NORFOLK Museums Service

A History of Norwich Castle Study Centre

Shirehall dates from the 1800s and has historically been the centre for jurisdiction and administration for the county.

Documentary evidence lists a Shirehouse next to the Castle in 1270. In 1579 the Shirehouse was rebuilt on the castle mound and from then on saw several redevelopments.

In 1789 Sir John Soane built a new Shirehall. It was a controversial building that was unpopular amongst local people.

In 1821 William Wilkins won a competition to design a new Shirehall, and also improve the gaol. The new Shirehall was to be built at the base of the mound, where it stands today, linked to the Castle by a tunnel. This tunnel was used to take prisoners through to the courts from the prison.

In 1907 the next major rennovation of the building saw the expanse of chambers added on the south side of the Shirehall. Since then, both parts of the building have been refaced, and in 1988 the courts moved to a new site near the Cathedral. The civil courtroom was lost with the construction of the Regimental Museum in 1988, but the other courtroom remains intact within the Norwich Castle Study Centre.

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Download PDFs A History of Norwich Castle Study Centre

It was a thrill to handle Castle Acre Service Book, so obviously used - candle grease and thumb prints - by monkish hands so long ago.