 1990. An Architectural History of Norwich Buildings, c. 1200 - 1700. Unpublished Thesis.
<S12>Newspaper Article: Eastern Daily Press. 2000. 19 February.

Related records

Site 41Parent of: 27 Bedford Street (Monument)
Site 2279Parent of: 27 Bedford Street (Monument)
Mon 50Parent of: 27 Bedford Street (Monument)
Site 2469Parent of: 27 Bedford Street (Monument)
Mon 5Parent of: Bedford Street Kilns (Monument)
Site 2457Parent of: Bridewell Museum (Monument)
Site 1283Parent of: Bridewell Museum, Bridewell Alley (Monument)
Mon 13Parent of: The Bridewell (Monument)
Mon 14Parent of: The Bridewell (Monument)
Mon 139Part of: Bridewell Alley (Monument)

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