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THE TOLHOUSE

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A 13th century flint and rubble building with stone dressings. Possibly built as a merchant's fortified house circa 1150. It was the medieval Town Hall, Court of Justice and prison as well as the place for the receipt of port dues. In the 14th century it was privately owned and hired for town use. In 1362 Stephen de Stalham, who had bought it from the executors of William atte Mawe, bequeathed it to his wife. By 1552 it was Corperation property and continued in use until 1882 when the town hall was erected. John Howard visited the gaol in 1776. In 1808 the Corporation purchased land west of the prison so that it could be extended. In 1819 the gaol was capable of holding 30 prisoners and it was noted that the Corporation had purchased premises to extend the gaol so that prisoners could be properly classified. The gaol was enlarged by Francis Stone between 1818 and 1824. Alterations were made in 1851 and in 1858-9. In 1883, after the Corporation moved to the new town hall, the prison buildings west of the Tolhouse were demolished.

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