St Andrew’s and Blackfriars’ Halls (known collectively as ‘The Halls’) is a 13th century medieval complex at the end of our street and the best preserved friary in England. The riot of sturdy buttresses, hammer beams and Gothic arches is one of the ‘Norwich 12‘ – a list of the most iconic buildings in the city. When Henry VIII decided to strip the Catholic Church of all its power and wealth, the friary was dissolved, the friars were cast out into the cold and the buildings were put up for sale. They were saved by the intervention of the Mayor of Norwich who took them off fat Harry’s hands for £81, pledging to use the halls “…for the good of the citizens, for fairs and feasting.” The Halls have been used for secular knees-ups ever since. Carrying on the 450 year old party tradition, St Andrew’s Hall has just played grand host to the Norwich Beer Festival, a six day piss-up sponsored by the Norwich and Norfolk branch of the Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA). Real ales are for real males judging by the herd of nerds in knitwear corralled outside a side door having a quick fag before resuming their drunken orgy and sucking the kegs dry. I was so fascinated by the species that I walked straight into a lamp post and nearly knocked myself out. And I was the sober one. Cheers!
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