Official reopening of Dragon Hall

JON WELCH One of Norfolk's most important historic buildings was officially reopened tonight , the culmination of 20 years' restoration work.

JON WELCH

One of Norfolk's most important historic buildings was officially reopened tonight , the culmination of 20 years' restoration work.

Dragon Hall in King Street, Norwich, is a Grade One listed building: a trading hall built around 1430 by wealthy merchant Robert Toppes.

After his death in 1467 the building was divided up and sold, but it was neglected over the years with many of its original features hidden.

Norwich City Council bought the hall and carried out essential building work, and in 1987 its care was entrusted to the Norfolk and Norwich Heritage Trust which continued the restoration programme and promoted the site hall as a heritage site and educational resource.

In 2004 the project was awarded a grant of nearly £1.4 from the Heritage Lottery Fund, with a further £400,000 raised through other donations.

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The redeveloped hall was opened to the project last April. Tonight Richard Jewson, Lord Lieutenant of Norfolk, unveiled a plaque marking the occasion. “As a businessman I find this particularly interesting because this building was the centre of trading in its day,” he said.

“We must all surely agree that the decision to re-establish this great hall has been a great triumph. This building is a most important part of the heritage of our great city and county.”

Richard Powell, chairman of the Heritage Lottery Fund, East of England, said the project summed up exactly what the fund was about.

“What an amazing and stunning building. Can you imagine the scene in the 15th century with the river out there, the marshes beyond and the Bishop's palace? What an atmospheric place it would have been.”