NorwichStreets of Norwich

Streets of Norwich – One Post Alley

Part of my Streets of Norwich project…. [updated in October 2023]


I’ve never noticed this alley before, it’s only through following a history trail produced by Norwich City Council (and more on these three trails later) that I came down here.


The alley connected St. Stephen’s with St. Stephen’s Back Street, although that latter street has gone and is now the boundary of Chapelfield (or Chantry as it’s now called) shopping centre.


It’s quite hard to make out this alley in old maps as it’s so narrow, but it appears to have been the one known as Stockings Alley, I assume after the nearby butcher. At the end of the alley (so on the left of the above photo) was the Unicorn Inn public house, sadly now demolished.


It’s not the most decadent of alleys if I’m being honest and there’s a limited amount of history that I can find to recount about it. However, according to the city council’s history, it takes its current name from there being one single post blocking the end of the alley off. And it was being blocked off to stop any cows disappearing up it when they were being taken to Norwich cattle market, although I had thought the cattle usually came from the direction of Norwich railway station and Prince of Wales Road. Either way, I like that this path has survived, it reminds me of the rows in Great Yarmouth and I’m pleased it hasn’t been incorporated into some shop in the way that a number of other yards on this road have been.

In September 1890, there was a newspaper article featuring the case of Elizabeth Houghton, a widow who lived along the alley. Detective Barlow, a police officer, noted that Houghton had been lifting up wood blocks that were being used to pave Prince of Wales Road. She hid these wooden blocks under her long cloak and so he decided, rather sensibly, to question Houghton on what she was doing. She wasn’t too keen on assisting the police with their enquiries, but he followed her back to One Post Alley. He then had a little rummage around and found that she had a heap of these blocks which she then admitted that she was using for firewood. It seems sub-optimal that she was burning the council’s new road surfaces, but I can imagine times must have been tough given she had lost her husband. The police were less forgiving as they claimed the amount of wood was substantial and the City Corporation said they had lost 1s 5d worth of blocks. The matter was so serious that it got sent to the next Quarter Sessions.