Unlikely new use for city's Samson and Hercules building

The Samson and Hercules statues at Tombland, back to their original white colour. Picture: DENISE BR

A pinnacle moment when the Samson and Hercules statues in Tombland were painted back to their original white colour in 2017 after a public outcry. - Credit: Archant

A landmark in Norwich's Tombland - and to many one which changed their lives forever - is embarking on a new chapter in its history.

Samson and Hercules Norwich

What are your memories of Samson and Hercules House? - Credit: Archant library

Samson and Hercules House, which dates to the 17th century, has now reopened under its new owners.

The building, with its famous statues guarding each side of the front door, saw many couples meet when it was a ballroom and later a nightclub. The building was also renowned for having a swimming pool in its basement.

Samson and Hercules Norwich

Samson and Hercules painted red when it became a lobster restaurant. - Credit: Archant

More recently it was a nightclub and then it saw the famous statues painted bright red when the building was taken over as a lobster restaurant - much to the annoyance of many local people.

It has now reopened under the ownership of the Great Yarmouth-based Mortgage Advice Bureau. Around five-10 members of staff are currently based there with the firm hoping to see more return as the Covid restrictions ease.


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Here's the building's fascinating history at a glance:

1657: Samson and Hercules arrive to support the porch of a newly built property in Tombland for Christopher Jay in his mayoral year.

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1789: Samson and Hercules are removed and placed in the rear courtyard for more than a century.

1830: They are replaced by two plain pillars. Nearly 100 years later they are restored by George Cubitt but Hercules is in too poor a condition and replaced by a replica.

1890 to 1909: Samson is restored to the front of the building with the new Hercules replica.

Samson and Hercules Norwich

The Samson and Hercules building when it was a ballroom. - Credit: Archant library

Samson and Hercules Norwich

An old photograph of the Samson and Hercules building. - Credit: Archant library

1930s: The building opens as the Samson and Hercules ballroom and survives two fires in 1937 and 1944.

Samson and Hercules Norwich

The Samson and Hercules building when it was Ritzy's nightclub - Credit: Archant library

1980s: The building becomes Ritzy’s nightclub.

1993: Samson’s arm falls off. Both statues are removed.

1999: New fibre glass replicas are installed. The building becomes Ikon.

2003: The club closed its doors permanently.

2014: The original carved oak statue of Samson leaves Norfolk Collections Centre to undergo conservation work in London.

2014: Plans are announced to open the building as a lobster restaurant. When the statues are painted bright red, there was an outcry.

2016: Just Lobsters restaurant closes.

2017: Mexican restaurant Cocina, with a venue in Castle Quarter, opens a second outlet and repaints the statues white.

2019: The real Samson statue returns to Norwich after being restored following a crowd-funding campaign.

Mortgage Advice Bureau Norfolk

A new life for Samson and Hercules as the Mortgage Advice Bureau has now opened there. - Credit: Archant

2020: A new chapter for the building with plans to turn it into an office for the Mortgage Advice Bureau.

2021: The Mortgage Advice Bureau opens in the building.

What are your memories of the building? Please email stories and images to caroline.culot@archant.co.uk

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