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St Cuthbert, Sprowston, Norwich
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Cuthbert, Sprowston, Norwich
The interior of the church is a little like being inside a vast upturned boat, a pleasing reminder that the very word 'nave' comes from the same Latin root, navus, meaning a boat, as the words 'navy' and 'naval'. There is a sense of great space inside the church. Simply, it feels bigger than it is. The line of nave and chancel is unbroken, and there are no arcades to form aisles. The windows on both sides are quite low down, and the great roof lifts high above them.
I was really pleased to meet the friendly churchwarden of St Cuthbert - he dropped by to turn the heating on for a drama group in the hall, and we soon got to chatting about the church. He obviously loved it dearly, and knew it inside out. It made such a great contrast with my unpleasant experience at St George nearer into town a short while earlier. He told me that there had been considerable alterations here in the early 1990s. Firstly, the entire east end of the interior was altered - the screens and vestries had been taken out, and the sanctuary reordered away from the east wall. A beautiful reredos depicting the imagery of St Cuthbert had been painted by local people. The woodwork from the screens and vestries had been used to build an elegant gallery at the west end of the church, and the organ, previously in the south-east corner, was now up in the gallery. Best of all, beneath it had been built a little chapel for private prayer; it opens opposite the entrance from the extension, "so people can come in off the street and have a little quiet time in the presence of the Lord", my new acquaintance said.
This explained the simplicity and openness of the east end, flooded with light and a sense of the numinous. It was brilliantly done.
Simon Knott, February 2009
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