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Swedenborgian Chapel, Norwich
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In the pleasant terraces of the Golden Triangle off of the Earlham Road is this tiny little brick built chapel, its elegant frontage sandwiched between the houses. It was built in Park Lane to the design of Augustus Scott, whose other non-conformist buildings in Norwich include Dereham Road Baptist Church, although that is a far grander proposition than this little jewel. It was built at the expense of James Spilling, Ipswich-born editor of the Eastern Daily Press, who lived at 30 Park Lane and was a follower of the teachings of Emmanuel Swedenborg, the 18th Century Swedish theological philosopher.
Swedenborgianism was an intellectual approach to preparing for the second coming of Christ. Swedenborg said that he had been shown a millennial vision, during which it was explained how Christians were to prepare for the end of the world. His writings are extensive, but his followers believed in essence that they would be judged by the good they did for mankind as a whole during these last days. Although Swedenborg himself never organised a congregation, he spoke of a New Church for those who followed his teaching, and within a few years of his death his followers began to form this in reality, particularly in America.
Simon Knott, July 2009
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