Rich heritage behind coat of arms at former pub

Jonathan Hooton, the Norwich Pub Detective, outside his favourite Norwich pub, the White Lion in Oak Street

Jonathan Hooton, the Norwich Pub Detective, outside his favourite Norwich pub, the White Lion in Oak Street. - Credit: Sonya Duncan

He is known as the Norwich Pub Detective due to his fascination with all things to do with the city's famous pub legacy.

In a new series, Jonathan Hooton, a member of the Norwich Society, will shine a light on a different pub which has since closed its doors.

The building shown set back from Hall Road, now the Jasiek Polish Shop does not, at first glance, remind one of a pub.

The former Southwell Arms on Hall Road, Norwich, which is now a Polish shop.

The former Southwell Arms on Hall Road, Norwich, which is now a Polish shop. - Credit: Derek McDonald

However if you look to the top left of the building there is the remains of a coat of arms, and coats of arms are frequently associated with pubs which have been named after royalty or a local landowner.

The present coat of arms is in a poor state of repair with parts of it missing completely.

In the early 1800s this area of Lakenham was being developed with housing as the suburbs started to grow. As well as housing, pubs were being built.

There was a pub here from 1822 according to the Norwich License registers called the Southwell Arms.

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Little is known about this building which was at 57 Hall Road, but the present one was built in 1961 by Berry, Crane and Noble before closing as a pub in 1993.

Norwich pub history enthusiast, Derek McDonald wrote: “For many years after Word War II the Southwell Arms was a wooden hut until rebuilt in the early 1960s.” 

But I have yet to find evidence that it was bombed in the war.

Who was Southwell and what was his connection with the area, for there is also a Southwell Road connecting Hall Road with Grove Road?

The coat of arms is actually not very accurate, because when this was chosen as the sign for the pub the wrong family were chosen. The arms that remain belong to the Southwell’s of Castle Mattress in County Limerick who have no connection with Norwich.

An archive picture of the Southwell Arms coat of arms which featured in Riddington Young's book.

An archive picture of the Southwell Arms coat of arms which featured in Riddington Young's book The Inns and Taverns of Old Norwich. - Credit: Eastern Counties Newspapers

The Norwich connection comes about from the daughter of James Crowe who owned this area of Lakenham in the early 19th century.

She was called Margaret and inherited the land. She had married Sigismund Trafford Southwell and lived at Wroxham Hall and this is where the connection comes in.

Sigismund Trafford Southwell’s mother was Jane Southwell, a wealthy heiress from Wisbech, who had married Sir Clement Boehm Trafford of Dunton Hall in Lincolnshire.

However, Sir Clement and Jane Southwell had divorced in 1791 after Sir Clement had lost his fortune and she went back to being Jane Southwell.

She died in 1809 and this prompted her son Sigismud Trafford to take the name of Southwell as well, presumably to enhance his chances of inheriting her property.

It is from Sigismund that the name of Southwell comes, and why we have Southwell Road, and did have the Southwell Arms.

Astute readers will be aware that not far from Southwell Road, Norwich has a Trafford Road and a pub, the Trafford Arms, for similar reasons.

The Trafford Arms was not built until 1887 when a new building was erected which took on the licence of the Nursery Tavern, a one storey pub which had been demolished to allow the road to be widened by twelve feet.

Like the Southwell Arms, the present day Trafford Arms is also not the original pub. That building was bombed and burnt out in the war on June 23, 1942, and trading continued in a hut until 1955 when the present building was erected.

The remains of the arms on the Southwell Arms used to be found inside the pub in the smoke room and there is a fine photograph of it in John Riddington Young’s (another pub detective of the 1970s) book The Inns and Taverns of Old Norwich.

Richard Cocke in his Recording Archive for public sculpture in Norfolk and Suffolk dates the coat of arms to the early 19th century, so it was probably made for when the pub first opened. He also notes that it is in poor overall condition.

Norwich has other so-called arms pubs as well as the Trafford.

The nearest is the King’s Arms just a little further north up Hall Road.

There are no arms on display outside, but since it was first licenced in 1830 the arms would probably have been those of either George IV or William IV.

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