This is another of my Norwich posts and this time I am just going to focus on one place, The Royal Arcade. I usually visit it at some stage during all my walks round the city. I have gathered together a number of pictures that I have taken at different times and have spot-lighted this very interesting and beautiful place. Many people use and see it but don’t look at it.
The first building to occupy this site from at least the 15th century was the ‘Angel Inn’. As well as being somewhere to eat and drink and spend the night the inn was also a place where one could be entertained. It hosted travelling shows and ‘spectacles’ – in 1685 a pair of elephants could be seen here. In the 1830’s it was the Headquarters of the Norwich Whigs (the fore-runners of the Liberal party) where there was once such a vicious brawl between the Whigs and their political rivals the Tories that the Mayor had to read the Riot Act and call in the militia.
The Angel was re-named and became the ‘Royal Hotel’ which occupied this site for about fifty years before moving to a newer building elsewhere. Joseph Stannard rebuilt the entrance when it became the ‘Royal Hotel’ in 1846 and this facade remained when the Royal Arcade was constructed in 1899.
The Arcade was built where the hotel stables and yard had been and followed the shape of the yard. It isn’t obvious when walking through the Arcade but from this angle you can see that the Arcade isn’t straight but bends slightly.
When it was first constructed it housed 24 bow-fronted shops, a pub and a clubroom.
The Royal Arcade is a 247′ long covered avenue and was designed and built by Dereham-born architect, George Skipper. It is a perfect example of Art Nouveau style.
The designs are typically Art Nouveau and are inspired by nature and femininity – floral shapes and peacocks. The tiles were designed by WJ Neatby (who also produced tiles for Harrod’s Food Hall (Harrods is a large and famous department store in London)). The tiles were manufactured by Doulton.
This wrought-iron work along with other examples in the Arcade, the floor tiles and the beautiful lamps were added later during restoration in the 1980’s. They are happily in keeping with the rest of the building.
I hope you have enjoyed your visit to the Royal Arcade.