Abode’s Building of the Week
Our first ever building of the week is the beautifully historic Dragon Hall. This grade 1 listed medieval building is located on King street, a stone’s throw away from the river Wensum.
This location made it the ideal place for rich merchant Robert Toppes to construct the building as a trading hall between 1427 and 1430. The site of Dragon Hall was utilised well before this date and parts of the site predate 1427, for example an undercroft beneath a service block used for storing foods and dates back to roughly 1330.
The building itself has a medieval design was built with the purpose to impress trading partners and buyers. This explains the elaborate infrastructure of the building, such as the beautiful crown roof upon the the 27 metre long hall. What makes this building unique was that it was solely built by one person, as oppose to trade groups and guilds of similar heritage.
The timber framing posts stand upon a collar beam, and supports a collar plate. This style of roofing originated in Europe around the 1300’s, but didn’t gain significant popularity in England until the late 15th century. This beautiful crown post roof construction wasn’t rediscovered until the late 1970’s, when maintenance work was carried out.
This is because over the years, the building itself has been used for many different purposes, including a private dwelling after the death of Robert Toppes. In the 19th century, the building was split into various different spaces, including a pub and shops, which resulted in the medieval roof being hidden.
Upon restoration of the original beams, carved onto one of the timber posts is a hand-crafted dragon. Although it is believed there would have originally been a carving in into each timber post, the dragon was the only survivor. The building was then renamed to what it is known as now, Dragon Hall. The dragon was symbolic, representing a guild, therefore relating back to the original purpose of the building.
Dragon Hall is now home to Writers’ Centre Norwich, the literature development agency for the East of England. The building hosts literary events and workshops, but is still open for occasional tours. These include using the building to portray what a medieval Norwich would have looked like.
For all the latest events being held at Dragon Hall, please visit: http://www.writerscentrenorwich.org.uk/Events-all/