Friday, 14 July 2017 00:00

The Watts Family Return to Celebrate Maids Head Hotel Feature Rooms Project

Written by  Paul Dickson
Rate this item
(0 votes)
Left to right: The Lord Mayor of Norwich, Councillor David Fullman, Jenny Sadler and Dorothy Watts pictured in the refurbished Cathedral Suite, Maids Head Hotel Left to right: The Lord Mayor of Norwich, Councillor David Fullman, Jenny Sadler and Dorothy Watts pictured in the refurbished Cathedral Suite, Maids Head Hotel
Jenny Sadler and her mother Dorothy Watts and 10 other members of the Watts family and friends, joined the Lord Mayor of Norwich, Councillor David Fullman at the Maids Head Hotel on Friday, July 14 to celebrate the £230,000 refurbishment of seven feature rooms in the hotel.
 
The majority of the rooms are in the Palace Street wing, acquired by the hotel in the 1980s and converted into bedrooms and function rooms. The Watts family ran businesses there until the middle of the 1960s. 
 
Jenny Sadler was born in 1962 in part of what is now the Cathedral Suite, but back then it was her Mum, Dorothy and Dad, John Watts’ bedroom. 
Christine Malcolm, General Manager the Maids Head Hotel said: “It was a pleasure to welcome the Watts family to the hotel to celebrate the renovation of our feature rooms, including those in the Palace Street wing. We have really enjoyed learning about Jenny Sadler and her family’s Palace Street story, which now takes its rightful place in the Maids Head’s history.” 
 
“The hotel has been privately owned by the Chaplin family since December 2012. Our owners have embarked on a range of sympathetic refurbishment and renovation projects, to ensure that our historic building meets the expectations of 21st century visitors. So far they have invested nearly £2 million in the Maids Head. Our aim is to be recognised as Norfolk’s finest for hospitality and we believe that the quality of our feature rooms project strongly supports our ambition, and will enhance Norwich’s reputation as one of the UK’s top city destinations.”       
 
Jenny Sadler added: “Thank you to Christine Malcolm and her team for inviting my Mum and me to open the newly refurbished wing: my first home. The history of this building means so much to me. My Grandparents owned this part of the hotel and had 14 children, who were born here. My Dad, John Watts was the youngest, born in 1933. Dad married my Mum, Dorothy in 1957 and lived here for a number of years. Eventually I was born in 1962, making me the last person to be born in what is now this beautifully refurbished, Cathedral Suite.”   
 
john_and_dorothy_watts_wedding_april_1957.jpg
John and Dorothy Watts wedding reception in 1957 
 
The Watts Family
 
The Watts family had a bakery and shop in the Palace Street wing from at least the late 19th century. Arthur Watts (Grandfather) met Mary Anne Wardell, when she was 16. They married and had 14 children. 
 
There were eight brothers, most of whom ran Watts Brothers Building Contractors, with an office on the corner of Pigg Lane. 
 
Grandfather Arthur died in 1936 and the bakery closed soon after that, however Grandmother Mary Anne (d.1977) was very entrepreneurial and changed direction. She opened a grocer’s shop in the old bakery shop and converted the bakery into a function room known as The Bake Office. 
 
john_watts_outside_grocery_shop.jpg
John Watts outside the grocery, now part of the Maids Head Hotel
 
Jenny Sadler’s dad, John, the youngest of the Watts brothers, eventually ran the shop for his mother until 1965, while she concentrated on The Bake Office. Two of his sisters, Margaret and Queenie and niece Dorothy also worked with him. Another sister, Rita Watts, ran a clothes and hat shop in the Palace Street range. Rita emigrated to the USA in the late 1950s.  
    
The Bake Office was very popular for local parties and weddings. People also used to go there after the Samson and Hercules closed and Grandmother Mary Anne served up egg and chips all round. During World War II she provided accommodation in the function room for American airmen. 
 
Jenny has a photograph of her Mum and Dad's wedding reception in April 1957, which was held in The Bake Office. It also features Mary Anne up on her feet about to toast the new bride and groom.
 
There were around 100 guests at their wedding reception, with all the catering done by family members. Mum Dorothy remembers Grandmother Mary Anne as very much the matriarch of the family; anyone who had a problem went to her.     
Jenny’s Mum and Dad left Palace Street in 1965. They wanted their own house, and moved to a new property on Dereham Road built by Watts Brothers. Grandmother Mary Anne sold up and moved to a bungalow in Sprowston. Jenny’s Dad worked in grocery shops to start with and then teamed up with his brothers in the building business until he retired.
 
John Watts died in 2013 and Jenny’s Mum, Dorothy, is now the last surviving person from her generation.
 
For more information about the Maids Head Hotel see www.maidsheadhotel.co.uk 
 
maidsheadnewphototwitter.jpg
 
Last modified on Friday, 14 July 2017 21:32

Related items

  • Maids Head Hotel Head Chef in Semi-Final of National Chef of the Year Competition

    Marcin ‘Magic’ Pomierny (age 33), Head Chef at the Maids Head Hotel in Norwich and Chef of the Year in the EDP Norfolk Food and Drink Awards 2016, has reached the semi-final of the Craft Guild of Chefs National Chef of the Year competition.

    Forty chefs, split into four semi-final heats, will be competing this month for a place in the final. The winner of each heat, plus the six best runners up, go through to the final which is at The Restaurant Show on Wednesday, October 2.

    Magic’s semi-final heat is at Le Cordon Bleu in London on Tuesday, June 19. The brief for the chefs is to create a menu, which focuses on the provenance of the food and gives a modern interpretation on classic dishes. 

  • Cecil Gowing Infant School 50th Anniversary Celebrations at Maids Head Hotel
    Cecil Gowing Infant School, from Sprowston, celebrated its 50th anniversary with a party at the Maids Head Hotel in Norwich, on Friday, May 25.
     
    All180 children came to the hotel for a special assembly in the Minstrel Suite, during which each year group sang a song. The assembly ended with the school’s song ‘Cecil Gowing is the Best’; then the children enjoyed a celebration disco.
  • New Community Access Public Defibrillator at the Maids Head Hotel
    A new Community Access Public Defibrillator (CAPD) has been installed next to the main entrance of the Maids Head Hotel in Tombland, Norwich.
     
    The family and friends of 18-year-old Tom Pottle, who sadly passed away in January 2017 from cardiac arrest, fundraised in his memory to purchase a lifesaving defibrillator. As a family they decided that they wanted a central location which would serve people of all ages, day and night. 
  • Maids Head Hotel Norwich Achieves AA Four Star Silver Award

    The Maids Head Hotel in Tombland, Norwich, has achieved a Four Star Silver Award, for the first time, in its 2018 AA overnight inspection. The hotel's Wine Press Restaurant has retained its Two AA Rosettes for culinary excellence. The Maids Head is the only hotel in the City of Norwich with a Four Star Silver Award.

    The Maids Head's Silver Award was secured thanks to an increase in the AA merit score to 83% and acknowledges the quality of the hotel's physical attributes. The Silver Award is given to highly recommended hotels and was introduced in 2015. 

  • Maids Head Hotel Spring Babies' Celebration

    Six members of staff at the Maids Head Hotel in Norwich have had babies in recent months. The new arrivals, parents and siblings were invited to the hotel for a special afternoon tea celebration on April 12, hosted by General Manager, Christine Malcolm.

    Christine Malcolm explained: “In my 10 years at the Maids Head, we have never had such a large group of new arrivals. So we decided to bring them all together and mark the births with a celebration afternoon tea. To add to the togetherness, Rose our Events Co-ordinator gave birth to her daughter, Mia, on the same day that Malgorzata, wife of Head Chef 'Magic', gave birth to her son, Miesko.”