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The Halls renovation receives £500,000 funding boost

Proud to be awarded Capital Investment Funding Published on Wednesday, 8th May 2024

An extensive £5 million project to renovate Norwich’s historic medieval complex, The Halls, is to receive a grant of almost £500,000 from Arts Council England, it has been announced today.

The Arts Council England’s Capital Investment Programme award of £497,273 contributes towards the major refurbishment project at The Halls, which includes a comprehensive upgrade of technical equipment, significant improvements to accessibility and infrastructure, and a redesign to improve the exterior and interior areas to create a more welcoming space, including an enhanced café and bar offer.

The spectacular roof of St Andrew’s Hall is to be re-clad in new copper as part of essential structural repairs, while work will also be carried out on its stained-glass windows and the windows of Blackfriars’ Hall.

This award is part of an overall £24.2 million funding round by Arts Council England’s Capital Investment Programme which goes towards building works and the purchase of equipment and other assets to improve access, seize on technological opportunities and reduce environmental impact. It supports the Arts Council’s mission to ensure communities across the country have the infrastructure where creativity for everyone can thrive. 

Clare Hubery, Norwich City Council’s leisure and cultural services manager, said: “We’re thrilled to receive this substantial grant from the Arts Council and thank them for their generosity. It’s a show of faith in the plans we are putting into action to ensure The Halls continues to be at the centre of the council’s support for the wider cultural provision in the city, and it will help to ensure we will have a fantastic venue fit for 21st century needs and one which will attract quality contributors from the arts to Norwich.”

Darren Henley, Chief Executive, Arts Council England said: “This infrastructure investment will help a whole range of different cultural organisations across England to flourish, increasing opportunities for people to enjoy creatively excellent cultural events close to where they live. It’s particularly important that we’re making this happen in communities where cultural investment has historically been low”.

Hazel Edwards, South East Area Director, Arts Council England, said: “Through this Capital Investment Programme, we are bolstering cultural investment in communities throughout the East of England / South East. By enhancing the infrastructure of cultural spaces across the region we are expanding access to arts, culture, and creative pursuits. We are also supporting cultural organisations in becoming more inclusive, reducing their carbon footprint, and enhancing their digital capabilities. We are delighted that together, we can nurture a more vibrant and accessible cultural landscape for all." 

The Halls is already a successful receiving house and the largest concert venue in the city. Owned and run by Norwich City Council, it is also a beneficiary of the council’s successful bid for Town Deal funding in 2020, with the refurbishment project receiving £3.6 million of the city’s Town Deal Fund. Other funding has come from The Geoffrey Watling Charity, The John Jarrold Trust and Paul Bassham Charitable Trust Fund.

The 700-year-old complex of buildings is currently closed as the project gets underway with N D Willan builders beginning preparatory work.  N D Willan is a Norwich based, family-run contractor, with extensive experience of renovating listed buildings. The company was established in 1981 by Nick Willan, who is now in partnership with his son David.

Decorative hoardings, telling the story of The Halls from medieval days to the present, will shortly be in place. They have been designed by graphic designer and art director Ben Wilson of Norwich-based agency Ben Wilson Creative.

His designs detail the long history of the Grade I listed Scheduled Monument at St Andrew’s Plain, going back to its origins in the 14th century. In addition to St Andrew’s and Blackfriars’ Halls, the complex includes The Crypt, Becket’s Chapel, The Cloisters and the remains of the Chapter House, The Garth courtyard and the St George’s suite of meeting rooms.

The impressive buildings were purchased for use by the city ‘for the mayor and his bretheren... for their common assemblyes’ during the Reformation following a petition to King Henry VIII in 1538. Today, they form the most intact medieval friary in England in secular use and through the centuries have served as an assize court, a corn exchange and corn hall, stabling for horses during Kett’s Rebellion, a church for refugees and Dutch settlers, as a workhouse and a school.

The Halls present-day role as a multi-use venue has seen it host beer festivals, record fairs, weddings, exhibitions, dinners, conferences, music events and classical concerts. Famous visitors have included author Charles Dickens and songstress Jenny Lind, rockers AC/DC, Pretenders and The Cure.

More information can be found at

About Arts Council England

Arts Council England is the national development agency for creativity and culture. We have set out our strategic vision in Let’s Create that by 2030 we want England to be a country in which the creativity of each of us is valued and given the chance to flourish and where everyone of us has access to a remarkable range of high-quality cultural experiences. From 2023 to 2026 we will invest over £467 million of public money from Government and an estimated £250 million from The National Lottery each year to help support the sector and to deliver this vision. (

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