Backyards of the Gildencroft Tudor Cottages, St Augustine's, Norwich, c.1938
This fascinating photograph of the backyards at the rear of the Gildencroft Tudor cottages shows the somewhat dilapidated condition these dwellings had fallen into before they were restored in the late 1950s. The lady seen here in the middle of the photo is Mrs Florence Hagg, grandmother of the photos' present owner.
These timber-framed cottages were probably build in the 1580s. At that time in the Gildencroft, an open area of land in the parish of St Augustine's in north Norwich, belonged to the Great Hospital of St Giles in Bishopgate (who also owned the nearby Lathes farm). It is thought they were built as a financial speculation, to increase the income from ther land by taking rents, rather than as alms houses, as is sometimes supposed.
There were originally seven or more dwellings, but these were sub-divided into fourteen sometime before the 18th century, with living rooms on the ground floor, bedrooms on the second storey and lean-to extensions to the rear for cooking and other domestic chores.
By the 1950s the cottages were considered a slum and an eye-sore. Their historic value obscured by centuries of grimy plaster and layers of soot. Norwich Council even considered demolishing them and indeed an adjacent three-storey building at the east end of the row was in fact pulled down, ostensibly to allow for the widening of Pitt Street where it joins St Augustine's Street, though this road work does not appear to have happened.
During their restoration the fourteen dwellings were converted into six, close to the original plan of seven, with a living room and kitchen on the ground floor and a bathroom and two bedrooms upstairs. The roofs were completely replaced and the half-timbering exposed where it still survived. In addition, the lean-to structures at the rear were removed and the yards made into individual enclosed gardens.
The Gildencroft Tudor cottages are now regarded as the longest continous row of 16th-century cottages in England.
Photo courtesy of Mrs Evelyn Anderson
Below: The Gildencroft Tudor cottages today,
click for enlargement