The chambers

Lady Paine's Bedchamber

This room is an upper level extension to the Great Hall and was remodelled for Sir Joseph Paine, a wealthy Norwich hosier, and his wife Lady Emma – you can still see their initials on the fireplace. Bed-chambers were used during the day for entertaining guests, reading and sewing. In the 17th century, women were trained in both plain and decorative needlework from an early age.

The furniture in this room is original with a range of replica textiles, household and personal objects added to show how the room might have looked in the mid-17th century. Inventories, wills and contemporary images were used to inform the choice of objects.

Beds were the most valuable and prestigious pieces of furniture in a household, the tester bed is hung with ‘dornix’ – a linen warp, worsted weft fabric that was produced in Norwich at this time. The chest of drawers was a new development in home furniture, more convenient and spacious than the chests with lids which had previously been used.

The Great Chamber

This room is set out as the private chamber of one of the house’s best-known residents, Sir Joseph Paine, a successful hosier and leading City figure. Sir Joseph acquired Strangers’ Hall in 1659 and set about an extensive remodelling programme of the upper chambers of the house.

Paine was a Royalist supporter at a time when the majority of the City Assembly supported the Parliamentarian cause, this led to a spell out of office when he was imprisoned. He was restored to power with the fall of the Protectorate and seized his moment to make an impression with the monarchy.

Armed with £1,000 from his fellow citizens he travelled to London to demonstrate the city’s support for King Charles II. As a result Paine was knighted and he spent the next years restoring order and prosperity to Norwich.

The furniture in this room is original and is mainly made of oak and walnut, much of it with flamboyant carved decoration. The fireplace was once painted in bright colours, the carved overmatel of which likely dates from the late 17th century, and the rural scene above it was probably added in the 18th century. The large Flemish-style cupboard may well have been purpose-built for this house. Most of the smaller objects are replicas and have been chosen to show the sort of possessions a man of Sir Joseph Paine’s status would have had in the 1660s.

When you’re in this room don’t miss the view of the garden from the window, it’s the best place in the house to view the 17th century-style knot garden which is designed to be viewed from above.

The Little Bedchamber

This part of the building has been remodelled over the centuries and so we’re not exactly sure how it would have been used - perhaps it was a dressing room or a servants’ bedchamber? The room is painted to replicate a ‘plain scheme’ of the type found in East Anglian houses during the early 17th century, you can see examples of this in the ‘building interpretation’ room which explores the house’s evolution.

The room features a replica bed with a wheeled truckle or trundle bed underneath it which is the setting for the hands-on ‘Make the Bed in Tudor Times’ activity. The beds are furnished with replica linens and textiles and are strung with flax bed cords. On top of this are handmade Suffolk rush bed mats, one or mattresses, linen sheets, blankets and coverlets – a lot of hard work to make!

From the window you can see St Gregory’s Church, where many former residents of Strangers' Hall are buried.