Arriving at St Peter Mancroft we went inside to seek out the Yallop memorial. This is the first time I have been in this church, its full of tablets, memorials, mayoralty shields and dedications. Its the biggest church in the centre of Norwich – I am imagining you would need to have certain credentials to be buried or mentioned here. The memorial tablet near the door describes Yallop as a person of ‘few pretensions and many merits’. He is buried with his brother-in-law Nathaniel Bolingbroke and possibly surprisingly not with his wife but Sophie Ann Goddard whom he was once engaged to but due to her untimely death at aged 25 did not marry. Where his wife was buried is unknown.
After the walking tour, back at NRO everyone seemed to undertake separate activities, looking at Land Tax Assessment Records, gathering visual sources from the search room library and exploring documents held in the National Archives. I made a list of the National Archive documents and have downloaded copies of the wills relating to each of the commissioners. From first glance they might be difficult to read so I will get the files printed for Thursday’s session so we can look at them after we have undertaken part 2 of the walking tour.
From the Friends Meeting House we walked to the former Bethel Hospital. Opened in 1713 as the first purpose built lunatic asylum in the country and the sole public facility for the mad or insane of Norwich. William Herring, one of our commissioners was a Governor there and also lived nearby. Before we made our way to his former house we went round the Chapelfield North to see the house of Yallop. Before we got to his house we passed a plaque dedicated to Henry Ninham, painter and printer, part of the Norwich School. Both seemed to have owned property in this area at the same time. Yallop’s house is without doubt one of the grandest houses in the row, an impressive residence.
Many sources attribute Yallop living at the Chapelfield address but it seems from Land Tax records he may have rented it out to his brother in law. Round the corner from Yallop’s property we find Herrings home, the former YMCA building which has recently been extended. Again this is a very grand house, large and imposing, taller that those either side of it, a striking red brick. His home was close in proximity to the Bethel Hospital and I wonder how it must have felt to leave his own comfortable home to walk the short distance to the serviceable yet likely basic accommodation of the hospital.
Herring was Mayor in 1797, so would have spent time in the Guildhall just a short walk away. It was during Herrings time as Mayor that Nelson presented his sword to the city. It was for a long time kept at the Guildhall but now resides at City Hall.
After Herrings house we headed off to St Peter Mancroft, again a short walk away.
Walking offers clues
We spent the morning in Norwich City Centre. Walking around a collection of sites relating to the 5 commissioners we are looking at allowed for further thinking about proximity, wealth and status.
We started the tour at Davey Place where Yallop was a partner at a Goldsmiths and Lottery Agent, we took a guess albeit an educated one that the current City Bookshop could have been the place we were looking for. Much of the street is comprised of relatively contemporary architecture, so we went for the only Georgian looking building on the street. Patricia went inside to ask if they knew of Yallop. A short time later someone who works at the book shop came out and told us a brief history of Davey Place and the building itself. We couldn’t work out definitively if this was the building we were seeking but felt happy at such a positive start to the walking tour.
When we arrived at the Guildhall, Ann went and asked for the keys so we could look around. http://www.heritagecity.org/index.htm . We gained access to the Council Chamber where, up until the completion of City Hall nearby in 1938, all civic matters were discussed. Three of our characters, Yallop, Herring and De Hague would have used these rooms. The Guildhall itself was also used as a collection point for taxes. Would the Land Tax have been collected door to door or would people have to go to the guildhall to pay over their money at quarterly intervals? The building itself is beautiful, however the Council Chamber rather empty. The walls should be covered with civic portraits which I believe at Blackfriars Hall / St Andrews Hall which we hope to visit next week.
One of our commissioners is Michael Bland and sites to visit in relation to him are thin on the ground. From the Guildhall we went to the Quaker Meeting House in Upper Goat Lane, Bland was a Quaker and we thought perhaps he may have spent time in the meeting house when he was in Norwich. In an earlier session with the group it had been revealed that gas lighting has been introduced into Norwich, we wondered if the light over the gateway might have been powered this way.
I was interested in how a walking tour can add to the historical research process. I asked the group and Mari who came along from the Parliamentary Archive for their responses: cementing what we have already found out, the visual impact of seeing a house or site prompts extra clues and thoughts about what to look at next in the archive.
Tomorrow is part 1 of our walking tour, as I write it is pouring with rain, fingers crossed for sunshine in the morning. We have Mari from the Parliamentary Archive joining us tomorrow and I hope to instigate a conversation with the group about the relevance and responses to visiting historical sites mentioned in the documents we have been looking at.
Part 2 next week will take us along King Street to look at amongst other things St Peter Parmentergate which is now a martial arts centre. This re-invention of buildings is obviously not particular to Norwich, but we do have a fair number of churches in the city.
It will be interesting to consider re-use further when we look at the sites tomorrow, particularly the old Bethel Hospital, which although partly re-developed some of the building remains in a empty state. I have a feeling there might be a covenant on it, perhaps some of the group might have more information.
This afternoon was spent at the Archive, catching up on some of those Land Tax records from yesterday. Desperate for some colour in all that fairly neutral paper, parchment and ink I sought to collect a series of images where colour is either clearly seen or obscured. There seems to be a process of covering seals with pieces of paper, were these to blot the wax which as the wax dried the paper remained fixed or is it another entirely different type of mark? Susan is usually my source of answers for these things and so will ask her when I see her next.
The Land Tax records we looked at were for St Peter Mancroft. With the Archive centre sitting on the site of the former house of Martineau, I wonder if we can find the relevant records relating to his Land Tax bill in the year we are looking at. The records are arranged by parish and I had little idea about how to find out which parish boundary the County Hall site sits within. Asking the archivist on duty at the desk, the parish question, brought about a search on the Internet, exploration of a series of maps and a discussion with a colleague to find the answer: Lakenham. Will ask if these documents might be available for next weeks session. We can then assess just how wealthy Martineau was.