200 Years Ago : Dangers of Surry Street and St. Stephen’s

Reported in the Norfolk Chronicle 200 years ago today, there was the story of how a robbery had taken place near the Crown Inn on St. Stephen’s (long gone, it closed in the 1830s). Of more interest perhaps is how the newspaper felt obliged to warn the local denizens of just how dangerous this part of the city had become. They wrote warning of murder:

“In noticing this circumstance, we feel it incumbent on us to animadvert [isn’t this a wonderful word? It means to speak out against] upon the danger to which passengers and property are exposed in St. Stephen’s and Surry Street, from those two principal thoroughfares being at this time of the year, in point of fact, neither watched not lighted. The extreme darkness of Saturday was not relieved by the glimmering of a single lamp, and as for the watchman, not only robbery, but murder, might have been committed with impunity, for any thing that the nocturnal guardian of the district in question, was at hand to do.”

And for anyone who believes Norwich was safer in the past, the newspaper stories from 200 years ago suggest a city where crime was common and residents were in fear. Surry Street is actually what is now called All Saints Green, whereas Surrey Street connects All Saints Green to St. Stephen’s.

This map is from the 1850s, but All Saints Green (Surry Street) is the larger area below the church, whereas St. Stephen’s is the road shooting off to the left.