Norwich Cathedral: Wikis


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For the Catholic Cathedral in Norwich, see St John the Baptist
Norwich Cathedral

Spire and south transept

Basic information
Location Norwich
Full name Cathedral Church of the Holy and Undivided Trinity
Geographic coordinates 52°37′55″N 1°18′04″E / 52.631944°N 1.301111°E / 52.631944; 1.301111Coordinates: 52°37′55″N 1°18′04″E / 52.631944°N 1.301111°E / 52.631944; 1.301111
County Norfolk
Country England
Ecclesiastical information
Denomination Church of England
Province Canterbury
Diocese Norwich
Diocese created 1095
Building information
Dates built 1096-1145
Architectural style Norman, Gothic
Length 140 metres (460 ft)
Spires 1
Spire height(s) 96 metres (310 ft)

Norwich Cathedral is a Church of England cathedral in Norwich in Norfolk, England dedicated to the Holy and Undivided Trinity.



The structure of the cathedral is primarily in the Norman style, having been constructed at the behest of Bishop Herbert de Losinga between the late 11th century and about 1145. The total length of the building is 461 feet (140 m). Significant alterations from later periods include a 315 foot (96 m) spire completed in 1465, and a two-storey cloister, the only such in England, which was built between 1300 and 1430, as well as the vaults of nave and chancel.

The cathedral is built of flint and mortar faced with limestone brought in from Caen. Standing at 315 feet, the cathedral's spire is the second tallest in England, and dominates the city skyline; only the spire of Salisbury Cathedral is higher at 404 feet. Along with Salisbury and Ely, the cathedral lacks a ring of bells - the only three English cathedrals to do so. One of the best views of the cathedral spire is from St. James's Hill on Mousehold Heath.

The bosses of the vault number over 1,000. Each is decorated with a theological image and have been described as without parallel in the Christian world. The nave vault shows the history of the world from the creation; the cloister includes series showing the life of Christ, and the Apocalypse.

The precinct of the cathedral, the limit of the former monastery, is between Tombland (the Anglo-Saxon market place) and the River Wensum - building materials were taken up the Wensum and unloaded at Pulls Ferry, Norwich. The Cathedral Close, which runs from Tombland into the cathedral grounds, contains a number of interesting buildings from the 15th through to the 19th century, including the remains of the Infirmary.

Interior of Norwich Cathedral - the Nave

The grounds also house the King Edward VI school, statues to the Duke of Wellington and Admiral Nelson and the grave of Edith Cavell.


17th century: hard times


The cathedral was partially in ruins when John Cosin was there at Grammar School in the early 1600s, and the former bishop was an absentee figure. During the reign of King Charles I, an angry Puritan mob invaded the cathedral and destroyed all Catholic symbols in 1643. The building, abandoned the following year, lay in ruins for two decades. Norwich Bishop Joseph Hall provides a graphic description from his book Hard Measure:

It is tragical to relate the furious sacrilege committed under the authority of Linsey, Tofts the sheriff, and Greenwood: what clattering of glasses, what beating down of walls, what tearing down of monuments, what pulling down of seats, and wresting out of irons and brass from the windows and graves; what defacing of arms, what demolishing of curious stone-work, that had not any representation in the world but of the cost of the founder and skill of the mason; what piping on the destroyed organ-pipes; vestments, both copes and surplices, together with the leaden cross which had been newly sawed down from over the greenyard pulpit, and the singing-books and service-books, were carried to the fire in the public market-place; a lewd wretch walking before the train in his cope trailing in the dirt, with a service-book in his hand, imitating in an impious scorn the tune, and usurping the words of the litany. The ordnance being discharged on the guild-day, the cathedral was filled with musketeers, drinking and tobacconing as freely as if it had turned ale-house.

Only at the Restoration in 1660 would the cathedral be restored under Charles II.

Modern works

In 2004 the new award-winning visitor centre (National Wood Awards 2004), by Hopkins Architects and Buro Happold opened on the site.

Work on the new Hostry site started in April 2007 and the Cathedral Inspiration for the Future Campaign had finally reached its target of £10 million.


Norwich Cathedral has a fine selection of 61 misericords, dating from 3 periods - 1480, 1515 and mid-nineteenth century. The subject matter is varied, mythological, everyday subjects and portraits.


There are two gates to the cathedral grounds, both on Tombland (the pre-Norman marketplace). In 1420 Sir Thomas Erpingham, benefactor to the city, had the gate which bears his name built, sited opposite the west door of the cathedral leading into Cathedral Close.

The cloisters at Norwich Cathedral (engraving)

The Cathedral Choirs

The Cathedral Choir is directed by David Lowe with David Dunnett as the organist. The Cathedral Choir consists of boys, girls and men. The boys of the Cathedral Choir hold places for around 16 boys aged from 7-13 years. The boys all attend Norwich School in the Cathedral Close, with at least 50% of their fees being paid by the Norwich Cathedral Endowment fund. With the men of the choir, the boys sing at six services a week and often more during special times of year such as Easter and Christmas. There are 12 men of the choir, six of them being choral scholars (often Music students from the University of East Anglia). The men of the choir sing with the boys' choir, but also sing fortnightly with the girls' choir at Tuesday evensong.

The girls of the Cathedral Choir were introduced in 1995 to give girls the chance to contribute to the musical life of the cathedral. It has places for 24 girls, who are older than the boys, at the secondary age of 11-18 years. The girls do not all attend the same school, instead coming from a wide variety of schools around Norwich and Norfolk. They sing evensong once weekly (alternately on their own and with the men of the Cathedral Choir) and at least one Sunday Eucharist a term. The girls sing more often during busy times of the year such as Easter and Christmas.

The choir sing at other churches around the diocese and further afield, release choral CDs, and go on music tours (sometimes all together and at others separately) - recent locations including the United States of America, Malta, Holland, and Norway,

Organists and Masters of the Music

  • 1313 Adam the Organist
  • 1424 Thomas Wath
  • 1445 John Skarlette
  • 1542 Thomas Grewe
  • 1560 Edmund Inglott
  • 1593 William Baker
  • 1594 Willim Cobbold
  • 1608 William Inglott
  • 1621 Richard Gibbs
  • 1661 Richard Aylward

Assistant organists

  • Zechariah Buck 1815 - 1819 (afterwards organist)
  • Edward Bunnett 1855 - 1877
  • Arthur Henry Mann
  • Philip Chignell
  • A. Miller Potts
  • Claude Alan Forster
  • Frederick Cook Atkinson
  • Alfred R. Gaul
  • Herbert J. Dawson[1]
  • Alfred Heath 1903 - 1905[2]
  • Richard John Maddern-Williams 1906
  • Nelson Victor Edwards 1907 - 1908[3]
  • Wilfrid Greenhouse Allt 1910 - 1914[4]
  • George A. Löhr
  • Malcolm Archer 1978 - ????
  • Adrian Lucas 1983 - 1990
  • Neil Taylor 1990 - 1997 (afterwards organist of Sheffield Cathedral)
  • Catherine Diennes
  • Julian Thomas

See also

Notes and references

  1. ^ Dictionary of Organs and Organists. First Edition. 1912. p.267
  2. ^ Dictionary of Organs and Organists. First Edition. 1912. p.286
  3. ^ Dictionary of Organs and Organists. First Edition. 1912. p.271
  4. ^ Who's Who in Music. Fourth Edition. 1962. p.4

External links


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