Norwich's Chapelfield shopping centre gets new name after 15 years

Norwich’s Chapelfield shopping centre has been renamed as Chantry Place after 15 years of trading.

The change comes after previous owners intu went into administration in the summer. The group has struggled under a £4.5 billion debt burden for the past year, but had been hammered by significantly lower rent payments from retail tenants since the coronavirus outbreak.

The shopping centre is home to 100 retailers, including Apple, Zara and House of Fraser. Its new name, Chantry Place, pays homage to the lesser-known history of the site.

It embraces the area's mediaeval heritage as a secular college and chapel, built during the 1200s, which was known as a chantry. Chantry Road runs along the side of the centre and Chapelfield Plain has now been renamed Chantry Square.

Chantry Place centre manager Paul McCarthy, said: “The change in name is another important chapter in our story. Our aim to deliver the best shopping and dining experience possible, support our retailers, and celebrate and support our local community remains our top priority.

"While there’s no immediate change for shoppers, we’re sure that everyone will soon get used to calling us Chantry Place.”

Chantry Place is a popular shopping centre in Norwich. Credit: ITV News

Ahead of Christmas trading, Deichmann shoes will shortly be opening at Chantry Place. This follows the opening of the Escape Hunt, an escape room experience, last month.

The announcement of the new name comes after LaSalle Investment Management were appointed as asset managers, with Savills taking over the property management and commercialisation. 

Stefan Gurney, Executive Director of the Norwich Business Improvement District (BID) commented: “This is very positive news for Norwich and signals a continued and important investment in the city and its retail offer in these challenging times.

"Chantry Place, with its highly suitable new name, plays a major role in the success of Norwich as a destination for local people and visitors alike, while attracting and retaining quality retailers for the city. I am looking forward to this exciting next stage in the centre’s journey."

What is a Chantry?

A chantry chapel is another name for a building on private land or a dedicated area or altar within a parish church or cathedral, set aside or built especially for the performance of the "chantry duties" by the priest.

How is it relevant to Norwich?

A secular college and chapel (known as The Chapel of St Mary in the Field) were built during 1200s on the area which is now the Assembly House. Today, place names The Chantry and Chantry Road both remember an aspect of this college and chapel.

In 1248, the land where the Assembly House now stands was granted to John Le Brun, who founded the hospital of the Blessed Virgin Mary. In 1278, Le Brun became the Dean of what had then developed into a secular college and he was put in charge of the community within including the chapel. The Chapel of St Mary in the Field was very important to Norwich at the time and grew during a period of tension between the people of the growing city and the power of the cathedral.  

The college ceased at the dissolution of the monasteries in 1544 under the last Dean, Miles Spencer, and was surrendered to Henry VIII. Two years later, the site was granted back to Spencer, by then the Archdeacon of Norwich. He fulfilled his legal obligation and the chapel was demolished. The remaining buildings were also slowly pulled down and sold, while part of the college was turned into his residence. 

The Chantry consisted of six dwellings of which Chantry Cottage, abutting the Assembly House, is the sole survivor. Parts of these other original buildings remain in existence inside the Assembly House and some of the footprints of rooms in the Assembly House match the original rooms. 

In 1973, the Chantry on Chantry Road was demolished and the removal of its foundations revealed a wall of flint rubble in yellow mortar running southwest to northeast across the site. A further wall, apparently bonded, also ran off to the northwest. These were interpreted as medieval walls (AD 1066 to 1539) belonging to The Chapel of St Mary in the Field.