Tuesday, 17 November 2015

Maids Head Hotel Norwich Celebrates Completion of £1.3 million Refurbishment

The Lord Mayor of Norwich decalres the bathrooms project completed 

The Lord Mayor of Norwich, Councillor Brenda Arthur visited the Maids Head Hotel  in Norwich on Tuesday, November 17, 2015, to mark the completion of  £1.3 million of refurbishment projects at the historic hotel, carried out over the last 12 months.

Projects Completed
  • Forty bathrooms in the newest wing in the hotel have been fully renovated. Each bathroom or shower features a large-scale photograph of historic Norwich, supplied by local photographers, who entered a competition run last year in partnership with Eastern Daily Press, Evening News and iwitness24.co.uk. 
  • An environmentally friendly capillary heating system has been installed in the oldest part of the hotel, which dates from the 15th century. The capillary heating system, a first for a hotel in Norfolk, is driven by heat pumps located on the hotel roof. It will keep the bedrooms warm in the winter and cool in the summer and will reduce the heating bill by a third. 
  • The public lounges have had a complete contemporary makeover with new furniture and decoration. 
  • Guests have the latest iRiS guest services paper free app in their bedrooms. The iPad based system, another first for a hotel in Norfolk, gives guests the opportunity to reserve a table in the restaurant and order their meal, order drinks at the bar, book taxis, check airport departure boards, browse the internet, get the latest information on events and culture in Norwich and days out in Norfolk and much more.  The app will also soon include the environmental control switch for bedrooms with the capillary heating system.
  • The public toilets have all been fully refurbished, including the addition of a new accessible toilet near the restaurant and new gents near the Minstrel Suite (the main function room).
Christine Malcolm, General Manager, the Maids Head Hotel said: “We were delighted to welcome the Lord Mayor to the hotel to mark the completion of our current refurbishment work at the hotel. We are very proud of the Maids Head’s long history, serving the people of Norwich and Norfolk and visitors to the city for at least eight centuries. We have carried out a range of sympathetic renovation projects to ensure that the historic building meets the expectations of 21st century visitors and operates in a much more environmentally friendly way.”

The Maids Head Hotel in Norwich claims to be the oldest hotel in Britain, based on the hotel’s site being used continuously for hospitality since the early 12th century.

Now privately owned by the Chaplin family, who also run The Gonville Hotel in Cambridge, the Maids Head has 84 bedrooms and caters for a wide range of corporate events and special functions in its historic meeting and reception rooms.

Private ownership has meant a return to a policy of local purchasing for food and drink. Visitors to the bar and restaurant can sample Maids Head Ale from Woodfordes and Winbirri wines from Surlingham.

Norwich historian Walter Rye, who also owned the Maids Head from 1889 to 1895 considered it to be: “the oldest Norman site in the city after the Castle”.

Eighteenth century historian Rev. Francis Blomfield explained that the hotel was built on the site of a house owned by the early Norman bishops. It was this house that became a guest house for visitors to the Cathedral. This eventually became the Murtel Fish or Molde Fish Tavern, the predecessor of The Maids Head. The tavern is first mentioned in Norwich records in 1287. John Paston recommended the Maids Head as good place to stable a horse in a letter dated 2nd November 1472, confirming the change of name.

For more information about the Maids Head Hotel see www.maidsheadhotel.co.uk, t. 01603 209955.

Monday, 16 November 2015

Dickleburgh Church Norfolk 12th Annual Christmas Tree Extravaganza

The 12th annual South Norfolk Christmas Tree extravaganza, 50 Christmas Trees in a Church, is set to take place at All Saints Dickleburgh from Sunday, November 29 to Sunday, December 6, open 10am to 7pm daily (closes 4pm on 6 December).

There is also an opening ceremony at 5pm on Saturday, November 28 and the prize-giving ceremony is at 5pm on Sunday, December 6 in the church.

The festival is in aid of EACH (East Anglia’s Children’s Hospices), Norfolk & Norwich Hospital Oncology Department and the Benefice of Dickleburgh and the Pulhams. Entrance is free, but there is a £1 charge for a voting slip. Donations are most welcome.

This year’s theme is ‘Christmas Hope’; trees of all shapes and sizes, some handmade featuring special seasonal messages, will decorate the church, contributed to the event by local businesses, community organisations and children’s groups. The event has a competitive side, as each organisation that enters has the chance to be declared best adult or children’s tree as a result of the visitors’ vote. There is also a special award for the most innovative tree.

Event organiser Rev’d James Roskelly said: “We are really looking forward to seeing the church full of Christmas Trees again, celebrating this year’s theme, ‘Christmas Hope’. Our event is an excellent way to begin the Christmas season and we look forward to welcoming visitors to the festival to enjoy the glorious trees, but also to take time for peaceful reflection.”

Morning coffee, light lunches and teas are served every day until 5pm throughout the festival in Dickleburgh Church Rooms (next to the church).

Dickleburgh village is to the north of Diss, just off the A140. For more information t. 01379 676256, www.50christmastrees.com.

Thanksgiving Service at Wymondham Abbey Marks Completion of The Abbey Experience

Pictured in the new St Benedict's area left to right: Sybil Martin, Church Warden, The Rev'd Canon Christopher Davies, Vicar and Chair of The Abbey Project Steering Group,  The Rt. Rev’d Dr Alan Winton, Bishop of Thetford,  Brian Randall Church Warden, Bernard Douglass Church Warden and Mike Halls Vice Chair The Abbey Project Steering Group.

The Rt. Rev’d Dr Alan Winton, Bishop of Thetford, conducted a special Service of Thanksgiving at Wymondham Abbey, Norfolk, on Sunday, November 15 to mark the completion of The Abbey Experience, the biggest change to the church since Henry VIII’s Dissolution of the Monasteries.

The £2.75 million project, supported by a £1.75 million grant for the Heritage Lottery Fund, grants from charitable trusts and local fundraising has greatly improved public access in the building and aims to strengthen links with the local community.

Over the last 18 months two extensions have been added to the east end of the church featuring much needed new facilities, including an activity area for school visits, meeting rooms, space to display items from the Abbey’s archive, colourful interpretation about the Abbey’s story, toilets and a servery. The great West Doors, closed for 50 years, have been re-opened to enable the processional route to be used on special occasions and the South Aisle, once hidden by a large partition, has been restored.

The procession at the start of the service
Speaking to the packed congregation, the Bishop of Thetford said: “This is a moment to celebrate together the completion of The Abbey Development project, the first major change to the building for 500 years. This is a restoration of something that was lost at the Reformation; the restoration of the fabric of the former priory, so that Benedictine hospitality and welcome can be foremost. This building is for all who will visit. This is a gift not for you (the congregation) to enjoy, but a vehicle for others to encounter the love of God that inspired this building to be built and its restoration.”

Wymondham Abbey was founded as a Benedictine Priory in 1107 by William d’Aubigny, Chief Butler to King Henry I and was a dependency of the Benedictine Monastery of St Albans. From the start the church was divided between the monks’ and the townspeople’s areas. This was the cause of regular disputes. The priory was closed in 1538 during the Dissolution of the Monasteries and was gradually demolished, but the parish church survived.

Wymondham Abbey, NR18 0PH, is open daily 10am to 4pm, t. 01953 607062, www.wymondhamabbey.com.