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Holy Trinity, Norwich
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The huge bulk of this 1861 church comes as some surprise in the pleasant terraced streets between Unthank Road and Newmarket Road. Holy Trinity is a short walk from the city centre, but it is hidden from view by the blocks of flats of Chapelfield. The design was by William Smith, a notable London architect, although his only other work in Norfolk is the rather elegant little church at Fulmodeston of a couple of decades later. Nobody could accuse Holy Trinity of elegance, but it is certainly splendid. The great tower rises to an octagonal bell stage before being topped off at 40m with a somewhat disproportionate octagonal spire with eight lucarnes.
Smith seems to have shoe-horned this massive church into its narrow site, and it is a difficult building to see from a distance. It is is the biggest Victorian church in Norwich, and was designed to hold a thousand people. It is the only cruciform church with a central tower in the city, other than the two cathedrals.
1861 is far too early for the later Anglo-catholic enthusiasms of the city, and Holy Trinity was an evangelical barn from the start. A mark that it has continued in this tradition can be seen as you enter the church from the west, for the entire western half of the nave has been glazed in under a ceiling to create a meeting room as big as the church beyond. On the walls are bold statements about Holy Trinity's church-planting plans.
Simon Knott, July 2009
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