26 South Quay is a Grade II listed building with an illustrious history. In the 17th century, the building was home to Sir George England, who steered Great Yarmouth through the Parliamentary and Royalist periods of the Civil War. He was chairman of the committee which welcomed Charles II to Yarmouth in September 1671, when he received his knighthood. In the early 18th century, in common with most of the South Quay merchant houses, the building was stripped of its Tudor features and given its present Georgian façade. This is the appearance that Nelson would have known. Great Yarmouth was then a bustling port, a hive of commerce, and the fleet often assembled and returned there, as it did for the Battle for Copenhagen in 1801.
The building itself has been altered very little over the course of its history, with the exception of modern partitions being inserted. In 1998, after ten years of vacancy, Purcell Miller Tritton and Partners were commissioned to undertake a feasibility study and concluded that the building was suitable for conversion into a museum. The Ben Burgess Nelson Memorabilia collection set up an appeal to raise funds to provide a museum relating to the life and time of Horatio Lord Nelson at the building. HRH the Duke of Edinburgh was the foremost of the illustrious patrons of the appeal. In March 1999, GYPT purchased the building to refurbish it for use under lease to the Norfolk Nelson Museum, which opened in 2002. Unfortunately, funding issues and falling visitor numbers forced the museum to close in 2019.
Thanks to generous funding from the National Lottery Heritage Fund and the Culture Recovery Fund, we were able to launch The Yare Gallery in the building in May 2021. This is a vibrant art gallery, showcasing local and national talent and providing a regional center for artistic excellence.
For more information, please visit the gallery website here.