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

Assembly House, Theatre Street and site of College of St Mary in the Fields.

College of St Mary-in-the-Fields, Theatre Street. Originally a hospital.
Soon after 1248 became secular college. Dissolved 1544. Assembly House built on top.
Excavations 1901; alterations 1947-50.
Foundations under Noverre House (1954).
Plan by Rowland Pierce (copy in file, interpretative)
The glazed floor tiles and painted window glass from 1901 excavations are held by NCM.
For early references to the College of St Mary in the Fields see (S1)-(S4).
Information from (S5).
Amended by P. Watkins (HES)

The bells were sold to St Lawrence's. See NHER 583.

1901. Excavation.
See published report (S6) for further details.
Glazed floor tiles and painted window glass from this excavation were subsequently acquired by the Norwich Castle Museum (NWHCM : 1963.127).
P. Watkins (HES), 24 January 2018.

1954. Listed Grade I.
Listing Description Excerpt:
"Former Assembly Rooms now galleries, restaurant, lecture rooms and flat. Includes the cinema west of the west wing. 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 with irregular projecting wings."
Information from (S7).
Please consult the National Heritage List for England (S7) for the current details.
P. Watkins (HES), 24 January 2017. Amended by H. Hamilton (HES), 8 November 2019.

1970s or 1980s. Building Survey.
Examined as part of Norwich Survey.
See file for material from Alan Carter archive, including architectural plans and chronology of building alterations and additions 1571-1755.
T.E. Miller (NLA) 18 January 2006. Amended by P. Watkins (HES), 24 January 2017.

The Assembly Rooms undercroft is amongst those listed in thesis (S8), which considers the 13th- to 17th-century buildings of Norwich. It is described as a pointed barrel-vault beneath the east range of the building that is connected to an earlier structure of two bays with single-order, diagonal ribs, plus apex ribs.
P. Watkins (HES), 24 January 2018.

April 1995.
Building gutted by fire. See newspaper reports (S9) and (S10) in file.
See file for further details.

May-June 1995. Salvage Excavation.
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.
See reports (S11) and (S12) for further details. This work is also noted in (S13). See also copy of collection criteria used during salvage work (S14).
T. Ashwin (NAU), 22 February 1996. Amended by P. Watkins (HES), 20 March 2017.

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 [1].
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 (S15)

Norwich HEART:
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.
See (S15) and (S16).
D. Gurney (NLA), 27 January 2009.

January 2009
Scheduled monument consent granted regarding a schedule of works to the Assembly House
See (S17)
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 (S18) for further information.
H. White (NLA), 23 March 2009.

Monument Types

  • CHANTRY COLLEGE (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD)
  • HOSPITAL (Medieval to 13th Century - 1066 AD to 1248 AD)
  • NUNNERY (13th Century to 16th Century - 1248 AD to 1544 AD)
  • UNDERCROFT (14th Century to 15th Century - 1400 AD to 1500 AD)
  • ASSEMBLY HALL (18th Century to Late 20th Century - 1754 AD to 1990 AD)
  • ART GALLERY (Late 20th Century to 21st Century - 1990 AD to 2100 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

---Designation: [unknown]. Ancient Monuments Form. SAM Record. DNF37.
---Aerial Photograph: Edwards, D.A. (NLA). 1994. TG2208/ACP - ACU, ACJ.
---Illustration: Various. Various. Architectural plans.
---Photograph: 1950. [unknown].
---Record Card: Ordnance Survey Staff. 1933-1979?. Ordnance Survey Record Cards. TG 20 NW 244 [2].
---Monograph: Pevsner, N. and Wilson, B. 1997. Norfolk 1: Norwich and North-East. The Buildings of England. 2nd Edition. pp 269-270.
---Unpublished Contractor Report: Penn, K. 1999. The French Borough at Norwich: St Stephen's Parish (west part). An Archaeological Assessment. Norfolk Archaeological Unit. 438.
---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. 24 June.
---Newspaper Article: Eastern Daily Press. 2011. Norwich: A city of Heritage. 1 September.
---Newspaper Article: Eastern Daily Press. 2012. Bid to shed more light on secrets beneath city. 10 July.
---Secondary File: Secondary File.
---Newspaper Article: Eastern Daily Press. 1997. [Articles on the reopening of the Assembly House after the fire of 1995].
---Newspaper Article: Eastern Daily Press. 1999. Assembly House takes shape. 7 January.
---Newspaper Article: Eastern Daily Press. [Article on Prince Charles' visit to the Assembly Rooms].
---Newspaper Article: Eastern Daily Press. 1994. [Article on the redevelopment of the Assembly House from Noverre Cinema into a village hall].
---Newspaper Article: Eastern Daily Press. 2015. Historic building is damaged following two-car collision. 29 August.
---Newspaper Article: Eastern Daily Press. 2016. New life breathed into historic house after investment. 2 February.
---Unpublished Document: Purcell Miller Tritton. 1995. The Assembly House, Norwich. Collection Criteria.
---Designation: Department Of The Environment. 1882-1984?. Department of the Environment Scheduling Notification. Notification. DNF37.
<S1>Publication: Taylor, R. C. 1821. Index Monasticus. p 48.
<S2>Publication: Dugdale, W., Caley, J., Ellis, H. and Bulkeley, B. 1849 [1655]. Monasticon Anglicanum: A history of the abbies and other monasteries, hospitals, frieries, and cathedral and collegiate churches, with their dependencies, in England and Wales. Originally published in Latin by Sir William Dugdale. Vol VI Part III. p 1459.
<S3>Monograph: Page, W. (ed.). 1906. The Victoria History of Norfolk. The Victoria History of the Counties of England. Vol 2. pp 457-458.
<S4>Publication: Knowles, D. and Hadcock, R. N. 1953. Medieval Religious Houses of England and Wales.
<S5>Record Card: Clarke, R. R. and NCM Staff. 1933-1973. Norwich Castle Museum Record Card - Norwich - Post Roman.
<S6>Article in Serial: Hawes, G. E. 1904. Recent excavations at the College of St. Mary in the Fields, Norwich. Norfolk Archaeology. Vol XV pp 293-315.
<S7>Designation: English Heritage. National Heritage List for England. List Entry 1051836.
<S8>Thesis: Smith, R. 1990. An Architectural History of Norwich Buildings, c. 1200 - 1700. Unpublished Thesis. p 332.
<S9>Newspaper Article: Eastern Daily Press. 1995. [Articles and published letters to the editor regarding the Assembly House fire of 1995].
<S10>Newspaper Article: Eastern Daily Press. 1995. [Articles on the restoration of the Assembly House after the fire of 1995].
<S11>Unpublished Contractor Report: Ashwin, T. 1996. The Assembly House, Norwich. Archaeological recording after fire damage. Norfolk Archaeological Unit. 164.
<S12>Unpublished Contractor Report: Smith, R. 1997. The Assembly House, Norwich. A Report on the Fire-Damaged Fabric. Robert Smith.
<S13>Article in Serial: Gurney, D. (ed.). 1996. Excavations and Surveys in Norfolk 1995. Norfolk Archaeology. Vol XLII Pt III pp 397-412. p 404.
<S15>Designation: DCMS. 2007. Scheduled Monument Consent.
<S15>Publication: Sheehan, B.. 2008. Norwich 12: A journey through the English city..
<S16>Moving Image: Norwich Heritage Economic and Regeneration Trust (HEART). 2008. Norwich 12. A journey through the English city.. DVD.
<S17>Designation: DCMS. [?]-2016. Scheduled Monument Consent. SAM Consent. DNF37.
<S18>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)

Find out more...

Norfolk County Council logo Heritage Lottery Fund logo

Powered by HBSMR-web and the HBSMR Gateway from exeGesIS SDM Ltd, and mojoPortal CMS
© 2007 - 2021 Norfolk Historic Environment Service