Norwich Housing Society was founded in 1934 by Canon Charles Lanchester, who was vicar of St Barnabas for more than half a century. The aim was to provide decent housing for his poorer parishioners, many of whom were living in poverty in unsuitable overcrowded lodgings, often in squalor.
Some of the Society's first houses were in Starling Road, but these were soon followed by developments in Canon Lanchester's parish around the St Barnabas and Old Palace Road area, later expanding to other areas within the city boundary.
Canon Lanchester continued to lead the Society for many years, and by 1969 there were 151 properties; however, they were in a poor condition as there were insufficient funds to maintain them. Following Canon Lanchester's death in 1970, the chairmanship of the Society was taken over by Bill Westwood, priest in charge of St Peter Mancroft, who appointed a new Management Board and set about improving the housing stock.
The situation gradually righted itself, and by the 1980s the Society was expanding again. Westwood House was acquired and re-developed to become the first sheltered scheme. The Management Board decided that older people would become the priority for the Society, with most of the schemes housing only older people.
By 1990 the housing stock had increased to 185 units, and with further expansion and careful management, the current stock exceeds 300.
In 2009, the Society celebrated 75 years of providing social housing mainly for older people in Norwich. The year culminated in a Service of Thanksgiving held in St Peter Mancroft, and attended by the Lord Lieutenant, the Bishop of Norwich, the Lord Mayor and other invited guests, including tenants, staff and members of the Management Board.
Our aim is to gradually expand the number of properties within our financial capabilities, whilst also continuing the programme of maintenance and upgrading of the older properties.