Announcing The Next Chapter: Stepping Into Dragon Hall
Discover our flagship heritage project, made possible with The National Lottery Heritage Fund

We are delighted to announce the award of a £103,486 grant by The National Lottery Heritage Fund to support ‘The Next Chapter: Stepping Into Dragon Hall’. We will invite residents of Norwich to ‘Step Into Dragon Hall’ with new free visiting hours, creative activities and volunteering opportunities.

This exciting flagship heritage project will enable new and expanded audiences to access and explore the heritage of NCW’s medieval home, Dragon Hall, a Grade I Listed trading hall on King Street in the heart of Norwich, England’s first UNESCO City of Literature.

This project has been made possible by money raised by National Lottery players.

Robyn Llewellyn, Director, England, Midlands & East at The National Lottery Heritage Fund said:

‘We are really pleased to support The National Centre for Writing with their flagship heritage project. Thanks to National Lottery players, we continue to support projects like this, and I look forward to seeing visitors engage with the fascinating stories and people that have shaped Dragon Hall.’

Dragon Hall and Norwich have a vibrant heritage of storytelling, literature, ideas, and exchange. ‘Stepping into Dragon Hall’ will create new experiences for those visiting and engaging with Dragon Hall as both a heritage space and a contemporary literature house.

Commenting on the award, CEO Peggy Hughes said:

‘Whilst “national” in name and international in reach, the National Centre for Writing is truly rooted in our base in Norwich – privileged to call Dragon Hall our home and Literature House. This generous grant is a fantastic opportunity to throw open our doors wider than ever before, connecting greater and diversified audiences to Dragon Hall, creative writing, and Norwich’s City of Literature identity. We hope to see you soon as a visitor, participant, or volunteer!’

Working with our communities, an expanded learning team and new volunteers, we will re-imagine how people can explore and connect to Dragon Hall. This includes an expanded creative activity programme for all ages, volunteering opportunities and new drop-in visitor hours in 2024, enabling residents and tourists to experience this iconic building.

There have been buildings on the site for more than a thousand years. Dragon Hall is a rare example of a medieval merchant’s trading complex, built in 1427 by a merchant, Robert Toppes. Once a site for displaying, storing, and selling Norfolk goods and imports from Europe, Dragon Hall is now an international centre for the trade of stories and words.

NCW’s ambition is to encourage and enable people to explore Dragon Hall’s site and the stories that have shaped it, discover Norwich’s rich literary past and contribute to our future as a UNESCO City of Literature.

Alan Waters, Chair of the Board of Trustees, noted:

‘The grant signifies a warm invitation to Norwich’s residents and visitors to “Step Into” Dragon Hall – enabling thousands of local people to experience this iconic building. Over decades, I have seen how much Dragon Hall means to our city, and I am excited to see this next chapter develop for NCW and our home. Thanks to The National Lottery Heritage Fund and National Lottery players we will reimagine existing stories of Dragon Hall and invite those around to contribute their own.’

We invite our community, neighbours and visitors do so through storytelling, creative writing, hands-on making, cookery and more.

Stepping Into Dragon Hall is made possible with The National Lottery Heritage Fund. Thanks to National Lottery players, we will be able to:

  • Create new interpretation materials for visitors to Dragon Hall, exploring stories from Dragon Hall’s heritage alongside the stories of writers, literary translators and communities with whom NCW works today.
  • Introduce new ‘drop-in’ visitor hours, for four days per week.
  • Train staff in oral history, using NCW’s new digital infrastructure, heritage object handling and community engagement.
  • Create a new community kitchen for cookery and storytelling activities.
  • Recruit three new heritage engagement staff and an expanded volunteer group trained to support public access, welcome services, events and tours.
  • Expanded creative writing and heritage learning and participation sessions, with a focus on reaching families, children and young people, Refugees and Asylum Seekers and older residents.
  • Partner with Norfolk Record Office and Norwich Castle Museum and Art Gallery to reinterpret the heritage of Dragon Hall, King Street and surrounding area through archiving, accessioning, oral history and exploring local records on migration, new communities and change.

As the largest dedicated funder of the UK’s heritage, The National Lottery Heritage Fund’s vision is for heritage to be valued, cared for and sustained for everyone, now and in the future as set out in our strategic plan, Heritage 2033.

Over the next ten years, the Heritage Fund aims to invest £3.6billion raised for good causes by National Lottery players to bring about benefits for people, places and the natural environment.

The Heritage Fund helps protect, transform and share the things from the past that people care about, from popular museums and historic places, our natural environment and fragile species, to the languages and cultural traditions that celebrate who we are.

The Heritage Fund is passionate about heritage and committed to driving innovation and collaboration to make a positive difference to people’s lives today, while leaving a lasting legacy for future generations to enjoy.



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