Record Details

NHER Number:4298
Type of record:Building
Name:The Tolhouse


The Tolhouse is one of the oldest buildings in Great Yarmouth, and may date back to the mid 12th century. Originally built as a fortified merchant's house with a first floor hall, the building has been used as a prison, a town hall and a museum. The building was badly damaged by a bomb in 1941, and was restored in 1960.


  • No image caption available  © Norfolk Museums & Archaeology Service


Grid Reference:TG 5249 0725
Map Sheet:TG50NW

Full description

Early 13th century building, possibly built around an earlier core, originally domestic.
Much altered 1619 to 1622 and part demolished, perhaps earlier.
Cells etc about 1800.
Gutted 1941 and restored.
Now a museum.
See (S1).
E. Rose (NAU) 4 November 1982.

See (S2) for a different interpretation dating the building to about 1150.
E. Rose (NLA) 23 March 1999.

June 1953. Listed, Grade I.
Building was begun as a fortified merchant's house in about 1150, which was altered in 1250. The house was leased to the Borough in the 14th century, and bought by the Borough in 1552. It was then used for a variety of functions, including a prison (1261 to 1875) and a town hall (until 1882), as well as police station, court house and toll house. The building was used as a museum and library from the 1880s.
The forebuilding dates to about 1250, and is in front of a blocked arch of about 1150. A staircase rises to the first floor hall, which has a pointed arched doorway with dog toothed decoration and two orders of colonettes. In the basement there are four cells protected by an iron screen, with oak cell doors. The cells were built after 1796.
The building was badly damaged by bombing in World War Two, and was restored in 1960.
Information from (S2).
S. Spooner (NLA) 2 December 2005.

January 1997. Descheduled.
Descheduled but remains protected as a Listed Building.
Information from (S1).
H. Mellor (HES), 4 July 2018.

The prison mentioned above as being closed in 1875 in fact stood on the adjacent site and was demolished in 1905 to construct the Tolhouse Library, itself destroyed in 1940.
See (S4).
E. Rose (NLA), 31 October 2006.

Monument Types

  • HOUSE (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD)
  • MUSEUM (Post Medieval - 1540 AD to 1900 AD)
  • PRISON (Post Medieval - 1540 AD to 1900 AD)
  • TOWN HALL (Post Medieval - 1540 AD to 1900 AD)

Associated Finds

  • POT (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD)

Protected Status

  • Listed Building

Sources and further reading

---Newspaper Article: Eastern Daily Press. 1979. Jug in Hole. 23 November.
---Designation: [unknown]. Ancient Monuments Form. SAM Record. DNF14840.
---Record Card: Ordnance Survey Staff. 1933-1979?. Ordnance Survey Record Cards. TG 50 NW 45.
---Record Card: NAU Staff. 1974-1988. Norfolk Archaeological Index Primary Record Card.
---Monograph: Pevsner, N. and Wilson, B. 1997. Norfolk 1: Norwich and North-East. The Buildings of England. 2nd Edition. pp 502-503; Pl 11.
---Publication: Eccleston, A. W.. 1959. The Rise Of Great Yarmouth.
---Newspaper Article: Eastern Daily Press. 2008. Trapdoor to a grisly history. 12 September.
---Monograph: Palmer's History and Perlustrations of Great Yarmouth..
---Newspaper Article: Eastern Daily Press. 2010. Norfolk's dark past.. 26 October.
---Photograph: The Tolhouse, Gt Yarmouth. Print.
---Article in Serial: Carter, A. and Rutledge, P. 1980. The Tolhouse, Yarmouth. The Archaeological Journal. Vol 137 pp 304-306.
---Article in Serial: 1950. [unknown]. Supplement to Archaeological Journal. pp 47-8, 99. vol CV, pp 47-8,99.
---Record Card: Clarke, R. R. and NCM Staff. 1933-1973. Norwich Castle Museum Record Card - Medieval. Yarmouth (Great).
---Secondary File: Secondary File.
---Photograph: CCB 2A and 3.
---Newspaper Article: Eastern Daily Press. 2017. One of Great Yarmouth's best known museums is encased in a scaffolding shroud. 4 December.
<S1>Unpublished Document: Rose, E.. 1982. Building Report.. Building Report.
<S2>Designation: English Heritage. National Heritage List for England. List Entry 1245560.
<S3>Designation: English Heritage. 1990-2013. English Heritage Scheduling Notification. Notification. DNF14840.
<S4>Article in Serial: Allard, P.. 2006. J W Cockerill.. Yarmouth Archaeology. p 35. p 35 ff.

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