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St Matthew, Norwich
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Thorpe has always had a close relationship with Norwich city centre; the Norwich inner suburbs are still quaintly referred to as 'villages', but Thorpe Hamlet has always been part of the urban area, and when Thorpe railway station was opened as the link between the city and London, it became a heavily industrialised district of factories and terraced streets.
Declared redundant as a result of the Brooke Report (not least because the Cathedral and St Helen are just a few minutes walk on the other side of the bridge), permission for its demolition was granted before it was rescued and converted into offices as the result of an award-winning scheme by the Peter Codling Partnership. The interior has been split into two levels, and the church is a great adornment to its location - its demolition would have been a grievous loss. There is a new St Matthew, further into the heart of the parish, and it will be featured on the site soon.
The building immediately to the west (picture below) was a church hall. To the east, the terraced houses screen the site of the Nest, Norwich City's football ground until the 1930s, set in a former quarry with a sixty foot cliff behind one of the goals, and fabled by the daughters of memory as one of the most unusual and striking professional grounds that England has ever known.
Simon Knott, January 2006
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