The Tolhouse. Attached to the library is the Tolhouse, built in flint, originally as a private house, and is the oldest secular building in the town. It was in public use by the 13th century, and has been owned by the Borough since 1552. There are the remains of a Norman arch at the ground floor beneath the Great Hall, which indicates a 12th century origin. The Great Hall on the first floor is approached by an external stairway from the street. The main entrance door is Early English with dog-tooth decoration and moulded capitals. The building has been used a court, a warehouse, municipal offices, a gaol, a police station and a library. In the basement, there are four 18th century prison cells, which were in use until the late 19th century. The building was severely damaged in World War II, and was restored in 1960. It is currently a museum.
The Tollhouse Museum in Great Yarmouth exhibits one of the oldest prisons known in the United Kingdom. Those who come visit the museum have an opportunity to discover Great Yarmouth’s history of crime and punishment dating back from the medieval period to the present day. A free audio guide allows visitors to hear the gaoler and prisoners describe their “experiences” behind bars. There are plenty of displays and hands-on activities suitable for family members of all ages. Those who visit have an opportunity to learn about the history of the Tollhouse’s 12th century medieval former merchant’s house which was later transformed into one of Great Yarmouth’s most important civic buildings.