PHYSICAL FABRIC Florilegium Urbanum


Keywords: medieval Norwich civic works account expenditures guildhall construction building materials transportation wages masons carpenters labourers latrine prisons hardware
Subject: Rebuilding the town hall
Original source: Norfolk Record Office, Norwich records
Transcription in: Richard Howlett, "A Fabric Roll of the Norwich Guildhall, 1410-11" Norfolk Archaeology, vol.15 (1904), 174-89.
Original language: Middle English (partially modernised by Walter Rye)
Location: Norwich
Date: 1413


TRANSLATION

The account of Thomas Ocle and John Bilhagh,
chamberlains of the city of Norwich,
from 29 September 1411 to 29 September 1413

Memorandum that Thomas de Ocle has paid to Richard Arnald for transporting 2 cartloads of boards 9d.
Item, paid to the same Richard for transporting 3 cartloads of lime 15d.
Item, paid to the aforesaid Richard for transporting 2 cartloads of stone from the kiln 10d.
Item, paid to the same Richard for transporting 4 cartloads of sand 15d.
Item, paid to the aforesaid Richard for transporting 4 cartloads of tiles from John Michel's place in Co[nesford?] 20d.
Item, paid to the same Richard for transporting 2 cartloads of sand from William Rees' place 4d.
Item, paid to the aforesaid Richard for transporting 1 cartload of tiles from the common staith
Item, paid to the same Richard for transporting 2 cartloads of sand
Item, paid to the aforesaid Richard for transporting 1 cartload of tiles from Thomas Ocle's place
Item, paid to John Jekkys for transporting 4 cartloads of lead
Item, paid to the same John for transporting 1 cartload of doors and windows from Robert Wrighte's place in Conesford 4d.
Item, paid to [John] Thurlward carter for transporting 2 cartloads of lead from Walter Danyel's place
Item,paid to John Cantel carter for transporting 2 cartfuls of lead from the aforesaid Walter's place
Item, paid to the aforesaid John for transporting 1 cartload of lead from the common staith
Item, paid to John Colchestre for 1 lock for the door of the vault 4d.
Item, paid to the same John for nails for the aforesaid door
Item, paid to the aforesaid John for large spikes for floors and cleats 2d.
Item, paid for grease for the windlass and the leading 1½d.
Item, paid for candles used during the leading 2d.
Item, paid to John Millere for 2 bast ropes for the aforesaid floors 7d.
Item, paid to the wife of John de Walsham for an old rope for the same floors 1d.
Item, paid to Geoffrey Motte for 1 cartload of "astell" 4s.0d
Item, paid for 1 cartload of "astell" bought in the market 41d.
Item, paid to John Colchestre for 200 middle-size spikes 12d.
Item, paid to the same John for 200 fourpenny nails 8d.
Item, paid to John Thurlward carter for transporting 3 cartloads of lime from the kiln of Robert Barker 15d.
Item, paid to the aforesaid John for transporting 1 cartload of stone 5d.
Item, paid for 12 spars 22d.
Item, paid for 1 barrow 9d.
Item, paid for 1 tilling [?] mattock 12d.
Item, paid to John Marwe mason for hiring 3 labourers [from him], each of them for 5 days, receiving 4d. a day 5s.0d
Item, paid the aforesaid John for the hire of 2 labourers for 4 days, each of them receiving 4d. a day total 32d.
Item, paid to the same John for the hire of 1 labourer for 4 days, receiving 4d. a day total 16d.
Item, paid to the aforesaid John for the hire of another labourer for 2 days, receiving 4d. a day total 8d.
Item, paid to the same John for the hire of 1 labourer for 2 days, receiving 4d. a day 8d.
Item, paid to the aforesaid John for the hire of 3 labourers for 4 days, each of them receiving 4d. a day total 4s.0d.
Item, paid to the same John for the hire of 2 labourers to saw stone for one day, eath of them receiving 4d. a day total 8d.
Item, paid to Richard Drewe for 4 Riga boards for the doors of the Guildhall 4s.8d
Item, paid to Robert Baxster for 3 Riga boards for the same doors 3s.6d.
Item, paid to Walter Danyell for 1 cable 3s.4d
Item, paid to Richard de Tudenham mason, for repairing the gargoyles, for 1 day and part of another day 7d.
Item, paid to John Stacy mason for his hire for 1 day 6d.
Item, for the hire of his assistant for a day 4d.
Item, paid to Roger Plomer for leading the Guildhall 40s.0d
Item, paid to Robert Wright for his hire for 2 days, receiving 6d. a day total 12d.
Item, paid to 1 of Robert's assistants, for his hire for 5 days, receiving 5d. total 25d.
Item, paid for timber to make rungs for one large ladder 2d.
Item, paid for two assistants of the aforesaid Robert for their hire for 3 days, each of them receiving 3d. a day total    
Item, paid for one small ladder 6d.
Item, paid to John Marwe mason for his hire for 4 days, for setting in the hooks and laying the dormants, receiving 6d. a day total 2s.0d
Item, paid to the aforesaid John for the hire of two of his assistants, for sparring in one door of the Guildhall privy 9d.
Item, paid to Richard de Tudenham mason for his hire for 5 days, receiving 6d. a day total 30d.
Item, paid to John Clerk for 11½ stone of lead, at 9½d. per stone total 9s.0¾d
Item, paid to Thomas Cok for 4 wainscots 16d.
And for a stave 8d.
Item, paid to John Hubert smith for iron work 20s.0d
Item, paid to William Essex wright for his effort in going to Hockering Park 12d.
Item, paid to John Marwe mason for his hire for 2 days, receiving 6d. a day total 12d.
Item, paid to Thomas Leycestre mason for his hire for 2 days, receiving 6d. a day total 12d.
Item, paid to Adam Bishop smith for nails and one iron bond for the wheel of the Guildhall 22d.
Item, paid to John Barbor for 2 bast [ropes] 8d.
Item, paid to Thomas Smith of Fybriggate for the fabrication of the ironwork for the 2 shovels, and the iron used for the same 6½d.
Item, paid to Robert Coupere for hooping 1 tub 3d.
Item, paid to Walter Colman rafman for 5 troughs and 1 bowl 16d.
Item, paid to Robert Coupere for hooping those troughs 2d.
Item, paid to Robert Coupere for ash timber for hook[s] nail[ed?] to the panel 6d.
Item, paid for 4 poplar boards bought in the market for "syntrees to one vice" 8d.
Item, paid to John Cantel carter for transporting 4 cartloads of lime from the kiln of Robert Barker, at 5d. per cartload total 20d.
Item, paid to the same John for transporting 4 cartloads of timber from Walter Danyel's place, at 4d. per cartload total 16d.
Item, paid to the same John for transporting one cartload of timber from the place of Robert Clark wright 4d.
Item, paid to the same John for transporting 15 cartloads of sand, at 5d. per cartload total 6s.3d
Item, paid to John Marwe and to Thomas his associate for their hire for 10 days, receiving 12d. a day total 10s.0d
Item, paid to 3 labourers, assistants of the aforesaid John and Thomas, for their hire for 10 days, receiving 12d. a day
Item, paid to John Marwe mason for his hire for 8 days, receiving 6d. a day
[a marginal note states: "wall in the Guildhall vault"]
total 4s.0d
Item, paid John's brother for his hire for 8 days, receiving 5d. a day total 40d.
Item, paid to 2 of John's assistants for their hire for 8 days, each of them receiving 4d. a day total [5s.4d]
Item, paid to the bailiff of Normannes for transporting 4 loads of tiles from the common staith 2s.0d
Item, paid to the same bailiff for transporting 2 loads of boards 10d.
Item, paid to John Marwe for his hire for 16 days, receiving 6d. a day
[a marginal notes indicates this was to work on walls of the sheriff's hall and the penteney]
total: 8s.
Item, paid to the brother of the aforesaid John for his hire for 16 days, receiving 5d. a day total 6s.8d
Item, paid to 3 labourers for their hire for 16 days, each of them receiving 4d. a day total 16s.
Item, paid to one labourer for his hire for 9 days, receiving 4d. a day 3s.0d
Item, paid to Walter Danyel for lead [supplied] on one occasion to the Guildhall £20.0s.0d
Item, paid to the same Walter for lead on another occasion £22.0s.0d
Item, paid for 1 cartload of ash "astell" 31d.
Item, paid for 1 poplar board 4d.
Item, paid for one Riga board 18d.
Item, paid for 1 labourer workikng there for 2 days, receiving 4d. each day for his hire total 8d.
Item, paid to Nicholas Lomynor for tiles 6s.8d
Item, paid to John Harvy for hewing boards for the roof of the Guildhall chapel 3s.4d
Item, paid to Harry Comerde wright for hewing boards for the floor of the Guildhall 13s.4d
Item, paid to Nicholas Lomynor for tiles 13s.4d
Item, paid to John Cantel carter for 12 cartloads of stone, at 9d. per cartload total 9s.
Item, paid to the same John for transporting 8 cartloads of lime, at 5d. per cartload
Item, paid to the aforesaid John for transporting 3 cartloads of sand, at 4d. per cartload total 12d.
Item, paid to labourers digging the great vault and the large pit into which the privy empties £3.16s.2d
Item, paid for 6 shovels, at 3½d. each 21d.
Item, paid for 2 spades, at 5d. each 10d.
Item, paid for 3 mattocks, at 16d. each total 4s.0d
Item, paid to labourer[s] 3s.4d
Item, paid for 20 cartloads of stone, at 9d. per cartload total 18s.[sic]
Item, paid to the bailiff of Normannes for transporting 6 loads of boards 2s.0d
Item, paid to the same bailiff for four cartloads of stone 40d.
Item, paid to the aforesaid bailiff for transporting 3 cartloads of sand 15½d.
Item, paid to his assistant 3d.
Item, paid to Thomas Mason for his hire for 14 days, receiving 6d. a day total 7s.
Item, paid to Richard labourer for his hire for 14 days, receiving 4d. a day total 4s.8d
Item, paid to Harry Comerde wright for his hire for 7 days, receiving 6d. a day 3s.6d
Item, paid to Harry's assistant for his hire for 7 days, receiving 5d. a day total 2s.[sic]
Item, paid to John Stannowe for making 1 door and his part of 4 windows 10s.0d
Item, paid to William Brounyng for 10 cartloads of stone, at 9d. paid per cartload total 7s.3d[sic]
Item, paid to John Cantel for transporting 10 cartloads of sand, at 5d. a cartload total 4s.2d
Item, paid to John Marwe for his hire for 4 days, receiving 6d. a day total 2s.
Item, paid to his brother Thomas for his hire for 4 days, receiving 5d. a day total 20d.
Item, paid to the same John for hire of 2 assistants for 4 days, each of them receiving 4d. daily total 2s.[sic]
Item, paid to the same John for his hire for 5 days, receiving 6d. a day total 30d.
Item, paid to his assistant, Thomas Mason, for his hire for 5 days, receiving 6d. a day total 30d.
Item, paid to Thomas, the brother of John Marwe for his hire for 5 days, receiving 5d. a day total 25d.
Item, paid to the same Thomas for the hire of his 3 assistants for 5 days, each of them receiving 4d. a day total 5s.0d
Item, paid to Thurlward carter for transporting 4 cartloads of sand, at 5d. a cartload total 20d.
Item, paid to the same Thurlward for transporting 4 cartloads of muck which lay on the chapel 8d.
Item, paid to Cantel carter for 6 cartloads of stone, at 9d. a cartload 4s.6d
Item, paid to the same Cantel for 4 cartloads of sand, at 5d. a cartload 20d.
Item, paid for transporting 3 cartloads of lime, at 4d. a cartload 12d.
Item, paid to Robert Clerk wright as part payment for making the great doors of the Guildhall 10s.0d
Item, paid to John Hubert smith in part payment for making the hinges, hooks and an iron bar for the same doors 6s.8d
Item, paid to John Marwe in part payment for "remennyng" 1 door at the east end of the Guildhall 6s.8d
Item, paid to the bailiff of Normannes for 9 cartloads of stone, at 9d. a cartload 6s.9d
Item, paid to the same bailiff for transporting one cartload of Riga [boards] from John Sarell's house 4d.
Item, paid to the same bailiff for transporting from the common staith 1 cartload of Estrich boards, bought from Thomas Cok 5d.
Item, paid to Adam Bakere for 500 tiles 4s.0d
Item, paid to Harry Comerde for laying the floor[boards?] 6s.8d
Item, paid to John Greyday in part payment for making the new counter 3s.8d
Item, paid to Robert Couper for sounds for making glue for that counter 6d.
Item, paid for 9 locks and 2 keys for the chapel door 12d.
Item, paid to the bailiff of Normannes for 11 cartloads of pebbles, at 9d. a cartload 8s.3d
The wall at the east end of the Guildhall 3d.
Item, paid to John Calyfer for transporting 1 cartload of lime from the kiln of Robert Barkere 4d.
Item, paid to the same John for transporting 1 load of tiles from the common staith 4d.
Item, paid to the aforesaid John for transporting 1 cartload of freestone from the same staith 4d.
Item, paid to the same John for transporting 1 load of tiles from the bakery of the Greyfriars 5d.
Item, paid to the aforesaid John for transporting one load of pebbles from Mousehold 9d.
Item, paid to 3 wrights for 1 day, for making the bench in the Guildhall, each of them receiving 6d. a day 18d.
Item, paid to Robert Wright for his hire for 4 days, receiving 6d. a day 2s.0d
Item, paid for "splent" nails and large spikes, bought in the market, for the bench and the floor in the Guildhall 21d.
Item, paid to Stannwe for his hire for 1 day 6d.
Item, paid for 1 lock and 1 key, hooks and hinges for the parclose door 16d.
Item, paid to Henry Comerde for making that door, for 1 day 6d.
Item, paid to 2 claymen for their hire for 2 days to make 2 floors behind the dais, each of them receiving 6d. a day 2s.0d
Item, paid to Robert Wrighte for his hire for 3 days, to lay the floors of 2 towers, at 6d. a day 18d.
Item, paid for 1 poplar board for 2 privies and the centre of the penteney door 6d.
Item, paid for 1 deal [board] for the bench 16d.
Item, paid for 2 large hooks for the penteney door 11d.
Item, paid to John Marwe mason for his hire for three days, to parget the newly-made murage loft, receiving 6d. a day 18d.
Item, paid to John's brother for his hire for 6 days, to parget the same as well as the rooms behind the dais, receiving 5d. a day 30d.
Item, paid to 3 of John's assistants working there for 3 days, each receiving 4d. a day 3s.0d
Item, paid to the same John for his hire for 3 days, to make the penteney door, the vault beyond the door, and the stairs there, receiving 6d. a day 18d.
Item, paid to his brother for working on the same for 4 days, receiving 5d. a day 20d.
Item, paid to his 3 assistants for 3 days, to work in the same place, each of them receiving 4d. a day 2s.0d[sic]
Item, paid to another of his assistants working there for 1 day 4d.
Item, paid to Walter Gase of Yarmouth for 1 fother of lead 116s.8d
Item, paid for its transport 2s.
Item, paid to Thomas Noteman for his hire for 5 days, receiving 6d. a day 2s.6d
Item, paid to Harry Sherman for his hire for 5 days, receiving 5d. a day 2s.1d
Item, paid to John Skryvener for his hire for 5 days, receiving 5d. a day 2s.1d
Item, paid to John Midelton for his hire for 5 days, receiving 5d. a day 2s.1d
Item, paid for 10 lbs. of tallow for burning in the privy, at 1d. per lb. 10d.
And for 2 lb. of candles 3d.
Item, paid to the head fower 3s.4d
Item, paid for bread and ale there 12d.
Item, paid to each of the fowers 5d.
Item, paid for 2,000 tiles bought from the Greyfriars' baker 16s.0d
Item, paid to the bailiff of Normannes for transporting 4 cartloads of tile, at 5d. a cartload 20d.
Item, paid for 2 Riga [boards] bought from John Covell for the counter 2s.0d
For 2 Estrich boards 20d.
For 1 Riga [board] 12d.
Item, paid to John Greyday for making the counter and removing the barrier and nails 12s.8d
Item, paid for 2 lb. of plaster of Paris for edging and plastering the towers 2s.4d
Item, paid to John Marwe for working [with] the plaster of Paris, for 2 days 12d.
And for the hire of his two assistants for 2 days 8d.
Item, paid for painting the boards on the outside of the towers; first, for 2 gallons of oil 2s.8d
Item, paid for 1 lb. of varnish 8d.
Item, paid for 3 lb. of white lead 12d.
Item, paid for 2 lb. of red lead 6d.
Item, paid for 4 lb. of Spanish brown 4d.
And for the work on it 2s.0d
Item, paid to Hardingham, the Augustinian friar, for lead £5.13s.4d
Item, paid to Robert Barker for lime and stone £2.13s.4d
Item, paid to the mayor 6s.8d which was given to Geoffrey Swathyng 6s.8d
Item, paid to Raulyn de Filby for 100 boards used for the doors and windows of the mayor's hall 34s.0d
Item, paid to Adam Mason for his hire for 1 day, working on the women's prison 6d.
Item, paid of the hire of his associate 6d.
Item, paid to 2 assistants working there on the same day 8d.
Item, paid to Raulyn de Filby for 100 boards 35s.0d
Item, paid to John Marwe mason for his hire for 10 days, receiving 6d. a day 5s.0d
Item, paid to his brother for 10 days, receiving 5d. a day 4s.2d.
Item, paid to his 3 assistants for 10 days, each receiving 4d. a day 10s.
Item, paid to John Marwe mason for his hire for 1 day 6d.
Item, paid to his assistant for 1 day 4d.
Item, paid to Adam Mason for his hire for 3 days, working in the women's prison 18d.
Item, paid to Adam's assistant for his hire for 3 days 12d.
Item, paid to John Cantel carter for transporting 3 cartloads of sand, at 5d. a load 15d.
Item, paid for transporting 3 cartloads of lime, at 5d. a cartload
Item, paid to Alan Bull smith for 1300 nails, at 8d. per hundred 8s.8d
Item, paid to the same Alan for 1900 nails, at 6d. per hundred 9s.6d
Item, paid to the aforesaid Alan for 900 [nails] at 4d. per hundred 3s.0d
Item, paid for 8 lb. of iron made into ferrules and goiones for the crane, at 2d. a pound 16d.
Item, paid for 2 anchors for the east end of the Guildhall, weighing 38 lb., at 2d. a lb. 6s.4d
Item, paid for 1 iron bolt weighing 5 lb. for the making of the gargoyles, at 2d. a lb. 10d.
Item, paid for 550 nails used for the boards under the lead on the roof of the Guildhall, at 4d. per [hundred] 22d.
Item, paid for 1 pair of hinges weighing 12½ lb. for the prison door, at 2d. a lb. 2s.1d
Item, paid for one pair of hooks weighing 6 lb. for the prison door, at 2d. a lb. 12d.
Item, paid for the iron for 1 shovel 4d.
Item, paid for "broddys" and fourpenny nails for the counter 3½d.
Item, for the mending of 1 stone saw 1d.
Item, paid for the mending of 2 mattocks 3d.
Item, paid for 1 pair of chains weighing 8 lb. for the penteney door, at 2d. a lb. 16d.
Item, paid for 2 slots weighing 3 lb. for that door, at 2d. a lb. 6d.
Item, paid for 2 transom bars, weighing 3 lb. at 2d. a lb., and 2 "sondletts" used by the glasswright for the porch 6d.
Item, paid to Alan Smith for 400 eightpenny nails 32d.
Item, paid for 600 fourpenny nails 2s.0d
Item, paid for 2 transom bars weighing 12 lb. in the sheriff's hall 2s.0d
Item, paid to Roger Plomer for the lead for the Guildhall [roof?] and for the [water]spouts for the towers 10s.0d
Item, paid to Cantel carter for transporting one large tree donated to the Guildhall by William Appilyerd 2s.0d
Item, paid to the aforesaid Cantel for 4 cartloads of sand 20d.
Item, paid to the aforesaid Cantel for transporting 1 cartload of lime 5d.
Item, paid to Thomas Borham for glazing the porch 13s.4d
Total: £93.10s.5½d
 
Memorandum that Thomas de Ocle asks allowance be made for 50s. that he owes to Peter Syle for building with freestone the door[way] leading up to the mayor's hall 50s.0d
Item, [allowance] for 20s. he owes to Thomas Cok for fifty boards 20s.0d
Item, for 35s. he owes to William Nich for a hundred boards 35s.0d
Item, for 2s. he owes to John Usher for 2 Riga [boards] 2s.0d
Item, for 16s.8d he owes to Sampson Baxster for 5 loads of tile 16s.8d
Item, for 5s. he owes to John Locksmith for 1 lock for the Guildhall door, a ring for the same door, and for 1 lock for the free prison door 5s.0d
Item, for 16s. he owes to Robert Wright for making the Guildhall doors, the windows, and the joists in the porch 16s.0d
Item, for 20s. he owes to Walter Danyel for lead 20s.
Item, for 10s. he owes to Robert Barker for lime 10s.
Item, for 24s. he owes to Robert Stalon for 3000 tiles used in the Guildhall [this entry deleted]
Item, for 20s. he owes to the aforesaid Robert for 50 Estrich boards [this entry deleted]
Item, for 13s.4d he owes to Thomas Smyth of Fybriggate for the bars of the prison windows
Item, for 32d. he owes to the same Thomas for floor nails
Item, for 6s.8d he owes to Henry Comerde wright
Item, for 20s. he owes to John Marwe mason
Total: £10.17s.4d


DISCUSSION

The municipal buildings of medieval England were, almost without exception, not on a scale that rivalled those of the great cities of Flanders or Italy, but a few at least were impressive on their own terms. The late fourteenth and fifteenth centuries saw renovation and rebuilding of a number of town halls, reflecting the transition from a local government which existed out of necessity and on an almost voluntary basis to one which had wide-ranging powers, corporate status, a taste for show, and a strong sense of self. Among these efforts were the improvements to the Colchester moothall in 1373/74, the building in the 1420s of a new hall for use by both merchant gild and urban administration at Lynn, the rebuilding of York's guildhall in the 1440s, possible addition of a third storey to Northampton's guildhall in the late fifteenth century, and of course the most ambitious venture: the rebuilding of London's guildhall during the reigns of Henry V and VI.

The early 1400s likewise saw the rebuilding of Norwich's seat of government, from what has been described – somewhat unjustly, although perhaps reflecting the opinion of city rulers of that time – as "a very humble shed, quite unworthy of the city" [Ian Hannah, The Heart of East Anglia, London, ca.1913, 229], into a still imposing structure that has survived for six centuries. During the Middle Ages only London's Guildhall was larger. The old Tolbooth had been outgrown both by governmental functions and by political aspirations, and it is no coincidence that the rebuilding got underway in 1407, just three years after a new royal charter had introduced a mayor and sheriffs (each with their own court to hold), given the city county status and the administration broader powers, and apparently endorsed the existence of separate political "estates". The new constitution required a new seat of government commensurate with its status and scope of activities.

At an assembly in 1407, a committee of 24 citizens was created to consider where to find money to fund the construction project, and to put builders to work. Possibly this project was set in motion, or at least politically sponsored, by the mayor of 1406/07 – the Walter Danyel mentioned several times in the above document. Walter was a veteran politician who had served, in the pre-mayoralty period, as city bailiff in 1385/86, 1392/93, and 1399/1400. After the popular William Appleyard had served as Norwich's first mayor for three consecutive terms, the city council objected to his re-election for a fourth and wished to have Danyel elected – to which Appleyard acquiesced. Walter was succeeded in the mayoralty by his brother, and was himself returned to the mayoralty in 1409, and again in 1419 and 1423. That Walter might have been the kind of man to favour a project to create a more impressive seat of government is suggested by the expenditure, during his mayoralty of 1406/07, on creating for the mayoral sword a harness decorated with silver, a sheath, and other accountrements of silk and velvet, as well as a fur-lined beaver-skin hat for the mayor.

John Marrow was used as the principal mason for the Guildhall project. He has been described as representative of a relatively small class of independent master masons with a business in which they employed full-time assistants [D. Knoop and G.P. Jones, The Mediaeval Mason, Manchester, 1949, 103], and yet there is some doubt whether he can be considered the master mason assigned to the Guildhall project, for he was simply paid a normal daily wage and not given any special reward – although the same reservation might be expressed about John Croxton. It would appear that the Norwich authorities preferred to keep this project under their own hand, rather than contract it out. Nonetheless, Marrow was paid for 68 days of work, his brother – seemingly a junior partner in the family construction business, perhaps learning the trade from the senior – worked with him for 59 days, for 47 days he had three workmen under his direction, and for another 15 days two workmen. Although we only see the work that went on in 1410/11, it is likely that Marrow had been much involved in the project from the outset. Some years later he would be given another important project: to rebuild the community quay, but this time under a contract, so that he was wholly responsible not only for the masonry work but also for the carpentry (perhaps sub-contracting), and so for that work we have no financial account.

In 1407 Marrow managed to rebuild the crypt, or vault, underneath the old Tolbooth. The account of the city treasurers for 1407/08 includes £13.4s.6d for carting costs, and other expenses related to the employ of a large number of horse-pulled carts: making of a new cart for the city and shodding of its wheels with iron; 21½d. spent on cart grease; purchase of 93 horseshoes from the Alan Smyth named in the above document, and twelve shoeings conducted by that same blacksmith; a veterinarian's bill for treating one horse; 14s. for horse collars, traces, saddles, halters, hames and whips; £5 expended on horse feed; and payments to a man apparently put in charge of the community cart-horses. Expenditures on this scale for transportation point to an unusual project which must be the Guildhall construction.

The following year, two supervisors of the project were appointed – one being Walter Danyel – and another committee put together to levy a tax on the city to pay for the ongoing work, while the city constables were authorized to commandeer labour services from the citizenry. The walls of the new building were raised in that year. The year after that, with another tax and further forced labour, the roof went on.

By the time of the work documented by the financial accounts of 1411-13, the shell appears to have been largely completed, and work focused on finishing the exterior and fitting out the interior, as well perhaps to extending the crypt. Various sub-projects can be seen from the groupings within the account, although the nature of only a few of these is identified by the account; some of the costs are lost due to damage to the document, or illegibility. Richard Howlett erred in dating this document; Ocle and Bilhagh were not chamberlains in 1410/11, although they held office for the following two years – their re-election to a second term may have been intended to ensure continuity in the important task of Guildhall construction. By the end of their term, the Guildhall was sufficiently operational to be housing prisoners. Spaces within the hall were also intended to serve for courtrooms (hence the convenience of having prison cells in the same building) and political meetings. In early 1415 the Guildhall was sufficiently complete that it could be designated as the location of the mayoral elections, in a document that throws some light on the facilities there. However, improvements continued to be made over the next few decades. In 1432/33 we hear of the exchequer (financial office) in the Guildhall, and in 1436/37 2,000 wall tiles were bought from a Yarmouth man to finish the interior of one of the towers, so that it could be converted into the city treasury. Work on the interior continued up to 1453.

I have elsewhere given some description of the medieval Guildhall and its facilities, and will not repeat that here.

Most named the suppliers of materiel for the construction project, as identified in the above document, were members of the ruling class. John Michel served as treasurer in 1410/11 and as sheriff in 1416/17. William Rees, or Roos, had been treasurer in 1401/02 and was sheriff in 1417/18. Thomas Ocle was of course a chamberlain supervising the project finances, and went on to election as sheriff in 1415. Walter Danyel, who has already been mentioned, was the single largest supplier, making £21 from the sale of lead for the Guildhall roof; he was a merchant, although I do not know in which type of goods he specialized. His fellow supervisor, Robert Dunston, is not found supplying anything; he was a merchant, but none of the goods he is known to have imported or exported were construction materials. Richard Drewe was sheriff in 1406/07. Robert Baxter would become a chamberlain in 1415 and go on to the shrievalty in 1418 and his first of two mayoralties in 1424. John Clerk was one of the treasurers of 1411/12, while Thomas Cok was a former treasurer (1403/04) and would be elected sheriff in 1414. John Covell may properly be the John Sorell who was treasurer in 1409/10. William Nich had served as treasurer 1409/10, and would be chosen as chamberlain in 1416 and as sheriff in 1421. Sampson Baxter had been a treasurer in 1398/99 and sheriff in 1404/05.

Modern sensibilities may cause some to look askance at such arrangements, but we should not be too quick to jump to judgement. Rather than see it as a corrupt practice, although self-interested it undoubtedly was, we might think of it primarily as a matter of convenience. There were no city directories or Yellow Pages in those times, and it was easier to identify suppliers who were close at hand. Members of the ruling class were so in part because of their economic status, and some of them were doubtless merchants involved in importing construction materials or master craftsmen with stock on hand. Thomas Ocle, for example, was described as a painter when he became a freeman of Norwich (1387), and this occupation likely was some advantage to the Guildhall project. Advantageous access to business opportunities was one perk of political or bureaucratic office in the medieval town, most of such offices being under-remunerated in terms of salary.

It may even have been seen as a civic duty to assist in this fashion with civic projects, while the city's decision-makers may have preferred to deal with men they knew and presumably considered reliable. This was not restricted to their colleagues in government: the above account indicates that the city had certain carters it called on time and time again, and the same Alan Smyth (a.k.a. Bull or Dully) who we have seen called on for goods and services on several occasions was also commissioned in 1409/10 to produce a pair of manacles for the city and in 1411/12 to produce hooks and hinges for city properties other than the Guildhall. Furthermore, those in the ranks of the administration would have a more realistic appreciation that payment could sometimes be slow in coming. The final section of that part of the account transcribed above indicates that, as of the date of accounting, which must have taken place at some time after Michaelmas 1413, debts remained owing to a number of the suppliers and craftsmen.

There are other indications that the assigned revenues to the construction project were not sufficient to cover the costs. A separate membrane attached to the main list of expenditures refers to payments received by Ocle. The list begins with two items totalling £25.13s.4d handed over by Simon Cook, and £10 by Robert Baas. This pair were the city treasurers of 1405/06. The next three items concern £7 handed over by Simon Hacford and Richard Stenyour, who were the treasurers of 1407/08. The item that follows is £8 handed over by Richard Southfeld, who was one of the sheriffs of 1413/14. The eighth item is for £3.6s.8d and was handed over by Thomas Marchall, one of the treasurers of 1412/13. The next three items are sums received from Thomas Benet, one of the treasurers of 1408/09, via intermediaries, one being the same Thomas Marchall, and the other being John Clerk, a treasurer of 1411/12. The treasurers' account of 1411/12 also mentions the transfer during that term to Ocle and Bilhagh, from the ex-treasurers of 1408/09, of £20 for the Guildhall project. A further item concerns £2.13s.4d from Robert Stalon; while this may have something to do with materials Stalon had supplied, we may note that he was the farmer of the common staith in 1413/14, and possibly the amount he paid was related to the farm he owed the city. It would seem that these moneys were being diverted from other city revenues to keep the Guildhall project afloat.

At any rate, to return to the possible charge of corruption, there is no sign that putting business the way of one's political colleagues, or even oneself, unduly excited the Norwich populace. Although conceivably it could have been another irritant in the growing political discontent at that period, it was not one of the explicit complaints that eventually surfaced.

flourish

NOTES

"lime"
Mixed with sand to make mortar.

"common staith"
The communal quayside.

"spikes"
The original probably had spikingnails, which were very large nails.

"floors"
I.e. structural floors; in the original stages.

"cleats"
A block or wedge-shaped attachment to help connect and support two structural members (e.g. beams or joists) of a building. It can also be used for a piece of wood to which ropes are attached (usually in the context of a ship), which may be significant since the next item refers to a windlass.

"bast ropes"
Rope made from tough fibres, such as obtained from flax, hemp, or some inner barks.

"astell"
Possibly wood chips (astula) or poles (hastella), although the high price would belie that; Howlett believed the term referred to boards.

"fourpenny nails"
I.e. fourpence a hundred.

"tilling mattock"
A double-headed tool for digging up weeds, roots or stumps (what Howlett read as tyll may actually mean twibil, i.e. two-billed) – it was a halbert-style tool, with one side shaped like a pickaxe and the other like an adze. Howlett, however, thought (perhaps correctly) that tyll refers to tiling in the present context.

"Riga boards"
Timber named for the Hanse town Riga (in the original Rigall, Rygoll or Rygald, elsewhere found as rygholt), through which it was exported; possibly oak.

"gargoyles"
Waterspouts carved in grotesque shapes.

"assistant"
The original uses the term servant; this could have referred to apprentices or employees, although Knoop and Jones [The Mediaeval Mason, Manchester, 1933, 160-68] argue that formal apprenticeship was uncommon in the masons' craft, in part because most masons had to travel to where the work was and this peripatetic lifestyle was not compatible with providing the requisite bed-and-board to apprentices. It is nonetheless likely that, while some of the masons' servants may have handled only menial tasks, they may also have been learning the craft and some would eventually become masons themselves.

"dormants"
The term has been used to refer to a sleeper or to a tie-beam (or sometimes a rafter itself), but also as an alternate for dormers (window-bearing structures that project from a sloping roof, bringing light into a room within the roofspace – often a bedroom). The latter does not seem applicable to the Norwich guildhall.

"sparring in"
May refer to creating a stone door-frame, or (less likely) to create a locking mechanism using a bar.

"Hockering Park"
The village of Hockering lies a few miles northwest of Norwich. The wright was presumably going there in search for suitable timber.

"rafman"
A chandler, but not one specializing in tallow wares but more in the general sense of supplier (like a ship's chandler) and evidently dealing in wooden wares.

"syntrees to one vice"
This would appear to refer to woodwork on a spiral staircase.

"penteney"
Associating this with the Latin term poenitentia, Howlett interprets it as the debtor's prison.

"remennyng"
Howlett plausibly deduced an association with the French remanier, meaning to reshape or adapt, and – since Marrow was a mason not a carpenter, concluded the work was related to the doorway arch, not the door itself.

"Estrich"
Easterling, i.e. from the Baltic.

"counter"
Probably a feature of the courthouse: the bar from which the plea, or count, was made.

"sounds"
The air bladders of fish (particularly sturgeon and stockfish), used in the making of a gelatinous substance known as "fish glue". It was commonly used as an adhesive since ancient times, although mainly for fine work rather than for strength or durability.

"pebbles"
Since local, they were probably flint pebbles. Unless otherwise qualified, the stone mentioned in the account was most likely to have been local flint.

"freestone"
One of the uses of this was in the chequer-style exterior decoration of the east gable of the Guildhall.

"Mousehold"
Heathland immediately north-east of the city.

"splent nails"
The Latin term was used for laths, so these would be nails for laths.

"parclose"
A screen closing off a section of a room.

"claymen"
The medieval equivalent of cement-layers.

"towers"
The Guildhall towers collapsed in the 16th century.

"parget"
To apply plaster to a masonry wall or a ceiling.

"fother"
A measure of weight; it has been estimated as equivalent to 2100 lbs. avoirdupois (close to the modern ton), but medieval weights often varied according to time and place, and in certain towns it may have been estimated as high as 2600 lbs. It was perhaps the same measure as the 'cartload' referred to in the chamberlains' account, which should be taken as a cart capable of being pulled by a single horse (equivalent to an uncarted load carried by four to five packhorses).

"fower"
Privy cleaner; this work would have been conducted at night, hence the need for lighting.

"goiones"
According to Howlett (using the Promptorium Parvulorum) these were "pins or axles on which the wheel of a pulley or roller runs" [op.cit., 171]. The term has come down to more recent times in the form "gudgeon".

"anchors"
Howlett suggests these were anchor plates attached to the walls, for the purpose of holding hooks.

"broddys"
Today known as brad nails, these are nails intended to be driven entirely into the wood and so have very small heads, little more than a thickening of the slender shank of the nail. They are often used for flooring.

"transom bars"
The transom was normally a cross-beam, but here seems to refer to iron bars intended for a window.

"sondletts"
Associating the term with sand, Howlett thought them some kind of tool used by the glasswright, perhaps the medieval precursor to sandpaper.

"John Marrow"
He became a freeman of the city in 1400. It is assumed he was the mason (in essence, the architect) in charge when construction of the Norwich Guildhall began in 1407. This was certainly the case by 1411, when he was receiving 6d. a day (a typical wage for a master mason) for 68 days of work during the year, and his brother Thomas, assisting him, received 5d. a day for 59 days. In 1432 he was awarded a contract to rebuild the city quay, while in 1441 he designed and erected a freestone window in the chancel of the church at Thurlton (a few miles south-east of Norwich). We hear of property at Trowse of which he was, in 1428/29, a co-feoffee with John Woderofe, a mason employed at Norwich cathedral. Having acquired respect for his work on the guildhall, Marrow was subsequently elected as one of the city's common councillors; his status is also indicated by membership of the prominent St. George's Gild. It is as alderman of the gild that we have our last reference to him, in 1442.

"John Croxton"
considered the architect of London's Guildhall. In June 1446 he petitioned the city council for reimbursement of £8.2s in expenses and a reward of £2 per year for the 30 years he had worked on civic projects, including daily attendance for more than six of those years while the Guildhall chapel was being built. For this he had received, he stated, only £1 a year in salary together with a clothing allowance and a small house. In fact he had worked on the construction of a new city hall since the inception of the work in 1411, but perhaps initially on a daily wage rather than a salary; and the house he referred to may have been no more than the shed he was provided with, as a workplace, from 1440 to 1446. Although we can assume he already had a reputation as a capable mason when he was first engaged to work on the Guildhall, his status in the trade had naturally been enhanced by the Guildhall project: in 1416, and again in 1419, he was elected master of the masons gild, and in 1441 as master of the combined carpenters and freemasons. 1446 perhaps marked his retirement, although in the year that followed he was frequently used as one of the city's viewers of land, and he sold stone to the city for work on the college of St. Martin-le-Grand. We know little of his personal life, although there is a reference in 1440 to his wife Anneys.

"treasurers"
Norwich's financial officers were termed chamberlains at first. From about the 1360s they were called treasurers instead; with Ocle and Bilhagh in 1411, chamberlains were reintroduced alongside the treasurers, an experiment (perhaps occasioned by the capital project) that continued through most of the decade. For the first half of Henry VI's reign it is treasurers of whom we hear; but thereafter, of chamberlains. The reasons for the flip-flops have not yet been determined.

"commandeer labour services"
According to Norfolk's historian Francis Blomefield, writing at the beginning of the nineteenth century. He had access to assembly records now lost to us, although I have my doubts as to the precise interpretation of what he read: I suspect the use of citizen labour would have been limited in scope. Possibly residents were given an option of paying towards the special taxes or contributing labour.

"tiles"
The tiles mentioned in the above account were likely mainly for walling and paving; the roof was covered with lead, although Howlett estimated that the amount of lead purchased was insufficient for the entire roof and suspected tiles may have been used in places. On the other hand, roofing in lead may have been an ongoing process.




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Created: August 27, 2004. Last update: February 18, 2014 © Stephen Alsford, 2004-2014