Norwich Street Photographs

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Oak St:
        From Colegate / Coslany St to St Martin's Rd / Bakers Rd
St Miles Alley, St Mary's Plain, New Mills Yard, St Martin's Lane, St Crispin's Rd (formerly Station Rd), Jenkins Lane, Sussex St, St Martin at Oak Wall Lane

      West side
Oak St 1 blocked Tudor doorway [2146] 1938-03-09
Oak St Dial Yard north side view west [1640] 1937-05-18
Showing the remains of a mansion once the home of Gregory Clerk (Sheriff of Norwich in 1497 and 1505) and his wife Agnes who afterwards married Robert Thorp. The principal chamber was once lined from floor to ceiling with richly carved panels of ribbon design.
Oak St Dial Yard north side view west [1644] 1937-05-23
Part of Gregory Clerk's house.
Oak St Dial Yard view east [1643] 1937-05-23
Oak St Dial Yard south side view east [2872] 1939-02-16
Oak St Dial Yard south side view west [2873] 1939-02-16
Oak St 3 former Pheasant Cock PH [2536] 1938-07-10
Until the Second World War on the west side of Oak St, opposite St Miles' church stood an interesting row of Tudor houses, Nos 1-9. These were the usual two-storeyed type, timber framed and faced with plaster, the upper floors projecting slightly over the street. When I photographed them in 1938 they ware boarded up and in a derelict condition, with the plaster falling off in places, revealing a little of the wattle and daub construction beneath. Here was once the Pheasant Cock public house - not a unique name as far as Norwich was concerned, for another was still serving its customers until quite recently at "Richmond Hill", the junction of Queens Rd and Bracondale.
Behind was a building of which White in his Norfolk Directory (1883) wrote "In Dial Yard, St Martin's are the remains of what was the grand old mansion of William Coe, Mayor of Norwich". No such name appears on the mayoral roll and it seems that White was really referring to William Coo, mercer, who was admitted to the freedom of the city in the fourth year of Henry VIII's reign after having been apprenticed to Gregory Clerk. The latter had been Sheriff in 1497 and Mayor in 1505 and 1514, and both he and his father (also Gregory) had previously lived here.
Coo seems to have acquired the property through marrying his master's daughter, Agnes Clerk and what some considered to be their initials, the merchant's mark and the arms of the Mercer's Company added enrichment to ribbon-patterned-panelling which once lined a room here from floor to ceiling. Sold many years ago to Lord Stafford, much of the panelling was later acquired by J.J.Colman, and subsequently by Dr Philip Nelson of Liverpool. Sketches of just four of the panels were published in 1886-88 by the local artist C.J.W.Winter in a series entitled Norfolk Antiquities; in the accompanying letterpress he agreed with W.C.Ewing in ascribing the initials and merchant's mark to Gregory Clerk senior (Sheriff in 1477) and his wife Agnes. Gregory Clerk now lies buried in the south aisle of St Miles' Church, as does his wife Agnes who survived him. She subsequently married Robert Thorp, the founder of the Thorp Chapel with its beautiful flint flushwork on the exterior.
Oak St 3 to 5 [2537] 1938-07-10
Oak St 3 to 13 [0847] 1936-04-09
Oak St Tuns Yard south side [1645] 1937-05-23
Part of Gregory Clerk's house.
Oak St 7 to 9 [2535] 1938-07-10
Oak St 39 Unicorn PH [2694] 1938-08-06
Oak St 41 [2693] 1938-08-06
Oak St 41 Georgian doorway [0476] 1935-04-20
Oak St 73 White Lion PH [6383] 1986-06-12
Oak St 93 to 101 [0856] 1936-04-10
At 93-101 Oak St, on the west side just north of the Inner Link road was a rather run-down block of shops and tenements occupying what had been a mansion of considerable size. Built of brick late in the 17c, it was of two main storeys, with a basement and attics. Rusticated quoins, small keystones above the windows, and a stringcourse marking the division between the two floors relieved an otherwise austere facade. An opening wide enough to admit carriages divided the ground floor into two unequal parts and gave access to Bath House Yard at the rear.
This house is depicted in the top right-hand corner of James Corbridge's plan of Norwich. It then had a front doorway to the left or the opening and a row of six dormers to light the attics. These dormers had at some time during the 19c been replaced by casement windows of a much more modest design. Corbridge identified the house as the residence of Thomas Newton, who was a brewer, Sheriff in 1716 and Mayor in 1722. His wife who was Rebecca Tawell, died on 8th February 1737-38, and he died on 1lth July following. Principal parishioners for many years, they were buried in the Church of St Martin-at-Oak, where a monument on the south wall of the chancel testifies to their memory.
The house, although listed as Grade 2 under Section 3 of the Housing Act, 1949, was cleared away some years after the Second World War.
Oak St 93 to 101 [3033] 1939-05-29
Oak St Bath House Yard north side [1463] 1936-09-27
Oak St 103 [2041] 1937-10-11
No 103 Oak St, next door to the Key and Castle, was a small timber-framed building with a slight overhang to the first floor. It had long been in an extremely dilapidated condition and the raids of April 1942, served only to hasten an end that had already appeared inevitable. In the front wall of the ground floor were two sash windows from the 18c with slightly bowed frames. To the right a decayed wooden Tudor arch spanned a covered passageway leading to a court at the rear. This was known as the Ragged School Yard because during the 19c a Sunday School primarily for the benefit of poor people's children was maintained in a room here.
Oak St Ragged School Yard south side [1773] 1937-07-12
Oak St Ragged School Yard view east [1769] 1937-07-12
Oak St 103 to 105 Key and Castle PH [2692] 1938-08-06
Oak St 105 rear from Key and Castle Yard [1774] 1937-07-12
Oak St 103 to 119 view north [0854] 1936-04-10
Oak St 103 to 119 view south [1066] 1936-06-28
In between Nos 103 and 119 were located no fewer than seven yards: Ragged School Yard, Key and Castle Yard, Robinson's Yard, Horton's Yard, Saddler's Yard, Suffolk Arms Yard and Smith's Yard. Some were named after neighbouring public houses, while others no doubt commemorated early residents or owners.
The landlord of the Key and Castle at No 105 was at one time William Sheward, who in January 1869, confessed to having murdered his wife some 18 years earlier while living in Tabernacle St (now the west end of Bishopgate). At the time of the crime portions of an adult female body were found in various outlying parts of the city and it was thought that some medical students at the hospital were perpetrating a hideous joke in order to terrify people. Sheward was subsequently hanged at the old City Gaol at St Giles' Gates on 20th April 1869 - the first execution to be held in private in Norwich. As to the city's last public execution, there is a popular belief that this took place on the Castle Hill on 21st April 1849, when the double murderer James Blomfield Rush was hanged. Although the notoriety of the case attracted enormous crowds, augmented by many coming by rail on cheap day excursions from as far afield as London, this occasion did not mark the end of such grim spectacles. In fact three more public hangings took place in Norwich after that date, the last on 26th August 1867, when 22-year-old Hubbard Lingley was executed for the murder of his uncle.
Oak St 115 to 117 [2561] 1938-07-21
Oak St 117 rear from Saddler's Yard [1772] 1937-07-12
Oak St 119 [2691] 1938-08-06
Oak St 119 rear from Suffolk Arms Yard [1771] 1937-07-12
Oak St 125 to 127 Flower Pot Yd Great Hall [4386] 1955-09-24
Partially destroyed in air raid of April 1942.
Oak St 125 to 127 former Flower Pot PH [0859] 1936-04-10
Oak St 125 to 127 former Flower Pot PH [2507] 1938-06-26
Oak St 125 to 127 rear and Flower Pot Yard [1770] 1937-07-12
From the south-west.
Oak St Flower Pot Yard west side house rear [1775] 1937-07-12
Oak St Flower Pot Yard view W from street [2044] 1937-10-11
A little further south is Flower Pot Yard - or what remains of it. This picturesque piece of old property, which has a Great Hall dating from about 1480, was condemned in the early 1930s as the "worst slum in Norwich", but was subsequently acquired by Major (later Lieutenant-Colonel) S.E.Glendenning to demonstrate that old houses, originally well built, could be reconditioned for a further span of useful life even after years of neglect.
The building with the little bay window to the left of the courtyard entrance was during the 19c a public house known as the Flower Pot - or more accurately as the Pot of Flowers - where, according to Walter Wicks, early flower shows were held over a century ago. Tulips apparently were the chief attraction. This and the house at the back of the yard were wrecked both by fire and high explosive during the raids. The Great Hall however, (out of sight on the right) was rather more fortunate and some years later was once more restored. Like its contemporary, the old Rosemary Tavern on St Mary's Plain, it had had a floor put in during the 16c, half way up the building, and a fireplace and chimney added. It is possible that during the time of the Huguenots the room was used for weaving, for there was evidence that it had contained looms.
Oak St Flower Pot Yard west side [2043] 1937-10-11
Oak St Flower Pot Yard Great Hall doorway [2148] 1938-03-12
Blocked doorway on south side, which led to Screen's Passage of the Great Hall. Dating from c1490 it may have been a residence of Sir John Fastolff, although his principal residence was in Fastolff Place in Cowgate.
Oak St Flower Pot Yard south side [2149] 1938-03-12
Oak St Flower Pot Yard NW corner Great Hall [3223] 1939-08-07
Corner of yard showing south side of Great Hall.
Oak St Flower Pot Yard Great Hall from NE [4387] 1955-09-24
Oak St Holl's Yard Great Hall north side [1739] 1937-07-03
Oak St 141 with weavers' window [0860] 1936-04-10
Oak St was the scene of considerable change during the 20c. Some of this was caused by enemy action, particularly on the nights of the 27th and 29th April 1942, when no doubt the nearby City Station was one of the intended targets. No 141, which faced up Sussex St, was one casualty. An 18c brick-built house, three storeys high, it had a typical range of weavers' windows to light the top floor. A covered passageway to the south led to Little Buck Yard, while its neighbour on the north was Steward and Patteson's maltings.
Oak St 167 tower behind Dun Cow PH [5367] 1974-03-30
Former Dun Cow PH, adjacent to remains of a city wall tower.
Oak St 167 tower behind Dun Cow PH [B097] 1931-00-00
Remains of round terminal tower.
Oak St 167 tower behind Dun Cow PH view SW [0575] 1935-05-11
Oak St 167 tower behind Dun Cow PH [6233] 1982-07-05
        East side
St Michael at Coslany from NE [2262] 1938-04-07
Mostly Perpendicular.
St Michael at Coslany from SE [0896] 1936-04-12
St Michael at Coslany south aisle east end [0346] 1934-12-26
At the east end of the south aisle is the Thorpe Chapel dedicated to the Virgin Mary. It was founded and endowed by Robert Thorpe in the reign of Henry VII. Its exterior has the finest example in the country of flint and stone panelling, known as flush work. The chancel was refaced as a copy of this in 1883.
St Michael at Coslany south aisle flushwork [3771] 1949-04-29
St Michael at Coslany south aisle flushwork [6234] 1982-07-05
St Michael at Coslany tower south side [2242] 1938-03-31
St Michael at Coslany west doors [2241] 1938-03-31
15c with traceried and carved panel and traceried jamb mould.
St Michael at Coslany interior view east [2235] 1938-03-31
The nave was rebuilt by John and Stephen Staton who were Sheriffs in 1511 and 1512 during which period the rebuilding was completed.
St Michael at Coslany interior view west [2236] 1938-03-31
St Michael at Coslany interior north aisle [2239] 1938-03-31
Arcade early 16c.
St Michael at Coslany interior south aisle [2238] 1938-03-31
Begun by Alderman Gregory Clark and finished by his son who was Mayor in 1514.
St Michael at Coslany interior west door [2240] 1938-03-31
Entrance from nave into tower with carved wooden figures above cornice.
St Michael at Coslany interior altar tomb [2237] 1938-03-31
William Ramsey, Mayor 1502 and 1508. He built the north aisle with its chantry chapel dedicated to Saint John the Baptist in which he lies buried.
Oak St 12 to 14 former Eight Ringers PH [2555] 1938-07-19
The adjacent church of St Michael at Coslany has a ring of eight bells.
Oak St 12 to 14 view NE [2706] 1938-08-08
Oak St Scholars Court St Miles School [6601] 1990-04-14
Formerly St Miles School.
St Martin at Oak west side from Oak St [B138] 1931-00-00
Oak street is named from the church of St Martin-at-Oak. In its churchyard formerly grew an oak tree bearing an image of Our Lady, visited with great reverence in pre-Reformation days. St Martin-at-Oak is a redundant church, whose belfry was destroyed during the war. The tower has since been taken down to the level of the nave roof and now serves as a porch. During the course of the alterations some of the stringcourse of carved stonework that had formed a base to its battlemented top was re-used lower down in the reconstruction.
After serving for a time as the parish hall, St Martin's was for some years in use as a night shelter. Among the monuments here the most elaborate in that to Jeremiah Revans and his wife; the former died in 1727, the latter in 1711. They are represented as near-lifesize kneeling figures, one on each side of a reading desk. The furnishings were mostly modern, but there was a very nice Jacobean priest's chair.
St Martin at Oak tower from west [2047] 1937-10-12
The base forms a western porch.
St Martin at Oak tower air raid damage [4079] 1952-07-06
St Martin at Oak with truncated tower [4363] 1955-08-20
Tower after restoration and conversion of the building into a parish hall, 1955.
St Martin at Oak interior view east [2244] 1938-04-01
St Martin at Oak interior view west [2246] 1938-04-01
St Martin at Oak interior gallery view [2250] 1938-04-01
St Martin at Oak south aisle [2249] 1938-04-01
St Martin at Oak south arcade [2245] 1938-04-01
Slender and refined late Perpendicular piers.
St Martin at Oak 15c font [2248] 1938-04-01
St Martin at Oak Jacobean priest's chair [2247] 1938-04-01
St Martin at Oak Jeremiah Revans monument [2243] 1938-04-01
Jeremiah Revans and wife, died 1727 and 1711.
Oak St Arabian Horse Yard view east [1768] 1937-07-12
Showing rear of 65 to 67 St Martin's Lane. See also St Martin's Lane 61 to 69.
Oak St 70 rear from Arabian Horse Yard [1767] 1937-07-12
Oak St 72 to 74 [2686] 1938-08-03
Oak St 80 former Bess O' Bedlam PH [0852] 1936-04-10
At No 80 Oak St was what had been described (unavailingly) as "a modest little bit of Tudor work which should be preserved if possible". Somewhat similar to those houses higher up the street that were retained, it was plaster-faced and jettied at the front, with a dormer overlooking the yard to the south. Here was formerly a public house with the sign of the Bess o' Bedlam, making a twin with Tom o' Bedlam, also in St Martin-at-Oak, a reminder of the days when mentally deranged folk were largely uncared for and left to roam the streets.
Modern council flats now occupy the site between St Mary's Plain and St Miles' (otherwise known as St Michael-at-Coslany) church. Here were formerly Sun Yard and Greenland Fishery Yard, whose houses were declared unfit very early in the city's programme of slum clearance. The latter yard was named after an adjacent public house whose sign seems to have been a comparatively rare one. Larwood and Hotten make no mention of it; according to Walter Wicks it originated with the Greenland whale fishery, once based both at Yarmouth and Lynn, which ceased about 1821.
Oak St 90 Fellmonger PH [2130] 1938-03-06
Oak St 90 Fellmonger PH [2871] 1939-02-16
Oak St 90 Railway Arms PH to 94 [0851] 1936-04-10
Among the many old properties formerly lining either side of Oak St was the Railway Arms tavern at No 90 (pictured with 92 and 94). It stood almost opposite the modern Station Rd that was constructed as an approach to City Station (1882), the terminus of the Midland and Great Northern Joint Railway. The public house was an old one, and before the coming of the railway its sign had been that of the Fellmongers' Arms. This name continued to be preserved in the yard whose entrance was spanned by the property adjoining it to the north until early in 1937, when slum clearance took its toll and rendered the site void. When shortly afterwards the old inn, too, was demolished a more commodious building was erected to replace it, to which was given the older name of the Fellmonger. Although the architect, possibly as a concession to its antique surroundings, designed the new building with a pleasing series of gables, it never seemed to be at one with its neighbours and would have appeared to better advantage on an outlying estate where a garden could have surrounded it. Its life was a comparatively brief one, for it was gutted by fire during the raids of April 1942. St Crispin's (Inner Link) road now crosses the site.
When the bisection of Oak St by Inner Link road took place, it was proposed that the southern part should be renamed Coslany St, of which it forms a continuation; but objections were raised by affected traders and the idea was dropped. However, according to an 1883 street directory the dividing line between the two at that time was at St Mary's Plain and not at Colegate as at present, so the change had it come about would not have been quite such a revolutionary one as some people thought.
Oak St 90 Railway Arms PH east side [1752] 1937-07-04
Oak St 98 to 100 [2038] 1937-10-11
These were once one house and still had a central staircase intact. The lower storeys dated from c1550, the upper storey 17c. There was also a cellar. Formerly the residence of a woollen merchant, it was divided into two dwellings in 1800.
Oak St 98 to 100 rear [2019] 1937-10-02
Oak St 98 to 100 rear from Baldwin's Yard [1493] 1936-10-05
Oak St 98 to 108 Tudor houses [0586] 1935-05-19
Oak St 102 to 104 [2037] 1937-10-11
Oak St Goat Yard [1465] 1936-09-27
Oak St Goat Yard rear from Dog Yard [1474] 1936-10-03
Oak St 104 rear Goat Yard [1541] 1937-04-24
Oak St 104 to 106 from Dog Yard [2022] 1937-10-02
Oak St Dog Yard N side Georgian cottages [0862] 1936-04-10
Oak St Dog Yard south side rear of cottages [0863] 1936-04-10
Oak St Dog Yard N side Georgian cottages [1492] 1936-10-05
Before the conservation of 98 to 114 Oak St took place, four courtyards occupied the former garden ground at the rear, reached from the street through covered passageways between the houses. They were Baldwin's Yard, Goat Yard, Dog Yard and Talbot Yard. Most of the cottages they contained originated in the earlier part of the 19c, but in Dog Yard stood a rather unusual semidetached pair of perhaps more than a century earlier. Of brick and tile construction, they had a plain stringcourse at first floor level, and while much of the brickwork was constructed in the orthodox manner, the crow-stepped end walls had double courses of stretchers alternating with double courses of bricks standing on end. At the angles the orthodox brickwork was "tenoned" into the unorthodox in a kind of saw-edge pattern. The cottages were demolished towards the close of 1936, apparently not being considered sufficiently unusual to be retained.
Oak St 106 [2036] 1937-10-11
Oak St 106 to 108 rear [2021] 1937-10-02
Oak St 106 to 114 [0853] 1936-04-10
Oak St 108 [2035] 1937-10-11
Oak St 110 to 114 Anchor of Hope PH [2033] 1937-10-09
Immediately adjoining Jenkins Lane on the south, Nos 110-114 Oak St came at the end of a picturesque terrace of Tudor dwellings. In February 1935, the whole row (with the exception of No 114, the Anchor of Hope public house) was the subject of an inquiry held at the Guildhall under the Housing Acts of 1925 and 1930. It was then agreed that the Norwich Amenities Preservation Society should be permitted to acquire the buildings, providing that they made them fit to the satisfaction of the Medical Officer of Health, and acquired additional land at the rear for air space. This undertaking was accepted and the property subsequently thoroughly overhauled.
During the April raids in 1942, unfortunately, No 114 was completely burned out and Nos 110 and 112 so severely damaged that all three had later to be demolished. Luckily the remainder of the block, Nos 98-108, received comparatively minor damage; standing as they do now by the busy Inner Link road, their brightly colour-washed walls make an attractive feature in an otherwise rather plain setting.
Coronation Oak St 114 Anchor of Hope PH [1566] 1937-05-09
Anchor of Hope Inn, 114 Oak St, good business premises award for the 1937 coronation decorations.
Oak St 110 to 112 rear [2020] 1937-10-02
Oak St Talbot Square Hebrew Cemetery [1514] 1937-03-26
When slum property was being cleared away between Oak St and Quakers Lane in 1936 a little-known Jewish cemetery was brought to view. Although no longer used for burials it was still being attractively gardened by a caretaker appointed by the city's Jewish community. Ten headstones, some with Hebrew inscriptions, testified to the one-time use of this small plot, which was opened for burials in 1813 and closed in 1856 when the Corporation cemetery at Bowthorpe Rd was opened. There had been an earlier cemetery on a site at the top of Mariners Lane, Ber St, granted by the Corporation early in the 18c. This cemetery had been used by the whole of the eastern counties until closed about a century later, but on the other hand this one at Oak St, adjoining Talbot Square, was used by the Norwich Community only.
Oak St 122 to 128 [0855] 1936-04-10
Oak St 124 to 126 rear from Old Brew Yard [1777] 1937-07-12
A few yards to the south of the Royal Oak was Old Brew Yard. This, one of the widest yards then existing in the city, took its name from an early nearby brewery, as also did Little Brew Yard next door. The houses on the south, which divided one yard from the other, probably dated from the 17c, but their walls had since been cement rendered, and the fine row of gables roughcast. The photograph shows the west side of the yard, formed by the houses facing Oak St. No 126, on the right, was the oldest, having flint and brick rubble walls and an old English plain tiled roof.
Beyond Little Brew Yard is Jenkins Lane, a narrow alley that leads past the site of 19c Oak Terrace and eventually to the Gildencroft. It was once popularly known as "Chafe Lug Alley", being barely a yard wide at its entrance, but since the demolition of adjoining property its nickname has fallen into disuse.
Oak St Old Brew Yard rear of south side [0943] 1936-05-12
Oak St 128 to 130 [1467] 1936-10-03
Oak St 130 to 136 [0944] 1936-05-12
Oak St 132 Royal Oak PH [2687] 1938-08-03
At No 132 stood the Royal Oak public house, another of the several domestic buildings in Norwich whose front walls at least were of knapped flint. Here at the Royal Oak those of the rear wall were unknapped. Probably of the late 16c or early 17c, the fine street frontage had been somewhat spoiled by the insertion of a discordant florid shop front of apparently Victorian vintage. The roof had red pantiles except at the back, where some of the original old English plain tiles remained. On this side, too, was a dormer giving light to the commodious attic storey. After the 1942 blitz only the walls, joists and roof beams remained, to be cleared away shortly after the war.
The sign of the inn commemorated the escape of Charles II when he secreted himself in the oak tree at Boscobel. It is not from this that the street is named, however, but from the church of St Martin-at-Oak which stands further south.
Oak St 132 rear from Royal Oak Yard [1776] 1937-07-12
Oak St 140 [2040] 1937-10-11
Oak St 154 to 158 and Sussex St entrance [0858] 1936-04-10
Oak St 154 to 158 view NE [2709] 1938-08-13
Oak St 156 to 158 view SE [2039] 1937-10-11
Almost opposite to Flower Pot Yard stood Nos 156-158, a centuries-old building of which one of the most notable features was the chimneystack, since there are few old ones in Norwich showing any attempt at ornamentation. It was of brick, both shafts being octagonal and sharing a neat base. The windowless dormers were not so attractive, however, and gave rather a vacant appearance to the building. Perhaps the Window Tax had something to do with this.
Shortly before the war No 158 underwent a most regrettable metamorphosis. Double doors to admit motor traffic replaced the street door, the dormers were removed together with the old English plain tiles and the chimneystack, and the roof was covered with white asbestos sheeting. The result was a building devoid of all architectural interest, an effect which would have been heightened were it not for the fact that the adjoining house (No 156) remained unchanged.
From their similarity of appearance one might have thought that these two dwellings formed one large residence originally. At the time of the blitz, however, much of the plaster fell away from the front of both houses, revealing that No 156 was of flint rubble construction and No 158 entirely of brick. The raids did such extensive damage to this property that it was found necessary to clear the whole site shortly afterwards.
It was not only the raids that were responsible for the changes here. Slum clearance also took its toll. For very many years this had been one of the poorer areas of the city. The larger houses which lined the streets, many of them of Tudor origin, had become divided up into small tenements and otherwise neglected, while their former gardens had become built over with little brick cottages to form narrow crowded yards - their names being the only picturesque thing about them.

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Text and photographs copyright George Plunkett

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