Record Details

NHER Number:605
Type of record:Building
Name:Suckling House, St Andrew's Street (Cinema City)


Suckling House is a merchant's house built between 1350 and 1370. It is a timber framed open hall with a king post roof. Two medieval doorways remain, one on the south side of the building and the other on the north. The building takes its name from Robert Suckling MP (mayor 1564), father of Suckling the poet.

Images - none


Grid Reference:TG 2314 0872
Map Sheet:TG20NW

Full description

Suckling's House, St Andrew's Street (now Cinema City).

Suckling's House was built 1350-70. Hall open timber roof tie beam and king post. Three vaulted bays in front of it next the street. Ancient doors on north and south sides. Takes its name from Robert Suckling MP (mayor 1564), father of Suckling the poet.
Information from (S1).
Suckling's has long been recognised as one of Norwich's more significant historic buildings. The house and its history are described in (S2), (S3) and (S4) and it was one of the also one of the buildings noted in (S5). See also (S6).
Amended by P. Watkins (HES), 22 January 2018.

1920. Stray Find.
See NHER 55844 for details of medieval pottery found at some time prior to 1920.
P. Watkins (HES), 22 January 2018.

1954. Listed Grade I.
Listing Description Excerpt:
"Former hall house now cinema and associated rooms and offices. Fifteenth century onwards with major addition and alterations of 1925, by Boardman. Flint with brick and stone dressings. Red brick and black pantiles. Single-storey hall with single-storey theatre to the east and a two-storey wing to the west."
Information from (S7).
Please consult the National Heritage List for England (S7) for the current details.
P. Watkins (HES), 22 January 2018. Amended by H. Hamilton (HES), 8 November 2019.

1970s. Building Survey.
It appears that Suckling's House may have been examined by the Royal Commission on the Historical Monuments of England (RCHME) during the 1970s. Although no report has been found the NHER holds copies of illustrations, photographs and a reconstructed plan of the building that may have originally been part of an RCHME report.
P. Watkins (HES), 22 January 2018.

January 1981. Building Survey.
Examined as part of Norwich Survey.
Hall of late medieval house mostly demolished c. 1900 for the tramways. On the underside of the roof are bosses with heraldic devices that date to between 1461 and 1483. Service doors lead to a three-bay, double-rib vaulted chamber in brick that is probably contemporary with the hall range. The street range along St Andrew's Street was mostly rebuilt around 1920.
See record form (S8) for further details.
Amended by P. Watkins (HES), 22 January 2018.

This building is one of several described at length in thesis (S9), which considers the 13th- to 17th-century buildings of Norwich. It is described as a 15th-century open hall with earlier, vaulted service rooms. The undercroft comprise three bays with double-order diagonal ribs, positioned parallel to and on the line of St Andrews Hill (that is, at right angles to the later 15th-century hall range). Suckling's House was regarded as a typical example of how late medieval Norwich buildings were arranged in relation to the street, with the hall located behind the service rooms (thereby distancing it from the street). Although the house was partly destroyed for the tramway in 1899 a surviving probate inventory names eighteen rooms, allowing the former plan of the building to be reconstructed (using the blocks shown on the 1884 Ordnance Survey 1:500 town plan map as a guide).
P. Watkins (HES), 22 January 2018.

March 1997. Descheduled.
This building has been descheduled but remains protected as a Listed Building (S7).
Information from (S10).
H. Mellor (HES), 6 June 2018.

History and plan by [1] VAG 1997 meeting in file, which is based on the information and illustrations in (S9).

2002. Desk-based Assessment.
See report (S11) for further details.
P. Watkins (HES), 22 January 2018.

April 2004. Building Survey.
The Great Hall of Suckling House is generally agreed to be 14th century, although opinions about the precise date vary. The original entrance to the hall would have been through one of the two doors which face one another at the western end of the hall. This would have led into a screens passage which, on the western side led to service rooms in vaulted bays, and to the east into the open hall. The screen was probably timber, and no trace remains. The area where the cinema foyer is today was originally part of the Little Parlour, and fragments of the wall survive in the north and south walls. In the south wall at first floor level a medieval door still exists, and may represent the original entrance to the Solar from an external stair.
The ground floor of the western range would have served as the service wing. Three vaulted bays survive, with evidence for another in the panelled room. This latter bay has fragmentary remains of vault webbing and is thought to have been the buttery, with the larder to the south, and further south were kitchens.
There is much speculation about whether the service wing is earlier or later than the hall. The awkward junction between the original southern door and the vaults suggest that the two buildings cannot be contemporary.
The layout of the hall follows the typical Norwich format of having the principal living rooms separated from the street by service rooms.
Early in the 16th century a long covered passageway was added to the north of the hall, leading out from the screens passage towards the counting house. This had open sides with oak posts and decorated spandrels, one with the Grocers' Arms and another with the arms of St Andrew. The inventory of Robert Suckling (1589) has allowed a conjectural plan of the building to be drawn up.
In the 17th century the building begins to be broken up. In 1608 the buildings were divided into northern and southern sections and sold separately. The wine merchant Philip Rose who bought Suckling House from 1819 is believed to be responsible for the insertion of a cellar in the Great Hall by raising the floor. Wine merchants continued to use the building until 1914.
In the 17th century the western range was refaced . The Great Gate that once stood just south of the Counting House was blocked off and incorporated into a house of six bays which appears Georgian, but is in fact just refaced.
See (S12) for further details.
A. Cattermole (NLA), 15 April 2008.

For information relating to archaeological work that took place in and around this building between 2002 and 2004, see NHER 55844.
A. Cattermole (HES), 21 July 2011.

Monument Types

  • UNDERCROFT (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD)
  • WALL (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD)
  • HALL HOUSE (14th Century to 16th Century - 1370 AD to 1539 AD)
  • MERCHANTS HOUSE (14th Century to 16th Century - 1370 AD to 1539 AD)
  • HOUSE (Post Medieval - 1540 AD to 1900 AD)

Associated Finds - none

Protected Status

  • Listed Building

Sources and further reading

---Designation: [unknown]. Ancient Monuments Form. SAM Record. DNF14769.
---Illustration: Various. Various. Architectural plans.
---Record Card: Ordnance Survey Staff. 1933-1979?. Ordnance Survey Record Cards. TG 20 NW 236.
---Monograph: Pevsner, N. and Wilson, B. 1997. Norfolk 1: Norwich and North-East. The Buildings of England. 2nd Edition. p 274.
---Unpublished Document: Beechenco, F.R.. The Sucklings House at Norwich.
---Documentary Source: Norwich Enrolled Deeds.
---Correspondence: Carr, N. 1979. Letter to Mr James Chapman (City Council Conservation Architect) regarding cellars at Suckling House. 3 March.
---Correspondence: Eastern Evening News. 1979. What is the Secret of Suckling House?. 2 March.
---Unpublished Document: Smith, R. 1997. Suckling's House, St. Andrews Hill.
---Unpublished Document: English Heritage. 1987. English Heritage Records Office Scheduled Ancient Monument Report.
---Secondary File: Secondary File.
---Illustration: Smith, R. pre 1990. Suckling's House - plan showing relationship between service doors and earlier vaulting ribs. Film.
---Illustration: Smith, R. pre 1990. Suckling's House - ground floor plan reconstructed from form of building shown on 1884 O.S. map and from rooms mentioned in probate inventory. Film.
<S1>Record Card: Clarke, R. R. and NCM Staff. 1933-1973. Norwich Castle Museum Record Card - Norwich - Post Roman.
<S2>Article in Serial: Beecheno, F. R. 1917. The Sucklings' House at Norwich. Norfolk Archaeology. Vol XIX pp 197-220.
<S3>Article in Serial: Beecheno, F. R. 1921. The Sucklings' House at Norwich. Norfolk Archaeology. Vol XX pp 158-178.
<S4>Article in Serial: Green, H. J. 1917. The Sucklings' House. Additional Note. Norfolk Archaeology. Vol XIX pp 220a-220b.
<S5>Publication: Rye, W. 1916. Norwich Houses Before 1600. p 8.
<S6>Publication: Colman, E. M. and Colman, H. C. 1926. Suckling House and Stuart Hall, Norwich.
<S7>Designation: English Heritage. National Heritage List for England. List Entry 1220477.
<S8>Recording Form: Norwich Survey building record forms.
<S9>Thesis: Smith, R. 1990. An Architectural History of Norwich Buildings, c. 1200 - 1700. Unpublished Thesis. pp 134-142, 324, 353, 355, 378.
<S10>Designation: English Heritage. 1990-2013. English Heritage Scheduling Notification. Notification. DNF14769.
<S11>Unpublished Contractor Report: Penn, K. 2002. Report on an Archaeological Desk Top Assessment on Suckling House and Stuart Hall (Cinema City), Norwich. Norfolk Archaeological Unit. 782.
<S12>Unpublished Contractor Report: Thomas, P. 2004. Historic Building Report. Suckling House and Stuart Hall (Cinema City), St Andrew's Street, Norwich.

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