Record Details

NHER Number:194
Type of record:Building
Name:St Andrew's and Blackfriars' Halls, Norwich


The second site acquired by the Dominicans or Black Friars, the first having been north of the river (NHER 381). The site had previously been settled by the Friars Penitential or Friars of the Sack, but when they were suppressed in 1307, the Dominicans received a licence to move in, using some of the Penitents' buildings, two of which, Beckett's Chapel and the Crypt, still survive today. The earliest part of the friary built by the Dominicans is the Cloisters, probably constructed between 1310 and 1320. The extension bays built on the west end of the south open cloister space were probably not completed until 1345 when the Friars gained permission to close the lane running across their site from Elm hill to St George's Street. The first church on the site was destroyed by fire in 1413 and the surviving building is essentially of 1440 to 1470, consisting of a large preaching nave (now St Andrew's Hall) and a private chancel for the Friars (now Blackfriars Hall). These were divided by a walkway leading directly from the exterior to the cloister. Originally the walkway was topped by a polygonal tower, but this collapsed in 1712. The paved space south of the nave was an open preaching yard. The buildings as they stand today are the most complete friary structures surviving in this country. This is because when the Friary was dissolved in 1538 the buildings were bought by the city council and the nave converted to an public hall (and therefore somewhat altered). The chancel has not been so much changed and is architecturally the most impressive part. The whole complex has remained the property of the city ever since. The nave and chancel are now used for concerts, exhibitions, book fairs and the like. The Cloisters, modernised, have exhibitions and an antiques market, and the crypt is now a coffee bar.

Images - none


Grid Reference:TG 2314 0882
Map Sheet:TG20NW

Full description

Former friary, now partly amenities centre and partly art school.
14th and 15th centuries with 19th and 20th century alterations and additions. Flint with stone and brick dressings.
Ashlar facing. Brick, lead, slate and pantile roofs. Nave with north and south aisles, walkway and chancel.
Remains of monastic offices and cloisters to the north.
Former church: seven bay nave, two storey porch, five bay chancel.
For further details see (S1) and (S2).

Cloister: to the north, complete south range. See (S1) for more details. Excavated remains of north cloister range.
Quadrangle is closed to north by Art School building of 1899.
Chapter House: excavated remains of three bay twin aisled range east of east cloister range.
The Crypt: four bays of brick vaulting with central re-made stone pier. Becket's Chapel: to the east of the crypt. Remains of six bay chapel.
The complex ranks highly as one of the most complete Dominican Friaries in England.
For full details see (S1).

The crypt of Becket's Chapel has a quadrapartite plan with double-order diagonal ribs in each bay springing from a central pier. There are blocked doors and openings on all four walls.
R. Smith 1990.

From 1696 to 1698 a mint stood in a corner of the cloisters and in 1608 a library was made over the porch.

For the Yorkshire tracery here and at St Peter Mancroft see (S9).

1910 to 1911. Excavation by P.A. Nash of Dominican Friary.

Excavation by C. Green for the Ministry of Works on the site of Becket's Chapel. This had been destroyed in 1874 and the site levelled off to the yard entrance to Elm Hill.

Foundations dug at west end of nave of St Andrew's Hall.
Removal of 15th century and other floors; paving stones with a selection of masons marks on underside.
Plan of floors by Architect's Department and photographs of floor levels.

November 1971.
One post medieval sherd from inside the Gents' toilets, during construction work.
W. Milligan (NCM).

February to March 1972.
Clearance to expose the surviving walls of 'Becket's Chapel' for floor level involved the demolition of a late 19th/early 20th century store building.
For further details see file.
J. Roberts.

23 May 1973.
Unstratified material from St Andrew's Hall itself.
Medieval pottery etc, see list in file.

From test hole dug outside the Art School, St Georges Street.
Various pottery, Late Saxon to Medieval.

From Blackfriars Hall. 17th century bellarmine.
Doorway from southeast corner of cloister walk into north corner of 'crypt' unblocked.

January 1975.
New doorway opened through east end wall of main church south aisle to give access to south end of vestibule.
Walls of the 'crypt' were rendered. Pre-plastering drawings were made.
J. Roberts.

February 1993. Field Observation.
Recording of wall revealed in relaying floor between St Andrew's and Blackfriars' Halls in walkway.
Details in file.
S. Bates (NAU), 3 February 1993.

See file for further details. See also NHER 827, etc.

Scheduled monument consent granted concerning the proposed acoustic double glazing to the clerestory windows of St. Andrew's Hall, the installation of external floodlighting, the stripping, repairing and re-covering of the roof of the west turret and the upgrade of the fire warning system.
See (S12).
H. White (NLA), 2 April 2009

January-February 2007. Watching Brief.
Monitoring of groundworks associated with installation of floodlighting, bollards and new paving. From Context 3000.
A 26m long trench was excavated running from Prince's Street to the stone steps on the southern side of St. Andrew's Hall, and although changed course several times, was oriented largely north-south. A wall foundation and in-situ demolition rubble was recorded in the south section of the trench. The wall was constructed of brick and flint cobbles bound by a lime mortar and was on the same orientation as Prince's Street. A further wall base was located in the northern section of the trench, constructed of brick bound by lime motar and oriented NE-SW.
A second trench was dug parallel to the full length of the southern exterior of the hall. Seven grave cuts were recorded. They were steep sided and extended below the base of the trench so were not fully excavated. Disarticulated human bone was recovered from all graves, in addition artefacts were recovered from four of the graves, including animal bone, medieval brick and a single sherd of medieval pottery. Medieval brick and an 18th century pottery sherd we recovered adjacent to the western porch of the Hall. The south-westerly section of the trench revealed a single fragment of 12th-1th century continental pottery, fragments of post- medieval roof tile and fragments of butchered cattle bone. A structural feature was recorded in the section of the trench immediately adjacent to the west porch. It consisted of an east-west wall or wall foundation, and was built of chalk lumps and flint cobbles.
11 trenches were excavated in preparation for bollards. A small quantity of human bone and a single sherd of Thetford-type ware was recovered from one trench to the south of the site.
A third trench was excavated to the south of St Andrews Hall, and revealed a structural feature in the north-east corner which consisted of two flint cobble and lime mortar walls. One was oriented east- west and the other north south, to form the south-west corner of a probable cellar. The north-south wall truncated a circular pit or well. The feature appeared to be lined with a sandy clay material, and the fill produced post- medieval pottery fragments.
See (S13) for further information. The results of this work are also summarised in (S22).
The associated archive has been deposited with Norwich Castle Museum (NWHCM : 2017.498).
H. White (NLA), 3 December 2008. Amended by P. Watkins (HES), 27 May 2019.

The workhouse was founded in 1711 when Norwich incorporated its parishes for poor relief, together with Duke's Palace and the St. Augustine's Infirmary (NHER629).
Information from J. Lodey.
E. Rose (NLA), 4 June 2007.

Scheduled monument consent granted concerning the installation of 11 cycle parking stands, improvements of the fire compartmentation and installation of automatic glass doors.
See (S14) for further information
H. White (NLA), 2 April 2009

2008. Proposals to regenerate St Andrew's and Blackfriars' Halls by Norwich HEART (S10), who also provide the following summary of the site (S11):-
St Andrew’s and Blackfriars’ Halls, and their associated buildings, are the most complete example of a friary complex in the UK to survive from the medieval period. The friary was originally founded on the site by the Friars of the Sack in or around 1258. After this order was suppressed the friary was taken over in 1307 by the Black Friars (Dominicans), who had already established themselves in the city. So the site’s history stretches back around 750 years. When the Dominican friary suffered the same fate as other monastic houses at the Reformation in October 1538, the city promptly petitioned the king “to make the church a fair and a large hall for the mayor and his brethren for their common assemblies, to keep a free school therein, and to keep a chapel”. By 1540 the buildings were owned by the City and have been so ever since, serving as a non-conformist chapel, stores, a mint, a workhouse, a school, assembly rooms and, from 1824, the main venue for the Norfolk & Norwich Festival. The Halls are still used as a modern-day concert, performance and events space – for antiques fairs and the beer festival.
D. Gurney (NLA), 19 November 2008.

Scheduled monument consent granted to remove and replace recorded stone copings, fix slipping concrete copings and repoint knapped flint facing. Consent was also granted to install under floor heating , to repair and consolidate the remains of the flint cloister walls and to repair and re-cover the roof of the east building of the garth building.
See (S15) for further information.
H. White (NLA), 7 January 2009.

2008. Norwich HEART.
The only English friary to survive intact from the medieval period, the Halls were built over 600 years ago and were part of the medieval precinct of the Dominican or Black Friars. The layout is typical of a medieval English friary church, including a large nave (St Andrew's) used for preaching to congregations and a smaller chancel (Blackfriars) where the friars held services. The nave and chancel were separated by a walkway, which would have allowed direct access to the cloisters. The Halls now hold the country's largest collection of civic portraits, totalling 127 late 16th to 19th century paintings of Norwich Mayors, Sheriffs and other dignitaries.
See (S16, S17).
D. Gurney (NLA), 27 January 2009.

February 2009.
Scheduled monument consent granted for the installation of an internal secondary glass sliding door to the entrance on the west elevation, and the installation of two new signs.
See (S18) for further details.
H. White (NLA), 4 March 2009.

August 2009.
(S19) notes that a photograph dating from 1843 exists in 'Norfolk Photographically Illustrated'.
H. White (NLA), 1 September 2009.

November 2009
For website with many resources and 3-D animations, see (S20).
D. Gurney (NLA), 4 November 2009.

November 2010. Building Survey.
Survey of the East Garth Building (the former dormitory range) prior to proposed works. Roof and selected rooms examined.
See report (S21) for details, including the results of the analysis of a mortar sample taken from the roof.
P. Watkins (HES), 10 November 2015.

March 2011. Application for scheduled monument consent.
See (S22).
S. Howard (HES), 24 October 2011.

Monument Types

  • EXCHANGE (Undated)
  • PIT (Unknown date)
  • CESS PIT (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD)
  • CHAPEL (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD)
  • CHURCH (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD)
  • CHURCH (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD)
  • FRIARY (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD)
  • FRIARY (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD)
  • GRAVE (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD)
  • NONCONFORMIST CHAPEL (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD)
  • UNDERCROFT (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD)
  • CELLAR (Post Medieval - 1540 AD to 1900 AD)
  • GRANARY (Post Medieval - 1540 AD to 1900 AD)
  • MINT (Post Medieval - 1540 AD to 1900 AD)
  • ROMAN CATHOLIC CHAPEL (Post Medieval - 1540 AD to 1900 AD)
  • SCHOOL (Post Medieval - 1540 AD to 1900 AD)
  • WALL (Post Medieval - 1540 AD to 1900 AD)
  • WORKHOUSE (18th Century to 19th Century - 1711 AD to 1900 AD)

Associated Finds

  • ANIMAL REMAINS (Undated)
  • HUMAN REMAINS (Undated)
  • POT (Late Saxon - 851 AD to 1065 AD)
  • BRICK (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD)
  • POT (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD)
  • CLAY PIPE (SMOKING) (Post Medieval - 1540 AD to 1900 AD)
  • POT (Post Medieval - 1540 AD to 1900 AD)

Protected Status

  • Listed Building
  • Scheduled Monument

Sources and further reading

---Aerial Photograph: TG2308 BX,BY,AQR,AXE.
---Serial: 1958. Council for British Archaeology Group 7 Bulletin of Archaeological Discoveries. Vol 5. p 4.
---Designation: [unknown]. Ancient Monuments Form. SAM Record. DNF467.
<Sm>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.
<Sn>Monograph: Blomefield, F. 1806. The History of The City and County of Norwich, Part I. An Essay Towards a Topographical History of the County of Norfolk. Vol III.
---Aerial Photograph: Edwards, D.A. (NLA). 1994. TG 2308BFL - BFS.
<Sb>Designation: English Heritage. Scheduling Report.
---Record Card: Ordnance Survey Staff. 1933-1979?. Ordnance Survey Record Cards. TG 20 NW 42 [3]; TG 20 NW 42.1 [2]; TG 20 NW 42.2 [4]; TG 20 NW 42.3 [2].
---Monograph: Pevsner, N. and Wilson, B. 1997. Norfolk 1: Norwich and North-East. The Buildings of England. 2nd Edition. pp 265-269; Pl 46.
---Newspaper Article: Eastern Daily Press. 2009. New Chapter Beckons for Historic Hall Complex. 29 January.
---Newspaper Article: Eastern Daily Press. 2009. Halls Vision Survives Lottery Blow. 6 March.
---Newspaper Article: Eastern Daily Press. 2009. Heritage to be highlighted in architecture. 12 November.
<Sa>Newspaper Article: Eastern Daily Press. 2010. The Norwich 12. 2 February.
<Se>Newspaper Article: Eastern Daily Press. 2010. Why Norwich is world class. 17 March.
<Sf>Newspaper Article: Eastern Daily Press. 2010. Wander your way through 1,000 years of city history. 24 June.
<Sg>Newspaper Article: Eastern Daily Press. 2011. Putting his heart into promoting Norwich's heritage. 2 September.
---Newspaper Article: Eastern Daily Press. 2011. £25M revamp plans for historic halls put on hold. 17 December.
---Thesis: Smith, R. 1990. An Architectural History of Norwich Buildings, c. 1200 - 1700. Unpublished Thesis. p 325.
<Sk>Designation: English Heritage. 2011. Scheduled monument consent for Dominican Friary, Norwich, Norfolk.. S00007247.
<Si>Newspaper Article: Eastern Daily Press. 2012. New life for friary saves city heritage. 5 January.
<Sj>Record Card: NCM Staff. 1973-1989. Norfolk Archaeological Index Primary Record Card - Norwich.
---Record Card: NCM Staff. 1973-1989. Norfolk Archaeological Index Primary Record Card - Norwich.
<Sh>Record Card: Clarke, R. R. and NCM Staff. 1933-1973. Norwich Castle Museum Record Card - Norwich - Post Roman.
<Sl>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: Eastern Daily Press. 1986. Hall architect has the lasting word. 13 October.
---Newspaper Article: Eastern Daily Press. 2016. £260,000 bill for city’s historic halls. 13 February.
---Drawing: MMBL Chartered Surveyors. 2010. Plans, sections, and elevations of proposed internal remodelling of the East Garth Building, Norwich University College of the Arts. Architectural Plan. paper A3. [various].
---Drawing: Pilkington United Kingdom Ltd. 2010 [?]. Sketch of planar glass protection enclsoures for stone ruins at the East Garth Building, Norwich University College of the Arts. Architectural Plan. paper A3. [unknown].
---Newspaper Article: Eastern Daily Press. 1956. Norwich work on ancient buildings. 28 December.
<S1>Designation: Historic England. National Heritage List for England. List Entry 1220456.
<S2>Publication: Suitermeister, H.. The Norwich Blackfriars.
<S3>Article in Serial: Nash, P. A. 1926. The Sackfriars' and Blackfriars' Conventual Buildings in the Parishes of St. Andrew and St. Peter Hungate, Norwich. Norfolk Archaeology. Vol XXII pp 370-382.
<S4>Article in Serial: Elliston-Erwood, F. C. 1951. Report of the Summer Meeting of the Institute at Norwich, 1949. Part III. Norwich: Cathedral, Churches, and Religious and Charitable Foundations: The Norwich Blackfriars. The Archaeological Journal. Vol CVI pp 90-94.
<S5>Article in Serial: Green, C. 1965. Becket's Chapel, Norwich. Norfolk Archaeology. Vol XXXIII pp 298-309.
<S6>Article in Serial: 1959. Other Archaeological Excavations 1958. Norfolk Research Committee Bulletin. Series 1 No 11 (for 1958) pp 1-2. p 2.
<S7>Article in Serial: Wilson, D. M. and Hurst, J. G. 1960. Medieval Britain in 1958. Medieval Archaeology. Vol III (for 1959) pp 295-326. p 305.
<S8>Monograph: Jennings, S. 1981. Eighteen Centuries of Pottery from Norwich. East Anglian Archaeology. No 13. p 253.
<S9>Article in Serial: Woodman, F.. 1995. St Peter Mancroft.. Vol III, pp 295-326. pp 290ff.
<S10>Monograph: Norwich HEART. 2008. Transforming the Halls. Regeneration proposals for St Andrew's and Blackfriars..
<S11>Article in Serial: HEART. 2008. Breathing new life into The Halls.. Norwich HEART News. Autumn 2008.
<S12>Designation: DCMS. 2006. Scheduled monument consent.
<S13>Unpublished Contractor Report: Boyle, M. 2008. An Archaeological Watching Brief at St Andrew's Hall, St Andrew's Plain, Norwich. NAU Archaeology. 1409.
<S14>Designation: DCMS. 2007. Scheduled Monument Consent.
<S15>Designation: DCMS. 2008. Scheduled Monument Consent.
<S16>Publication: Sheehan, B.. 2008. Norwich 12: A journey through the English city..
<S17>Moving Image: Norwich Heritage Economic and Regeneration Trust (HEART). 2008. Norwich 12. A journey through the English city.. DVD.
<S18>Designation: DCMS. 2009. Scheduled Monument Consent.
<S19>Newspaper Article: Eastern Daily Press. 2009. Fabulous record of Norfolk's Victorian splendor. 22 August.
<S20>Website: Virtual Past. 2009. Norwich Blackfriars Online.
<S21>Unpublished Contractor Report: Wilson, W. D. 2010. The Roof of the Dormitory Range at the Norwich Dominicans. The East Range. Wilson Compton Associates.
<S22>Article in Serial: Gurney, D. (ed.). 2007. Excavations and Surveys in Norfolk in 2006. Norfolk Archaeology. Vol XLV Pt II pp 261-273. p 269.

Related records

428Part of: Second Precinct of Dominican Friary, Blackfriars, St Andrew's Hall (Monument)

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