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Norwich's Dragon Hall to reopen

PUBLISHED: 06:01 24 February 2010 | UPDATED: 08:23 02 July 2010

Dragon Hall in Norwich.

Dragon Hall in Norwich.

David Bale

One of Norwich's major tourist attractions is reopening soon after undergoing a makeover during the winter break. Dragon Hall in King Street re-opens to visitors on Monday, March 8.

One of Norwich's major tourist attractions is reopening soon after undergoing a makeover during the winter break.

Dragon Hall in King Street re-opens to visitors on Monday, March 8. Since it closed the main public entrance has been moved from the side of the building to King Street, the shop has also been moved and some displays have been updated.

The Norfolk and Norwich Heritage Trust, the registered charity which runs Dragon Hall, said the changes will make it easier for people to find their way in and also provide an improved starting point for a tour of the historic building.

The shop will be able to sell a better range of souvenirs, toys, books, cards and gifts.

Stephanie Potts, general manager, said: “We're pleased that visitors to the city and local residents alike will be able to come in and see Dragon Hall again.

“Now that we've moved things around we're well worth another visit from those who've been before.”

Dragon Hall is a Grade 1 listed trading hall built in 1427 by Robert Toppes, a wealthy merchant who used the hall to display and store goods imported from Europe and beyond.

He built his magnificent hall solely for trading next to the river Wensum, the main route into Norwich at the time.

In the centuries after his death the building has been put to many different uses.

Miraculously it survived the blanket bombing of King Street in the second world war with only minor damage and over the years it has housed pubs, shops and rectories as well as housing - people lived in the upper floors as recently as the early 1980s - and was only rediscovered by the Norwich Survey of Historic Buildings in the early 1970s.

After originally opening as a visitor attraction in 1987 Dragon Hall was the subject of a £1.8m programme of restoration and development largely funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund in 2006.

As reported, Dragon Hall has received a Heritage Lottery Fund Grant of almost £50,000 to undertake a major research project into the living history of the King Street area.

'King Street Community Voices' is a two-year community history project to collect a digital archive of stories and memories about the area stretching from the early 20th century to today. It is anticipated that schools, residents' associations and other voluntary groups will become involved as well as individuals with stories to tell.

Another of Norwich's historic treasures has also reopened. As The Evening News revealed last week, Stranger's Hall, which is housed in a 14th century building and was once home to wealthy merchants and mayors, reopened after a deep clean involving 30 staff.

Dragon Hall is open Monday to Friday - 10am to 4pm, Sunday - 12am to 4pm. For more information visit www.dragonhall.org.

Do you know if another part of Norwich's heritage is about to reopen? Ring reporter David Bale on 01603 772427 or email david.bale2@archant.co.uk.

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