Frances &

Pub Entertainment in Norwich from 17th-Century Soirees to the Swinging Sixties

In the late 17th century a wide variety of amusements was being offered by Norwich’s various hostelries. These ranged from boxing to musical soirees and wild beast shows to performances of ‘Shakespeare’s finest plays’. The mind boggles at the animals which visited Norwich’s inns and taverns. For instance, in 1685 a pair of elephants visited the Angel (later the Royal Hotel on Gentleman’s Walk), whilst in 1801 ‘lovers of natural curiosities’ were invited to visit the Church Stile (later the Beaconsfield Arms on Pudding Lane) to ‘view the largest rattlesnake ever seen in England’.

Such events make 20th-century pub entertainment seem rather tame; nevertheless by today’s standards it was impressive. Crowds flocked to the Jolly Butchers on Ber Street to be entertained by the legendary Black Anna, many Norwich pubs had live bands every weekend Whilst the period from 1960 to 1980 saw an incredible array of artists appearing at two Norwich venues: the Orford Cellar and the Jacquard Club.

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Black Anna with Albert at the Jolly Butchers