Norwich the Old City A History of Norwich Page 6

Georgian Norwich

The influence of the Georgian period can still be seen today in Norwich. The wealthy built themselves new houses in the new grand style. Many that didn't re-build their houses gave their properties a Georgian appearance by cladding the exteriors with thin brick tiles. And many public buildings were being built. The Bethel Hospital, the Shire House, the prison at St Giles, the Theatre Royal, and the Norfolk and Norwich hospital were all built in the 18th century.

Banking and insurance was beginning emerge as a new force. The Gurney Bank was opened (later to become Barclays), and the Norwich Union Fire Insurance Society was founded in 1797.
The other industry to emerge was brewing. Over the centuries, ale houses had brewed their own beer - often the ale house was just the front room of a house. Brewing wasn't difficult - the water, filtered through the Norwich clay was ideal, and Norfolk produced the best malting barley in the country. But big business moved in and by the beginning of the 19th century there were six large firms with their own breweries and public houses, producing more beer that the London breweries.

The Castle Ditches had over the years become unofficial rubbish dumps. Eventually in the mid 1700's the area was leveled and became the cattle market. The main annual cattle sales took place in the countryside, the largest at Horsham St Faiths, just north of the city. Here the 'Fays Fair' was held every October. Besides cattle from around the region, there were also up to 20,000 Scottish cattle being sold for fattening up over winter on the lush Norfolk marshes. The cattle had been shod for their over 300 mile trek to Norfolk.

The Assembly House was reconstructed from existing buildings in 1755 and became a focal point of great cultural events in the Regency Period. And at the lower end of the Market Place the street was kept clear and eventually paved to become Gentlemans Walk, the fashionable place to stroll.

At the end of the 18th century, all the city's gates were demolished. Traffic problems and hygiene were the excuses, but it was also probably to save the cost of maintaining them.

History Index Tudor & Stuart Victorian Norwich

Copyright © Ken Ward 2004
Last Updated: 28 November 2006

Time Line
1714Bethel Hospital built.
1721'Norwich Mercury' newspaper started.
1732Market Cross pulled down.
1766Food riots in Norwich.
1771Norfolk & Norwich Hospital opened.
1794Reservoir built in Chapelfield.
1801Population: 36,906.
1827City Goal built at St. Giles.