Is this Norwich's 'loneliest' building?

Mystery surrounds the history of the tiny Tudor building in St Andrews Street.

Mystery surrounds the history of the tiny Tudor building in St Andrews Street. - Credit: Archant / Norwich Society

Tucked away in the city centre stands a tiny building dwarfed by Norwich's ever-towering skyline.

However now some of the lonely little structure's history has been revealed.

The stubby two-storey building stands behind a barrier in St Andrew's Street - surrounded by parked cars.

Vanessa Trevelyan, who works at the Norwich Society, said: "The building looks both lonely and out of place in the city.

"The structure was built as a house in the 15th century and owned by merchant Francis Rugge who was an MP for Norwich.

"He was sheriff in 1572 and mayor in 1598 and 1602.

"What people see now is just one bay of the original five-bay house initially built.

A painting by Henry Ninham depicts what the full restored building would have looked like in St Andrews Street.

A painting by Henry Ninham depicts what the full restored building would have looked like in St Andrews Street. - Credit: Norfolk Museums Service

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"The first floor was a guest room and the ground floor was the store room.

"The large doorway was needed to enable carts and pack horses to enter and unload in privacy."

The mini building - just one small room in width - is now part of neighbouring Russell House owned by BT.

Vanessa Trevelyan who works at The Norwich Society.

Vanessa Trevelyan who works at The Norwich Society. - Credit: The Norwich Society

It is used as part of a telephone exchange site and is not open to the public.

Ms Trevelyan added: "The building later became a church hall with a passage from the cellar leading off towards St. Andrew's Church.

"Recently this has been sealed off by a brick wall.

A picture of the Tudor building in 1936 in St Andrews Street.

A picture of the Tudor building in 1936 in St Andrews Street. - Credit: George Plunkett

"Then in the 19th century the building was incorporated into a Victorian girls' school which first opened in Norwich way back in 1708 at a time when education was not compulsory.

"It was established along with eight other city charity schools and in the 19th century the school expanded into this Tudor merchant’s house in St Andrew’s Street.

"By 1843 there were about 400 girls attending  – parents had to pay for some of the school fees and this was topped up by donations from charity groups in the city.

The building was built in the 15th century by Francis Rogge.

The building was built in the 15th century by Francis Rogge. - Credit: Archant

"When the school moved out in 1930 a cinema was built on the site and all but the current remaining fragment of the house was demolished.

"In 1970 the Post Office telecommunications took over the site and preserved the Tudor fragment which was used to house the Norwich Area Telephone Museum."

Norwich's tiniest buildings

There are plenty of other teeny buildings dotted throughout the city that only keen-eyed passers by may spot.

The Vine Thai Cuisine building dates all the way back to 1842 and is known as one of the city's smallest establishments.

Emily Bridges, Elliot Dransfield and Johnny Durant own Norwichs first Micro pub. 

Emily Bridges, Elliot Dransfield and Johnny Durant own Norwich's first micropub - Credit: The Malt and Mardle

Located in the Norwich Lanes the cosy little restaurant - which serves a range of drinks and Thai food - allows people to sit down at the bar and be only a few feet away from someone by the window overlooking the street.

Another pint-sized pub is The Malt and Mardle located in Magdalen Street.

First opened in July 2021 the micropub has recently gone under a slight renovation, however, this doesn't stop it from being on the small side.

It was the first micropub in Norwich to open and offers a wide variety of real ale and craft beer made in the UK.