Norwich Guildhall - History and Facts | History Hit

Norwich Guildhall

Norwich, England, United Kingdom

Peta Stamper

23 Jun 2021
Image Credit: Shutterstock

About Norwich Guildhall

Within the heart of the medieval city of Norwich in England, Norwich Guildhall is a remarkable example of late medieval architecture and reflected the growing power of the city’s merchant elite.

Today, the Norwich Guildhall is the largest remaining civic building outside of London and is open to the public.

Norwich Guildhall history

By the 15th century, Norwich had become of the England’s most important and wealthiest towns. Following a 1404 charter by Henry IV giving the city powers of self-governance, the guildhall was built to administer the city better between 1407 and 1412.

The new guildhall’s role was similar to a town hall: serving multiple purposes such as a court, tax collection hub and administrative centre. The guildhall also boasted a sword room for storing weapons and a council assembly chamber for meetings, as well as holding prisoners. In 1531, the Christian martyr Thomas Bilney was held in the dungeon before being burnt at the stake.

A large clock was gifted to the guildhall in 1850 by then mayor, Henry Woodstock which has undergone several restorations since. Norwich Guildhall was the centre of the city’s government until its replacement by City Hall in 1938.

Norwich Guildhall today

Norwich Guildhall’s characteristic flint exterior remains a bastion of the city’s medieval independence and wealth, sat on Gaol Hill. The Grade I listed building is open for booking free guided tours which last about an hour, or you can explore the guildhall history on one of the Heritage Open Days – run every September – that gives visitors a sneaky special look inside Norwich’s medieval past.

The Norwich Guildhall is also home to an escape room and restaurant.

Getting to Norwich Guildhall

Located in the city centre, the Norwich Guildhall is easily found on foot. Via public transport, buses 501 and 502 both stop at Castle Meadow Stop CW, a 5 minute walk from the guildhall. For drivers, there are many car parks dotted around Norwich Guildhall which is found just off the A147 from the A11, A140 and A47.

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