The White Swan Inn stood in the shadow of St Peter Mancroft's Church Tower, now under the site of the Forum, from the 1400s.The coaching inn was also famous as a playhouse sometimes called the "Metropolis of The East"
It was the Head Quarters of the Norwich Company of Comedians from c1730 until 1758 when it was superseded by the first Theatre Royal . Undeterred by its loss of status it still put on passing shows. Thus in 1762 visitors could view an ox weighing more than 100 stone whilst in 1811 Napoleon's coach was (allegedly!) on show. In the early 19th century it was the principle centre for cockfighting (as illustrated in this Hogarth print) which eventually gave place to prize - fighting.
At the height of the coaching age in the 19th century The White Swan was one of Norwich's principal inns, however, as coach travel declined so did the White Swan, which finally closed in 1895.
The remains of the building and the undercroft were pulled down for the building of the library and car park in 1961. One room used as a dining room in the Regency period was found to have 13 wallpapers.