Part of my Streets of Norwich project…. [updated in September 2023]
Ninham’s Court is a thoroughfare which connects Bethel Street to Chapelfield and it hasn’t changed its route over the last few centuries.
In this 1880s map, the thoroughfare was known as Masters Court and it takes its current name from the artist Henry Ninham, who lived at one end of the street. Ninham, who lived at the Chapelfield end, was a landscape artist and member of the Norwich School of Painters. He rather helpfully painted and drew many images of Norwich’s yards, courts and old buildings, with these sometimes being the only memory of them since they have long since gone.
Photos from the route of Ninham’s Court, which is a narrow passage which reminds me somewhat of the rows in Great Yarmouth. The moss growing on the wall adds some atmosphere, but otherwise this isn’t really a street that anyone should necessarily travel to visit…..
This photo is of limited use here (but George Plunkett can help here with this photo and also this one), but along the route are some houses which were likely built in the sixteenth century, although the fifteenth century undercrofts of older structures remain. This is the text about this property from the new city council’s heritage walk, which is what took me down this thoroughfare in the first place:
“In the alley is the house of Nugent Monck, who founded the Norwich Players here in 1911. His company first performed in the large drawing room, which accommodated a small stage and an audience of about 70 people. Their popularity meant he needed more space and moved to the site of the current Maddermarket Theatre in St. John’s Alley.”
There was an article in the Norwich Mercury in September 1896 where freehold properties were for sale in the alley, split across nine lots with an annual rent of £204 12s.
One resident of note was Robert Briggs, whose death the Norwich Mercury announced in 1901. He had become something of a notable character locally as he was the last Norwich survivor of the famous 1854 charge of the Light Brigade at Balaclava.
There was a tragedy on the alley in January 1911 when three year old Ada Louisa Waterson perished in a fire. Her mother had left her, and her tied up to a chair baby sister, whilst she went off to walk to Cow Hill for fifteen minutes. When she returned she saw smoke and then realised that Ada had died by burning, likely by wearing flannelette. The Coroner was most unimpressed, he condemned the mother saying that it was deplorable that children had been left unprotected.