Norwich public has its say on the future of historic Earlham Hall

The public had a say on the future of historic Earlham Hall yesterday, at an open consultation held there.

As reported, the 430 year old building at Earlham Park, which had housed the University of East Anglia's (UEA) School of Law, had fallen into disrepair.

The UEA bought the hall from Norwich City Council for �700,000 last year, and revealed an ambitious 20 year plan for development of the university that includes repairing and refurbishing the hall.

Nineteenth century prison reformer Elizabeth Fry lived at the hall and in the 1950s it was a part of the Bluebell Girls School.

Husband and wife of 51 years Peter and Jane Gascoyne, of Eaton, remember buying ice cream from the front of the hall as children, when it saw regular visitors.

Mrs Gascoyne, 74, said: 'It belonged to the people of Norwich originally, and the council sold it off to the university, and it wasn't theirs to sell.

'It belonged to the people, so we wanted to see what was going to happen to it, but I see the law school are going to put money into it, where the council where letting it fall apart.'

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Mr Gascoyne, 84, said: 'It's rather sad, because we used to come round here as children, it was beautifully kept, there were peacocks in the garden and it got into a very bad state.

'In a way it is good the UEA have taken it on and put some money into it because I don't think the city were going to.'

The plans are to bring the hall back into use while allowing public access, making better entrances, better access for the disabled and crucially, removing some of its modern additions.

Helen Axworthy is the architect for rh partnership architects working on the building, along with developers Bidwells.

She said: 'People are generally quite positive. They are keen to see some public access as it has lots of memories for people.

'As well as better entrances, and disabled access, it is a question of taking away buildings built in the 20th century which are poor in appearance, and restoring the original.'

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