Origins of the city of Norwich were long ago. At the time of the Norman conquest, Norwich was already one of the largest towns in England with the Domesday Book (1066) mentioning it had twenty-five churches and a population of between five and ten thousand. The Normans changed the town by building the castle and then in 1096, beginning the cathedral.
As with many of these old English cathedrals, the construction was a long process and often only the beginning. The Norwich cathedral was completed in 1145 A.D and contains a combination of Gothic and Romanesque architecture–what they call ‘Norman architecture.” There have been additions and parts rebuilt since, but the original chapel still stands.
For such a large town, Norwich has a quaint, homey feel. We were unsure of parking near the cathedral, so we found a car park as close to the town centre as possible and walked the remainder (only about a mile). From the direction we approached, the cathedral grounds are surrounded by a wall. Once you enter the tunnel (be careful for cars!), the cathedral is just across a small green space.
The entirety of the complex is large, and part of it has been modernised to keep up with the times, but I loved how they added to the cathedral without harming the original structure. I passed through the cloisters to find the water closets, and they had added a glass wall with doors to one side of the cathedral wall, that wall becoming one side of the hallway. There were signs asking people not to touch the original stonework due to its age.
The cloisters and courtyard are amazing! I love the old arches and architecture.
The inside of the cathedral was even more amazing! We travelled there to attend a Sunday morning
service near the Epiphany with a friend of mine. She was a part of a tour that journeyed to several churches and cathedrals around England for services and Evensong services. The service was beautiful! The choir was incredible and they have the most incredible pipe organ! The sound filled the interior of the chapel with ease. Going to services within such splendid surroundings was worth the trip in my opinion.
I have noticed these old churches and cathedrals are a bit draughty, most people wear their coats during services, but I didn’t notice the cold as much that day. I do not know if it was just so many people that the chapel was warmer, or if I was enjoying the service and architecture so much it was a distraction.
The vaulted ceiling is like a fan vault except it is called a Presbytery Vault. They’re difficult to make out in the picture (sorry!), but the small knots are actually sculptural elements. The parts going down the centre of the ceiling are representative of the books of the Bible in order with one larger, red element representing the parting of the Red Sea. Before the service and after, I would find myself staring. The ceiling is amazing and I’m sure a huge expense in maintenance.
(Each of these cathedrals has a huge bill for keeping these old structures in working order, and I’m certain with the high ceilings, to heat in the winter. This cathedral’s bill is a whopping £,4000 per day-that’s approximately $6,400 U.S. dollars/day!)
The stained glass windows in the Norwich cathedral are stunning, although I was told by my friend they do not date as far back as the chapel and were built and installed during the Victorian Era.
The Norwich cathedral is the second I’ve entered since arriving in England, and they’re worth the trip, in my opinion. One cannot but be impressed at the architecture and the artistry involved in these buildings-especially when you consider their age. The time involved in rendering the minutest of details is mind-boggling to me.