Part of my Streets of Norwich project…. [updated in September 2023]
Watts Court connects Chapelfield and Bethel Street, running parallel with Ninham’s Court. It’s likely named after John Langley Watts, a former Mayor of Norwich and whose memorial is still in situ inside All Saints’ Church, Westlegate.
The Chapelfield end of the court, which isn’t the most decadent entrance…. And I mention this because at the other end, on Bethel Street, there was until the Second World War a rather lovely original Tudor surround to the court, unfortunately, lost in 1942 in the Blitz. George Plunkett, reliable as ever, has a photo of this entrance that he took in 1935. There’s nothing there now, the buildings here have been removed and not replaced.
Photos of the court along its length, there are traces of history in the old wall, but unfortunately, most of interest has been lost.
One resident in 1849 was John Shenfield, who lived at number 42, but his business as a chair maker and lodging house keeper must have encountered problems as he was declared an insolvent debtor. This process meant that he had to attend the Guildhall to discuss his financial matters with the court. An insolvent debtor was different from a bankrupt, it wasn’t until 1861 that insolvent debtors could apply to become a bankrupt. It would have been a worrying moment for John Shenfield, as insolvent debtors could be kept indefinitely in a debtors’ prison.