Record Details

NHER Number:607
Type of record:Building
Name:Norwich Bridewell Museum, Bridewell Alley


The oldest parts of this building date to 1325, and these include the large undercroft. However, the core of the building dates to 1403 when it was used as the residence for the first Mayor of Norwich; William Appleyard. In 1583 the City purchased the house for use as a correctional facility and it was named after the first such institution in the country, which was located near to St Bride’s Well in London. In 1751 a fire ripped through the building and forced extensive repairs to be carried out and by 1828 all the inmates had moved to a new facility outside St Giles’ Gate. The Bridewell operated as a factory and warehouse until 1923 when it was purchased and converted into a museum. It opened as a museum in 1925 and showcased local crafts and industries. As well as possessing an intriguing history the Bridewell also has several notable architectural features. The northern façade is made from flint rubble and knapped flint with stone dressings. This is widely held to be the finest specimen of faced flint work in the country. Additionally, the undercroft is the largest brick-built one in the city with an area of over 300m square. It is also the only example in Norwich to have been originally constructed with an entrance from the street only.

Images - none


Grid Reference:TG 23109 08685
Map Sheet:TG20NW

Full description

Norwich Bridewell Museum, Bridewell Alley.

The Bridewell, formerly W. Appleyard's house in early 15th century but undercroft is early 14th century. Flint walling. Doorway on to St Andrew's Hill.
Information from (S1). See also (S2)-(S7).
Amended by P. Watkins (HES), 23 January 2018.

Scheduled as an Ancient Monument.

February 1954. Listed Grade I.
Listing Description Excerpt:
"Former house, now museum. 15th century with 18th- and 19th-century alterations. Flint rubble. Knapped flint with stone dressings to north facade. Brick including north wall plinth. Pantile roofs. L-shape plan."
"North facade:- Two storeys above plinth and undercrofts."
"South facade:- 18th-century brick facing. Two storeys plus undercroft. Five bays… "
"West wall of former hall range:- 18th-century brick facing. Two storeys plus undercroft. Four bays…"
"Extensive series of brick built undercrofts:- heavily built double-order diagonal and cross-ribs with wall arches beneath north range…"
Information from (S8).
Please consult the National Heritage List for England (S8) for the current details.
Amended by P. Watkins (HES), 23 January 2018. Amended by H. Hamilton (HES), 8 November 2019.

1970s or 1980s. Norwich Survey.
This building would have been examined as part of the Norwich Survey although no report has been found. The only relevant material found in the Alan Carter archive is a record form with a copy of a single photograph and various architectural plans. The Bridewell is however amongst the buildings discussed in (S9), which was written by Norwich Survey staff.
Amended by P. Watkins (HES), 23 January 2018.

This building and its undercrofts are amongst those listed in thesis (S10), which considers the 13th- to 17th-century buildings of Norwich.
P. Watkins (HES), 23 January 2018.

March 1997. Descheduled.
This building has been descheduled but remain protected as a Listed Building, (S8).
Information from (S13).
H. Hamilton (HES), 31 May 2018.

1999. Field Observation.
Exploratory works in Schoolroom (to west of south entrance from court).
Revealed that the two ovolo moulded beams of late 17th century type rest on wooden blocks inserted in brick/rubble walling - except for the south end of the west beam, obscured by later stairs etc.
E. Rose (NLA) 15 April 1999.

History and plans by [1] and [2] in file - these reproduced from (S10).

See press cutting (S12) in file.
T. Sunley (NLA) 7 November 2007.

August 2009. Field Observation.
A small exploratory hole (0.50m by 0.60m by 0.60m deep) was dug by workmen through the floor in the very south-west corner of the museum (TG 23095 08674), in advance of works connected with a new entrance. Below the lino tile floor and its make-up layers of mortar and a bituminous layer is a layer of very loose soil with brick and rubble fragments and animal bones. Within this there is an east-west wall or wall footing of bricks and mortar at a depth of 0.30m, 0.20m wide and running parallel to the south wall of the museum, and just 0.10m north of it. The internal floor level here is around 0.70m higher than the surface of Bridewell Alley at this point, so presumably there has been some considerable raising of levels and infilling.
D. Gurney (NLA), 27 August 2009.

Monument Types

  • HOUSE (14th Century to 16th Century - 1325 AD to 1583 AD)
  • UNDERCROFT (14th Century to 21st Century - 1325 AD to 2100 AD)
  • PRISON (16th Century to 19th Century - 1583 AD to 1828 AD)
  • INDUSTRIAL BUILDING (19th Century to Early 20th Century - 1828 AD to 1923 AD)
  • MUSEUM (Early 20th Century to 21st Century - 1925 AD to 2100 AD)

Associated Finds - none

Protected Status

  • Listed Building
  • Scheduled Monument

Sources and further reading

---Designation: [unknown]. Ancient Monuments Form. SAM Record. DNF14771.
---Illustration: Various. Various. Architectural plans.
---Record Card: Ordnance Survey Staff. 1933-1979?. Ordnance Survey Record Cards. TG 20 NW 20 [2].
---Monograph: Pevsner, N. and Wilson, B. 1997. Norfolk 1: Norwich and North-East. The Buildings of England. 2nd Edition. p 271.
---Newspaper Article: Eastern Daily Press. 2010-2012. [Articles on the £1.5 million refurbishment and reopening of Bridewell Museum].
---Secondary File: Secondary File.
---Illustration: Smith, R. pre 1990. The Bridewell - plan of the undercroft. Paper.
---Illustration: Smith, R. pre 1990. The Bridewell - 18th century ground floor plan. Paper.
<S1>Record Card: Clarke, R. R. and NCM Staff. 1933-1973. Norwich Castle Museum Record Card - Norwich - Post Roman.
<S2>Publication: 1962. Guide to Bridewell Museum.
<S2>Monograph: Blomefield, F. 1806. The History of The City and County of Norwich, Part II. An Essay Towards a Topographical History of the County of Norfolk. Vol IV. p 318.
<S3>Article in Serial: Ewing, W. C.. 1852. Notices of the Norwich Merchants Marks. Norfolk Archaeology. Vol III pp 176-228. p 191.
<S4>Article in Serial: Harrod, H. 1855. Extracts from Early Wills in the Norwich Registries. Norfolk Archaeology. Vol IV pp 317-339. pp 324-325.
<S5>Publication: Willins, E. P. 1884. Quaint Old Norwich. Pl 36.
<S6>Publication: Howard, J. W. 1890. Doors and Doorways of Old Norwich. Pl 3.
<S7>Publication: Rye, W. 1916. Norwich Houses Before 1600. pp 7-8.
<S8>Designation: English Heritage. National Heritage List for England. List Entry 1280532.
<S9>Recording Form: Norwich Survey building record forms.
<S10>Article in Serial: Carter, A. and Smith, R. 1983. Function and Site: Aspects of Norwich Buildings Before 1700. Vernacular Architecture. Vol 14 pp 5-18.
<S11>Thesis: Smith, R. 1990. An Architectural History of Norwich Buildings, c. 1200 - 1700. Unpublished Thesis. pp 326, 390.
<S12>Newspaper Article: Eastern Daily Press. 2000. New life breathed into the Bridewell. 19 February.
<S13>Designation: English Heritage. 1990-2013. English Heritage Scheduling Notification. Notification. DNF14771.

Related records

Site 41Parent of: 27 Bedford Street (Monument)
Site 2279Parent of: 27 Bedford Street (Monument)
Mon 50Parent of: 27 Bedford Street (Monument)
Site 2469Parent of: 27 Bedford Street (Monument)
Mon 5Parent of: Bedford Street Kilns (Monument)
Site 2457Parent of: Bridewell Museum (Monument)
Site 1283Parent of: Bridewell Museum, Bridewell Alley (Monument)
Mon 13Parent of: The Bridewell (Monument)
Mon 14Parent of: The Bridewell (Monument)
Mon 139Part of: Bridewell Alley (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 - 2023 Norfolk Historic Environment Service