Thursday, 24 October 2019 00:00

Maids Head Hotel – new home for The Norwich Panorama

Written by  Paul Dickson
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Maids Head Hotel – new home for The Norwich Panorama

The Maids Head Hotel in Tombland, Norwich, is the new permanent home for The Norwich Panorama, created by John Moray-Smith in the mid 1940s for Morgans Brewery.

The Norwich Society acquired the Panorama in 2016 to both save and restore the panel. The magnificent 2.5 metre by 1.5 metre panel is now on display next to the entrance to the Maids Head's Wine Press Restaurant.

The three-dimensional panel depicts the view of Norwich from St James Hill. It was commissioned by Morgans Brewery for the Cock Inn on King Street. Following the Inn’s closure in the mid 1970s, the panel was moved to Caistor Hall Hotel, where at some point after 2010 it was damaged and placed into storage. The Norwich Society bought the panel in 2016, and with the support of the Paul Bassham Charitable Trust, the John Jarrold Trust and the Norwich Heritage Fund, paid for its restoration.

Norwich_Panorama_24__October_19.jpg

Paul Burall, Chair of Trustees, The Norwich Society said: “Having rescued John Moray Smith's wonderful panorama of Norwich, from being abandoned in a garage, we are now delighted that the Maid's Head is providing a home where the public can admire this 1940s view of the City. It is the only work by this eccentric artist portraying the City during his lifetime and therefore is an interesting contrast to his other works that are on public view that depict scenes from previous centuries.”

Christine Malcolm, General Manager, Maids Head Hotel said: “We are delighted to be providing a new home for John Moray-Smith's magnificent Norwich Panorama. It will be a great talking point for our guests and visitors and is a wonderful enhancement to the approach to the Wine Press Restaurant.”

Tom Humphrey from the Fairhurst Gallery who restored the Panorama added: “The basic restoration work was very similar to that I use for any painting, although I minmised the use of liquids, as even solvents could damage the Plaster of Paris used by Moray-Smith to build up the work . I did not want to over-restore the picture so have left areas of thin paint to retain authenticity.”

Moray-Smith's work is very interesting,” continued Tom Humphrey. “He was clearly an experimenter and didn't follow any set rules, making it up as he went along. The Panorma is a fascinating work of art and I think that the public will enjoy seeing it.”

John Moray Smith worked in Norwich from the early 1930s until his death in 1958. Little is known about the artist before his arrival in Norwich, but his genius is still there for all to see in the unique, vivid, highly detailed and huge three dimensional panels (bas-reliefs), installed on the exteriors and interiors of pubs in Norwich and elsewhere in Norfolk. The panels were commissioned by Norwich based Morgans Brewery to distinguish some of its pubs with locally relevant strong visual images that depicted what life was like.

Panels that can still be viewed in Norwich include St Stephen's Gate on the Coachmakers Arms, the Berstrete Gates for the pub of that name and The Prince of Denmark for the Prince of Denmark pub. Out in the county, the Maids Head's sister hotel, The Ship at Brancaster features the model of a 19th century collier, The Black Diamond created by Moray-Smith.

For more information about The Norwich Society see www.thenorwichsociety.org.uk , t. 01603 765606

For more information about the Maids Head Hotel see www.maidsheadhotel.co.uk , t. 01603 209955

Norwich_Panorama_with_Andrew_Lee_left_and_Steve_Bruce2.jpgAndrew Lee Maintenance Manager and Steve Bruce Maintenance Technician at the hotel who were responsible for its installation.

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    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.

  • Maids Head Hotel 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. 

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    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. 

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    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.

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    The Lord Mayor of Norwich, Councillor Vaughan Thomas and the Sheriff of Norwich, Dr Marian Prinsley visited the hotel on Thursday, November 14 to officially reopen the restaurant following its £60,000 makeover.

    Interior Designer, Nicola Lovell, working closely with General Manager, Christine Malcolm, has created a colourful and exciting restaurant with new tables, chairs, banquettes, pictures and decoration, which complement the ancient courtyard of the hotel. 

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RT @break_charity: We are so pleased that on the 12th Feb we will finally reopen our Hellesdon charity shop after the arson attack last Sep…