An inadvertent career with Historic Buildings
For our September meeting the History Group was fortunate to have a very local speaker. As many Forncett residents will know, Terry Hickman-Smith is a retired architect and for most of his career he has had an abiding interest in historic buildings. Some years ago he acted as overseeing architect for the St Edmund's refurbishment project here in Forncett.
After graduating from Liverpool University, Terry moved to Edinburgh to join a large architect's practice. Then in 1977 he moved to Norfolk where he set up his own practice. This led to his being involved in work on a number of projects involving historic buildings, and in his talk Terry focussed on two of these; the redevelopments of Dragon Hall in Norwich and The Pennoyer Centre in Pulham St Mary. The talk was extremely well illustrated and explained how, in each case, the architectural challenge had been to make modern additions to each building whilst preserving the historic nature of the original. At the same time, the redevelopment had to provide a functional building for the clients.
The histories of both buildings were in themselves of considerable interest. Dragon Hall is a Grade 1 listed, medieval merchant's trading hall located in King Street, close to the River Wensum. It is thought to be unique in being the only such trading hall in Northern Europe to be owned by one man. Since 2018 it has been home to the National Centre for Writing.
The Pennoyer Centre was redeveloped from an abandoned Victorian school, attached to which is a tiny, flint-walled 15th century Guild Chapel. The school closed in 1988 and was left in a state of decay. Following huge fund-raising efforts by the local community and the award of a grant by the National Lottery Heritage Fund, the redeveloped Centre, with a mix of historic and modern, opened in 2010. It now provides a multi-purpose building for the local community.
beautifully illustrated talk was both fascinating and informative. It led to
lots of discussion during the coffee break and many questions from the audience
at the end.