Saturday, 27 March 2010

Strangers Hall Museum

We went to a museum today. One that's been in Norwich all this time but that we have never made it to. Generally I am not really a museum person - not unless it's really something special. I hate to say it but unless I find quirky things, or things are explained to grab my 'social history' imagination, I get really bored.

The hall was a merchant's house started in 1320 and added to in the following centuries. The name 'Strangers' refers to those skilled weavers that came over to Norfolk from the Netherlands and north Belgium to teach their methods to the locals. The different rooms are furnished as they would be in the 16th, 17th, 18th and 19th Centuries - with things rescued from different residences in Norwich. I do love social history and there were several things that grabbed my attention enough to keep me entertained. Including the following.....

A picture portraying different ages of people - that apparently were linked to different animals....and of course there's a skeleton with that morbid death fascination they had.

A stuffed bird display in the Victorian room. Just shows how fashions change. I can't imagine too many people wanting this in their dining room. I thought it was fascinating.

A beer warmer. You shove the protruding bit into the fire.

Lots of shop signs (of which these are just a small selection) that were saved from a variety of Norwich shops, from the days of prevalent illiteracy.

Butterfly = taxidermist
Sheep = all things wool
Glove = tailor etc
Eagle = silversmith

And a lovely big garden surrounded by higgledy, piggledy walls - including the end of one of Norwich's 52 or so medieval churches, right in the centre of the city.


  1. Is that place just along from the theatre?

    Have a look at this place for quirky museum!I wanna go.

  2. was there much call for stuffed butterflies in those days then?

  3. That's what I'd call quirky :)

  4. The pawnbroker's sign made me think of medieval weapon sales, but then I realized there was about as much call for that in the 1700s as today.

  5. That did look interesting although, like you, a lot of museum visit fill me with dread. As to the Dennis Severs museum that James mentioned - I've been there and it is truly fascinating - really like stepping back into another area.

  6. James - no it's near the city end of St Benedicts Street. The entrance is tucked away down an alley. Much prefer the look to the Dennis Server's museum. there's also that other one near Greenwich that has rooms decorated as they would be through the centuries....I'd quite like to visit that too.

    Clipster - they were always, always stuffing butterflies (!?)....I can't see how the eagle is a silversmith either.....I uspect there is some rationale that a knowledgeable historian could explain...but that isn't me!

    Codgi - is was certainly an ecclectic mix.

    Eric - I'd like to do word association with your head!

    FF - If you come from the same school of thought re:museums and liked the Dennis Severs one - then I would probably like it then....any others that you have liked? Are there people that love those museums that make us glaze over - I wonder? Sometimes I find you have to wade through so much dry material before you get the juicy information...the social history bits that are fascinating...the insightful bits that mean you can imagine what it was like...

    I have a book to plan and I might properly wean myself off so much blogging now...and it's spring...yay...moving on to different ways to spend time....

  7. Having said that...I might muster up a post today.......!

  8. As you can imagine Molly, museums are NOT my thing! (the historical bit of my brain is absent). But I love Eden Camp in Yorkshire! You gotta go.

  9. Hi Molly, you would love the 'secret life of the home' exhibit at the Science Museum! It's curated by Tim Hunkin and covers social history, quirky exhibits, interactive displays, and toilets. Everything you'd want in a museum, really ;-)


I LOVE comments......