Norwich’s Heritage Economic and Regeneration Trust (HEART) has taken on a 25-year lease of The Guildhall from Norwich City Council and plans to increase public access to the building and raise its profile as an attraction.
HEART has also taken over Caley’s Cocoa Café, helping to keep alive another well-loved Norwich heritage brand following its acquisition of Colman’s Mustard Shop & Museum in 2009.
The Guildhall is one of the Norwich 12 – the finest collection of individually outstanding heritage buildings from the Norman, medieval, Georgian, Victorian and modern eras. It is England's largest and most elaborate medieval city hall outside London and was central to civic and judicial life for more than 600 years. The building features the Sheriff of Norwich’s parlour, former courtrooms, cells and a 14th-century undercroft.
Brenda Arthur, leader of Norwich City Council, said: “The Guildhall is one of Norwich’s prize assets in terms of its heritage, but while so many of us regularly walk past it, few of us will have looked around it.
“HEART has a wonderful track record in raising the profile of the city’s heritage and this is exciting opportunity for The Guildhall to get the attention it deserves.”
Christine Frazer, chair of HEART, said: “We’re thrilled to be developing one of Norwich’s heritage gems. Our Heritage Open Days events show that people are fascinated with The Guildhall and want to find out more about this unique building, so, from the New Year onwards, we’ll be increasing public access, running open days and talks, and developing education and learning programmes.
“We also have a great opportunity to champion the city’s industrial heritage further through Caley’s Cocoa Café, as we have with Colman’s Mustard Shop & Museum in the Royal Arcade and our latest publication Norwich: City of Industries.”
Pre-booked tours of The Guildhall are available from the city’s blue badge guides and information and you can find out more about these from the city council-run Tourist Information Centre at The Forum. HEART is also running seasonal events at The Guildhall from October to December – find out more at www.heritagecity.org.