Record Details

NHER Number:618
Type of record:Building
Name:Assembly House, Theatre Street


These former Assembly Rooms are now galleries, a restaurant, lecture rooms and a flat. They were built in 1754 by Thomas Ivory and incorporated 15th century brick undercrofts. Their exterior is of red brick and rendered flint and brick rubble with the building set out in five bays. The building stands on the site of, and incorporates small fragments of, the college of St Mary-in-the-Fields. The college of St Mary-in-the-Fields was originally a hospital but soon after 1248 became a secular college before being dissolved in 1544. Sadly, the building was gutted by fire in 1995 but a salvage operation managed to retrieve decorated ceiling plaster and chandelier remains from the Music Room (whose ceiling was designed by Sir James Burrough of Cambridge), Restaurant and Foyer.

Images - none


Grid Reference:TG 2280 0831
Map Sheet:TG20NW

Full description

Former Assembly Rooms, now galleries, restaurant, lecture rooms and flat. Includes the cinema west of the west wing. (No longer a cinema 1994).
1754 by Thomas Ivory with 15th century undercrofts and later fragments. 17th century east wing. Red brick. Flint and brick rubble. Rendered. Pantile roofs. Two storeys. Five bays. Right hand wing: three storeys, five bays. Left hand wing: 17th century two storeys. Three storeys adjoining principal façade. Undercrofts: brick, two bays with diagonal ribs with subsidiary ridge and cross ribs. The building stands on the site of and incorporates small fragments of the college of St Mary-in-the-Fields. These two bays are beneath the south-east room of the 18th century Assembly House.
College of St Mary-in-the-Fields, Theatre Street. Originally a hospital.
Soon after 1248 became secular college. Dissolved 1544.
Excavations 1901; alterations 1947-50.
Foundations under Noverre House (1954). Includes AM 14.
R. R. Clarke (NCM).

Plan by Rowland Pierce (copy in file, interpretative)
The glazed floor tiles and painted window glass from 1901 excavations are held by NCM.
The bells were sold to St Lawrence's. See NHER 583.

1970s or 1980s. Norwich Survey.
See (S1), includes (S2) and chronology of building alterations and additions 1571-1755.
T.E. Miller (NLA) 18 January 2006.

April 1995.
Building gutted by fire. See newspaper reports (S3) in file.
See file for further details.

May/June 1995. Salvage excavation by NAU in aftermath of fire of 21 April.
Work concentrated on retrieval of decorated ceiling plaster and chandelier remains from Music Room, Restaurant and Foyer. Gridded collection units used to aid eventual reconstruction or replication of ceiling elements.
Archive and all material retrieved held by architects (Purcell, Miller and Tritton) for use during reconstruction work.
Report (S4) in file. Also structural survey by Robert Smith in file.
T. Ashwin (NAU), 22 February 1996.

The ceiling of the music room was designed by Sir James Burrough of Cambridge who also designed the dining room at Sidney Sussex College; the plasterer was Wilkins, ancestor of William Wilkins. The balcony at the end, originally added in 1830 superceding that above the entrance, where musicians stand holes remain, was much rebuilt in the 1950s. Information from (S1).
See photographs in oversize graphic material drawer.
E. Rose (NLA) 27 November 2002.

August 2007.
Scheduled monument consent granted concerning the redecoration of the plinth to the music room and the re-waxing of wall panels below the window and exit door. Consent also granted concerning the replacement and repositioning of exisiting doors with new bi-folio automatic doors.
See (S6)

2008. Norwich HEART (S7, S8)
One of the most glorious examples of Georgian assembly rooms architecture in the country. A Georgian grade I listed building, the Assembly House was originally the site of a 13th century hospital and a secular college and church for priests, who lived a communal life in the surrounding hall and cloisters. The house as it stands today was designed by the architect Thomas Ivory. It was used as a ‘House of Assemblies' for the gentry of Norwich, and hosted a wealth of events and famous people.
D. Gurney (NLA), 27 January 2009.

January 2009
Scheduled monument consent granted regarding a schedule of works to the Assembly House
See (S9)
H. White (NLA), 3 February 2009

January 2009.
Planning permission granted regarding the installation of new aluminium framed windows, and the removal and bricking- up of one window
See (S10) for further information
H. White (NLA), 23 March 2009

Monument Types

  • CHANTRY COLLEGE (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD)
  • HOSPITAL (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1248 AD)
  • NUNNERY (Medieval to Post Medieval - 1248 AD to 1544 AD)
  • UNDERCROFT (Medieval - 1400 AD to 1500 AD)
  • ASSEMBLY HALL (Post Medieval to Cold War - 1754 AD to 1990 AD)
  • ART GALLERY (Cold War to Modern - 1990 AD to 2050 AD)

Associated Finds

  • FLOOR TILE (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD)
  • WINDOW GLASS (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD)

Protected Status

  • Listed Building
  • Scheduled Monument

Sources and further reading

---Aerial Photograph: Edwards, D.A. (NLA). 1994. TG2208/ACP - ACU, ACJ.
---Photograph: 1950.
---Article in serial: Gurney, D. (ed.). 1996. Excavations and Surveys in Norfolk 1995. Norfolk Archaeology. Vol XLII Pt III pp 397-412. p 404.
---Unpublished document: Penn, K.. 1999. NAU Report No. 438. The French Borough at Norwich: St Stephen's Parish (west part). An Archaeological Assessment..
---Unpublished document: Smith, R.. Oct 1997. The Assembly House, Norwich. A report on the fire damaged fabric.
---Publication: H. J. Sexton Norwich Arts. 1996. Assembly House Restoration.
---Unpublished document: May/Jun 1999. Assembly House Newsletter: Issue 10. Issue 10.
---Newspaper Article: Eastern Daily Press. 2010. The Norwich 12. 2 February.
---Newspaper Article: Eastern Daily Press. 2010. Wander your way through 1,000 years of city history - Norwich 12.. 24 June 2010.
---Newspaper Article: Eastern Daily Press. 2012. Bid to shed more light on secrets beneath city - undercroft. 10 July.
---Archive: Clarke, R. R. and NCM Staff. 1933-1973. Norwich Castle Museum Record Card - Norwich - Post Roman.
---Secondary File: Secondary file.
<S1>Unpublished document: Carter, A.. Building Survey.
<S2>Graphic material: Various. Various. Architectural plans..
<S3>Newspaper Article: Eastern Daily Press. Various.
<S5>Unpublished document: Ashwin, T.. Jan 1996. NAU Report No. 164. Report on a salvage excavation at Assembly House, Norwich, Norfolk..
<S6>Scheduling record: DCMS. 2007. Scheduled Monument Consent.
<S7>Monograph: Sheehan, B.. 2008. Norwich 12: A journey through the English city..
<S8>Projected and video material: Norwich Heritage Economic and Regeneration Trust (HEART). 2008. Norwich 12. A journey through the English city.. DVD.
<S9>Scheduling record: DCMS. 2009. Scheduled Monument Consent.
<S10>Unpublished document: Purcell Miller Tritton. 2008. Design and Access Statement, The Assembly House, Norwich. Main Kitchen Upgrade.

Related records

Mon 1258Parent of: College of St Mary in the Fields (Anchorage) (Monument)
Mon 1261Parent of: College of St Mary in the Fields (Monument)
Mon 1263Parent of: St Henry Hobart's Mansion (Monument)
Site 3500Parent of: The Assembly Rooms (Monument)
Mon 882Parent of: The Assembly Rooms (Monument)
Site 1294Parent of: The Assembly Rooms, Theatre Street (Monument)
Site 1861Parent of: The Assembly Rooms, Theatre Street (Monument)
Site 1984Parent of: The Assembly Rooms, Theatre Street (Monument)
372Part of: Former precinct of St Mary in the Fields, Chapel in the Fields (includes Chapelfield Gardens) (Monument)
Mon 505Part of: Precinct of the College of St Mary in the Fields (Monument)

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