Walking down St Stephen’s Street, you’d never know that Marble Hall existed. Away from the crowds off the busy main road, take a right into Surrey Street to find Surrey House – working home of Aviva.
One of the ‘Norwich 12’ buildings of historical importance, Surrey House is home to Marble Hall, a stunning piece of architecture designed by local architect George Skipper commissioned by The Norwich Union Life Insurance Society’s directors. Today the building is home to Aviva (formally Norwich Union).
The Palladian exterior is impressive but the interior is WOW with 15 varieties of marble used to make 40 columns. Originally the marble was destined for Westminster Cathedral however due to logistical difficulties the marble had to be sold on; hence it came to be in Norwich.
See classically inspired frescos and a glass atrium. It also contains an ‘air fountain’- an early form of air conditioning, a 12-pointed floor medallion and a chiming skeleton clock made for the Great Exhibition of 1851. Whilst this is a working building, it is open to members of the public free of charge during office hours Monday to Friday.
Want to discover more about the story of Marble Hall? The Shoebox Experiences runs the hour-long Magnificent Marble Hall Tour on Fridays throughout the year. The tour is an hour long, and you’ll learn all about the history of this architectural hidden gem. The 1-hour tour also gets access to the impressive Directors’ Boardrooms on the first floor, not usually open to the general public. Tickets £15. All proceeds from this tour go back to supporting local community projects.
Free entry to the general public (ground floor only). Wheelchair accessible. Hidden gem. Doors close at 6pm.