Record Details

NHER Number:657
Type of record:Building
Name:The Guildhall, Guildhall Hill


This building was built in 1407-13 as the Guildhall of St George’s Company. It is located on the site of the old tollbooth with the 14th century undercroft associated with the tollbooth still surviving underneath. A number of major additions were made in the 19th century additions, including a three-storey porch added by Thomas Barry. During the post medieval period it was used as the Town Hall before becoming the Magistrates' Court in 1938. It now operates as the Tourist Information Centre for Norwich. The building is made from flint with stone and brick dressings and the low-pitched roofs are covered with lead. The current porch is a reworking of the 17th century porch. The pattern of the vaulting in the undercroft shows that the entrance was centrally placed in the east wall, with direct access to the pavement. A more modern feature visible on the Guildhall’s exterior is the rosettes for tram wires. Inside, are a number of fine features including 15th century stained glass windows, 16th century panelling and the statue of justice located in the Sword Room.

Images - none


Grid Reference:TG 22915 08561
Map Sheet:TG20NW

Full description

Guildhall of St George's Company. Built 1407-13 on site of old tollbooth of which crypt survives.
R. R. Clarke (NCM) 1938.

14th century undercroft survives under 15th century Guildhall.
R. R. Clarke (NCM).

February 1954. Listed, Grade II.
Former Guildhall, now magistrates court.
15th century onwards with major additions in 1861 by Thomas Barry. Flint with stone and brick dressings. Low-pitch lead covered roofs. South façade: two and three storeys. Six bays with the right-hand two bays recessed and dropped. 19th century two-storeyed additions across four-and-a-half bays with central entrance. (Porch is reworking of 17th century porch).
Information from (S1).

Undercroft beneath of side compartments of quadrapartite vaulting, with single order ribs springing from two central piers. The pattern of the vaulting shows the entry was centrally placed in the east wall, with direct access to the pavement. Island site.
R. Smith.

The undercroft is discussed in reference (S2).
See file for further details.

March 1997. Descheduled.
This building has been descheduled but remains protected as a Listed Building (S1).
Information from (S10).
H. Mellor (HES), 6 June 2018.

November - December 2002. NAU watching brief during repair work. From context 10.
Work by contractors to repair buttresses included removing parts of the flint facing, exposing loose post medieval brickwork.
See (S2) for further details.
See also (S8).
J. Allen (NLA), March 2003 and T. Sunley (NLA), 7 November 2007.

The building retains rosettes for tram wires.
See (S3).
E. Rose (NLA) 24 June 2003.

See press cuttings (S4) in file.
T. Sunley (NLA) 7 November 2007.

2008. Norwich HEART (S5, S6).
England's largest and most elaborate provincial medieval city hall. Norwich Guildhall was the centre of city government from the early 15th century until its replacement by City Hall in 1938. The exterior provides an excellent example of the flint work that the city of Norwich is so famous for. The Assembly Chamber (or Sheriff's Court) was designed for meetings of the full medieval Council. It now contains a virtually intact late Victorian courtroom.
D. Gurney (NLA) 27 January 2009.

October 2009.
£43,000 has been spent to preserve and promote the Guildhall. The building has 11 different floor levels. The original parts of the Guildhall were erected between 1407 and 1424, while a lot of the interior dates from the Georgian period. There was also a significant refit in 1911. As part of the restoration work, carved stone angels have been stripped of paint and the Oak Room at the top of the building has been repaired and reopened for use by volunteers and staff.
See (S7) for further details.
H. White (NLA), 5 October 2009.

Work to restore and uncover an historic mosaic floor in Norwich Guildhall has been completed, leaving it on display for visitors to the building. The mosaic has been hidden from view in the ground floor Guildhall lobby under carpet tiles since the 1980s. The mosaic depicts the City Arms, the castle and lion on a red circle with a laurel wreath around it, set on a white background with a coloured striped border. It was created at the turn of the last century by Italian mosaic artists, economic migrants to the city who lived in the Ber Street area. They also made mosaics which can be seen in Norwich Castle, Shirehall, Norwich University College of the Arts, City of Norwich School as well as some city shops. The restoration was financed by contributions from Norwich Heritage Economic and Regeneration Trust (HEART), Caleys Cocoa Café (both of which are housed in the Guildhall) and the Norwich Society, with the support of Norwich City Council which owns the building.
See (S9).
S. Howard (HES), 15 November 2011.

Monument Types

  • UNDERCROFT (13th Century to 14th Century - 1300 AD to 1400 AD)
  • GUILDHALL (15th Century to Mid 20th Century - 1407 AD to 1938 AD)
  • MAGISTRATES COURT (Mid 20th Century to Late 20th Century - 1938 AD to 1980 AD?)
  • EXHIBITION HALL (Late 20th Century to 21st Century - 1990 AD? to 2100 AD?)
  • INFORMATION CENTRE (Late 20th Century - 1990 AD? to 2000 AD?)

Associated Finds - none

Protected Status

  • Listed Building

Sources and further reading

---Designation: [unknown]. Ancient Monuments Form. SAM Record. DNF14774.
---Aerial Photograph: Edwards, D.A. (NLA). 1994. TG2208/ACQ - ACU, ACJ.
---Aerial Photograph: Edwards, D.A. (NLA). 1994. TG 2308BFL - BFP, BFS.
---Aerial Photograph: Edwards, D.A. (NLA). 1999. TG 2208ADF - AEE; TG 2308BFU - BFV.
---Publication: Mackley, D.. 2000. Norwich Trams.
---Record Card: Ordnance Survey Staff. 1933-1979?. Ordnance Survey Record Cards. TG 20 NW 122 [2].
---Monograph: Pevsner, N. and Wilson, B. 1997. Norfolk 1: Norwich and North-East. The Buildings of England. 2nd Edition. pp 264-265.
---Newspaper Article: Eastern Daily Press. 2009. Alarm over state of heritage jewels. 14 September.
---Newspaper Article: Eastern Daily Press. 2009. Decay in this fine old city is the 'elephant in the room'. 11 September.
---Newspaper Article: Eastern Daily Press. 2010. Spectacular city heritage which has been hidden from view. 12 February.
---Newspaper Article: Eastern Daily Press. 2010. What is the truth beneath city's secret underground?. 25 January.
---Newspaper Article: Eastern Daily Press. 2010. The Norwich 12. 2 February.
---Newspaper Article: Eastern Daily Press. 2010. Historic city building to be restored. 11 June.
---Newspaper Article: Eastern Daily Press. 2010. Wander your way through 1,000 years of city history. 24 June.
---Newspaper Article: Eastern Daily Press. 2011. Up or down there are wonders to behold. 23 March.
---Newspaper Article: Eastern Daily Press. 2011. Norwich: A city of Heritage. 1 September.
---Thesis: Smith, R. 1990. An Architectural History of Norwich Buildings, c. 1200 - 1700. Unpublished Thesis. p 329.
---Newspaper Article: Eastern Daily Press. 2012. Going underground to find city's hidden assets. 9 July.
---Article in Serial: Carter, A. 1980. The Guildhall, Norwich. The Archaeological Journal. Vol 137 p 323.
---Record Card: Clarke, R. R. and NCM Staff. 1933-1973. Norwich Castle Museum Record Card - Norwich - Post Roman.
---Secondary File: Secondary File.
---Slide: Various. Slide.
---Newspaper Article: 1959. Suggestion for 'return' of Bassingham Gate. 4 February.
---Newspaper Article: Eastern Daily Press. Why was it moved first?.
<S1>Designation: English Heritage. National Heritage List for England. List Entry 1187384.
<S2>Unpublished Contractor Report: Phillips, C. 2004. An Archaeological Watching Brief at Guildhall, Norwich. Norfolk Archaeological Unit. 876.
<S3>Article in Serial: Dent, J.. 1999. The Norwich Tollhouse.. The Annual. No 8. p 17.
<S4>Newspaper Article: Eastern Daily Press. 2001. [Articles on the search for new tenants at the Guildhall].
<S5>Publication: Sheehan, B.. 2008. Norwich 12: A journey through the English city..
<S6>Moving Image: Norwich Heritage Economic and Regeneration Trust (HEART). 2008. Norwich 12. A journey through the English city.. DVD.
<S7>Newspaper Article: Eastern Daily Press. 2009. Guildhall much improved after renovation work. 1 October.
<S8>Article in Serial: Gurney, D. and Penn, K. (eds). 2003. Excavations and Surveys in Norfolk, 2002. Norfolk Archaeology. Vol XLIV Pt II pp 368-384. p 377.
<S9>Unpublished Document: HEART. 2011. News release Guildhall's hidden historic mosaic floor restored and unveiled..
<S10>Designation: English Heritage. 1990-2013. English Heritage Scheduling Notification. Notification. DNF14774.

Related records

Mon 634Parent of: Guildhall (Monument)
Mon 1195Parent of: Guildhall / Tollhouse (Undercroft) (Monument)
Site 943Parent of: Guildhall, Market Place (Monument)
220Parent of: Medieval jug from the Guildhall, Market Place (Find Spot)
Mon 723Parent of: St Barbara's Chapel, South side of Guildhall (Monument)
Site 1329Parent of: The Guildhall, Guildhall Hill (Monument)
Site 2539Parent of: The Guildhall, Guildhall Hill (Monument)
Mon 1060Part of: Market Place (Monument)

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