Record Details

NHER Number:602
Type of record:Building
Name:Maid's Head Hotel, Tombland


An inn and hotel with 15th century cellars, built from the 16th century onwards with major façade alterations in the early 20th century. It is of red brick, and render with a timber frame and a roof of pantiles and plain tiles. The complex is an amalgamation of at least six buildings dating from 16th to 18th century. The undercroft is two pointed barrel-vaults at right angles to and away from Wensum Street.

Images - none


Grid Reference:TG 23303 08930
Map Sheet:TG20NW

Full description

Maid's Head Hotel, Tombland.

According to (S1) called the 'Maids Head Inn' as early as 1472.
Capital of a Norman pillar in cellars.
Amongst the Norwich buildings included in (S2).
Information from (S3).
Amended by P. Watkins (HES), 22 January 2018.

In November 1882 a stone carving from the Maid's Head Hotel was exhibited at a meeting of the Norfolk and Norwich Archaeological Society. According to the brief note in (S4) this was "…probably the corbel of the coping of a gable, with an angel's head and shoulders…" and had come from "...the wall of a stable on the south side of the [hotel]..".
P. Watkins (HES), 22 January 2018.

February 1954. Listed Grade II.
Listing Description Excerpt:
"Former uses unknown now hotel. 15th-century cellars. 16th century onwards with major façade alteration in the early 20th century. Red brick. Rendered. Timber-frame. Pantiles and plain tiles. The complex is an amalgamation of at least six buildings."
Information from (S5).
Please consult the National Heritage List for England (S5) for the current details.
Amended by P. Watkins (HES), 22 January 2018. Amended H. Hamilton (HES), 8 November 2019.

1970s or 1980s. Building Survey.
Examined as part of Norwich Survey.
Two blocks front Tombland. The easternmost is a two-storey red brick Georgian building with large roof and attic dormers. The rear has been lost and it is largely gutted internally, although a first floor room above the street has 18th-century panelling. The western building is a long block of early 17th-century date running back at right angles to Tombland, although the street section dates to c. 1900. The older section is flint/rubble with large roof and dormers. Only one 'room' remains internally - the rest of the block having been gutted and floor levels changed. The roof is boxed but may be original.
On Wensum Street there is a large set of buildings arranged around a courtyard opposite St Simon and Jude's Church. These date to many periods and were not originally connected with the Tombland buildings. The southern range appears to be earliest, although the southern half of the street block is entirely modern. There is a first floor jetty on the street range and the back door of the early block has multiple roll mouldings that suggest a date of c. 1550. In the 18th or 19th century both the street range and the rear range were refaced and raised by the addition of a second storey. The street range is built over a large barrel-vaulted undercroft, evidently contemporary with the building. It has been suggested that this building was the home of Thomas Anguish in around 1617. The building to the north of the courtyard dates to c. 1600. It has a first floor jetty and was also raised by the addition of a second storey in the 18th century. The cellar contains one pointed barrel-vaulted side chamber with a moulded entrance arch running northwards, plus the remains of a second flanking it and near the street. Both chambers are under the rear range. Re-used worked stone in the rubble includes one piece of probable early 12th-century date.
The eastern range closing the courtyard dates to the 18th century and contains elaborate mural panelling.
See record forms (S6) for further details and drawings of architectural elements.
P. Watkins (HES), 22 January 2018.

These buildings and the underlying undercroft are amongst those noted in thesis (S7), which considers the 13th- to 17th-century buildings of Norwich. The undercroft is described as comprising two pointed barrel-vaults at right angles to and away from Wensum Street.
The overlying buildings are described as consisting of six blocks that date from the 16th century to the 18th century, all with additions and alterations that date well into the 20th century (and make it almost impossible to define the original layout of the pre 18th-century buildings). There are two ranges at right-angles to Tombland, the easternmost of which is two storeys high plus attic and dates to the 17th century. The other is ranged along Wensum Street and was reworked in the late 19th century, when the road was widened for trams. The courtyard further along Wensum Street is flanked by a mid 16th-century building to the south and by an early 17th-century building to the north. The street range also dates to the early 17th-century, although its relationship to the rear range is uncertain. A large barrel-vaulted undercroft lies below the street range and there is a pointed barrel vault within the cellar associated with the range on the north side of the yard. The latter has reused fragments of medieval tracery in its walls and there is evidence that a similar barrel vault once existed nearer to street.
Amended by P. Watkins (HES), 22 January 2018.

Press cuttings (S8) to (S11) in file.

September 2005. Field Observation.
Upper parts of the north range of the north courtyard block inspected as part of an investigation into the failure of the attic floor. This range dates from the early 17th century, but the attic was enlarged in 1889, and safeguards intended to support the added weight were removed in the mid 20th century, hence the collapse.
See report (S12) for further details.
E. Rose (NLA), 29 September 2005.

July 2008.
Proposed reduction of the height of a damaged chimney stack located at the rear of the hotel. They chimney will be reduced in height by 330cms and will be capped.
See Design and Access Statement (S13) for further information.
H. White (NLA) 5 December 2008.

March 2016.
Design and Access Statement for application to alter door claims "The Maids Head Hotel is a 13th-century hotel originally built for the purpose of housing Bishops travelling to the area located adjacent to the Norwich Cathedral. It is one of the most prominent buildings in Norwich and is claimed to be the oldest existing hotel in Britain" (Samantha Berzina, TGA Architecture Ltd).
This statement is unreferenced.

November 2018. Casual Observation.
A rare survival of a painted fire hydrant sign dating to the Second World War survives on the southern corner of the building. It is in excellent condition. These signs showed the location of fire hydrants to Auxiliary Fire Service crews and were painted in white to make them more visible during blackouts.
See Correspondence (S14) and Photographs (S15).
A. Beckham (HES), 9 November 2018.

Monument Types

  • INN (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD)
  • UNDERCROFT (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD)
  • HOUSE (Post Medieval to 21st Century - 1540 AD to 2100 AD)
  • INN (Post Medieval - 1540 AD to 1900 AD)

Associated Finds

  • ARCHITECTURAL FRAGMENT (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD)

Protected Status

  • Listed Building

Sources and further reading

---Illustration: Various. Various. Architectural plans.
---Monograph: Pevsner, N. and Wilson, B. 1997. Norfolk 1: Norwich and North-East. The Buildings of England. 2nd Edition. p 293.
---Secondary File: Secondary File.
---Newspaper Article: Eastern Daily Press. 2016. Hotel celebrates completion of £150,000 revamp to its entrance. 14 September.
<S1>Serial: Gairdner (ed.). Paston Letters.. Vol 1, p 10. III, 65.
<S2>Publication: Rye, W. 1916. Norwich Houses Before 1600. pp 2 and 5.
<S3>Record Card: Clarke, R. R. and NCM Staff. 1933-1973. Norwich Castle Museum Record Card - Norwich - Post Roman.
<S4>Article in Serial: 1884. Appendix. Extracts from the Proceedings at General and Committee Meetings. Norfolk Archaeology. Vol IX pp 359-369. p 368.
<S5>Designation: English Heritage. National Heritage List for England. List Entry 1051811.
<S6>Recording Form: Norwich Survey building record forms.
<S7>Thesis: Smith, R. 1990. An Architectural History of Norwich Buildings, c. 1200 - 1700. Unpublished Thesis. pp 333, 433-434.
<S8>Newspaper Article: Eastern Daily Press. 1991. [Articles on the proposed work at Maid's Head Hotel].
<S9>Newspaper Article: Eastern Daily Press. 1994. Photograph of the Maid's Head Hotel with the Edith Cavell statue. 17 December.
<S10>Newspaper Article: Eastern Daily Press. 1998. Revamp for ancient city hotel. 6 March.
<S11>Newspaper Article: Eastern Daily Press. 2000. Down memory lane: Maid's Head Hotel. 24 March.
<S12>Unpublished Report: Rose, E. 2005. 602 NORWICH. Maids Head Hotel - inspection of north range. Building Report.
<S13>Unpublished Document: Crawley, N. 2008. Design and Access Statement, Maids Head Hotel, 20 Tombland, Norwich.
<S14>Correspondence: Kolonko, C. 2018. Wartime graffiti and Hydrant sign. 5 November. msg.
<S15>Photograph: 2002. Photograph of the Maid's Head Hotel, Tombland, Norwich. Colour.
<S15>Photograph: Kolonko, C. 2018. Photographs of a Second Word War Fire Hydrant sign on the Maid's Head Hotel, Tombland, Norwich. Digital. jpeg.

Related records

Site 1278Parent of: Maid's Head Hotel, Tombland (Monument)
Site 2721Parent of: Maid's Head Hotel, Tombland (Monument)
Site 3579Parent of: Maid's Head Hotel, Tombland (Monument)
Mon 1365Parent of: Wensum Street (West side of The Maids Head Hotel) (Monument)

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