St Matthew's Hall
St Matthew's Hall,
2014: now with added armchair.
Street is one of a clutch of streets around
Barrack corner on Norwich Road which have been named after anti-slavery
campaigners (see our Abolitionists
Street Names page for the
explanation). A short way down on the
right we find this ecclesiastical piece of white brick and stonework
with fine lettering (can't think how we've missed it up to 2010...).
Look out also for the Wild Man grotesque at the apex of the window
– the door to the right has a smaller version above it.
below the rather plain window form a
triptych. A central arc with incised spandrels on either side
contains deliriously decorative and eccentric lettering and numerals in
relief; "Saint Matthew's" running round the curve and "Hall" replete
with full-stop centred below:
wings need to be read across from left to
right: the 'S' and
above crossed swords and below on the left the interlaced monogram:
full stop again) and to the right the interlaced monogram: '1900'.
finest touch is the letter 'A' on 'AD.' (see below). See the monograms
of a similar flavour at the top of nearby St Matthew Church in Portman Road. An
identical panel to that above right can be seen in the Church of St Michael in Upper Brook Street.
The capital 'A' in "Matthew's" is formed from two serpentine shapes
joined by a stepped cross-piece. The building was designed by H.J.
Wright in 1899-1900.
It's not clear what use is made in 2010 of the Saint Matthew's Hall by
combined parish of St Matthew, Triangle and All Saints, however we note
that a dance club is advertised. This hall is a fair distance from the
Church of St Matthew which sits between the
dual carriageway of Civic Drive and Portman Road. From the church hall
it can be accessed by walking past a
couple of other churches in London Road, into the top of Portman Road,
past the old telephone exchange and along the church passage to the
church with St Matthew's School nearby. This hall is not to be
with Saint Matthew's Baths Hall which stood at the juction of the
Norwich Road section of St Matthew's Street and Civic Drive. 'The Baths
Hall' held the town's main swimming pool until the building of Crown
Pools in 1980s. Unbelievably the pool - still full of water - was
sometimes boarded over to make the famous bouncing floor for concerts:
Eric Clapton graced the Baths Hall stage with the Yardbirds in 1966 and
later with Cream; Led Zeppelin played there
in the early part of their career (1971) among many other big names
from the sixties blues and R&B boom. The Baths Hall is apparently still there in 2010
surrounded by retail space, due to its listed building status(?); we
hear that an original glazed roof lantern is above it.
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