Norwich Market bibliography
Norwich Market book
The Royal Hotel and The Angel

Royal Hotel, Norwich The Royal Hotel was situated at 16, Gentlemans Walk where it was first licensed c1840. It was located on the site of the Angel which is known to date from the 15th century .Over the years this ancient hostelry was the scene of many events- some more bizarre than others!

As with so many inns, the Angel was host to many entertainments and peep shows. These included a visit by a pair of elephants in 1685, followed by a series of “monsters freaks & marvels.” An element of culture was introduced in 1696 when “The Little Opera” played here whilst in 1825 Monsieur du Pain provided the entertainment when he dipped his feet in boiling lead!

On a more serious note it played a part in events of civil unrest. Thus in 1648 it was mentioned in the trial of the Royalist rioters when a witness, Robert Haddon, stated that he “had had a mug of beer at the Angel.” Whilst in 1815 Lord Albemarle and T.W.Cooke (M.P) were chased into the Angel by an anti-Corn Law mob that they had earlier upset at the Jolly Farmers, from whence they had escaped after an enterprising butcher had freed a bull and twisted its tail so it had charged the crowd. The two fugitives remained  now trapped in the Angel until  the Military were called out and they were able to leave by  the back door.

Moving on to the 1830s it became the HQ of the Norwich Whigs who entered into a pitched battle, from here, against the Tories. Various missiles were thrown and it was even reported that bags of flour were thrown from the Angel’s windows and polling booths were torn down and set on fire. Throughout bands “played stirring tunes” until the fighting was eventually stopped following the intervention of the 7th Hussars.

On July 18th 1840 the demise of this colourful establishment was announced in the Norfolk Chronicle when it was reported “The public are respectfully informed that the angel Inn, Market Place, Norwich, having recently been disposed of, is now refurnishing and fitting up with every convenience for the reception of families and commercial gentlemen, and will in future be know as the Royal Hotel”

Following the refurbishment it became one of Norwich’s principal hostelries and was the venue for many sumptuous parties. Even  when only six months old it was the venue for a banquet given by the Mayor to celebrate the Christening of the Princess Royal whilst sixteen years later it hosted the celebration for her wedding. Despite its popularity c1897 it moved to a new venue on Bank Plain and on May 25th 1899 the Royal Arcade, designed by George Skipper was opened on the site of this historic venue.

This 19th century picture, reproduced by kind permission of the Norfolk Library and Information Service, shows the entrance to the building which is still recognisable as the entrance to the Royal Arcade.