Norwich Other Places of Worship

Belvoir St Wesleyan Reform Methodist church [6585] 1989-09-18
Opened April 1869.
Bishopgate The Tabernacle [0941] 1936-05-06
A section of Bishopgate, north of the entrance to Life's Green and The Close, was known during the 19c as Tabernacle St. Here in a secluded corner adjacent to the Adam and Eve public house stood the Meeting House or Tabernacle, a plain little red-brick building with pantiled roof and a double row of sash windows, opened by Mr Whitfield on 14th April 1753. Stanley Wearing in Georgian Norwich and its Builders considered this to have been the first building in Norwich with which the locally famous architect Thomas Ivory was known to be connected. Since arriving in Norwich in 1750, the Reverend James Wheatley, a Calvinistic Methodist, had been preaching in the city at various places including a Tabernacle set up in a house on Scoles Green. Unfortunately his ideas were not generally well received and frequent riotous scenes occurred, resulting in his molestation to such an extent that on more than one occasion "the poor creature was half dead, not able to walk alone, and in a most terrible condition", to quote one eye-witness. Nevertheless he was undeterred and was eventually able to purchase land for the building of the Meeting House shown in the photograph, together with an adjoining three-storeyed dwelling house.
Bishopgate The Tabernacle [3068] 1939-06-14
Built 1751-52 for James Wheatley a Calvinistic Methodist. Later acquired by the Countess of Huntingdon's Connection. Architect Thomas Ivory.
Botolph St Surrey Chapel [6681] 1991-05-20
Independent Evangelical. Adapted and extended in 1985 from the local HQ of the National Union of Footwear and Allied Trades.
Botolph St Surrey Chapel [7391] 1996-09-01
Botolph St Surrey Chapel [6525] 1988-08-29
Bowthorpe Rd Jewish mortuary chapel [7891] 2002-07-14
From the east.
Calvert St Methodist chapel and manse [0825] 1936-03-24
A tragic loss from Calvert St was its Methodist Chapel, built in 1810, as boldly declared by an oval-shaped stone plaque above its main entrance. The chapel closed after the morning service on Sunday, 26th June 1966, and all traces had been swept away by mid-August. Closure came not because the church was redundant but because it had to make way for the Inner Link road.
In a booklet published in 1961 to commemorate the church's 150th anniversary, the late Mr W.W.Johnson gave an interesting account of its history. Designed by an unknown architect, the building, which was of red brick, was lit by a double row of round-headed windows having sashes fitted with interlacing glazing bars typical of the period. Its central doorway was recessed, with Tuscan pillars supporting an elliptical fanlight. Inside, a panelled gallery extended round all four walls, with an organ at the east end, below which was the pulpit and holy table. Mr A.F.Scott (architect of Chamberlin's clothing factory in Botolph St and Marks and Spencer's in Rampant Horse St) designed a new ceiling that was erected in 1895. At the same time a new wooden floor was laid, replacing the original brick paving, while new seating took the place of the old box pews.
It was doubly unfortunate that the building had to go, first, of course, from the point of view of the congregation, and secondly from the architectural aspect. A well-known local architect and antiquary, the late Stanley Wearing, said on several occasions that although the Calvert St Chapel was simple it was of fine design, and in his opinion should be grouped with the Old Meeting House in Colegate and the nearby Octagon Chapel as a “trio of distinctive historic churches of non-conformity in Norwich”.
Calvert St Methodist chapel [3249] 1939-08-13
Chapel Field East Congregational church [3012] 1939-05-25
In Chapel Field East stood until 1972 a Nonconformist church, built by the Congregationalists and opened in 1858. When it was demolished a sealed jar was discovered let into the foundation stone, containing documents written by its first minister, the Rev. J.Alexander, These referred to a meeting of a committee in October 1856, leading to the purchase of the land for £550 and the raising of £3,500 for the building.
Constructed in the Norman style of white brick and Portland stone, the Chapel-in-the-Field had twin turrets, each 80 feet high, flanking a facade designed like its Theatre St neighbour with a rose window above an open porch with triple arches. An eastern apse containing an organ was lit by four stained-glass widows.
Chapel-in-the-Field Congregational Church was closed in the 1960s because depopulation of the surrounding area led to a diminished attendance and because increased traffic in adjacent roads created difficulties of access. The last service was held on 30th December 1966, after which its members united with the congregation of another Congregational church in Jessopp Rd.
In the same year the city council purchased the property for £27,500, and for a time its future possible use as a music venue, sports or conference hall was debated. All this came to nothing, however, and the building was demolished early in 1972 (the organ was dismantled and re-erected at Somerleyton church). A hall at the rear was saved, though, to become a useful adjunct to the adjacent Theatre Royal.
Any stranger to Norwich visiting Chapel Field Garden before 1972 could have been excused for thinking that they were given that name because the congregational church formed such a prominent landmark on its eastern side. On the contrary, it had been known by this name for centuries before the church was built. In fact it was derived from a chapel and hospital built by John le Brun some time before 1250 in fields extending from St Stephen's church and St Giles' gates. It soon grew into a college of secular priests, which was suppressed in 1545; the Assembly House now occupies the site. The seal of the college had a Latin inscription, which the historian Francis Blomefield translated thus:
"The fields and Virgin gave the name"
"And may good luck attend the same."
Chapel Field North Christian Spiritualist [6507] 1988-08-06
Built 1936.
Chapel Field Rd United Methodist chapel [6449] 1987-04-17
Built 1880-81, architect Edward Boardman.
Colegate Old meeting house south side [6216] 1981-07-21
Off Colegate, near Magdalen St, and almost hidden away at the end of an alley, is the Old Meeting House, tenuously surviving in a part of the city where depopulation has occurred. Its history is a fascinating one; I suppose it really started in 1580 when Robert Browne, considered as the founder of Congregationalism, visited Norwich. He, together with Richard Harrison, began a campaign on behalf of New Testament principles, which soon brought together a gathering of likeminded people, but after a year of persecution they were compelled to go abroad. Nothing more is heard until 50 years later; in 1638 the Rev. William Bridge, rector of St Peter Hungate and curate of St George Tombland, was ejected and fled to Holland as a result of Bishop Wren's enforcement of Roman Catholic principles. After two years he was able to return with other exiles and in 1644 the church at Norwich was instituted. The Rev. Timothy Armitage became its first minister.
At first its adherents met in private houses, afterwards in a granary in the old Black Friars' monastery, and then in a house in St Edmund's parish, which was fitted up as a chapel. At last in 1693 the present building was erected, and it has remained very little altered since that time. Of brick and tile construction, it has a south facade supported by four Corinthian pilasters, with a double row of early sash windows, a central sundial, and an entrance at either end. Its interior is galleried, and although the seats have been remodelled the pulpit is original, as is the clock. Among other furniture is a pulpit chair belonging to John Cromwell; he was a cousin of Oliver Cromwell and was minister here in 1645. At first there was no organ; all hymns were started by a pitch-pipe which the church still has – it also retains the singing-master's stick. Modern items include mace and swordrests, secured on a board on which is painted the city arms and lettering recording the Lord Mayoralty of Councillor Charles Watling in 1938.
Faced with mounting maintenance costs, the congregation agreed in 1975 that the City Council should take over the building and its graveyard on a 99-year lease at one pound per year rent. In the meantime services of the Congregational persuasion continue to be held here on the second Sunday afternoon of each month other than January and February.
Colegate Old meeting house south side [B477] 1933-02-12
Colegate Old meeting house north side [4434] 1956-05-21
Congregational. Built 1693. It is the oldest Nonconformist Chapel now existing in Norfolk.
Colegate Octagon chapel through gates [0874] 1936-04-12
Having spent some time at the old Meeting House, we cannot pass by the neighbouring Octagon Chapel without a glance. When the Black Friars came to Norwich in 1226 they chose this site for their first home, but in 1307 they acquired the property of the Sack Friars, whose order had just been suppressed, in the parish of St Peter Hungate. However, after a serious fire in 1413 they had to return to their Colegate site, where they remained until 1449, by which time rebuilding was sufficiently advanced to allow them back into their premises on the south side of the river.
The chapel now occupying the site was designed by Thomas Ivory for the English Presbyterians, and the first stone was laid on 25th February 1754 by Dr John Taylor, the congregation's minister since 1733. A book by his grandson John, continued by his son Edward and published in 1848, gives the early history of the Norwich congregation and describes the chapel thus:
"The building is an Octagon, the roof being supported by eight fluted columns of the Corinthian order, which were marbled by an eminent artist from London. The ceiling is a dome, supported by eight arches resting upon columns, divided into corresponding compartments, and ornamented in the centre by a boldly projecting flower. The pews are all wainscot, and the staircases solid blocks of oak. None of the pews were allowed to be lined; and a resolution was passed at a vestry meeting protesting against the interment of any corpse within the building, a recommendation which has been scrupulously attended to up to the present time. During the building of the chapel, divine service was performed at the French Protestant church."
The difficulties encountered by the building committee when selecting an architect are recounted in the chapel minute books and have been described at length by Stanley Wearing in Norfolk Archeaology Volume 21. The Octagon chapel is now used by the Unitarians as their place of worship; past members of the congregation include such eminent names as the Opies, Martineaus and Mottrams.
Colegate Octagon chapel Unitarian [6218] 1981-07-30
Colegate Octagon chapel entrance gates [2129] 1938-03-06
Since moved to Norwich School in The Close.
Cowgate Wensum chapel [6483] 1987-08-21
Built 1842 as a Primitive Methodist Chapel. Purchased by the Christian Brethren 1947.
Dereham Rd Baptist church [6591] 1989-09-19
Built 1906, architect A.F.Scott.
Earlham Rd Jewish synagogue [6468] 1987-06-01
Built 1968.
Earlham Rd Cemetery crematorium [7479] 1997-08-26
Built 1963-64 incorporating the two Victorian mortuary chapels. Part of the former Free Church chapel (left of picture) is now the Crematorium Chapel.
Earlham Rd Cemetery RC mortuary chapel [7480] 1997-08-26
Elm Hill Monastery Yard Monastic chapel [4528] 1959-08-29
Erected 1866 by Father Ignatius for use as a Benedictine Chapel. Litigation forced its closure in 1876.
Gildencroft Friends' meeting house [0294] 1934-09-23
Leading from the northern end of Pitt St is Gildencroft, with St Augustine's Church on the one hand and a row of Tudor cottages, restored by the City Council in 1956, on the other. When arguments for and against their renovation were being put forward it was claimed that they constituted one of the longest complete rows of that type and period in the country, exceeding as they did 200 feet in length. While renovation was being carried out, however, the first three cottages were taken down to improve the road junction at that point.
It was at the western end of the Gildencroft that in February 1699, the Society of Friends first opened their Meeting House. The burial ground that it adjoined had been purchased by them in 1670 for £72. The rectangular building was of plain but pleasing design, with its red brick walls supported externally by pilasters of the same material. The roof was covered by English plain tiles and was hipped, the central part flat and supported internally by two tall oak pillars, each hewn from a single tree. A double row of casement windows lit the interior, which had a gallery at either end.
The building, which was completely gutted by fire during an air raid in April 1942, was erected by the Quakers because their original house in Goat Lane had become too small. However, it was superseded as their principal place of worship in Norwich in 1826 when a new building was erected in Upper Goat Lane by the builder/architect J.T.Patience. Towards the end of the 19c the Gildencroft building was leased for a time to the Particular Baptists, but the Friends continued to use the burial ground for their interments, as indeed they still do. In 1958 they erected on the old site a much smaller single storey building that incorporates in its structure parts of the original meetinghouse.
For many years the only way by which wheeled traffic such as a funeral cortege could reach the Meeting House was by a narrow thoroughfare leading from St Martin's Lane, about 80 yards long and widened at the burial ground end to allow carriages to turn round. Since Chatham St has been extended to join up with Gildencroft it is reached much more conveniently by way of Sussex St.
Gildencroft Friends' meeting house modified [5196] 1968-05-23
Reconstructed in modified form 1958.
Heartsease Lane Mount Zion church [7588] 1998-09-27
Opened 1996, architects Dennis Black Associates.
Jessopp Rd United Reformed church [6477] 1987-06-16
Formerly Congregational. Original building opened 1931. Enlarged 1969.
Lady's Lane St Peter's Methodist chapel [3837] 1949-10-14
Facing the Medical Institute across the lane was the Lady Lane Methodist Chapel, built in 1824. The Norfolk Chronicle of that year recorded how on 1st January a public meeting at the Calvert St chapel decided to erect a second Wesleyan chapel in Norwich. A subscription was thereupon opened and £600 contributed. On April 14th the foundation stone of the new Lady Lane chapel was laid by the Rev William Gilpin, superintendent of the Norwich circuit, and the building was opened for worship on 21st October of the same year by the Rev R. Newton, president of the Methodist Conference, and others.
The architect for the building was John T.Patience, of whom it has been said that he must have been a man of considerable diplomacy since he was also responsible for the Friends' Meeting House in Upper Goat Lane in 1825 and the Roman Catholic Chapel in Willow Lane in 1828. The street facades of the two latter buildings were built of white brick (weathering to a dirty grey) but here red brick was used. A drawing of it was published by James Sillett in 1828.
In April 1938, it was announced that the City Council was acquiring much of the site by compulsory purchase for a new library. The decision was thereupon taken to build a new church on vacant land alongside their smaller chapel in Park Lane. This was completed and opened in August 1939, when the Lady Lane Chapel was finally closed.
Magdalen Rd St Paul's mission room [4424] 1956-04-09
Built 1893. Demolished 1956.
Magdalen Rd Congregational on last day [5308] 1971-01-10
Opened 1902. Demolished 1971.
Park Lane St Peter's Methodist church [6527] 1988-08-29
Built 1938-39, architects E.Boardman and sons.
Pitt St 33 to 35 [0895] 1936-04-12
Shortly before the war the idea was mooted of having a more direct road linking Thorpe and City Stations, following much the same route as that since adopted by St Crispin's Rd. To this end a start was made by constructing a short length of carriageway between St George's St and Pitt St, coming out opposite St Martin's Lane.
There, until demolished in September 1937, stood a pleasing pair of semi-detached Georgian cottages, Nos 33 and 35 Pitt St. A central doorway gave access to a covered passageway that led to a small chapel at the rear. In 1754 the Reverends John and Charles Wesley paid their first visit to Norwich, but it was not until 1769 that their followers built this as their first settled place of worship in the city. Later acquired by the Baptists, it was enlarged in 1818 when a stone tablet was placed over the doorway inscribed "MDCCCXVIII Providence Chapel".
Princes St United Reformed church [6452] 1987-04-25
Formerly Congregational. Remodelled with new facade 1869, architect Edward Boardman.
Queen's Rd Primitive Methodist chapel [6447] 1987-04-17
Built 1872, architect Edward Boardman.
Recorder Rd First Church Christ Scientist [6494] 1988-04-13
Built 1934, architect Ibberson.
Rosary Rd Cemetery mortuary chapel [7470] 1997-08-07
Established by the Rev Thomas Drummond in 1821.
Museum Court RC priest's house and chapel [1067] 1936-06-28
Municipal offices until 1938. Registrar's and Public Assistance departments. Previously the Guardians of the Poor. Originally a Catholic chapel and priest's house.
Museum Court RC priest's house and chapel [4245] 1954-05-12
In St Andrew's, almost opposite Exchange St, is the site of Museum Court. The Duke of Norfolk and his family, after pulling down the palace in Duke St and ceasing to reside in Norwich, nevertheless retained possession of the site. It was here in 1764 that Charles, the tenth Duke, built a chapel with house adjoining for the Reverend Edward Beaumont and his Roman Catholic following, but they had to leave it after only 22 years, since the next Duke (also Charles) was of the Established Church. In 1794 the chapel was let to the Norwich Subscription Library and the house to James Boyce, attorney-at-law. But when in 1839 the Library moved to new quarters on Guildhall Hill both chapel and house were sold to the Norfolk and Norwich museum, thus, for the time being at least, breaking the ties between the Dukes of Norfolk and the city. Here the museum remained until moving to the Castle in 1894. Since that date and until the opening of the City Hall in 1938 it was the offices of the Guardians of the Poor and their successors the Public Assistance Committee. As to the cement-rendered building of classical appearance that faced St Andrew's St and adjoined the priest's house (pictured with the chapel below), this was built on the site of the garden of the house in 1839 for the Norwich Literary Institute.
Museum Court RC chapel ceiling view north [2921] 1939-04-08
Although the exterior of the chapel had no special features to warrant more than a cursory inspection, the interior well repaid a visit. It was lighted by ten upper windows (five east and five west); the ceiling was thus divided up into four complete bays and two half bays, each containing an ornate central rose bordered by embossed designs whose chief motif was a ducal crown. Between each window the ceiling curved down to the level of the springing of the arches of the semi-circular window-heads, and raised in the plaster and forming a frieze was a series of medallions, each of which was surmounted by winged cherubim.
After some fruitless discussion as to whether the ceiling at least could be saved, this and neighbouring property were all cleared away for the widening of St Andrew's St in 1966 and the subsequent building of a multi-storey car park.
Museum Court RC chapel ceiling view SE [2547] 1938-07-16
Museum Court RC chapel ceiling view SE [2548] 1938-07-16
Museum Court RC chapel ceiling view SE [2922] 1939-04-08
Museum Court RC chapel ceiling view south [2546] 1938-07-16
Museum Court RC chapel ceiling view south [2920] 1939-04-08
St Giles' St 70 Full Gospel Hall [7575] 1998-09-06
Opened 11th March 1950. Constructed by volunteer members of the Assembly from plans drawn up by Pastor K.N.Pavitt who did much of the bricklaying. Building extended 1957.
St John's Alley Maddermarket Theatre [1150] 1936-07-21
Built as a Roman Catholic Chapel three years after the Catholic Relief Act of 1791 and later used by the Salvation Army. The building was converted into an Elizabethan Theatre by Nugent Monck in 1921. His Norwich Players, founded 1911, moving from the Music House in King St.
St Mary's Plain St Mary's Baptist chapel [3261] 1939-09-12
St Mary's Plain with its ancient round-towered church and grassy churchyard provides a welcome oasis in this semi-industrial, semi-residential area. Although both church and adjacent Pykerell's house suffered damage during the war, both have since been well restored.
Less fortunate was St Mary's Baptist church on the south side of the plain, whose history is an interesting one. It was during the 17c that the Baptist movement first came into being, at a time when the Free Churches could neither own property nor indeed have any legal existence, meetings having to be held in private houses under the cloak of secrecy. With the passing of the Toleration Act of 1689, however, premises were hired for the purpose until 1744, when the community of 50 poor men and women purchased the present site in St Mary's parish, a brick and flint meeting house adapted from existing buildings being opened there for worship in the following year. In 1812 under Joseph Kinghorn's pastorship a new chapel took its place, this chapel being enlarged in 1839 under William Brock and again in 1886. Other notable 19c ministers included George Gould and J.H.Shakespeare, neither of whom could have witnessed such troubled scenes in the building's history as occurred during the ministry of the Reverend Gilbert Laws.
About one hour after the close of the morning service on Sunday, 10th September 1939, a fire spread from the organ gallery by way of the choir pews to the fine vaulted ceiled roof. This very soon crashed down, damaging the pulpit (one of the treasures of the church) and many of the pews. Sufficient of the building remained, however, to enable it to be reconstructed to its original design, Stanley Wearing being appointed architect for the work. Such furniture as had to be replaced was also made to harmonise with the older work, pitchpine being used to match the old materials. The reopening of the church took place on Sunday, 22nd September 1940, a new organ being dedicated on 22nd February 1941.
The life of the rebuilt chapel was a very brief one, for during the early morning of 27th June 1942, it shared the fate of many other well-known city buildings and was totally gutted by fire. The adjoining schoolrooms were also destroyed. After this event arrangements were made for Sunday services to be held in the Stuart Hall, arrangements which continued until 1950 when services were transferred to the newly built school hall in Duke St. On 5th July 1951, the Reverend Gilbert Laws laid the foundation stone of the new church (Stanley Wearing was again the architect) and the opening service was held one year later on Saturday, 27th September 1952.
St Mary's Plain St Mary's Baptist chapel [6467] 1987-05-28
Rebuilt 1951-52, architect Stanley J.Wearing.
St Miles Alley 19c Mission Hall [7748] 2000-05-05
Sprowston Rd St George's RC church [6458] 1987-05-19
Built 1962-63, architect J.Sebastian Comper.
Surrey St Chapel Loke Surrey chapel [6023] 1979-07-26
Ebenezer Baptist Chapel. Built 1854. Demolished 1986.
Thorpe Rd Methodist chapel [6321] 1985-05-13
Built c1901 to design by A.F.Scott in memory of his father.
Timberhill Orford Hill Baptist chapel [6217] 1981-07-30
Built 1832. Converted to a warehouse.
St John's RC from St Giles' Gates [B078] 1931-08-03
St John's RC from Unthank Rd [B197] 1931-00-00
St John's RC north side from Earlham Rd [B275] 1932-05-00
North transept, tower, nave, porch and baptistry.
St John's RC tower choir and north transept [4379] 1955-09-09
With Walsingham chapel.
St John's RC south side from Unthank Rd [4415] 1955-10-07
"The Roman Catholic Church, dedicated to St John the Baptist, was begun in 1882 at the expense of His Grace the 15th Duke of Norfolk E.M. K.G. and the completed portion, opened on the 29th August 1894. The building is of stone, from designs by George Gilbert Scott M.A. and continued by his brother J.Oldrid Scott F.S.A. The style adopted was that of the first half of the 13th century. The nave consists of ten bays, extending from the west front of the central tower. On the north side are the baptistery and porch which project from the aisle. On the south side is the Lady Chapel. The length of the nave is 160 feet, and the external height 81 feet; the total length of the church is 275 feet. The font is of Frosterly marble, surmounted by a lofty oak canopy. The stained glass windows are extremely beautiful and are of the 13th century type. The rectory adjoins the church, which occupies a commanding site immediately outside St Giles' Gate and is, except for Westminster Cathedral, the largest Roman Catholic church in England, and ranks amongst the finest modern and ecclesiastical buildings." (Kelly's Directory of Norfolk, 1925).
St John's RC floodlit from Convent Rd [5735] 1977-03-12
The building is on the site of the old City Gaol, and was completed in 1910. In 1976 the church was elevated to the status of a cathedral upon the formation of the Roman Catholic See of East Anglia.
Unthank Rd Baptist church COLOUR [2968] 1939-04-16
Unthank Rd Baptist chapel demolition [4244] 1954-05-11
Built 1874-75. Demolished 1954.
Unthank Rd United Reformed church [6456] 1987-04-27
Formerly Presbyterian, opened 24th March 1956, architects Edward Boardman and son and Bernard M.Feilden.
Goat Lane Upper Friends' meeting house [4587] 1961-03-25
Built 1826, architect J.T.Patience.
Willow Lane RC school formerly chapel [0383] 1935-03-03
Built as a chapel by the Jesuits in 1828, architect J.T.Patience.

Text and photographs copyright George Plunkett