Future for Guildhall revealed after café closure

PUBLISHED: 10:03 12 February 2020 | UPDATED: 11:02 12 February 2020

Bistro Britannia Cafe at Guildhall. Picture : ANTONY KELLY

Bistro Britannia Cafe at Guildhall. Picture : ANTONY KELLY

A festival box office is set to open in Norwich’s historic Guildhall after the closure of a well-known café three months ago.

The Guildhall, Norwich. Picture: DENISE BRADLEYThe Guildhall, Norwich. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

The Norfolk and Norwich Festival, a popular arts event which is one of the oldest city festivals in England, will use the building as its box office from Friday, February 21.

Norwich City Council said it would join History Mystery, Angels Crystals and Arts Round Up in the Guildhall, which was the centre of city government when it was built in the early 15th century and had later uses as courts and a prison.

The use will be temporary, but the council said it was in talks with an organisation to set up home there longer-term.

A spokesperson for the city council said: "The council is currently working with an organisation on becoming a more permanent occupant in the future.

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

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"The Guildhall is one of the jewels in the crown of Norwich and we'll always look at the best ways for it to be used and the continued preservation of its rich history."

In November last year Bistro Britannia at the Guildhall, run by Britannia Enterprises, which was also behind the popular Café Britannia at Norwich Prison, closed its doors, after the social enterprise went into liquidation.

It came almost four years after the café opened in the historic building in January 2016, expanding the enterprise's work with serving prisoners and ex-offenders.

Last month, Park Britannia in Waterloo Park, which was also part of the enterprise and had been due to close until an 11th hour deal was struck to save it, announced its closure. It said it was due to an administrative issue.

The new Norfolk and Norwich Festival box office will be open to supporters, who get priority booking, from Friday, February 21 and to the general public for booking from Thursday, February 27.

It will be open from 11am to 4pm on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays through to May and daily from 11am to 4pm during the festival itself - which this year runs from Friday, May 8 to Sunday, May 24.

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