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Norfolk vicar unlocks Dragon Hall's past

PUBLISHED: 07:30 15 June 2010 | UPDATED: 17:17 01 July 2010

Canon Michael McLean returns to Dragon Hall. PHOTO: James Bass.

Canon Michael McLean returns to Dragon Hall. PHOTO: James Bass.

A Norfolk clergyman who lived in Dragon Hall when it was a lodging house has helped fill in some missing links in the medieval building's history.

Canon Michael McLean returns to Dragon Hall. PHOTO: James Bass.

A Norfolk clergyman who lived in Dragon Hall when it was a lodging house has helped fill in some missing links in the medieval building's history.

Canon Michael McLean spoke of his time as rector at the 15th century hall when he was a special guest at a summer garden party at the weekend.

Now 77, he was a young vicar when he was dispatched to a rectory in King Street to cover for a colleague in the 1960s.

When he arrived, he discovered his new accommodation was the centre section of Dragon Hall, which at the time was split into three with a butchers at one end and a pub at the other.

At Sunday's party, which retreated inside due to rain showers, he recalled the three weeks when he lived in the building and how he slept beneath the sole surviving dragon spandrel which gave the building its name.

He said: “The building has changed totally, it's unbelievable. We never dreamt it could be like this. We always knew it was an important building but when I was here, it was very dark and very dreary. The building is wonderful now, it's astonishing. It's a wonderful building to have.

“My bedroom was in what is the Great Hall now and I slept beneath the dragon. I was told that the room was haunted but I never had any problems. The dragon was always comforting.”

Canon McLean, who is now retired and lives in Recorder Road, near The Close at Norwich Cathedral, lived at the hall while he covered for an ill colleague.

He later returned to the parish of Parmentergate and succeeded his colleague as rector. At that time, he lived at the rectory in Stepping Lane and was the rector for the 13 years.

He then went to Norwich Cathedral where he stayed for eight years before he retired.

Christine Pritchard, a volunteer at Dragon Hall, said: “Listening to Canon McLean has been very interesting and his talk has provided lots of missing links and things we were not sure of before.”

As well as Canon McLean's talk there was also music from the middle ages at the event and a parade of medieval costumes meticulously researched to be as historically accurate as possible.

Do you have memories of Dragon Hall? Write to Evening News Letters, Prospect House, Rouen Road, Norwich, NR1 1RE or email eveningnewsletters@archant.co.uk

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