Norwich Almshouses

Bishopgate Great Hospital St Helen's tower [3894] 1950-06-29
"The Hospital of St Giles, commonly known as the Great Hospital, was founded by Walter de Suffield bishop of Norwich in 1249. He pulled down the parish church of St Helens on the south side of Holme Street (now Bishopgate) and provided accommodation for the parishioners in his new buildings on the north side of the street. The Hospital establishment consisted of a Master, four chaplains, a deacon, sub-deacon and four sisters (over 50 years old) to minister to the inmates, and four lay brothers. Its function was to maintain poor and decrepit chaplains of the diocese of Norwich, and also to provide 13 poor people and seven poor scholars with a meal a day. In 1310 the chaplains were increased to eight and were to wear the habit of secular canons. The Hospital was dissolved by Henry VIII, but at the petition of Norwich citizens it was restored to the city by Edward VI. It is now administered by Trustees, and with its additional buildings it houses nearly 200 old people of both sexes.
The buildings are of great interest and represent in the main a rebuilding of the Hospital in the 14c and 15c. It is probable that Suffield's parish church was south of and parallel to the Hospital chapel, both being east of the infirmary hall. The present arrangement (somewhat obscured by 16th century alterations) shows an aisled church of three bays, intervening between the infirmary hall and the large chancel, the latter being of unusual size to accommodate the chaplains who were functioning as chantry priests. The aisle arcades bear the arms of Prior Nolet (1453-71) Bishop Goldwell (1472-99) and Sir James Hobart, one of Bishop Goldwell's executors (d. 1507), and also the sun in splendour, the badge of Edward IV. The chancel had been built previously by Bishop Spencer (1370-1406) and was completed in 1385, the year that Richard II and his queen, Anne of Bohemia, visited Norwich. Its richly panelled roof, with 253 painted eagles, is supposed to commemorate the queen. The long vaulted porch is probably part of an earlier structure and the elaborately vaulted Lady Chapel appears always to have contained the parochial altar. The infirmary hall is an extension of four bays west of the church, built in plainer style, and at its south-west corner is a large tower, adjoining the destroyed south aisle. The cost of the tower was defrayed by a bequest of John de Derlington, Chancellor, who was Master of the Hospital, 1372-5. To the north is a cloister, with a dining hall on the west, where the daily meals provided by the founder were no doubt served, and lodgings for the master and the chaplains on the north. The apartments to the east, one of which is said to have been the Chapter House, have disappeared, but the doorways remain. When the hospital was reconstituted under Edward VI, both the infirmary and the Chancel were separated by walls from the Church, and floors were inserted to provide two storeys in each. These are fitted with cubicles the one for men and the other for women. The architectural detail is of considerable interest and the church has good fittings." (Walter H.Godfrey in The Archaeological Journal Vol.CVI, 1949)
Bishopgate Great Hospital St Helen's S side [7107] 1993-12-05
St Helen's tower S transept from Bishopgate [2288] 1938-04-10
Bishopgate Great Hospital and St Helen's [B112] 1931-00-00
Bishopgate Great Hospital S porch entrance [4065] 1952-03-20
Bishopgate Great Hospital S porch tablet [6600] 1990-04-11
Bishopgate Great Hospital cloister entrance [3895] 1950-06-29
And former refectory.
Bishopgate Great Hospital cloister view NW [2295] 1938-04-12
Bishopgate Great Hospital Birkbeck Hall [3891] 1950-06-29
East side of hall. Erected on site of old brew house 1901.
Bishopgate Great Hospital Chaplain's house [2543] 1938-07-13
St Helen's Square, north side.
Bishopgate Great Hospital Chaplain's house [6751] 1991-11-09
Reconstructed dormers.
Bishopgate Great Hospital offices [2542] 1938-07-13
St Helen's Square, north side.
Bishopgate Great Hospital Master's house [2544] 1938-07-13
St Helen's Square, east side.
Bishopgate Great Hospital Eagle ward E end [3988] 1951-04-23
Bishopgate Great Hospital kitchens [3888] 1950-06-29
North of cloisters.
Bishopgate Great Hospital new alms houses [3890] 1950-06-29
Built 1937, architect S.J.Wearing A.R.I.B.A.
Bishopgate Great Hospital right Prior Court [6752] 1991-11-09
Left 19c alms houses. Right Prior Court opened 1980.
Bishopgate Great Hospital swan pit [3889] 1950-06-29
Calvert St Doughty's Hospital [4660] 1962-03-28
Founded by William Doughty under the terms of his Will dated 1687. The present buildings date from 1869.
Calvert St Doughty's Hospital matron lodge [4666] 1962-06-11
Recorder Rd Stuart Court [6337] 1985-08-15
A commemorative tablet records that "these housen" were built by members of the Colman family in memory of James Stuart, 1915.
St Benedict's St St Swithin's Alms houses [4718] 1962-09-11
Plough Yard, St Benedict's St. Founded 1691 by bequest from Edward Temple. Rebuilt here in 1903.
St Martin's Lane Cooke's Hospital [4665] 1962-06-11
Originally built by Robert and Thomas Cooke at Rose Lane in 1692. Transferred here 1892.
Union St Melbourne Cottages [7357] 1996-07-07
Built 1949-50 by Norwich City Council to house elderly people. Originally for those whose homes were destroyed during air raids of the Second World War.
Unthank Rd 49 The Elms [6598] 1990-04-11
Rowntree Mackintosh alms houses.
Unthank Rd Ryrie Court sheltered housing [6784] 1992-05-16
West Pottergate 68 to 78 Pye's Alms houses [4661] 1962-03-28
Here the Inner Link road and the redevelopment west of it have wrought much change, including the demolition of a row of six former almshouses at Nos 68-78 West Pottergate. Pye's almshouses, originally established near St Gregory's church, were given in 1614 by Thomas Pye to house six poor people, whether married or single, above the age of 50. In 1827 those houses were given by the Corporation to one, Joseph Bexfield in exchange for these six newly-built cottages, together with the sum of £200, which was to be invested to be applied towards keeping the houses in repair. The six people chosen were to be selected, two from each of the parishes of St Michael Coslany, St Giles and St Peter Mancroft; and to avoid any error, above each pair of doorways was a stone tablet inscribed with the name of the parish concerned.
Although not meeting the standards set by old people's homes of the present day, the appearance they presented to the street was a pleasant one and in this respect at least their loss is much to be regretted.

Text and photographs copyright George Plunkett