The Norwich Society

About us

Our achievements

Saving Bishops Bridge

As part of their schemes to modernise Norwich after the First World War, the City authorities proposed to replace this medieval bridge with a wider one to accommodate increased motor traffic. In 1923 a group of architects and archaeologists successfully protected it by having it listed by the national Ministry of Works. They also instigated preservation orders on other historic structures including the Cathedral and buildings in its Close, the Castle, the Guildhall and many more. Out of this concern to preserve the best of the past The Norwich Society was formed. It aimed to ensure that in the admirable post-war drive for slum clearance, road widening, and other improvement of the city, historically and architecturally significant structures were not swept away unnecessarily.

Saving Elm Hill

Most of the buildings in Elm Hill date from 1507-1520, rebuilt after a major fire in the city. By the 1930s they had deteriorated badly. The City owned many and, as part of its continuing slum clearance programme, announced its intention to pull them down and replace them with light industrial facilities. Recognising that they were a valuable set of timber-framed buildings in a city losing such buildings fast, The Norwich Society led a campaign of resistance and Elm Hill was saved. Ultimately the buildings were substantially rehabilitated and the district is now a picturesque mixture of private dwellings, offices, shops, restaurants and cafes - beautiful, peaceful and thriving.

Saving the Assembly House

A private proposal in the 1930s to demolish the Assembly House on Theatre Street, although listed, was resisted by the Society. Originally a College of Secular Canons, then the town house of a wealthy family, then, in the 18th century, the Assembly Rooms (for leisure and entertainment) it had become the Norwich High School for Girls. The trust which owned it sought to fund the move of the school to other premises out of the centre by demolishing it and selling the site to a developer. It was in fact listed but it sought to persuade the ministry to de-list it. The Norwich Society successfully opposed the move and saved the building which has now returned to being a valuable resource for the artistic and cultural life of the city.

Saving Tombland

Tombland, near the Cathedral, has always been a popular resource for the people of Norwich. Never the location of tombs, it started out, before the Norman invaders built Castle and Cathedral, as the Saxon market-place. In 1951, as part of post-war reconstruction, the City Corporation proposed to build permanent structures in the square for the remaining market stall holders. Realising that this would inhibit popular use of the space The Norwich Society joined forces with others to resist the proposal and were successful. Now the square is an elegant and popular district for restaurants, bars and café-society.