Free history tours will breathe new life into Norwich’s cathedral quarter

Launch of Cathedral Quarter Walking Tours. Left to right, organiser James Shelton,  The Mediieval Churches of Norwich coordinator Dr Kristi Bain, City of Norwich tourist guide Jonathan Hooton, illustrator of the walk map Fiona Gowen and Nick Bond from Visit Norwich.

Launch of Cathedral Quarter Walking Tours. Left to right, organiser James Shelton, The Mediieval Churches of Norwich coordinator Dr Kristi Bain, City of Norwich tourist guide Jonathan Hooton, illustrator of the walk map Fiona Gowen and Nick Bond from Visit Norwich. Picture: ANTONY KELLY

Archant Norfolk 2016

A project to breathe new life into one of the most historical parts of the city will begin with a series of guided tours next month.

Exploring the lost churches of the Cathedral Quarter

Around 57 parish churches are known to have stood within the walls of medieval Norwich.

And despite damages and losses, 31 of them remain in the city today.

It is said that Norwich has the greatest concentration of urban medieval churches north of the Alps.

During the medieval churches tour next month, people will have the chance to learn about some of the churches in the Cathedral Quarter that are no longer standing.

They include:

St Cuthbert, on Upper King Street, is thought to have been founded before the Norman Conquest in 1066.

It was demolished at some point between 1530 and 1535, and it is dedicated to a Northumbrian saint.

The site of the church building was revealed during building works in the 1930s, and human burials were discovered in 1999.

St Ethelbert, on Queen Street, was thought to have been constructed prior to 1100 and is dedicated to Ethelbert, king of East Anglia, who was assassinated in 794.

It is believed the church survived until the summer of 1272 when violent controversy between the citizens of Norwich and the cathedral prior led to its destruction.

St Mary in the Marsh, on The Close, was recorded as Sancta Maria del Merssh in 1378. The church stood until at least the mid-16th century and possibly as late as the 18th century.

Researchers have found evidence to show the church ruins were incorporated into Georgian houses in 1775.

St Helen, Bishopgate, was originally located within the cathedral precinct to the east of the cathedral church.

In 1270 the original parish church was abandoned and transferred to the Hospital of St Giles, which had been founded on the north side of Holme Street.

The Midsummer Walking Stories will see several experts share their knowledge about the Cathedral Quarter with visitors to the area.

During the three day event, people will be able to join various free walks to learn about the area’s rich history.

It includes tours around the numerous pubs, medieval churches and streets surrounding Norwich Cathedral.

Some of the more unusual stories from the area will also be explored, including the 1272 Tombland Fair, which led to locals attacking the cathedral.

The initiative, which takes place from June 17 to June 19, aims to raise the profile of the area and encourage greater footfall for the many of 
the local businesses.

James Shelton, a member of the cathedral quarter steering group, said: “This is our first signature event and we have though long and hard about what this area can offer in contrast to the Norwich Lanes and other parts of the city.

“It is not just about drawing people down here, it is about celebrating why this area is special and what distinguishes it from other areas in Norwich.”

The walks last between 60 to 90 minutes and will be led by an expert guide, with each on focusing on a different theme.

They include:

n The Characters of the Cathedral Quarter –A look into the locations associated with the some of well-known and more obscure characters who shaped the history of the area.

n Medieval Churches of the Cathedral Quarter – An insight into the quarter’s 16 parish churches, eight of which are no longer standing.

n Time out of Mind – Historian Colin Howey uses an array of artefacts and sources to reveal some of stories associated with Fye Bridge and Colegate.

n Elm Hill – A detailed look into the people and houses on Elm Hill, which was once one of the most important streets in the city.

n Pubs of the Cathedral Quarter – Jonathan Hooton, chairman of the Norwich Society, will lead a walking tour exploring the history, characters and names behind some of the oldest pubs in the city.

n Historic Tombland – A journey through Tombland looking at the Angles and the Danes, the arrival of the Normans and the building of Norwich Cathedral. It will also cover the Kett’s Rebellion, and the 1272 Tombland Fair.

n The Great Hospital and Riverside – A walk along the River Wensum focusing on St James Mill, the law courts, Cow Tower and a tour of the Great Hospital, founded in 1249.

In addition to the guided walks, there will also be a food and drink trail for people to enjoy.

People wishing to take part in the walks next month are urged to book their place online as soon as possible.

Nick Bond, head of tourism at Visit Norwich, said the event will highlight just how much the Cathedral Quarter has to offer.

He added: “From a tourism point of view, I would say the recognition of the cathedral as a tourism asset has always been there, but we are now conscious to illustrate what else there is in the area.”

The project involves various organisations across the city, including the UEA, the cathedral and local businesses.

Kristi Bain, who is involved 
with the Medieval Churches of Norwich Research Project at the UEA, added: “I think people will find it fascinating.

“It is just another way to explore the city, and although people are given a church focus they will learn so much more along the trail.”

For more information on dates and times, visit:

Are you organising a historical project? Call Luke Powell on 01603 772684.

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