Heritage Open Days 2017: Lectures

HOD - Bunting 03

Heritage Open Days 2017: Lectures


Norwich 1945 to 1960: A Journey from Austerity to Prosperity’

Frances and Michael Holmes

Sunday 10th September, 10am

To coincide with the publication of their new book, join Frances and Michael Holmes for a trip down memory lane. They will bring back a time when after years of war the City was rebuilt and regenerated; when City workers made shoes and chocolate and the streets were dominated by bicycles not cars; when children flocked to the City on a Saturday morning to go to the pictures and then on to the Cattle Market; when Teddy boys added colour to the City and youngsters danced the night away at the Samson & Hercules and the Lido. A trip which will take you from the rationing of the post-war years to a time when we ‘never had it so good’.


Early Photography in Norfolk

John Benjafield

Sunday 10th September, 1pm

Photography was practised by wealthy Norfolk gentlemen amateurs from the early 1840s. They used ‘brass and mahogany’ cameras and used the chemicals necessary to make photographs. In the early 1850s new processes reduced costs allowing tradesmen to displace amateurs. The day of the photograph collector had arrived. This presentation will show images in the care of the Norfolk and Norwich Millennium Library. Rarely seen in public they are an in important national resource.


‘Treating’ and ‘Cooping’: Elections and Political Strife in Georgian Norwich

Ian Smith

Sunday 10th September, 3pm

Norwich was at times ‘distracted with party rage’ right from the beginning of the Georgian era. At election times citizens were ‘treated’ with beer, bribed with cash, even ‘cooped’ like chickens to ensure they voted for the right party. Violent rioting was often the outcome. This talk will examine the background and the issues at stake during election time in Georgian Norwich

Booking opens on 7th August

Visit www.heritageopendays.org.uk

By | July 11th, 2017|Event, Heritage|0 Comments

Heritage Open Days at The Assembly House

HOD - Bunting 03

Heritage Open Days at The Assembly House


Early Bird Tour

Sunday 10th September, 8.30am and 10.30am

Join us for an early morning tour of the fascinating history of the Assembly House. A medieval college still visible in the crypt, Tudor spoils, Georgian arts, nineteenth century dancing, a school and top-secret war rooms. Brimming with personalities from the past and tangible architectural evidence enjoy the histories of this remarkable site with guide Roxanne Matthews.

Booking opens on 7th August

Visit www.heritageopendays.org.uk


Family Event: Top Secret Camouflage

Sunday 10th September, 12.30pm-4.30pm

Families are invited to join Oliver Messel, set decorator extraordinaire on a top-secret mission in memory of his efforts during the Second World War. Once home to government Camouflage Offices come and experience a tiny part of the Assembly House’s amazing history. Make your own sets to disguise buildings and landmarks.


For all the family age 3 +

Drop-in event.  

By | July 11th, 2017|Event, Heritage|0 Comments

Exhibition: Eliza Southwood


Exhibition: Eliza Southwood

Friday 16th June – Saturday 9th September


Eliza Southwood practiced as an architect for ten years before deciding to take up a career as an artist and illustrator full-time in 2011, although she has consistently drawn and painted throughout her life. Her first illustration commission was a Spanish children’s book, when she was aged 13.



From the age of ten she spent her childhood in a remote part of Spain, where she grew up drawing and painting scenes of local life in the mountains. Her creative streak was later channelled into architectural design, and she graduated from Glasgow School of Art with a degree in Architecture, later finishing her postgraduate architectural studies in London. She spent several years working as a designer for Eric Parry Architects in London and later Arup Associates. However, having realised that she enjoyed carrying out the ‘artist’s impression’ part of her job more than any other, she finally decided to give up architectural practice in order to work full time on her own art projects.


Eliza’s architectural training fostered a technical eye for detail and colour, which is apparent in her artwork. Her speciality is silk screen printing, but she also works in mixed media, watercolour and acrylic.


She is known particularly for her cycling themed artwork, but also produces work on a wide range of subjects such as cityscapes, dogs, sports and people.


This exhibition is supported by The Assembly House Trust

By | June 25th, 2017|Exhibition|0 Comments

NNF17: The Voice Project presents The Arms of Sleep


In May 2017 The Assembly House Trust was proud to support The Arms of Sleep, a unique production from The Voice Project as part of the Norfolk and Norwich Festival.

Photographs courtesy of Phil Sayer and Jemma Mickleburgh


By | June 15th, 2017|Event|0 Comments

Norfolk and Norwich Festival: The Arms of Sleep

Voice Project

Norfolk and Norwich Festival 2017

The Voice Project: The Arms of Sleep

20th – 26th May

9.30pm – 8.30am

Over five nights, 200 audience members slept overnight in the Noverre Ballroom, experiencing choral performances and art installations.

The Voice Project have a reputation for producing truly unique experiences and this was no exception. The Assembly House Trust are proud to have supported such an exciting project in the City of Norwich.

A huge thank you to Richard Hughes and all The Assembly House staff for tremendous levels of help and support in making the event a huge success.

Here is an online review of the event from Outline Magazine: http://www.outlineonline.co.uk/content/the-arms-of-sleep/nnf-2017/120151/2515

By | June 5th, 2017|Event|0 Comments

Exhibition: Phoenix Heritage Project

AHT poster (2)

Phoenix Heritage Project Exhibition                   

April 21st to May 27th 2017

The Assembly House Trust is opening up the archive to uncover the story of our fascinating landmark building, from its earliest foundation to the present day.


Join us in commemorating the 20th anniversary of the building’s regeneration and reopening in 1997 following the devastating fire of 1995.


The Phoenix Heritage Project exhibition follows the story of The Assembly House.

From its beginnings in the 13th Century fields of Norman Norwich to its development by Thomas Ivory, The Assembly House has long been a focal point for people across the county of Norfolk.


A landmark Georgian building, the House has played host to a college, a school, a YWCA hostel and a war office camouflage unit. It has even been used as a warehouse for storing chocolate and bicycles. The building has survived the blitz, been ravaged by fire and been regenerated on more than on occasion.


From grand balls and performances to jugglers and acrobats, its fascinating story is peopled by a long cast of painters, philanthropists, lords and barons.


The exhibition is free and open daily with displays in the corridor gallery.

The Phoenix Heritage Project is a new programme of events celebrating the heritage of The Assembly House.

You can also follow the project on twitter: @AHHeritage

By | May 8th, 2017|Uncategorized|0 Comments

The Noverre Cinema: Some Like It Hot


On Friday 21st April the ballroom of The Assembly House once again became the Noverre Cinema, holding a public screening for the first time in over twenty years.


The Assembly House Trust worked in partnership with Cinema City Education to revive one of Norwich’s long-lost cinemas for a special screening of Hollywood classic ‘Some Like It Hot’ starring Marilyn Monroe.


Audience members were encouraged to arrive early to browse a small exhibition, with artefacts including original posters and brochures from the Noverre Cinema.


The main feature, along with a selection of local archive films, were introduced by local performer Simon Floyd. Audience members also treated themselves to popcorn and ice cream during the intermission.


It was a fantastic event with a great sense of nostalgia with attendees sharing their fondest memories.

Huge thanks to Elmulgraphic, who produced a stunning 360 image of the event:

Will there be more screenings in the Noverre Cinema? Watch this space!


By | May 2nd, 2017|Uncategorized|0 Comments

Take One Picture: Seething and Mundham Primary School


The Assembly House Trust is always excited to work in partnership with local community organisations, especially when it comes to interesting art projects.


This month we were happy to offer exhibition space to Seething & Mundham Primary School:

“Seething and Mundham Primary have been taking part in an exciting project called ‘Take 1 Picture‘, which is coordinated by the National Gallery in London.

Mrs Appleby, the head teacher, was very fortunate to have the opportunity to attend a teachers’ training day at the gallery and subsequently organised a training session for the school’s teachers at Norwich Castle Museum and Art Gallery. The school has always used artists’ work to inspire children but this project gave the pupils greater depth of involvement with an artist’s work.

We were fortunate enough to use some exhibition space at the Assembly House Norwich; this was possible with the assistance of the Assembly House Trust who provided the necessary support.”


The exhibition ran until Friday the 14th of April and provided a great opportunity for the children of Seething and Mundham primary school to view their work in a “real life” exhibition space.

By | April 15th, 2017|Uncategorized|0 Comments

Norwich Makers Market

IMG_7358On Saturday 8th April, The Assembly House Trust welcomed Norwich Makers Market to The Noverre Ballroom for the very first time.


The market is a unique event, dedicated to housing the very best hand-picked designers and illustrators in Norwich and surrounding fairytale wilds of the East.


The ballroom was filled withbespoke homewares, gifts, jewellery, textiles, stationery, prints, clothing and many more individual products.


The Trust is extremely happy to be supporting independent designer makers, offering a twist away from the mass-produced high street, the market was very popular with something on offer for everybody.

Many thanks to the organisers, all who attended as well as the talented artists and designer-makers, we hope to host Norwich Makers Market again in the future.

By | April 12th, 2017|Event|0 Comments


The Assembly House - Glass Plates

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 died in a flying accident while on active service. Despite the circumstances and the condition of the building Henry Sexton wasn’t put off, and whilst in discussion with another enthusiastic supporter Arnold Kent, they started to imagine a different future for the buildings. One where the Assembly House became a centre of the arts. A Committee was formed chaired by J.B. Hales, with Arnold Kent, Nugent Monck, Reginald Pareezer and Andrew Stephenson representing interested parties from theatre, arts, film, education and entertainment.

A preliminary report was presented in June 1943. The initial aims were to acquire and restore the Assembly Rooms, add a theatre and cinema, with the premises given to trustees for the use of the City of Norwich’s a centre for the arts. Part of the original plan was to transfer the Norwich Players from the Maddermarket Theatre to the Theatre in the centre, with the Maddermarket Theatre Trust running it  with the assistance of the council. The Theatre was planned for the Noverre Ballroom. The centre would also be made available for concerts, recitals and art exhibitions. One proposal was for a gallery for the collection of Norwich School paintings held by the Colman family.

There were negotiations due to the differing views on how the Trust should be comprised and whether it should be presented to and run by the city or if it would fair better as an Independent Trust. Sir Ernest sold his share to Henry Sexton. In March 1945 The H.J.Sexton Norwich Arts Trust was formed. The members were Henry Sand Eric Sexton, Herbert Gowen, Charles Hammond, Percy Jewson MP, Frederick Jex, Arnold Kent, Walter Nugent Monck, and Edward Williamson the Lord Mayor of Norwich. Architects Charles Holloway James and Sir Stephen Roland Pierce who had designed City Hall were appointed to prepare plans, although Pierce solely completed them.

The Assembly House - Glass Plates

boy fountain 1200pxThe state of the building was also a problem with Pierce commenting he had to ‘battle with decay, dry rot beetles, neglect and blitz’.  Rot appeared everywhere, foundations had been sliced into for previous alterations, there were areas that required underpinning, ceilings falling in and damp. On the plus side, the two story section added to the Noverre Ballroom to house classrooms made a perfect projection room at the exact height required for raked seating. The theatre had to be abandoned due to conversion costs, a disappointment give the original vision of it extending the work of the Maddermarket.

Some areas of the original Ivory house had vanished forever, the stairs in particular had been removed a century before. Caball had made few changes in his tenure and the High School had made a few but nothing dramatic; partitioning in the Music Room was removed. The organ gallery was altered, the school had added a few areas such as laboratories which were repurposed. The Steward’s house was demolished to make way for cloakrooms. The east wing which retains elements of its Elizabethan structure was repaired and renovated part of which now forming the managers house. Outside the drive was resurfaced and the thicket of shrubs removed, the ironwork cleaned and repaired with the details picked out in gilt.

Programme 1980sFinally the rooms were named, commemorating people connected with the building’s heritage and history. Ivory, Bacon, Pierce, Kent, Messel and Sexton, with the Noverre Cinema replacing the ballroom. On the 23rd of November 1950, the Assembly House was finally presented to the people of Norwich as a centre for the arts. The final piece of the puzzle was put in place in 1954, The pool in the forecourt was instated and completed with James Woodford’s sculpture of a boy, his work already visible across the road at City Hall showing a series of reliefs on the main doors unwittingly perhaps tying the relationship between the city’s crafts, guilds and trades; the people that make the city and their shared history to the Assembly House.

For the next 45 years, the Assembly House played host to events, films and performances, dinners and meetings. Local arts groups using the spaces, with regular exhibitions, The Assembly House had again cemented it’s place in the city as a place to meet and get involved. and then on April 12th 1995 something terrible happened.

Noverre cinema 1

Noverre cinema 2



By | March 20th, 2017|heritage blogs|0 Comments