New future for city's historic Guildhall revealed

The Guildhall, Norwich. Photo: Steve Adams

The Guildhall in Norwich will have a new tenant later this year. - Credit: Archant

One of Norwich's most historic buildings will have new life breathed into it when its new tenants move in later this year.

For more than 600 years the striking Guildhall has stood in Gaol Hill, and was the local seat of government until 1938 when City Hall was opened nearby.

The judicial part of the building remained operational as the Magistrates' Courts until 1977, and has since been home to a number of different tenants.

From this Autumn, the Grade I-listed building will be home to staff from the Norfolk and Norwich Festival – who will take over 85pc of the building.

An announcement from the festival said it had been working with Norwich City Council and Hudsons Architects to provide "a unique and flexible base".

It will be home to the festival's box office, as well as a flexible office and event space for staff.

A range of independent artists, producers and networks will also be invited in to share the space to create what it describes as "a vibrant festival hub in the city centre".

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A 'Guild of Volunteers' will also be created, which will act as custodians for the building and open it up for regular heritage tours.

Norfolk and Norwich Festival artistic director and chief executive Daniel Brine said the move ahead of the organisation's 250th anniversary year was exciting.

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

He 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 iconic buildings is tremendously exciting. We are grateful to all the partners who have helped bring this to fruition."

The move is supported by cash from the Towns Deal, secured by Norwich City Council last year.

The authority's director of development and city services Graham Nelson said: "It’s fitting that one of Norwich’s foremost cultural organisations will take up residence in one of the city’s finest heritage buildings.

"The festival team will breathe new life and vitality into this gem of a building and enable it to open up its doors again so people can enjoy and appreciate it."