Food, Leisure

The Assembly House, Norwich

I was in Norwich at the weekend with my daughter, and we stopped for tea and cake at the Assembly House. This is a remarkable building, purpose built for public entertainment back in 1754. In 1753 John Hobart, the Duke of Buckingham, granted a 500-year lease of Chapel Field House estate (as it was then known) to a number of aldermen of the city for the sum of £1,800 plus an annual rent of £5. The aldermen subsequently unveiled plans for its conversion into “public places of entertainment for the county and the city”, appointing architect Thomas Ivory, who also built the Octagon Chapel in the city, to oversee the works, assisted by Sir James Burrough. Ivory decided to demolish the central section of the building and designed a new house for the site, which became a ‘House of Assemblies’ where events were held for the gentry of Norwich. Just beside the Theatre Royal, and right next to Intu Chapelfields shopping centre, this little gem is worth a visit every time. We had tea and shared a cake (The Assembly House gateau)

from their extensive cake menu

None of the distracting noise and bustle of the nearby shopping centre national brand cafes here. just walking up the path to get into the building is a delight, and removes you from the crowd. The impressive entrance way, with corridors off to venue and meeting rooms, then the vestibule with the hostess greeting you with a smile and the politest of enquiries as to your comfort and needs, and you are no longer in 21st century Norwich.

Huge chandeliers light a room filled with club leather chairs arranged in easy conversation groups, exactly the right place for tea and cakes.

Staff were unerringly polite, the tea was lovely and hot (and served in a china pot), the cake was a delight and the bill less than you might imagine.

Afternoon tea, at about £20 a head, is as relaxed and as indulgent as you could wish.

And, if you really get the bug, the chef, Richard Hughes, runs classes.


The Assembly House, Theatre Street,Norwich, Norfolk, NR2 1RQ.

01603 626402

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