Palace, King's Quay St
ferry over the Stour estuary from Shotley Quay
and you find yourself in Old Harwich. Kings Quay St is a short step
and behold: a delightful pocket-sized kinema for the showing of those
awful talkies which will never catch on...
The decorative facade has been considerably enhanced since 2006
bythe picking out of raised details in blue-grey and the gilding of the
The central ticket booth is flanked by two entrances:
The Harwich Society information plaque says it all.
Palace cinema, Harwich, is
one of the
oldest purpose-built cinemas to survive complete with its silent
screen, original projection room and ornamental frontage still intact.
Other interesting features include an open plan entrance lobby complete
with paybox, and a small stage plus dressing rooms although the latter
are now unusable. There is also a former gas powered generator engine
with a 7 foot fly wheel situated in the basement. The cinema was built
in 18 weeks at a cost of £1,500 and opened on Wednesday,
29th, 1911, the first film being The Battle of Trafalgar and The Death
of Nelson. The creator of the Palace was Charles Thurston, a travelling
showman well known in East Anglia, and it was designed by the Ipswich
architect Harold Ridley Hooper ('The Colonel' 1886-1953),
at the time a dynamic young man of 26 years who demonstrated his
with this his first major building. The cinema closed in 1956 after 45
years interrupted only by the 1953 floods and was listed as a building
of sociological interest in September 1972 and is now a Grade II*
listed building. It re-opened in 1981 and now runs as a community
cinema showing films every weekend.
24 Kings Quay Street, 'School House'
Harwich Corporation School or Free School.
The first proper school in Harwich was the Humphrey Parsons School in
Kings Quay Street (altgernatively known as the Corporation School and
Free School) built by Sir Humphrey Parsons in 1724. There were
two boys, admitted at the age of eight and remaining at the school
until they were fourteen, at a cost of £7.10s. per annum to educate
eight boys. The Corporation of Harwich increased the salary to £40 a
year out of their own funds and added twenty-four boys to the free
establishment. The Corporation is the patron and the school and house
were uniformly given to the curate of Harwich in aid of his curacy.
However, recently the Corporation has given it to a non-resident
clergyman who conducts it by a lay assistant; the curate is
consequently distressed for a house. In 1855 the name was changed to
the Harwich Corporation School when Harwich High School was opened but
was later used as an annexe to the Harwich Further Education Centre. In
a derelict condition, it
was restored in 1981as
a dwelling house, today called ‘School House’.
The tablet below the coat of arms at first floor level reads:
Boni moribus & litters
Et Religions Sanctiffimae rudimentis
Secunduni instituta ECCLESIAE ANGLICANAE
Has AEdes Sacrari voluit
Sumptibusq; fuis extrui curavit
HUMPHRIDVS PARSONS ARMR.
Civic & Aldermannus Londinensis
Ad Comitia Palrliamentaria ab hoc Burgo
Te DEUS OPTIME MAXIME
Patrons vult Fundator
Tu largitoris eximij munifi entiae
Felices des eventus
Te Favente Honori Succedant Tuo
Et Juventus & AEdes
Nullo peritura die.’
The hand-caligraphed information plaque to the right of the front door
'This edifice for instructing the youth of Harwich in good manners,
literature and the doctrine of the Church of England, was founded and
built at the proper charge of Humphrey Parsons, Esq. citizen and
Alderman of London and Member of Parliament for this borough, A.D1724.
The founder begs thee, O Almighty God, to take it into thy protection;
do thou prosper the munificence of the illustrious benefactor, and
under thy favour may both the youth and the building succeed to thy
honour for ever ......'
The mineral plaque to the left of the front door bears archaic-looking
lettering: 'SCHOOL HOUSE', which may not be as old as it seems.
19 Kings Quay Street 'Bank'
In 2016 this building was the Harwich Antiques Centre and Old Bank
Studios art gallery. Quite clearly it was built as a banking house with
the typical provincial 'BANK' in relief capitals above the main door,
but there is nothing typical about the splendid architectural detailing.
18-18a Kings Quay Street
The half-circle at first floor level bears the lettering:
in white, drop-shadow capitals.
The period view above shows it to be a public house with, above
front ground floor windows at left, 'Cobbold Beers' and at right:
'Wines & Spirits'. The Grade II Listing text mentions a date of
1798. The public house is built in red, Flemish-bond brickwork with
Gault brick dressings. The front has a plain parapet and an off-centre
column of the facade projects slightly to house the old main doorway
and bricked-up first storey window recess, both with painted
semicircular arches on impost blocks. After a chequered career during
which part of the pub was used as a music hall, Cobbold's (the brewery originated in
Harwich, of course) bought it in 1907.
This one appears to have disappeared...
A part of the building has fallen onto the pavement and some
kind soul has swept it up.
65 Church Street,
Quay Street entrance)
Originally 16th and
17th century houses with the front rebuilt in the early 19th century.
In Victorian times it became a dairy and dining room. The dining rooms
were converted to a public house in the 20th century. In 1872 the pub
was licenced as a beer-house and became known as an inn. Many visitors
to Harwich made for the Hanover Square Dining Rooms, which wereunder
the proprietorship of Mr William Lawrence for some forty years. The
premises are excellently adapted for business. well situated close to
the church and the esplanade, there is a magnificent dining room on the
ground floor, also one upstairs.
18 Church Street
in a roundel, with relief details picked
out in black. This address was, in 2015, occupied by The Book Annex:
New Academic Books.
Church Street, Guildhall
The inscribed panel reads: ‘This Guildhall
was restored by Harwich Town Council, who succeeded The Harwich Borough
Council (1604-1974) on April 1st 1974. Restoration commenced in August
1975 and was completed in April 1977.’
‘THIS GUILDHALL WAS BUILT IN 1769 ON THE SITE OF “THE BEAR” WHERE THE
COUNCIL HAD MET SINCE 1673 ON REMOVING FROM ST. AUGUSTINE’S GATE’
[Erected by The Harwich Society’]
The royal coat of arms above bears the usual inscriptions: 'Honi Soit
Qui Mal Y Pense' and 'Dieu Et Mon Droit'.
64 Church Street The Three Cups (former pub)
The Three Cups Hotel was situated next door
to the Parish Church of St Nicholas in Church Street, People often
asked Why the Three Cups? It is said that the Three Cups are on the
arms of the Cavendish family – one of whom, Sir Thomas Cavendish
(1557-1592), was the terror of the Spaniards and in his little ship,
the Desire of Harwich, he
made a successful voyage round the world – a superb feat of courage,
skill, and endurance in those days. Naturally the town desired to
honour such a worthy son. (Incidentally
Cavendish Street in Ipswich is named
after this sea captain.) Originally
it was an L-shaped, early 16th century building with another wing added
in the 17th century and later refronted. The building had many
improvements including a Georgian Facade and an archway at the rear. On
the first floor level there was a late Tudor plaster ceiling and a
staircase with twisted balusters of c.1700. The structure was
remodelled in 1949, when the top storey and archway at the rear was
removed. Many famous people have enjoyed hospitality at this ancient
establishment. The hotel was very spacious with its comfortably
furnished lounge, a dining room, and private rooms for teas, receptions
and other functions. There were a number of comfortable bedrooms with
gas fires and modern fittings. Electric lighting was installed
throughout. Why is Nelson depicted on the hotel sign? The portrait is
based on the painting Horatio Nelson
by Lemuel Francis Abbott, 1797; Lady Frances Nelson is on the left;
Emma, Lady Hamilton
on the right. A
carving of Lady Hamilton is a reminder that Lord Nelson was living in
the Three Cups while the fleet was being refitted in the harbour,
although there no documents to prove that Lord Nelson actually stayed
here. The Three Cups closed in 1995 and is now a private dwelling.
The Alma Inn, 25 Kings Head
Not far from the cinema and the ferry is this hostelry
at 25 Kings Head
Street with a huge blue painted cartouche on the side wall (it
originally contained much larger text, blacl letters on white) with the
The Alma Inn was once a merchant’s house owned by Captain
Twitt, a relative of Thomas Twytt, a merchant brewer of Harwich in
1599. the Alma traded as an alehouse around 1871 as The Alma Dining
Rooms and was opened by Charles Cunningham, a brewer of Ipswich. It
then became a Tolly Cobbold house, and the tenant from 1932 until 1953,
was William Chambers. Upon his retirement the tenancy was taken up by
his son Arthur who ran it until 1987. It changed names to the Alma at
the turn of the century. How the Alma pub got its name
is not known, an Alma is actually
an Egyptian dancing girl, and there is no obvious link between the land
of the pharaohs and King’s Head street pub. It is more likely to be
named after the Battle of the Alma in the mid-19th century. After
the closure of the Tolly Cobbold Brewery
the Alma was taken over by Pubmaster, who in turn were bought by Punch
Taverns in 2004. This large, dark blue cartouche features traditional,
centred pub capital letters. In 2006 it is clear that the tenants or
owners have had to remove a large amout of ivy from this side wall, the
aerial roots leaving their mark on the surface.
Humphreys Bakery, 14 West
Sign: 2022 image courtesy David
Humphreys Bakery was here since at least 1890 but the business closed
in 2004. Although the sign above the shop-front has been painted over,
lettering can still be made out:
‘Baker … HUMPHREYS … Pastry Cook’
The upper and lower case
words at each side are in a cursive script, acting as book-ends to the
central decorative capitals (which appear to be painted on a gentle
curve by the sign-writer). The hanging sign is a bit battered by 2022
with the lower part of the frame missing, but it's still a
double-sided, attractive design with an illustration of breads and
stalks of wheat. For many years, Humphreys baked 'kitchels' (spiced
bread cakes) to be used in the Harwich Mayor-making ceremony on the
third Thursday in May. The kitchels were thrown from the Guildhall
window by the Mayor to the crowd (see the Guildhall photographs above).
The bakery also boxed up the kitchels and provided them to local
schools; the Mayor would then go along and make sure every child
collected their kitchel. This 400 year-old tradition was once observed
in some Suffolk towns, but Harwich seems to be the last town where
kitchels are thrown.
Smith fruiterers, 21 Market Street
into the town, one of our favourites at 21 Market Street, Harwich:
the look of the fine ceramic panel to the right of the shop door
depicting a gentleman atop a ladder resting against the bough of a
tree, while a fair maiden receives the fruits of his labours in a
basket below, Mr Smith once sold fruit and vegetables from these
premises. Now a bookshop, the entrance still boasts this excellent
piece of mosaic lettering on the trapezoidal doorstep. Replete with
colourful fleur-de-lis in the corners, contiguous borders and a capital
letter resembling a treble clef - perhaps Mrs Smith had a sweet voice
and sang to the customers queuing for their calabrese and celeriac. 10
out of 10 for panache and preservation. These photographs date from
[This information comes from the Harwich Old Books
website (see Links).
The shop is spread over three rooms on the ground floor of a historic,
Grade II-listed building in the town's conservation area. The back
rooms retain the late-medieval flavour of the original timber-framed
building (ask to be shown the surviving carvings!), while the
atmosphere in the Victorian front of the shop is quite different - this
is a light-filled area, probably added in the 1880s, which served as a
butcher's, greengrocer's and antique shop before we moved in. A period
mural outside the front door and the elegant windows are highlights of
this stage in the building's evolution. Other unusual features of the
building include the 'rainback', a kind of well that was used to
collect rainwater before the piped supply came to Harwich.] For more
tiled doorsteps: 'Hales Chemist'
Ipswich, 'Roll', Wells-Next-The-Sea,
'E.Smith', Woodbridge and Ann Williams'
fine collection (see Links).
Excellent street nameplate, No. 94
Beautifully-shaped, classy serif'd capitals, multiple
word street nameplate. Except that this is George Street.
Above: the Ha'penny Pier and the very decorative Great
Eastern Hotel. Below the lettered 'PIER HOTEL' from the pier with a
lightship now used as a pirate radio museum.
the public library, Kingsway
along the Old Harwich Marine Parade past the
historic Low Lighthouse, the path rises up the cliff until one reaches
a statue of Queen Victoria. Turn left down Kingsway and at a
refurbished frontage on the right, look back at the right-angled brick
wall (shown below). Yes, it's been cleaned almost to extinction, but
you can just make out in huge capitals the words:
This doesn't quite ring true as a retail opportunity.
We assume that
the trader's name was above this in the inverted 'V' of the gable. It
also suggests that the red brick structure to the left, which abuts the
wall and obscures one or more letters, post-dates the signed
Old Co-op store, corner of Hordle
Road and Kingsway
further down Kingsway on the opposite side
is a relief panel with a gnomic motto ('Each
all & all for each' it
Although not readable in the photograph, the mottos
which appear below
the date (shown in decorative numerals curving round the top of the
panel) on two heraldic banners are certainly there above the Old
Harwich/Dovercourt branch of the Co-op. These last two photographs were
taken in 2002. See our Colchester page
for an explanation of this unusual Co-op motto. And our Ipswich Co-op page for several similar lettering
LABOR - & - WAIT
LIBERTY - UNITY - CHARITY'