Norwich Guildhall Crypt

Useful Information

Location: Norfolk center, below the Guildhall. The Guildhall, Gaol Hill, Norwich, Norfolk, NR2 1NF.
Open: For groups after appointment.
Heritage Open Days each September.
Fee: free.
Classification: SubterraneaCellar
Light: LightIncandescent Electric Light System
Guided tours:
Address: Norwich City Council, City Hall, St. Peter's Street, Norwich NR2 1NH, Tel: +44-344-980-3333. E-mail: contact
Norwich Tourist Information Centre, The Forum, Millennium Plain, Norwich, NR2 1TF, Tel: +44-1603-213999, Fax: +44-1603-213990. E-mail: contact
As far as we know this information was accurate when it was published (see years in brackets), but may have changed since then.
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1407 work on the Guildhall started.
1412 most of the construction work completed.


Norwich Guildhall is England's most elaborate medieval city hall and the largest surviving medieval civic building in the country outside of London. It was constructed between 1407 and 1412 and served as the seat of city government until 1938. It represents the growing economic and political power of merchants and traders.

The crypt is reached down a flight of spiral stairs and through a Medieval oak door. The underground vaults are at least a century older than the building above, a part of the building called Tolbooth which stood on the same place before. It was most likely used for accounting and tax collection, probably as a prison.

After the completion of the guildhall in 1412 it was again used as a prison, but only for the most important or most dangerous prisoners. The most famous prisoners were the Protestant martyr Thomas Bilney in 1531 and the rebel Thomas Kett in 1549. Both were imprisioned here directly before their execution.

The crypt also contained facilities for accounting and tax collection. It was accommodation for civic officials. And it offered storage space for records, money and civic regalia. For some time it was also used as a cellar, to store food, like barrels of wine. A small chamber on the right side was used as a mortuary during the early years.

There is also a legendary tunnel connecting the Guildhall with the Castle. As it is legendary no one has ever seen it.