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The Maid's Head Hotel

Located close to the cathedral, The Maid's Head Hotel has been a popular watering-hole for centuries and has a number of important literary connections. In 1472 Sir John Paston advised a visitor that: 'if he tery at norwyche ther whyls, it were best to sette hys horse at the Maydes Hedde.'

Maids Head Hotel

Maid's Head Hotel in Tombland Norwich

In 1790 the actor/manager Tate Wilkinson stayed at the hotel and described how he almost fell off the top of the coach - as it left in the morning

'I was relieved by the help of the hostler and servants of the inn who were there and full ready to assist. I was received into their arms from the coach-box and chucked into the (luggage) basket.'

Rev Woodforde was a frequent visitor to the Maid's Head when he journeyed into the city from Weston Longville. On June 15th, 1791 he records in his diary visiting Norwich Cathedral to attend a service and then attending the Bishop's Court - followed by a visit to the Maids Head:
'After the Court was adjourned we walked to the Maid's-Head Inn, where most of the Clergy of the Chancellor dined and spent the afternoon, about 34 Clergy dined together. For our dinner we each paid 0.3.0. The Bishop gave the Wine at and after Dinner one Bottle between two Clergymen.

In October 1933, J.B. Priestley stayed at the hotel while on the last leg of his 'English Journey' and described the place as a 'fantastically rambling but comfortable old place'. While there he also had dinner with his friend the writer R.H.Mottram. Priestley also liked the Dickensian atmosphere of the city and remarked: 'What a grand, higgledy-piggledy, sensible old place Norwich is!'

The hotel also features in The Norwich Victims - a detective story by Francis Beeding (aka John Leslie Palmer) and in P.D. James' Devices and Desires where one of the suspects attends a stag party at the hotel.

However, the hotel is probably best known for its links with L.P. Hartley's The Go-Between (1953). In the novel Marian Maudsley takes Leo into Norwich to buy him some clothes and, after exploring the City on his own, Leo meets up with Marian again and has lunch at the Maid's Head. In the film, Joseph Losey actually used the hotel as the location for the lunch scene making it doubly significant. Leo and Marian sit in this part of the hotel - looking out onto Wensum Street:

The Go-Between was filmed here!

Go-Between film location

Lastly the hotel was also visited by the the poet Philip Larkin in 1969 who, rather predictably, took a dim view of both the hotel and Norwich. He records in a letter to Maeve Brennan that:

'Norwich is ghastly and this hotel isn't all that grand. It's better today than yesterday but really it's quite unsuitable for this particular type of holiday being a one-night expense-account place with nowhere quiet to sit.'

In 2018 C. J. Sansom published Tombland - the seventh in his Matthew Shardlake series. Shardlake, a London-based Tudor lawyer comes up to Norfolk to investigate the murder of Edith Boleyn. While in Norwich he stays at the Maid's Head. The book is set in 1549 - which is the same year as Robert Kett's rebellion - and Shardlake becomes embroiled in the uprising.

There is now a plaque on the wall of the hotel commemorating the link with the book.




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