Friday, 14 July 2017 00:00

The Watts Family Return to Celebrate Maids Head Hotel Feature Rooms Project

Written by  Paul Dickson
Rate this item
(0 votes)
Left to right: The Lord Mayor of Norwich, Councillor David Fullman, Jenny Sadler and Dorothy Watts pictured in the refurbished Cathedral Suite, Maids Head Hotel Left to right: The Lord Mayor of Norwich, Councillor David Fullman, Jenny Sadler and Dorothy Watts pictured in the refurbished Cathedral Suite, Maids Head Hotel
Jenny Sadler and her mother Dorothy Watts and 10 other members of the Watts family and friends, joined the Lord Mayor of Norwich, Councillor David Fullman at the Maids Head Hotel on Friday, July 14 to celebrate the £230,000 refurbishment of seven feature rooms in the hotel.
 
The majority of the rooms are in the Palace Street wing, acquired by the hotel in the 1980s and converted into bedrooms and function rooms. The Watts family ran businesses there until the middle of the 1960s. 
 
Jenny Sadler was born in 1962 in part of what is now the Cathedral Suite, but back then it was her Mum, Dorothy and Dad, John Watts’ bedroom. 
Christine Malcolm, General Manager the Maids Head Hotel said: “It was a pleasure to welcome the Watts family to the hotel to celebrate the renovation of our feature rooms, including those in the Palace Street wing. We have really enjoyed learning about Jenny Sadler and her family’s Palace Street story, which now takes its rightful place in the Maids Head’s history.” 
 
“The hotel has been privately owned by the Chaplin family since December 2012. Our owners have embarked on a range of sympathetic refurbishment and renovation projects, to ensure that our historic building meets the expectations of 21st century visitors. So far they have invested nearly £2 million in the Maids Head. Our aim is to be recognised as Norfolk’s finest for hospitality and we believe that the quality of our feature rooms project strongly supports our ambition, and will enhance Norwich’s reputation as one of the UK’s top city destinations.”       
 
Jenny Sadler added: “Thank you to Christine Malcolm and her team for inviting my Mum and me to open the newly refurbished wing: my first home. The history of this building means so much to me. My Grandparents owned this part of the hotel and had 14 children, who were born here. My Dad, John Watts was the youngest, born in 1933. Dad married my Mum, Dorothy in 1957 and lived here for a number of years. Eventually I was born in 1962, making me the last person to be born in what is now this beautifully refurbished, Cathedral Suite.”   
 
john_and_dorothy_watts_wedding_april_1957.jpg
John and Dorothy Watts wedding reception in 1957 
 
The Watts Family
 
The Watts family had a bakery and shop in the Palace Street wing from at least the late 19th century. Arthur Watts (Grandfather) met Mary Anne Wardell, when she was 16. They married and had 14 children. 
 
There were eight brothers, most of whom ran Watts Brothers Building Contractors, with an office on the corner of Pigg Lane. 
 
Grandfather Arthur died in 1936 and the bakery closed soon after that, however Grandmother Mary Anne (d.1977) was very entrepreneurial and changed direction. She opened a grocer’s shop in the old bakery shop and converted the bakery into a function room known as The Bake Office. 
 
john_watts_outside_grocery_shop.jpg
John Watts outside the grocery, now part of the Maids Head Hotel
 
Jenny Sadler’s dad, John, the youngest of the Watts brothers, eventually ran the shop for his mother until 1965, while she concentrated on The Bake Office. Two of his sisters, Margaret and Queenie and niece Dorothy also worked with him. Another sister, Rita Watts, ran a clothes and hat shop in the Palace Street range. Rita emigrated to the USA in the late 1950s.  
    
The Bake Office was very popular for local parties and weddings. People also used to go there after the Samson and Hercules closed and Grandmother Mary Anne served up egg and chips all round. During World War II she provided accommodation in the function room for American airmen. 
 
Jenny has a photograph of her Mum and Dad's wedding reception in April 1957, which was held in The Bake Office. It also features Mary Anne up on her feet about to toast the new bride and groom.
 
There were around 100 guests at their wedding reception, with all the catering done by family members. Mum Dorothy remembers Grandmother Mary Anne as very much the matriarch of the family; anyone who had a problem went to her.     
Jenny’s Mum and Dad left Palace Street in 1965. They wanted their own house, and moved to a new property on Dereham Road built by Watts Brothers. Grandmother Mary Anne sold up and moved to a bungalow in Sprowston. Jenny’s Dad worked in grocery shops to start with and then teamed up with his brothers in the building business until he retired.
 
John Watts died in 2013 and Jenny’s Mum, Dorothy, is now the last surviving person from her generation.
 
For more information about the Maids Head Hotel see www.maidsheadhotel.co.uk 
 
maidsheadnewphototwitter.jpg
 
Last modified on Wednesday, 02 January 2019 18:49

Visit the following businesses

cache/resized/b06f2326e7939cfcae1ccddc7fbbe891.png
The Fox at Lyng
Set in Norfolk’s Wensum Valley, Lyng is in a beautiful part of the country which is very popular with walkers and anglers, so once you have had enough of outdoorthe main street, and near to a stream in the charming Village of Lyng, The Fox ...
Explore
cache/resized/28b759c4e3f5a8d7eb4c9624b711f5ef.jpg
Chris Crowther Author and Writer
Chris Crowther spent 42 years of his working life flying aeroplanes and helicopters in various parts of the world, mainly West Africa as Chief Pilot of a helicopter operation, and where his first books were written. After hanging up his flying ...
Explore
cache/resized/66794239c937e27604b675d45006a21a.jpg
Bressingham Steam & Gardens
Bressingham Gardens The unique Bressingham Gardens are renowned worldwide for their horticultural excellence. With nearly 20 acres, four linking gardens and 8,000 plant species they can are a truly tranquil place, perfect for relaxing and ...
Explore
cache/resized/98c41078727273cc52833f864a2d47bc.jpg
Norwich Camping and Leisure
If you love exploring the outdoors or just relaxing in your garden then Norwich Camping & Leisure superstore is the place to visit. We like to call it an outdoor "leisure village" with so much to see for the entire family. From outdoor leisure ...
Explore
cache/resized/d643770e8feadb7e4b965f89d9544761.jpg
Broadland Charters
Step onboard our luxury, skippered, sports cruiser "Norfolk Time" and cruise the Norfolk Broads in style.  The only way to truly experience the beauty of the Norfolk Broads is by boat - there are so many stunning places which are only ...
Explore
cache/resized/d6e25ac5bbfa75dff523fa11cfcd91a8.png
Wensum Print
Welcome to Wensum Print of Norwich. We are an independent print company offering an all round print service. We have been established in Norwich for over 35 years, and have the knowledge and ability to offer you high quality results with ...
Explore
benefits banner

Related items

  • Historic Maids Head Hotel, Norwich to re-open from lockdown on Saturday, July 4

    The Maids Head Hotel in Tombland, Norwich, one of the oldest hotels in the UK, will emerge from lockdown on Saturday, July 4. It is believed that this is the first time that the hotel has been closed since it started trading as the Murtel Fish Inn during the 13th century.

    Christine Malcolm, General Manager said: “We are all looking forward to welcoming guests to the hotel after this three month closure. It will also be very good to see our staff return from furlough. They have been keeping their spirits up with a whole range of activities from a baking competition, to a Zoom lunch and a virtual run between the Maids Head and our sister hotels, The Gonville in Cambridge and The Ship at Brancaster.

    We recently delivered a lockdown gift of Norfolk strawberries, clotted cream and chilled rose wine to our 90 staff who live across the county, from Norwich to Wymondham, Reepham and Gorleston. This resulted in some great feedback, Dawn said: 'Lovely surpirise today, thank you Christine and the team, miss you all...' ”

  • Cheque Presentation to Break – Maids Head Hotel Charity 2019

    Throughout 2019, Break was the Maids Head Hotel's local charity. During the year staff and guests raised £1,184.06. We invited Danielle Gravestock from Break to receive the cheque and celebrate the fundraising success with our staff.

    The money was raised through collection buckets, a Christmas raffle and donations at special events including resident tour guide Paul Dickson's Shardlake's Norwich tours during English Tourism Week and Norfolk Day and Rob Knee from the Paston Heritage Society who gave talks about the Pastons and the Paston Letters on Norfolk Day and on 22 November. The second talk was on the anniversary of the Maids Head getting it's first official written mention in a Paston letter. A team from the Maids Head – Jonathan Brasnett, Andrew Shorthose and Rose Taylor - also completed the City of Norwich half marathon in aid of Break.

  • Wine Press Restaurant launches new A La Carte Menu

    Following last autumn's refurbishment of the Maids Head Hotel's Wine Press Restaurant, Head Chef Marcin 'Magic' Pomierny, semi-finalist in the National Chef of the Year competition 2018 and 2019, has created a new A La Carte Menu to complement the contemporary look of the AA Two Rosette restaurant, featuring the finest of local seasonal produce.

    The three-course menu, which will change with the seasons, also features an amuse bouche and a pre-dessert as part of the offer. Diners can opt for three or two course meals. 

    “I have been inspired by our new look Wine Press Restaurant to design a menu which will complement the diners' surroundings,” said Magic. “Local produce includes cod, halibut and game, Cromer crab, Eleveden Estate venison and Norfolk mussels, all given a contemporary twist. We have fully tested the menu in house and look forward to getting feedback from our guests.”

  • Maids Head Hotel Takes to the River Wensum

    The Maids Head Hotel in Tombland, Norwich, has purchased an elegant Edwardian style Frolic 31 electric launch and, following a winter refit, the boat will take to the River Wensum in Norwich, when it will be officially named The Murtle Fish.

    The boat will be driven by a Maids Head skipper, assisted by a steward, and can take 12 passengers. The Murtle Fish will be available to hire from the spring for afternoon tea afloat, wedding photography and receptions, business away days, drinks receptions and guided river tours.

    A two-hour trip will depart from the Quayside next to Fye Bridge and will head to Whitlingham before returning to the city centre. The Murtle Fish will also be used to transport guests to the Maids Head's box at Norwich City FC. 

  • Facsimile of Maids Head 'Birthday' Letter Unveiled at the hotel

    Sir John Fenn (Rob Knee from the Paston Heritage Society) unveiled, on its 547th anniversary, a facsimile of the Paston Letter dated 22 November 1472, which gives the first mention of the Maids Head, the name of the inn that had taken over from the 13th century Murtle Fish. The facsimile is located just outside the entrance of the Maids Head's Wine Press Restaurant.

    Rob Knee was at the hotel to give a costumed Paston talk about the work of antiquarian Sir John Fenn from Dereham, who edited, over eight years, a volume of some 200 of the Paston Letters that had come into his possession in 1771. The volume was published in 1789 and the initial print run of 750 sold out within a week.

    The Paston letters and papers were found in 1735 by Norfolk historian Francis Blomefield in the muniment room at Oxnead Hall, which had been the main seat of the Paston family since the 1480s. William Paston, 2nd Earl of Yarmouth, the last representative of the family, had died in 1732.

Newsletter

© All Things Norfolk 2008 - 2020
Email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

 

RT @cromerhotel: Time to put yourself in the pictures? #Cromer is waiting for you to visit! B&B double rooms from just £100 per night this…