Norwich - Encyclopedia

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NORWICH, a city and county of a city, municipal, county and parliamentary borough, and the county town of Norfolk, England; 114 m. N.E. by N. from London. Pop. (1901), 111,733. It is served by the Great Eastern railway and also by the Midland and Great Northern joint line. The Great Eastern company owns the Thorpe and Victoria stations, and the joint line the City station. The city lies in the valley of the Wensum, which joins the Yare immediately below. The ancient city lay in a deep bend of the Wensum, and the walls (1294-1342), with their many towers and twelve gatehouses, of which fragments only remain, were 4 m. in circuit. These narrow limits, however, were long ago outgrown, for Evelyn writes in 1671 that "the suburbs are large, the prospects sweete, with other amenities, not omitting the flower gardens, in which all the inhabitants excel." The castle, standing high upon a steep mound, is still partly surrounded by earthworks and a ditch spanned by a very early bridge. Only the early Norman square keep remains, with four tiers of arcading without, mid an ornate doorway into the great tower. The building long served as a prison, but, on the erection of a new gaol without the city, was acquired in 1884 by the corporation and in 1894 adapted as a museum and art gallery.

The cathedral church of the Holy Trinity lies between the castle and the river, on low ground. In 1094 the seat of the East Anglian bishopric was removed by Bishop Herbert de Lozinga or Lorraine from Thetford to Norwich, where in 1096 he laid the foundation of the cathedral and dedicated it in 1101, establishing at the same time a Benedictine monastery. As completed by his successor before the middle of the 12th century the cathedral in style was purely Norman; and it still retains its original Norman plan to a great degree. Changes and additions, however, were made from time to time - the Early English lady chapel (demolished about 1580) belonging to the middle of the 13th century; the Perpendicular spire, erected after the collapse of two previous spires of wood, to the r5th; the west window and porch and the lierne stone vaulting of the nave, with its elaborate 328 bosses, to the r5th, and to the r6th the vaulting of the transepts and Bishop Nix's chantry, whilst the fine cloisters, 175 ft. square, 12 ft. wide, with 45 windows, in style mainly Decorated, were begun in 1297 and not completed till 1430. The following are the dimensions in feet of the cathedral: total length, 407; length of nave, 204; length of transepts, 178; breadth of nave and aisles, 72; total height of spire, 315 (in England exceeded by Salisbury only); height of tower, r40152; height of nave, 692; height of choir, 832. The chief entrance on the west is a Perpendicular archway, above which is an immense window filled with poor modern stained glass. The nave within is grand and imposing, of great length, divided by fourteen semicircular arches, whose massive piers are in two instances ornamented with spiral mouldings. The triforium is composed of similar arches. The side aisles are low, their vaultings plain. The choir, extending westward some way beyond the crossing, is of unusual length, and terminates in an apse. The oak stalls and misereres are very richly carved work of the r 5th century. A curious quatrefoil, opening on the north side of the presbytery, beneath the confessio or relic chapel, deserves mention. There is a monumental effigy of Bishop Goldwell (c. 1499), and another of Bishop Bathurst (1837) by Sir F. Chantrey. Mural monuments are plentiful. Sir William Boleyn, great-grandfather of Queen Elizabeth, is buried on the south side of the presbytery, in the midst of which stood the tomb of Bishop Herbert, the founder. Of three circular apsidal chapels two remain; and in one - the Jesus chapel - the ancient colouring has been renewed. Two richly sculptured gateways lead to the cathedral - the Erpingham gate (1420) and the Ethelbert gateway (c. 1300). The bishop's palace and the deanery are buildings of high antiquity, but both have undergone many alterations. The latter has a well-restored chapel. A beautiful Early Decorated ruin in the palace garden, known as "Bishop Salmon's gateway," is supposed to have been the porch to the great hall (c. 1319). The diocese covers nearly all Norfolk, the greater part of Suffolk, and a small part of Cambridgeshire.

Of the remarkable number of churches, over forty in all, St Peter Mancroft is by many esteemed the finest parish church in England. Measuring 212 by 70 ft., it has a richly ornamented tower and fleche, 148 ft. high, with a beautiful peal of twelve bells, a long, light clerestory of thirty-four windows, a fine carved oak roof, a remarkable font cover, and the tomb of Sir Thomas Browne (d. 1682). The majority of the Norwich churches are of Perpendicular flint work, mostly of the 15th century. St Andrew, St Stephen, St Michael Coslany, with the fine Perpendicular Thorpe chapel, St John Maddermarket, St Lawrence, St Giles, with a tower 126 ft. high, St Gregory, St Helen, St Swithin, and St Michael at Plea (so called from the archdeacon's court held here) are also noticeable. The Roman Catholic church of St John the Baptist, begun in 1884 from ,designs by Sir G. G. Scott, occupies a commanding position outside St Giles's gate. At Carrow, E. of the city, there remain the hall, a decorated doorway, and other fragments of a Benedictine nunnery.

The grammar school is a Decorated edifice, formerly a chapel .of St John, of c. 1316, with a "carnary" or crypt below. Among its scholars were Sir Edward Coke, Lord Nelson, Raja Brooke and George Borrow, the traveller and author, in whose work Lavengro (chap. xiv.) occurs a noteworthy description of Norwich. St Andrew's Hall (124 by 64 ft.) is the seven-bayed nave of the Black Friars' church, rebuilt with the aid of the Erpinghams between 1440 and 1470. It is a splendid specimen of Perpendicular work, with its twenty-eight clerestory windows and chestnut hammer-beam roof, and has served since the Reformation as a public hall, in which from 182 4 have been held the triennial musical festivals. It was restored in 1863. The guildhall, on the site of an earlier tolbooth, is a fine flint Perpendicular structure of 1408-1413; the mayor's council-chamber, with furniture of the time of Henry VIII., is an interesting specimen of a court of justice of that period. The city regalia, kept here, include several objects of historical interest, amongst them a :sword of a Spanish admiral captured by Nelson, with his autograph letter presenting it to the city, and a curious figure formerly used in the procession of the mayor elect through the city. Other public buildings include a shire hall, within the castle precincts, corn exchange, agricultural hall, volunteer drill hall, barracks and gaol on Mousehold Heath, the Norfolk and Norwich Library, rebuilt in 1900 after a fire, and a theatre. Educational establishments, besides the grammar school, include the Norwich and Ely Diocesan Training College, and the Municipal Technical Institute. The museum in the castle contains collections of British birds, insects, fossils, antiquities, and MSS. and early books. The chief charitable institutions are the Norfolk and Norwich Hospital, lunatic asylum, blind asylum and schools, Jenny Lind Infirmary for children, a soldiers' and sailors' institute, St Giles's or old men's hospital (an ancient foundation), and Doughty's Hospital (1687).

The principal industries include foundries and engineering works, iron and wire fence works, brewing, brick works, chemical works, tanneries, and the production of mustard, starch, and crepe, gauze and lace; and there are large boot and shoe factories. The great cattle market lies below the castle. The municipal, county and parliamentary boroughs are coextensive. The parliamentary borough returns two members. The city is governed by a lord mayor (this title having been conferred in 1910), 16 aldermen and 48 councillors. Area, 7905 acres.


There is no conclusive evidence that Norwich (Northwic, Norwic) was an important settlement before the coming of the Angles. Caistor-by-Norwich, 4 m. S. of Norwich, is on the site of what was probably a Romano-British country town. A few Roman remains have been discovered in Norwich, itself, but not enough to indicate any real occupation or habitation. According to tradition Uffa made a fortification here about 570, but its history as a royal borough cannot be traced before the reign of IEthelstan (924-940), when it possessed a mint. After being destroyed by the Danes Norwich enjoyed a period of prosperity under Danish influence and was one of the largest boroughs in the kingdom at the Conquest. Ralph de Guader, earl of East Anglia under William I., formed the nucleus of a French borough with different customs from the English, and after his forfeiture, which involved the ruin of many of the old burgesses, a masonry castle was built and the centre of burghal life gradually transferred to the new community west of it. By 1158, when Henry II. granted the burgesses a charter confirming their previous liberties, the two boroughs seem to have amalgamated. A fuller charter given by Richard I. in 1194 and confirmed by later sovereigns made Norwich a city enjoying the same liberties as London. From Henry IV. the citizens obtained a charter (1404), making their city a county with a mayor and two sheriffs instead of four bailiffs, and Henry V. added twenty-four aldermen and sixty common councilmen (1418). The cathedral precinct became parcel of the city at the Dissolution and in 1556 the neighbouring hamlets were incorporated in the county of Norwich. The charter of Charles II. (1683) remained in force till 1835, when one sheriff was removed and the number of aldermen, common councilmen and wards diminished. Since 1298 Norwich ha g been represented in parliament by two members. Two annual fairs, existing before 1332, were formally granted to the city in 1482. One was then held in Lent, the other began on the feast of the Commemoration of St Paul (the 30th of June). These have been succeeded by the Maunday Thursday horse and cattle fair, and the pleasure fairs of Easter and Christmas. The market, which must have existed before the Conquest, was held daily in the 13th century, when citizens enclosed stalls by royal licence. Edward III. made Norwich a staple town, and the importance of its trade in wool and worsted dates from his reign.

See Victoria County History, Norfolk; W. Hudson, Records of the City of Norwich (1906).

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