Record Details

NHER Number:13263
Type of record:Building
Name:The Bell Inn, King Street


This two storey timber-framed Inn was first mentioned in 1493 and continued as a principal coaching inn on the London-Norwich post until 1845, when the railway reached Thetford. From 1845 onward it has served as a hotel. The main block of the hotel, facing King Street, was constructed in the 15th century. The upper storey is jettied, a carriage arch has been preserved at the ground floor, and wattle and daub panelling has been exposed in the interior. A southern two storey extension with a dormer attic was constructed in the 17th century, a further two storey extension was added in the 19th century, and a ground floor passageway was constructed on the west façade in the late 20th century. In the interior of the hotel, a 15th century wall painting is preserved in the first floor western room.

Images - none


Grid Reference:TL 8692 8311
Map Sheet:TL88SE

Full description

April 1951. Listed, Grade II.
Listing Description:
Coaching inn, now hotel. Mid 15th century with 17th century extensions and later alterations. Mid 15th century main block facing King Street, 17th century extensions to south. Rendered and colourwashed timber-frame. Machine tile roofs. North façade in 2 storeys, the upper floor jettied. Ground floor with heavy scantling studs on a brick and flint plinth. Corner braces to west support dragon beams. Carriage arch set to left now with 20th century doors. To left a 19th century cross casement, to right a late 19th century canted bay window with sashes and four 18th century 6/6 sashes right of this. 7 sash windows to first floor, all with 8/8 glazing bars, except for centre 3 which have 6/6 glazing bars. Gabled roof, hipped to west, carrying 4 saw-toothed 19th century ridge stacks. Rear of this wing faces inner courtyard. 19th century extension through 2 storeys fitted with 3 mid 20th century three-light cross casements. Later entrance to right. 17th century wing of 2 storeys and dormer attic. Late 20th century ground-floor passageway added to west façade. 2-light cross casements to first floor and two 20th century windows. 5 hipped dormers, of which the 2nd and 5th from left are 20th century additions. Gabled roof with ridge stack left of centre and a truncated internal gable-end stack to north. External junction of the 2 ranges filled with a 19th century range of one-storey and dormer attic: 20th century ground-floor fenestration and 2 through-eaves hipped dormers with casements. Gabled machine tile roof.
INTERIOR: cellar with 2 re-used tie beams with hollow chamfers and roll and hollow fillets. Former carriage arch, now main pedestrian entrance, with engaged colonnettes with scalloped capitals rising to arched braces and wall arches. Internal arch with hollow chamfers, external one with knuckle braces. West of this is an external gallery, now internal following 19th century extensions to courtyard: wall posts with arched braces support jetty with, at first floor, a formerly open gallery giving access to first-floor rooms. Ground-floor north range now the main bar. Very heavy scantling to timber-frame formerly with arched braces rising to bridging beams. South wall with 4-centred arch. Internal staircase is 20th century, external stairs now gone. First-floor west room with 16th century wall-painting of arches, painted as a perspective exercise. Upper gallery with a fragment of exposed wattle and daub, the wattles tied with twisted grass string. Timber-frame with hollow-chamfered braces to tie beams. Main roof 20th century. 17th century wing with spine beam decorated with sunk-quadrant mouldings and 2 fillets. Celebrated coaching inn first mentioned in 1493. Remained as a principal coaching inn on the London-Norwich post until 1845 (arrival of railway).
See (S1) for further details.
E. Rose (NLA) 29 March 1994.
Updated H. Hamilton (NLA), 11 August 2008.

The Bell Inn was mentioned in 1493. The present timbering could be 15th century.
Wattle and daub panelling exposed. Good cellars. Galleries, formerly open, now enclosed by a wall.
Information from (S2).

Ordnance Survey says King Street wing is original; other wing 17th century refaced 19th century, right wing modern. Has Tudor wall paintings.
Information from (S3).

Plan of proposed alterations to the ground floor in file (S3).
E. Rose (NLA), 12 February 2007.

Monument Types

  • CELLAR (15th Century to 21st Century - 1493 AD? to 2100 AD)
  • COACHING INN (15th Century to 19th Century - 1493 AD? to 1845 AD)
  • INN (15th Century to 19th Century - 1493 AD? to 1845 AD)
  • JETTIED HOUSE (15th Century to 21st Century - 1493 AD? to 2100 AD)
  • TIMBER FRAMED BUILDING (15th Century to 21st Century - 1493 AD? to 2100 AD)
  • HOTEL (19th Century to 21st Century - 1845 AD to 2100 AD)

Associated Finds

  • WALL PAINTING (15th Century to 16th Century - 1500 AD to 1599 AD)

Protected Status

  • Listed Building

Sources and further reading

---Aerial Photograph: Edwards, D.. 1989. NHER TL 8683ACR (NLA 223/DHT3) 15-JUN-1989.
---Record Card: Ordnance Survey Staff. 1933-1979?. Ordnance Survey Record Cards. TL 88 SE 96.
---Monograph: Pevsner, N and Wilson, W. 1999. Norfolk 2: North-West and South. The Buildings of England. 2nd Edition. p 718.
---Secondary File: Secondary File.
<S1>Designation: English Heritage. National Heritage List for England. List Entry 1195935.
<S2>Archive: Bolingbroke Collection.
<S3>Record Card: NAU Staff. 1974-1988. Norfolk Archaeological Index Primary Record Card.
<S4>Illustration: Various. Various. Architectural plans. 2006.

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