A room fit for a queen - the history of one of Norfolk’s oldest hotels
PUBLISHED: 17:00 15 March 2019 | UPDATED: 17:56 15 March 2019
This historic Norwich building has wined and dined thousands of guests over the years, including royalty.
The Maids Head Hotel claims to be the oldest hotel in the UK, dating back to the thirteenth century.
Norwich historian Walter Rye, who owned the hotel between 1889 and 1895, considered it to be the oldest Norman site in the city after the castle.
The mock Tudor building, now running as an independent hotel, is a prominent part of Norwich’s history.
The first mention of it being used as an inn was on court records in 1472 after “Robert the fowler” stole goods from the innkeeper.
Almost 100 years later Edward the Black Prince - the eldest son of King Edward III - entertained in the establishment after a jousting competition in Norwich.
Other famous guests include Henry VIII’s first wife, Catherine of Aragon in 1520 and Norfolk’s famous Parson Woodforde who dined and drank their regularly according to his diary.
Mr Woodforde wrote: “After the court was adjourned we walked to the Maid’s-Head Inn, where most of the clergy of the chancellor dined and spent the afternoon, about 34 clergy dined together.
“For our dinner we each paid 0.3.0. The bishop gave the wine at and after dinner one bottle between two clergymen.”
Queen Elizabeth I visited Norwich in 1587. One of the hotel’s legends is that she slept there.
During World War II the establishment became a popular drinking spot for US airmen, who would then head across the road to the Samson and Hercules dance hall.
The Grade II listed building has been featured in various books and films over the years, including J.B. Priestly’s English Journey and The Go Between.
The famous Paston letters, a collection of correspondences between members of the Paston family of Norfolk gentry and others connected with them, were also written in the hotel.
In 2012, the hotel was bought by the Chaplin family who have spent around £2m on individually designing and renovating its 84 rooms.
The hotel has won various awards, including the AA 4 star silver hotel award and best independent hotel at the 2019 Norfolk and Suffolk Tourism Awards.