3-4 Haymarket, Norwich. NOTE: Not open to the public
Map Ref: City Centre C5
A spacious courtyard with a large gateway leading to a stately L-shaped house with pointed gable. The main wing, running east to west, has an octagonal tower with spiral staircase at each end of the north wall. The lower storey of the building is flint; the upper storey timber with clay panelling. The windows are wide and broad mullioned. This wing is occupied by John Curat and family - the other wing by the servants and apprentices.
This is how Mark Knights in his book Highways and Byways of Old Norwich, describes the Curat House as it was when its first owner lived there.
How acurate this description is we can only guess at today. Over the centuries the house has been damaged by several fires, modified, and surrounded by other buildings. But parts have survived, and its some of these we are going to see.
Today on the Haymarket we see a Georgian front with 20th century shop front below that gives no indication of what lies behind it.
Many of our older residents will remember this as Backs. The Back family occupied the building for seven generations, first as grocers and tea dealers, then later as wine merchants. In the 1950's & 60's it was well known for its bars and restaurants, and its ornate front, now sadly, gone...
(Photograph (c) George Plunkett)
Let's go inside...
Enter the shop and you are standing (at the front of the shop) in what was called the 'Elizabethan Room'. Look up to the left and you can see what's left of the old beams. The rest were destroyed by fire in 1962.
We pass through an office at the back of the shop, along narrow passage ways, and down steps to the cellars.....