Great Yarmouth; The Tolhouse

Has been described as a Possible Fortified Town House

There are major building remains

NameGreat Yarmouth; The Tolhouse
Alternative Names
Historic CountryNorfolk
Modern AuthorityNorfolk
1974 AuthorityNorfolk
Civil ParishGreat Yarmouth

A merchant's fortified house. Begun c1150 and altered c1250. Hired to the Borough in the C14 and purchased by them in 1552. Used for a variety of civic functions: prison (1261-1875), town hall (to 1882), police station, court house and toll office. Restored in 1883, when the rear wing was demolished, bombed April 1941 and restored 1960-1. Used as a museum and library from the 1880s. Fortified first-floor hall house illustrating early adaptation of military architecture to domestic purpose. Flint with some ashlar and ashlar dressings. Plain tiled roof. The north gable wall has been rebuilt C20, and the south gable wall largely rebuilt. EXTERIOR: the east front is of 2 storeys. 3-window range in all. To the left is a 4-light transomed casement of 1960 copying one inserted in 1622. To its right is a flat buttress with a statue of Justice on the top and a cartouche with Yarmouth's coat of arms (3 Royal lions dimidiated with herring tails) and the name of the Mayor in 1781, William Fisher. Right again is a forebuilding added c1250 in front of a blocked arch of c1150. The forebuilding has a staircase rising to the entrance door of the first-floor hall. It has a pointed arched grille opened in 1883 and a corbel table of trefoiled machicolations beneath a pair of arched unglazed cinquefoiled windows. The main hall is lit through two 2-light Geometric windows with encircled quatrefoils. They are of 1883 replacing 2 wide transomed casements. To the extreme right is an added C14 or C15 bay lit through 2 slit vents and a C20 2-light leaded casement. INTERIOR: the first-floor hall is entered through a pointed arched doorway with 2 orders of colonnettes with dog-tooth decoration in the jambs. The hall has a further doorway leading to the former south-west wing and 2 window embrasures. Crown-post roof of 1960. The basement is divided into 2 rooms. The north room has 4 detention cells protected by an iron screen of circular-section verticals

4 oak cell doors with heavy gate latches. The cells are oak-lined and each has an air vent in its barrel vault. The cells were proposed in 1796 and erected soon after. The added north bay has the remains of a winder staircase. (Listed Building report)

Not scheduled

This is a Grade 1 listed building protected by law

Historic England Scheduled Monument Number
Historic England Listed Building number(s)
Images Of England
Historic England (PastScape) Defra or Monument number(s)
County Historic Environment Record
OS Map Grid ReferenceTG524072
HyperLink HyperLink HyperLink
Copyright Peggy All Rights Reserved
Copyright Dave Barlow of Abaroths World All Rights Reserved
Copyright Dave Barlow of Abaroths World All Rights Reserved
Copyright Dave Barlow of Abaroths World All Rights Reserved
Copyright Dave Barlow of Abaroths World All Rights Reserved
Copyright Dave Barlow of Abaroths World All Rights Reserved

Most of the sites or buildings recorded in this web site are NOT open to the public and permission to visit a site must always be sought from the landowner or tenant.

Calculate Print


  • Margeson, S., Seiller, F. and Rogerson, A., 1994, The Normans in Norfolk (Norfolk Museums Service) p. 84, 86
  • Pevsner, Nikolaus, 1962, The Buildings of England: Norfolk: North-West and South (Penguin) p. 148


  • Palmer, C.J. (ed), 1854, Manship's History of Great Yarmouth (Yarmouth) p. 60, 256-7 (written temp. James I) online copy


  • Dunning, A., 2006, 'J W Cockerill' Yarmouth Archaeology p. 35