Record Details

NHER Number:4297
Type of record:Monument
Name:Greyfriars, Middlegate Street


This is the site of Greyfriars Franciscan Friary, which was founded in 1271, and dissolved in 1538. The only upstanding remains of the Friary are a section of the south wall of the church, and the western alley of the cloister. A doorway in the wall of the church leads to a small excavated room containing mid 14th century wall tombs. The cloister has been dated to the 14th century, and is elaborately vaulted, with traces of medieval wall paintings. During the late 16th century the Friary was leased out, and the part of the precinct was used for training the Train Bands, a civilian militia. The site was developed piecemeal from the 17th century, sometimes incorporating parts of the medieval buildings. In 1896 substantial remains of the priory church were found buried underneath Queen Street.


  • No image caption available  © Norfolk Museums & Archaeology Service
  • No image caption available  © Norfolk Museums & Archaeology Service
  • No image caption available  © Norfolk Museums & Archaeology Service


Grid Reference:TG 5240 0733
Map Sheet:TG50NW

Full description

Covered cloisters of Franciscan Friary.
Founded by Sir William Gorbrigge, damaged in World War Two.
See (S1) to (S3).
R. R. Clarke (NCM)

Church was to north across Queen Street.
Built between 1260 to 1300.
Tudor fireplace.
Monastery of Greyfriars founded in the early 13th century.
Remains scanty but include part of only vaulted Franciscan cloister remaining in England.
See (S4).
R. R. Clarke (NCM)

(S5) notes 'corner of a cloister remains by Fountain Tavern'.
Possibly this site.
E. Rose (NAU).

June 1953. Listed, Grade I.
Listing Description excerpt:
Ruins of the monastic church of the Franciscans comprising the west range of the cloisters and fragments of the south wall of the church. Founded c.1226, enlarged 1285 and 1290, dissolved 1538. Present fragments of cloister early 14th century. Brick with ashlar dressings and some flint. Four bays of the west walk of the cloister remain of which two have full vaulting... The cloister internal windows are arched and separated by stepped side buttresses. Three doorways opened from the cloister to the west: north one blocked and robbed, the middle one has a double wave-moulded arch (i.e. an addition of post 1320-30), the south one has a hollow chamfered arch. Abutting the west of the cloister are fragments of a two-storey apartment with the remains of the springers of brick tierceron vaults at the upper level. West of this are remains of a house added after 1538. The south wall of the church has a prominent 16th-century fireplace to the first floor with an ashlar surround, and west of this is a two plus four-light mullioned window with an acanthus console to the king mullion looking into a small yard to its west. In the church south wall a door leads to an excavated room containing two cusped and sub-cusped mid 14th-century wall tombs with ogee heads and remains of painting: standing and kneeling female figures under painted tracery. A third tomb was set to the east. Scheduled Ancient Monument."
Information from (S7).
Please consult the National Heritage List for England (S7) for the current listing details.
Amended by P. Watkins (HES), 12 March 2022.

1964. Excavation.
Work carried out by J. K. Knight for M.P.B.W. revealed the western wall of the western range beneath post-medieval alterations.
Information from (S8).
M. Langham-Lopez (HES), 20 May 2013.

1994-1996. Building Survey.
Condition audit of wall paintings within cloister.
An initial survey in January 1994 found that the painted decoration was in poor condition, being affected in particular by the heavy and persisent infiltration of liquid moisture. A more thorough investigation undertaken in July 1995 suggested that the water infiltration may actually represent a recurrence of an historic problem. This issue was subsequently rectified to some extent, although concerns were raised about damage that could be caused by salt crystallisation during the drying-out process. Various recommendations were made concerning both the building and the treatment of the paintings themselves.
For details see report (S9), which was generated from information in the English Heritage Wall Painting Section database.
P. Watkins (HES), 22 August 2019.

1996. Architectural Survey.
Analysis of remaining upstanding walls revealed that west end of church had been extended, and cloister was one bay shorter north to south than previously thought. Some later domestic changes.
The results of this work are summarised in (S10).
The survey was undertaken for English Heritage who presumably hold the report (S9) in archive.
E. Rose (NAU) 29 July 1998.

(S7) in file. Schedule enlarged 1998.
See the new description for full history including post dissolution use for Trained Bands and as residences, and full description; account of walls found under Queen Street in 1896.
Stone coffin on display.

No.9 Queen Street (now recorded separately as NHER 65449) is listed Grade II, as a 17th-century house completely encased in the 19th century. This stands on the site of the church.
E. Rose (NLA) 23 March 1999. Amended by P. Waktins (HES), 12 March 2022.

Monument Types

  • CRYPT (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD)
  • FRIARY (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD)
  • CELLAR (Post Medieval - 1540 AD to 1900 AD)
  • FRIARY (Post Medieval - 1540 AD to 1900 AD)
  • HOUSE (Post Medieval - 1540 AD to 1900 AD)

Associated Finds

  • COFFIN (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD)
  • WALL PAINTING (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD)

Protected Status

  • Scheduled Monument
  • Listed Building

Sources and further reading

---Designation: [unknown]. Ancient Monuments Form. SAM Record. DNF206.
---Record Card: Ordnance Survey Staff. 1933-1979?. Ordnance Survey Record Cards. TG 50 NW 37 [2].
---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 512-513.
---Newspaper Article: Eastern Daily Press. 2009. A few days to discover some of the secrets of Norfolk's heritage. 7 September.
---Article in Serial: Coad, V. 1980. Greyfriars' Monastery. The Archaeological Journal. Vol 137 pp 308-309.
---Article in Serial: Bately, J. and Olley, H. 1898. Recent Discoveries on the Site of the Grey Friars, Great Yarmouth. Norfolk Archaeology. Vol XIII pp 21-32.
---Record Card: Clarke, R. R. and NCM Staff. 1933-1973. Norwich Castle Museum Record Card - Medieval. Yarmouth (Great) [2].
---Secondary File: Secondary File.
---Newspaper Article: Eastern Daily Press. 2015. Calls goes out to stop free running at historic ruin. 16 October.
---Designation: English Heritage. 1990-2013. English Heritage Scheduling Notification. Notification. DNF206.
---Designation: English Heritage. 1994? -2011?. English Heritage Digital Designation Record. Record. DNF206.
<S1>Publication: Palmer, C. J. 1872-1875. The Perlustrations of Great Yarmouth, with Gorleston and Southtown.
<S2>Serial: Blomefield, F.. 1805-1810. An Essay Towards a Topographical History of the County of Norfolk.. Volume Unknown.
<S4>Publication: Harlech, A.M.. 1955. Regional Guide East Anglia and Midlands. p.27.
<S5>Documentary Source: Martin, T. c. 1700-1799. Collections of Church Notes. Norfolk Records Office. Walter Rye Collection. RYE 17.. c. 1740.
<S6>Article in Serial: Gurney, D. and Penn, K. (eds). 1997. Excavations and Surveys in Norfolk 1996. Norfolk Archaeology. Vol XLII Pt IV pp 547-564. p 552.
<S7>Designation: Historic England. National Heritage List for England. List Entry 1245915.
<S8>Article in Serial: Wilson, D. M. and Hurst, D. G. 1966. Medieval Britain in 1964. Medieval Archaeology. p 181.
<S9>Unpublished Contractor Report: Moss, N. 1996. Greyfriars Cloister, Great Yarmouth. Norfolk Archaeological Unit. 180.
<S10>Unpublished Contractor Report: Babington, C. and Stewart, S. 1998. Wall Painting Condition Audit, Greyfriars Cloister, Great Yarmouth, Norfolk. Ancient Monuments Laboratory. 23/97.

Related records - none

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 - 2024 Norfolk Historic Environment Service