Farmhouses, former asylum and harbour master’s house in Norfolk and Suffolk on list of most at-risk buildings in the country

Developer Roger Gawn in the gardens of the former Bethel Hospital. Photo : Steve Adams

Developer Roger Gawn in the gardens of the former Bethel Hospital. Photo : Steve Adams - Credit: Steve Adams

A thatched cottage, farmhouse and former asylum have been listed as some of the country's most at-risk buildings.

The plaque in the entrance of the site. Developer Roger Gawn in the gardens of the former Bethel Hos

The plaque in the entrance of the site. Developer Roger Gawn in the gardens of the former Bethel Hospital. Photo : Steve Adams - Credit: Steve Adams

SAVE Britain's Heritage has included eight buildings in Norfolk and Suffolk in their Great Expectations: Buildings at Risk Catalogue, which they describe as the ultimate 'lonely hearts' list of structures in need of a new use or owner.

It includes the former Bethel Hospital, on Bethel Street in Norwich, which opened in 1713 and is thought to have been the first purpose-built asylum in the country.

After the Second World War, the building became an annexe to Hellesdon Hospital, and in 1960 records show it housed 122 patients.

It served as some form of psychiatric unit until it closed 1995. While part has since been converted into residential use, about three-quarters remains empty.

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Liz Fuller, SAVE's Buildings at Risk officer, said: 'The catalogue is a sampling of the kind of buildings that make our towns and villages distinctive and will be of interest to anyone who loves old buildings and their history.

'We have seen many examples of the buildings we feature restored by determined and enthusiastic individuals so think our expectations are well-founded.'

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Also included is Bennett's Building along King Street in the city centre, a row of timber-framed and brick homes which were said to be owned by Sir William Boleyn, Anne Boleyn's grandfather.

The two Suffolk listings are the Harbour Master's House and Lock Keepers Cottages in Ipswich, which were both built along the dock in the 1800s.

The catalogue, which is published on Monday, June 27, is available for pre-order at you have a story about the county's heritage? Email

Where are the buildings?

• Vale Farmhouse, Trunch Hill, Denton - Inside the brick casing is a 17th century, timber-framed, farmhouse. The brick was added in the 19th century during alterations. Repairs were undertaken in 2012, but the building is still without an owner.

• Dentonwash Farmhouse, Old Railway Road, Earsham - This 17th century home was converted into cottages during its history but today has 'very few interior features surviving'. SAVE believes it could be put back into residential use.

• Church Farmhouse, Shotesham Road, Poringland - The early 16th century farmhouse is constructed from brick and flint, although has traces of pargetting, a waterproofing plastering traditionally associated with Suffolk and Essex. It requires 'considerable and sympathetic' work.

• Thatch End, Baynards Lane, Roydon - The cottage is thought to date from the late 17th to early 18th century. The catalogue says it is in a 'relatively stable condition' and is due to go on the market soon.

• Bethel Hospital, Bethel Street, Norwich - What is thought to be the country's first purpose-built asylum. The street, originally called Committee Street, later took its name from the hospital.

• Bennett's Building, King Street, Norwich - The row of homes - specifically numbers 125, 127 and 129 - dates back to the early 16th century and are said to have been owned by Sir William Boleyn. Despite work, they retain timber frames at first-floor level and herring-bone brickwork. 125 and 127 are Grade II* listed. In 2012, planning permission was granted to clear later structures on the site and convert into homes, although no work has started and these buildings remain empty.

• Lock Keeper's Cottages, Island Site, Ipswich - The cottages are on land reclaimed by the tidal basin in 1842. From then until 1881, the original lock gates were the hub of shipping activity. Both the cottages and the Harbour Master's House were built to manage marine traffic.

• Harbour Master's House, Island Site, Ipswich - The listed building is boarded up and disused, something which is noticeable considering regeneration of the wider area.

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