The Great Hospital

A photograph of the Great Hospital
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An exceptional set of medieval hospital buildings, in continuous use for more than 750 years.

The Great Hospital was established when Bishop Walter de Suffield decided to found a hospital for elderly clergy, poor scholars and the sick poor. It was known as St Giles' Hospital until the Dissolution of the Monasteries in the 16th century.

The medieval hospital buildings and layout resemble those of a monastery or priory and are set around the smallest cloister in England. The associated church of St Helen's stands to the south - what was once its chancel ceiling is decorated with 252 painted black eagles and dates from 1383. This part of the hospital complex is known as the Eagle Ward.

The medieval church was reduced in size in the 16th century by separating off the chancel and infirmary with two vertical walls. The wards at each end were then divided horizontally into 2 floors, with individual cubicles, to increase patient capacity and effect the segregation of men and women.

The site also includes a medieval refectory and Victorian Hall, as well as St Helen's House, built by Thomas Ivory in the 18th century.

The Great Hospital is the only English medieval hospital whose archives and fabric together survived the Dissolution of the Monasteries. Today, the Great Hospital continues to provide sheltered housing and care for the citizens of Norwich.

Venue Type:

Heritage site

Opening hours

We hope you understand, therefore, while you are welcome to come and visit the hospital for yourself, we ask that you do so on an organised tour (maximum of 25 people). Tours need to be pre-arranged by phoning the hospital on 01603 622022.

Admission charges

Free of charge

Resources listed here may include websites, bookable tours and workshops, books, loan boxes and more. You may need to scroll down or click on headers to see them all.

Great Hospital interpretive panels

The panels - which are located at the Great Hospital - tell the story of the building from its founding, in 1249, as St. Giles' Hospital to the present day.
The building's rich history includes care of the sick, a 14th century visit from Richard II and Queen Anne of Bohemia, changes after the Reformation and damage as a result of Kett's Rebellion.


  • Interpretation and design by World Tree.
  • Resource funded by HEART, as part of their Norwich 12 project (

How to obtain

If you would like a free electronic copy of both panels, please call HEART on 01603 305575.

The Great Hospital



The Great Hospital


The Great Hospital

01603 622022


The Great Hospital

All information is drawn from or provided by the venues themselves and every effort is made to ensure it is correct. Please remember to double check opening hours with the venue concerned before making a special visit.