Georgian Norwich gave us the Assembly House, Norwich Union and the Norfolk and Norwich Hospital and was a time of industrial, social, medical, business and architectural innovation.
John Humphreys, who leads walking tours of the city, said the Georgian period runs between the accession of King George I in 1714 and Queen Victoria in 1837. He has put together a tour of Georgian Norwich and this quiz is based on his research, taking us on a journey back to a city where much of the old city walls and defensive gates were being torn down to ‘improve traffic flow and remove noxious airs,’ businesses, hospitals, hotels and pubs were being opened and while no new Anglican churches were built, non-conformist congregations flourished.
How many did you get right?
6-9 – By George, congratulations, you’re a history hero or heroine.
3-5 – Not too shabby, these questions were set by an expert.
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0-2 – There’s loads to learn about the history of Norwich. Book yourself on to one of the Norwich Tourist Information Centre guided walks when they resume.
After having a go at the quiz, read on for more information from John – and for lots more on historic Norwich book one of the Tourist Information Centre’s walks when they resume.
1 Mary Chapman. The Bethel Hospital opened in 1713 as the first provincial mental hospital in the country. Mary Chapman (1647-1724) took a 1,000 year lease for a peppercorn rent for the site. At the time the concept of treating people with mental illness was not accepted practice and they were often ridiculed or locked away. The Bethel continued to offer psychiatric services until the 1980s.
2 The Chapel in the Fields. The Assembly House was built by local architect Thomas Ivory in 1755 on the site of a medieval hospital college which became known as the Chapel in the Fields. In 1609 the Hobart family of Blickling Hall built a town house here. Henry Hobart bought some of the fields surrounding the original Chapel in the Fields – including what is now Chapelfield Gardens.
3 The New Theatre near Chapel Field. Thomas Ivory completed one of the first purpose-built theatres in England in 1758, alongside the recently completed Assembly House. Initially it was called The New Theatre near Chapel Field but the following year became The Grand Concert Hall as there were concerns that the name contravened a law which did not authorise theatres outside London. In 1767 theatres were permitted in the provinces and in 1768 it was renamed The Theatre Royal.
4 Norwich High School for Girls was founded in Churchman House. It was originally built by weaver Thomas Churchman. The building went on to be home a city mayor and MP and served as a Registry Office.
5 Norwich High School for Boys was founded in 1910. A blue plaque commemorates actor Sir John Mills who attended the school in the 1920s and went on to win an Oscar and feature in more than 120 films. During the Second World War the school moved out to Langley, near Loddon and subsequently became known as Langley School.
6 Rigby’s Court runs between St Giles’ Street and Bethel Street and is named for the Dr Edward Rigby (1747-1822) who served as alderman, sheriff and mayor and was a doctor with premises on St Giles. He was known as a brilliant surgeon and was involved in the founding of the Norfolk and Norwich Hospital and reorganising catering in local workhouses as well as introducing vaccination to Norwich.
7 Norwich Union, now Aviva, was founded in Gentleman’s Walk, Norwich, in 1797 by Thomas Bignold for the ‘insurance of houses, stock and merchandise from fire.’ He established the Norwich Union Life Insurance Society in 1808 and his son Samuel took over the company in 1818 and served as company secretary for 60 years.
8 In 1808, in response to the threat of invasion by Napoleon, a telegraph system linking Great Yarmouth to the Admiralty in London, via Norwich, was set up. A message could get from Yarmouth to Whitehall in just 17 minutes. The Norwich station stood on Telegraph Lane, near the present water tower and sent messages on to Strumpshaw and Wreningham. Each station was manned by a team of four to six naval men who operated the shutters and looked through the high resolution telescopes. The system was only used for military purposes and was closed after Napoleon’s defeat in 1815.
9 A Hog Hill was renamed Orford Hill in honour of George Walpole, Earl of Orford, (1730-91), the grandson of Britain’s first Prime Minister. The earl inherited the huge Houghton Estate in north Norfolk and was popular with the people of Norwich, giving generously to planning improvements. However, he allowed Houghton Hall to fall into disrepair and sold much of its stunning art collection to Catherine the Great, Empress of Russia, to pay off gambling debts. The loss of the paintings, which now form part of the great collection in the Hermitage Museum, St Petersburg, was considered a national disaster.