The Assembly House
Phoenix Heritage Project

An Introduction:

This year marks the twentieth anniversary of the regeneration of the building after the fire which caused so much damage to the Assembly House in 1995 and the two years of painstaking work rebuilding, conserving and repairing the building and the contents

We will be celebrating this important Norwich landmark building and the thriving community that uses it; sharing archive material which relates to the heritage of the site and it’s place in the city; stories, its history and people that made it what it is. This will include previously unseen photographs and documents from our collection and archives.

These will map out the Assembly House’s long history, the change and repeated regeneration and growth of the site and the secret life of this important historical area. Looking back the site has been used as a Chapel and hospice, a college. It underwent development, becoming a Georgian townhouse, was converted to Assembly Rooms for local gentry, became a school, before being used as a warehouse and was for a time a secret ministry of defense base when it suffered bomb damage in the Baedeker Blitz. Post-war the site began it’s development as the Assembly Rooms, a time which saw the growth of it’s use for arts organisations and the deveopment of the Noverre Cinema. It has survived more than one fire. It’s a long story that leads us to now where it his the place in the heart of the city we know today.

We would like to invite you to share your memories; favourite films, events, exhibitions or stories. Any information or photographs of the building or groups that have used it and the faces and people that have driven the changes it has seen over the years.

We have some recently uncovered archive materials, some of which haven’t been seen in public before. Keep and eye on the blog and on twitter where we will be sharing a selection of photographs and documents that relate to the assembly House and Norwich. You can follow them on the blogs on this page or can view them on our dedicated twitter account here and via our main Facebook account.

The project will centre on an exhibition on the history of the Assembly House in April and will also feature a special screening at the Noverre Cinema.

Get in touch with us by email here or on twitter here.

Heritage Blogs


The period saw the building in a poor state. No real upkeep having been completed since the 1930s. Of the original consortium Henry Sexton and Sir George Ernest White remained, but sadly Alan Rees Colman [...]

A High School, a warehouse and the advent of war.

As the twentieth century began the building was now established as a the Norwich High School for Girls. It had undergone minimal changes. A few extra walls were established to divide large rooms for classrooms, [...]

The decline of the Assembly

By the time the 1830s had arrived, changes in economic circumstances in Norfolk were changing as the whole country moved further and further into industrialisation it impacted on the local cloth and textiles industries. The [...]

Moving on: The early Assembly House

The late seventeenth and early eighteenth century saw an increased desire for a real venue in the heart of the city. Various establishments were used mostly inns including the White Swan in St Peter’s Street [...]

Time of change: Chapply Field House

After the dissolution the destruction of chapels like St Mary de Campo across the country gained pace with an explosion in demolitions. As the church shifted so did how it viewed and managed properties. This [...]

The early site: The Chapel and college of St Mary in the Fields

One of the most remarkable things about any landscape urban or rural isn’t so much what you can see as what you can’t, and how what is there covers up what was. The Assembly House [...]