Record Details

NHER Number:13361
Type of record:Building
Name:Bridewell, Wymondham


The Bridewell was built between 1785 and 1787, on the site of a 17th-century building. It was partially rebuilt in 1810, and altered at various dates in the 19th century. In 1994-6 trial excavations in the yard noted a medieval undercroft and passage.

Images - none


Grid Reference:TG 1129 0152
Map Sheet:TG10SW

Full description

1785-1787, on site of 17th-century building. Part rebuilt 1810, altered at various dates in 19th century.

July 1972. Bridewell Listed, Grade II.
Listing Description excerpt:
"Prison and magistrates' court. 1787 with early 19th-century additions. Red brick. Cumberland slate and pantile roofs. Three ranges forming courtyard. West range is main block. Two storeys in five bays, the centre three bays broken forward under pediment...Timber eaves cornice below hipped roof. Two symmetrical stacks on rear roof slope. Roof is Cumberland slate. South range also two storeys. Two tall round-headed windows mark extent of magistrates' court on south side. Hipped roof with three eccentrically-placed stacks...North block again two storeys and hipped. Large late 20th-century garage extension to house ambulances in courtyard...
INTERIOR. Brick barrel-vaulted cellars. One of holding cells retains heavy timber door without lock. Crash bar and plate intact to exterior. "
Information from (S1).
Please consult the National Heritage List for England (S1) for the current listing details.
Amended by P. Watkins (HES), 22 March 2022.

February 1980. Field Observation.
Visited by E. Rose (NAU).
Five-bay house, centre three slightly projecting under pediment. Two storeys. Brown brick; hipped slate roof. Central doorcase. Two recessed wings, that on north being the original prison with barred upper (and some lower) windows remaining.
Similar wing on south with two tall arched windows xi for courtroom. In commanding position.
Compiled by E. Rose (NAU), 13 February 1980. Information from record card (S2).
P. Watkins (HES), 22 March 2022.

See file notes (S3) for further information on the history of The Bridewell.

1994-1996. Excavation.
Carried out in the courtyard by the Wymondham Heritage Trust, prior to conversion for use as a heritage and social centre.
An unexpected discovery was that of an attached barrel-vaulted undercroft of medieval date which had been incorporated into the later cellars. There is no other record of building on the site prior to the 17th century.
See file notes (S3) for more details.
Principal reference for all years of excavation is (S4). The results of this work are also summarised in (S5)-(S8).
E. Rose (NLA), 2 September 1997. Amended by M. Langham-Lopez (HES), 12 July 2013.

September 1992. House east of courtyard listed, Grade II.
Listing Description excerpt:
"House; formerly part of prison. Early 19th century. Brick with pantiled roof. Two storeys in five bays, centre two bays broken forward under pediment. 20th-century canted bay attached to centre, to left of a pedestrian access….Pediment has barred grille. Hipped roof. Stack on rear roof slope and to south slope."
Information from (S9).
Please consult the National Heritage List for England (S9) for the current listing details.
P. Watkins (HES), 22 March 2022.

The prison consulted with miller William Cubitt and mill manufacturers on Norwich to produce a treadmill for them like that at Swaffham Gaol. Installed around 1822 it was removed when the prison was closed in 1825.
See NIAS records (S10).
W. Arnold (HES), 16 February 2011.

November 2011. Historic Building Recording.
Building recording was undertaken ahead of proposals to convert the existing offices at No 14 into residential dwellings.
See report and photographic survey (S11).
S. Howard (HES), 22 December 2011.

Monument Types

  • UNDERCROFT (Medieval - 1066 AD? to 1539 AD?)
  • PRISON (16th Century to 19th Century - 1540 AD? to 1825 AD)
  • MAGISTRATES COURT (18th Century to 21st Century - 1787 AD? to 2100 AD?)
  • AMBULANCE GARAGE (Late 20th Century to 21st Century - 1967 AD to 2002 AD)

Associated Finds - none

Protected Status

  • Listed Building
  • Listed Building

Sources and further reading

---Drawing: Various. Various. Architectural plans.
---Aerial Photograph: Edwards, D.A. (NLA). 1996. TG 1101W - Z.
---Newspaper Article: Eastern Daily Press. 1996. Building on the past. 12 November.
---Publication: Hawkins, J.. 1988. Wymondham Bridewell.
---Newspaper Article: Eastern Daily Press. 2010. A brief encounter with rail heritage.
---Monograph: Pevsner, N and Wilson, B. 1999. Norfolk 2: North-West and South. The Buildings of England. 2nd Edition. p 805.
---Newspaper Article: Eastern Daily Press. 2012. Museum could run out of cash by 2014. 4 April.
---Secondary File: Secondary File.
---Photograph: BPF 17, HBM 23-26, HVT 17-35, HFE 22-3.
---Newspaper Article: Norwich Mercury. 1983. The lock-up life. 22 July.
---Newspaper Article: Eastern Daily Press. 1987-1993. [Articles on the proposals of different uses and the sale of the Bridewell, Wymondham].
---Newspaper Article: Eastern Daily Press. 1988. Down among the prisoners in the dungeons of the past. 16 December.
---Newspaper Article: Eastern Daily Press. 1990. JPs' doorstop was a bomb. 9 April.
---Newspaper Article: Eastern Daily Press. 1994-1995. [Articles on the archaeological work undertaken at Bridewell, Wymondham].
---Newspaper Article: Eastern Daily Press. 1994-1996. [Articles on the Bridewell, Wymondham becoming a museum].
---Newspaper Article: Eastern Daily Press. 1997. One clink leads to many others. 31 March.
---Newspaper Article: Eastern Daily Press. 1997. Royal arms form old court house were saved. 17 April.
<S1>Designation: Historic England. National Heritage List for England. List Entry 1218450.
<S2>Record Card: NAU Staff. 1974-1988. Norfolk Archaeological Index Primary Record Card.
<S3>Collection: Norfolk Historic Environment Record Staff. 1975-[2000]. HER Record Notes. Norfolk Historic Environment Service.
<S4>Publication: Jenson, N.. 1997. Wymondham Bridewell. & excav rpt.
<S5>Article in Serial: Nenk, B. S., Margeson, S. and Hurley, M. 1996. Medieval Britain and Ireland in 1995. Medieval Archaeology. Vol XL pp 234-318. p 275.
<S6>Article in Serial: Gurney, D. (ed.). 1996. Excavations and Surveys in Norfolk 1995. Norfolk Archaeology. Vol XLII Pt III pp 397-412. p 411.
<S7>Article in Serial: Ponsford, M. and Jackson, R. 1998. Post-medieval Britain and Ireland in 1996. Post-Medieval Archaeology. Vol 31 (for 1997) pp 257-332. p 280.
<S8>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 563.
<S9>Designation: Historic England. National Heritage List for England. List Entry 1196688.
<S10>Archive: NIAS. Norfolk Industrial Archaeology Society Records.
<S11>Unpublished Report: Lucas Hickman Smith Architects. 2011. Historic Building Recording Pro Forma Report. The Wymondham Bridewell. Historic Building Recording.

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