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St Edmund, Norwich
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Today, Fishergate is a quiet residential street on the outskirts of the city centre, just to the west of Magdalen Street. Standing outside St Edmund, it is hard to conceive what the setting was like a century ago. Where low-rise social housing spreads was then the heartland of industrial Norwich, enormous dark factories dwarfing this little church.
St Edmund suffered damage in the War and when Cautley came this way in 1946 he was unable to get inside. For years after that, the dereliction spiralled, until the church was little more than a shell.
A small building with a south aisle hidden from the street, St Edmund had been largely Victorianised by the enthusiastic Edward Boardman in the 1880s, not long before the end of its liturgical life. Boardman's is the vestry with its chimney, the roof and the top of the tower. Before Boardman got its hands on it, St Edmund had a perfectly serviceable Georgian interior, perhaps like St George Colegate. Nothing at all survives of either the Georgian or Victorian furnishings. I think that the arcade is not Boardman's, however, and it is rather curious, with open niches in between the arches. I wonder what they were for?
As you may imagine, St Edmund is less well known than many of the Norwich medieval churches, largely as a result of it being so hemmed in and cut off from the city centre. However, in 2001, a view not seen in more than a century was opened up when the factory and warehouses to the south of the church were demolished. They were quickly replaced by a housing scheme, but not before Chris Harrison snapped the view you see here. Take a good look; you won't see it like that again in your lifetime.
Simon Knott, November 2005
You can see thousands of George Plunkett's other old photographs of Norwich on the Plunkett website
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