Meet Norwich's pub detective shining a light on the city's past

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

It is famously know as the city that historically used to have a pub for every day of the year.

And now people can learn more about Norwich's pub legacy thanks to a Morris dancer and former teacher.

Jonathan Hooton, who used to be head of geography at Notre Dame High School until 2016, started looking into former pubs last year after wanting to expand people's knowledge of the historic buildings from his city tours he used to help with.

He said: "It gave me a bigger scope to research places I have seen and drunk in over the years.

"Many have a lot of history and tales connected to them. Lots of people are interested in them."

https://www.edp24.co.uk/lifestyle/heritage/oldest-norwich-pub-adam-and-eve-google-reviews-ranking-1391348

The 69-year-old, who lives off College Road, Norwich, and is a member of Golden Star Morris side, was originally going to present his research as part of last year's Norwich City of Ale week.

But that was cancelled because of  lockdown.

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

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His online talk is available on the website of the Norwich Society, which he is a member of.

Mr Hooton said between 1870s and 1890s there were an estimated 600 pubs within the historic city walls, compared to around 80 that now exist.

He said there were a variety of reasons why there were fewer pubs running now, from changing habits in society including buying supermarket alcohol and households watching more television in the evenings, to taxation and stricter drink drive laws.

There was also a reduction in pubs around the 19th century because of the temperance movement, which saw a rise against the consumption of alcoholic drinks in society.

But despite the reduction in pubs Mr Hooton said: "We have still got some cracking pubs in Norwich. I like pubs because I like old buildings and the atmosphere.

"Pubs are places where you can go and get talking with people. You get a much better flavour of a place from a pub. You can see some spectacular interiors."

He said some of Norwich's present and former pubs were in wonderful buildings, with some dating back to the 16th century.

Mr Hooton, who said there was strong support for pubs in the city, said the main clue for identifying former pubs was buildings next to historic yards, where stables for customers' horses would have been.

Visit www.thenorwichsociety.org.uk

Norwich Pub Detective's top five former city pubs:

Bread and Cheese on Adelaide Street (closed 2015)

The former Bread and Cheese pub on Adelaide Street, Norwich.

The former Bread and Cheese pub on Adelaide Street, Norwich. - Credit: Derek MacDonald

"This was a typical cosy, suburban pub with nice fixtures and fittings."

The Ferry Boat, King Street (closed 2006)

The Ferry Boat on King's Street, Norwich, which closed in 2006.

The Ferry Boat on King's Street, Norwich, which closed in 2006. - Credit: Derek MacDonald

"It was a fabulous pub. It had a good music scene and lovely old interior with a series of different rooms."

Rosary Tavern, Rosary Road, Thorpe Hamlet (closed 2010)

The Rosary Tavern, on Rosary Road, Thorpe Hamlet, which closed in 2010.

The Rosary Tavern, on Rosary Road, Thorpe Hamlet, which closed in 2010. - Credit: Derek MacDonald

"This pub was extremely friendly and comfortable to drink in. It was a welcoming place to Morris dance at."

Mill Tavern, Millers Lane, New Catton (closed 2005)

The former Mill Tavern on Millers Lane, New Catton.

The former Mill Tavern on Millers Lane, New Catton. - Credit: Derek MacDonald

"The Mill Tavern was a nice suburban pub with character."

Woolpack Yard, Muspole Street (now operating as The Gatherers bar and restaurant)

The Woolpack Yard on Muspole Street, which is now The Gatherers bar and restaurant.

The Woolpack Yard on Muspole Street, which is now The Gatherers bar and restaurant. - Credit: Derek MacDonald

"It is a big old building with a grand fireplace and nice beams."






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