New lease of life for Guildhall as renovations completed

Norwich Guildhall and Daniel Brine

Renovations of Guildhall are complete and the building is ready for its new tenant. Insert: NNFest director Daniel Brine - Credit: Archant

The transformation of one of the city's best-loved buildings has been met with delight by its new tenants.

Guildhall's new occupiers, the organisers of Norfolk and Norwich Festival (NNFest), have called the move to the historic building "tremendously exciting".

Next year, the festival is celebrating 250 years since its first fundraising event.

To mark the occasion, it found an accessible and long-term home in the city centre's 15th-century civic building.

Norwich Guildhall is about to celebrate its 600th anniversary, having been built mostly between 1407

The east wall of Guildhall, with its distinctive chequered stonework - Credit: Archant © 2007

The group used to be based in Augustine Steward House, a medieval building in Tombland.

NNFest director, Daniel Brine, said: "As we enter our 250th year at the festival, it will reposition us in the heart of the city, increase our year-round community presence and enable us to develop our working relationships with local artists and organisations.

"To do that in one of Norwich’s most historic buildings is tremendously exciting. We are grateful to all the partners who have helped bring this to fruition."

The Garden Party Weekend, shows running in Chapelfield Gardens and outside The Forum as part of the

Norfolk and Norwich Festival director Daniel Brine. - Credit: Sonya Duncan

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A range of independent artists, producers and networks will also be invited to share the space.

Guildhall was once the centre of city government which occupied the historic site from until moving to City Hall in 1938.

More recently, it was home to Bistro Brittania.

Working with Norwich City Council and supported by the Towns fund, Hudson Architects transformed the three-tiered communal spaces into a meeting room, a kitchenette and a new accessible toilet.

They also reserviced the Georgian Courtroom and the first floor Mace Room and brought some neglected toilets back into use.

The Norfolk and Norwich Festival Garden Party, Chapelfield Gardens, Norwich. PICTURE: Jamie Honeywoo

The Norfolk and Norwich Festival Garden Party, Chapelfield Gardens, Norwich. PICTURE: Jamie Honeywood - Credit: Archant

The architects also removed the external ramp and will next be reinstating the connection between the Guildhall and the market, creating a new accessible entrance.

A spokesman for NNFest said of the 250th anniversary: "We have a long and rich history as a community celebration. Next year we want to explore the role of a festival in the twenty-first century.

"We are developing a number of projects working with communities and young people across the county. We will be celebrating people, places and culture, nurturing creativity and looking to bring our festival spirit to every corner of the county."