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“Visit this Tudor Hall sooner rather than later!”
Review of Dragon Hall

Dragon Hall
Ranked #51 of 116 things to do in Norwich
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Attraction details
Recommended length of visit: 1-2 hours
Owner description: Dragon Hall is a magnificent Grade 1 listed medieval trading hall in the heart of Norwich. In April 2015 it became the home of Writers' Centre Norwich. Writers’ Centre Norwich is a literature development agency based in Norwich, England’s only UNESCO City of Literature. Our mission is to explore the artistic and social impact of creative writing through pioneering and collaborative projects regionally, nationally and internationally. We are audience-focused and artform-led, with an agenda of excellence, engagement and experimentation. We are proud custodians of the magnificent Dragon Hall and we are keen to ensure that the public can still access its history. Visit us for one of our guided tours and see the beautiful carved and painted dragon in the stunning timber crown post roof of the Great Hall. Discover more about Robert Toppes, the man that built Dragon Hall, commerce, trade and civic life in the 15th century and how Norwich became England's second city. After Toppes the building was changed and adapted over the centuries and the Great Hall was lost and only rediscovered in the 1970s above the attics of a row of terraced houses and shops. For further information and to find out when the next guided tour takes place, visit the Writers' Centre Norwich website.
Reviewed 6 October 2016

This outstanding Tudor Hall was built by Robert Toppes; the Richard Branson of the 15thC. Books are available locally for more details of the history and about Toppes.
The Hall is located a 10 minute stroll from the city centre in a very pretty historic part of Norwich by the lovely River Wensum. To arrive by boat in the 15th century and see the Hall from the river would have been an impressive experience to customers and visitors.

Though tiled today, the building's roof would have been thatched originally impressing any businessmen arriving to inspect the merchandising contained within.

Inside the Hall Toppes spared no expense. Sadly much of the splendour has faded; only one painted wooden dragon in the main hall survives. Originally, there would have been 8. The dragon is a significant icon in Norwich dating back to an ancient annual event organised by the city elders for the celebration of St George & his slaying of the dragon. There is still a celebration in Norwich every St George's Day.

It was rumoured that some of the other wooden dragons were removed by patrons when it was used as a pub during the 2nd world war. Some serving US men at the time may have taken a few back to the States. Underinvestment in the Hall means that no one has been commissioned to re-create those missing iconic dragons.

Visits are advertised on the Norwich Writers' Centre website and our visit, lasting about an hour, cost just £2.50. It deserves more publicity.

What saddens us so much is that the Hall is not supported by enough ongoing investment and Norwich City Council in its 'wisdom' gave approval for the redevelopment of the surrounding riverside land with new buildings which will not be in sympathy with this Grade 1 listed Hall. Worse again is that once new housing goes up, the lovely view of the river from the Hall will be gone forever.
Soon that vista created by Robert Toppes will be destroyed. Shame on Norwich City Council for crass unsympathetic planning!

So, if you love Tudor architecture and medieval history the time to visit Dragon Hall is now! Enjoy.

Date of experience: October 2016
2  Thank eileendover32
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Reviews (59)
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"ancient building"
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6 - 10 of 59 reviews

Reviewed 8 August 2016

This is a wonderful building, beautifully and sensitively restored but please note that it is now only open to the public on one day each month and on the four days of the Heritage Open Days weekend in September. Please go to the Writers' Centre Norwich website for details.

Also on the Writers' Centre website, under 'About' and then 'About Dragon Hall', you can find summaries of its history, some research documents and three short films. You can also see how to contact the Dragon Hall Heritage Volunteers who give talks to local societies on a number of related topics. They also offer the Mummers' play: 'St George and the Dragon'.

Date of experience: August 2016
Thank RICHARD M
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 15 March 2016

We were absolutely fascinated by this ancient building! There's so much to look and marvel at. The museum is really interesting, spacious and accessible. You will be fascinated!

Date of experience: March 2016
1  Thank Wendy V
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 2 January 2016

This was our second visit to Dragon Hall and our first since it has been in the hands of Writers' Centre Norwich (WCN). We took advantage of September's Heritage Open Days event to come along for a storytelling session and the launch of a local author's book.

Our earlier visit took place while the building was in the hands of the Norfolk and Norwich Heritage Trust. Then we enjoyed a guided tour from a very knowledgeable volunteer guide that took in the whole building and covered its history in depth. The guide told us then that the future of the building, which is owned by Norwich City Council, was under discussion and our visit highlighted some of the reasons why. We were the only walk-up visitors in the building at that time. However, it was being used that day as a conference venue and this sometimes made it awkward for our tour to continue. It was also questionable whether this magnificent Grade I listed building, that encompasses so much of the city of Norwich, really was being used to its best advantage.

Since then the building has been leased to the regional literature development agency for the East of England. This means that it is now rarely open to the public while this organisation realises its plans to open it in 2017 as a national centre for writing. Public access and the history and heritage aspect now take a back seat and, during our September visit, these were entirely secondary to the writing event that it was hosting.

The event, however, was superb, featuring local storyteller Dave Tonge, who had researched his tales from 16th century court records and other contemporary sources, giving a flavour of some of the material that made up his new book. He was a great performer who judged his audience perfectly and the 90 minutes he had to entertain us flew by.

So Dragon Hall is very much in transition at the moment and it remains to be seen how much of its future will be as a heritage venue or visitor attraction. It is to be hoped, however, that WCN do pay some heed to this aspect of the building and also that they continue to stage public events of the quality of the one we attended.

Date of experience: September 2015
2  Thank LJHutchins
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Reviewed 12 December 2015

I attended a wedding party here and thoroughly enjoyed myself. The venue is beautiful with wooden beams and a nice beer garden. The toilets were very clean and the staff friendly.

Date of experience: May 2015
Thank WorldFoodie32
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC

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