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    Norwich Cathedral Refectory and Hostry


    Reanimation of the underused Medieval cloister as the heart of the Cathedral precinct


    Delivered over 14 years, the new hostry and refectory comprises the largest building project at Norwich Cathedral since the Middle Ages.

    Commissioned in response to ever-increasing visitor numbers, the project provides contemporary new hospitality and education facilities in a highly sensitive setting. Instead of developing a site beyond the cloister as originally proposed, our design creates new accommodation on the sites of the original refectory and hostry. In doing so, these revived functions extend the Benedictine traditions of hospitality and education while restoring the ruined south-west corner of the Cathedral precinct.

    The hostry wall is reconstructed in Barnack ragstone, which has also been used to repair the refectory wall. With the original foundations and walls unable to bear additional loads, both hostry and refectory have independent timber structures of laminated oak columns. These are capped with turned stainless-steel bosses that branch out with four oak finger props. These in turn support the rigid roof planes, which extend tie-free over the boundary walls without exerting any imposed loads. Oak-clad enclosures and steel mezzanines provide additional structural stability and an enclosure for essential new services.

    Adjacent to the mediaeval cloister, the new refectory replicates the scale of the original building. Facilities include a new kitchen and lavatory block at ground floor level, conceived as a freestanding timber box sitting within the mediaeval walls. Above is a 150-seat dining hall, with access to the Library and the upper cloister levels. The hostry contains exhibition space, education and community rooms, as well as the Cathedral’s Song School and choir rehearsal spaces.

    Hopkins has also worked with the Cathedral architects and conservation architect on the refurbishment, conservation and re-inhabitation of the west range of the cloister, previously home to the Cathedral’s cafe. The locutory – originally a room for conversation – has been restored as a space of orientation and transition into the main Cathedral complex from the Cathedral Close and nearby hostry.

    “Hopkins’ vision was as sensitive as it was bold, thoroughly modern and of its time, but at the same time, respectful of the historic fabric of our Cathedral Precinct.”

    The Rt Revd Dr Stephen Platten, former Dean of Norwich