200 Years Ago in Norwich : Wheat Sheaf on Bethel Street

From the Norfolk Chronicle and Norwich Gazette from 200 years ago, I noticed this little advert:


Bethel Street, Norwich

John Woolterton, late of the Flower in Hand at St. Mary’s,

Returns his best thanks for the favors conferred on him in his late situation, and begs to inform his Friends and the Public, that he has taken the above Inn, the Wheat Sheaf, where he hopes to merit their support, by furnishing the best of wines, spirits and malt liquors, with a strict attention to the comfort of his customers, in the supply of good beds, stabling and a bountiful but economical table.”

As a side note, interesting to see that the spelling of ‘favors’ without the ‘u’ was still common. The Flower in Hand was run by John Woolterton between 1810 and 1822 and was located on what is now Pitt Street. It was damaged during the Second World War, repaired and then closed in the 1960s. The Wheat Sheaf on Bethel Street was demolished in 1936 to make way for the new fire station, which has now in turn been converted into a school. The wonderful George Plunkett was able to get a photo of the pub’s former stables in 1938.

And more importantly, he got a photo in 1934 of the pub just before it was demolished. By this stage it was no longer a pub and George Plunkett wrote:

“At No 14 was latterly the Idolene Manufacturing Company, occupying premises formerly the Wheatsheaf inn and retaining its sign above the door, moulded in plaster. It has been suggested that this was intended for a sheaf of barley, for the old Barley Market dating back to the reign of Edward I was formerly held in an adjacent yard. One of the chief attractions here was the skittle alley, but the inn also afforded stabling on the opposite side of the road for the accommodation of carriers. These stables in fact outlasted the inn, surviving until 1960 as lock-up shops, including those of a tobacconist and a secondhand furniture dealer. The inn itself was a Tudor building of several gables, and it was reported at the time of its demolition that certain of its oak beams were to be preserved at one of the city’s museums. There is no record that this was ever done.”

The pub is the one in the middle of the above image. It’s actually now under Bethel Street before City Hall and the Forum as the street line has moved a little, a rather unfortunate loss to the city as that area is now a little sterile. Anyway, once again, I digress.