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The Norfolk Churches Site: an occasional sideways glance at the churches of Norfolk

St George Tombland, Norwich

St George: the cathedral spire appearing unnervingly as a spirelet

Read the captions by hovering over the images, and click on them to see them enlarged.
hemmed in set back behind mature trees, tight in its little graveyard approaching the church from Princes Street south porch chancel clerestory porch and cathedral
mature trees urban setting Princes Street

    St George Tombland, Norwich
looking east   This is as pretty a church as you'll find in Norwich, and the setting is unsurpassed. Hemmed in by 17th and 18th century houses, the church is set back in one corner of the city's famous Tombland, just across the road from the Cathedral of the Great and Undivided Holy Trinity. Indeed, the church was once known as St George at Trinity Gate. If you approach the church from Princes Street, the cathedral spire appears unnervingly as if it is a little spirelet at the top of St George. As you reach it, you find it set back behind mature trees, tight in its little graveyard.

Bequests from the tower date from the early part of the 15th century, and the rest is probably broadly contemporary. The very top of the tower is a 17th century repair in the Gothic tradition.

Coming from low church Suffolk, St George appears exotic to my eyes, because it is on one of the highest rungs of the Anglo-catholic ladder. Statues and stations abound, and both aisles end in the east at Marian altars. The furnishings are largely 19th century, but the chancel retains its gorgeous 18th century reredos, which is fitting in a city which was at the height of its power and influence at that time. Also 18th century is the pulpit with its high tester, both elegant and awe-inspiring. The font cover is a hundred years earlier, the St George and the dragon motif on its top a hundred years later. The font itself is an arcaded job in Purbeck marble, familiar from hundreds of rural East Anglian churches. This one has been urbanised somewhat by the Victorians, placed on grand marble pillars.

St George has two notable early 17th century memorials. Up in the chancel is the marvellously named Alderman Anguish. His monument is by Nicholas Stone. It is highly coloured, and he kneels opposite his wife, their family living and dead around them.

Another former mayor is remembered at the west end. John Symonds died in 1609, and left unto the poore of this parish two shillings a week to be continued forever. Well, ten pence won't go far these days, but if you are one of the Tombland poor you might consider looking on the shelf below it, for this is the original dole table on which charity payments may be made.

  April from the Labours of the Months

Despite being a small church in a small parish, St George has provided its fair share of mayors, and in common with many other city churches retains its sword and mace holders in the north aisle, decorated with some of their names. Not far off is a rather naive bas-relief of St George and the Dragon, which I take to be 16th or 17th century in style.

My two favourite features here are both in glass, five centuries apart. In the south aisle there is a broken roundel from a Labours of the Months sequence. It depicts April; you can click on it at the start of this piece to see it enlarged. At the east end of the aisle, and in the image to the right, is a superb window from the 1920s or 1930s depicting the Blessed Virgin flanked by angel musicians. I would love to know who the artist is.

Unusually for a small church in Norwich, St George is militantly open every day.

  Blessed Virgin flanked by Angel musicians

Simon Knott, November 2005

   

Walsingham shrine St George and the Dragon Alderman Anguish brass plaque
pulpit chancel sword and mace rests font cover John Symonds, wife and dole table

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The Norfolk Churches Site: an occasional sideways glance at the churches of Norfolk