ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Visiting the Toll House, Great Yarmouth, Norfolk, England: a 13th century civic building, now a museum

Updated on March 15, 2013
Flag of England
Flag of England | Source
The Toll House, Tollhouse Street, Great Yarmouth
The Toll House, Tollhouse Street, Great Yarmouth | Source
 Architectural detail on the Toll House, Great Yarmouth
Architectural detail on the Toll House, Great Yarmouth | Source
Map location of Great Yarmouth, Norfolk
Map location of Great Yarmouth, Norfolk | Source

A sense of both continuity and change over hundreds of years

This historic structure is reckoned to be among England's oldest civic buildings. Dating substantially from the 13th century, the Toll House (1) was originally a mechant's house, but became the base for Great Yarmouth's civic administration. It is known, in fact, that for many years after becoming a civic building, the Toll House continued to be privately owned, with formal possession of the building by the authorities only occurring centuries after it was first built: parts of the building actually date from the 12th century.

A museum since 1880, the structure is executed in flint, with ashlar. It has sometimes been described as a fortified house. Parts of the structure were rebuilt in the 19th Stylistically, recurring, Gothic pointed window arching is prominent.

The Toll House was used in various functions which included as a courthouse, a library, a toll collection office (hence its name), and a jail. In recent years, the museum facilities have been expanded to include an audio guide descibing an experience of the Toll House from a prisoner's perspective. Visitor accounts of the experience of viewing the former jail cells have included comments to the effect that the evident, former severity of conditions can still have a subduing effect on young people unfamiliar with the rigours of incarceration in centuries past! (2)

A striking feature of the building is a prominent displayed coat of arms of Great Yarmouth, which consist of three Royal lions with the tails of herring (a tribute to the local fishing industry). New roofing was installed in 1960, in addition to other, structural changes.

Interestingly (at least, to myself), given my family name, I read in some genealogical records that a 'John atte Fen' served as bailiff of Yarmouth in the 14th century; whether or not there may exist some ancestral connection between this individual and myself I do not know, but he would surely have been acquainted with the Toll House.

The Toll House is located in the aptly named Tollhouse Street, Great Yarmouth, Norfolk, England.

March 14, 2013


(1) The Toll House is sometimes written variously 'Tollhouse' or even 'Toll-House'; in using the form 'Toll House', I am simply opting for internal consistency.

(2) Prison reformer Elizabeth Fry (1780-1845) was from Norwich, Norfolk. Although it is known that her philanthropic work was particularly prompted by her exposure to conditions in Newgate Prison, London, yet, without doubt, comparable conditions would also have been a feature of the jail at Great Yarmouth's Toll House. The building continued to serve this function until the 19th century.

Also worth seeing

In Great Yarmouth itself, other noted buildings include the North-West Tower; St Nicholas's Church; the Anna Sewell House; the Britannia Monument, and others.

Burgh Castle (distance: approx. 6.8 kilometres) dates from Roman times.


How to get there: United Airlines flies to London Heathrow Airport, where car rental is available. Great Yarmouth is served by rail from London Liverpool Street Station. The town is 265 kilometers from Heathrow Airport. Some facilities may be withdrawn, without notice. Please check with the airline or your travel agent for up to date information.

MJFenn is an independent travel writer based in Ontario, Canada.


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No comments yet.


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)