The Parlour

The parlour was probably added to Strangers’ Hall by Thomas Cawse in the late 15th century at a time when smaller, more intimate family rooms were developed, ending centuries of communal living in the Great Halls of building like this. The room was later improved by both the Sotherton and Paine families. By the late 18th century the Hall was home to dancing master John Bosely and his wife Abigail.

The room is arranged to suggest a christening celebration to mark the baptism of a former resident of Strangers’ Hall, William Bosely, on 1 March 1796. You can see a doll representing William in the oak cradle, wearing infant linens replicated from superb examples in the Norfolk Museums Service collections. The cradle is mounted on wooden rockers and features a hood to protect the baby from draughts. The turned wood knobs were used both to rock the cradle and to wind wool. Traditionally, the cradle was set near to a fire so that the light from the hearth would reveal anything wicked approaching the child. It was also common for a piece of iron or some salt to be hidden in the cradle to ward off evil spirits!

The table is set with replica delftware, a posset pot, glasses and sweetmeats for the anticipated guests. The hand-woven curtains replicate a Norwich-made worsted damask pattern of the 1690s. Make sure to keep an eye out for the wonderful mid 17th century beaded layette basket on display in a recess on the staircase.