Saturday, 25 March 2017
In Tudor times a ban on thatched roofing was brought in because of the extra fire risk a thatch brings. The legacy of this is that there are very few thatched buildings in Norwich - despite there being so many old buildings. I originally read that there were only five thatched buildings, however, I found a sixth!
B) Pykerell's House - House of Thomas Pykerell who died in 1545 and was mayor of Norwich three times. This house has a great hall.
C) Hampshire Hog Yard - behind the Arts' Centre. It was a pub for many years.
D) Barking Dicky - . It was once a pub called the Light Horseman but the pub sign was so badly painted that the horse looked like a cross between a dog and a donkey which the locals therefore decided to call 'Dicky'.
E) The Hermitage - found on Bishopgate.
F) Another thatch I found - possibly newly thatched - situated behind the Barking Dicky.
I found this old photo in a book of Westlegate. You can see 'Barking Dicky' at the top of the hill next to the church.
A drain cover in Tombland Alley is the only one in the city to bear the name of Thomas Crapper - the company to bring sewage engineering to cities in Victorian times and the origin of the word 'crap'.
Bishop Bridge dates from about 1340 and is situated at the point where a Roman road probably entered the city by ford from the east and it is therefore a very old crossing point. It was at the time, the only bridge giving access to the city from outside and therefore had a fortified gatehouse at its western end. This picture shows a half circle protrusion at the west end that would have supported one of the gate's turrets.
Officially known as Garsett House, this building became known as Armada House in Victorian times because it was thought to have been constructed with the timbers from a galleon of the Spanish Armada of 1588. This could well be true as some of the galleons were known to have been wrecked off the east coast and 1589 is carved into the building at first floor level.
The building was truncated on its south side to make way for a new tram-line in Victorian times.
Augustine Steward House
St Lawrence church door carvings
In Bridewell Alley there are some fine examples of weavers' windows: windows that are horizontally long and at the top storey to allow as much light in as possible.
Before public health studies helped the population understand how diseases were caused, water pumps were often funded by church parishes and therefore situated close to or next to churchyards. These churchyards were full of decaying bodies and the water was disease inducing. This pump was not only next to St John Maddermarket's churchyard, it was downhill from it. Cholera and typhoid killed many before it was understood that these diseases were waterborne. Fortunatley the brewing process destroyed the micobes of these diseases and accounts for hwy so many pubs existed in medieval Norwich. Beer was considerably weaker hundreds of years ago so perhaps people didn't exist in a permanent state of inebriation - or did they?
Friday, 17 March 2017
The more I learn about it, the more fascinated I become. So here are my recommendations for what to look out for should you ever visit the cathedral.
1) The Elizabethan grave of Thomas Gooding
Thomas was a mason of the cathedral. He paid a fair amount of money to be buried upright because he believed this would give him an advantage come judgement day. At the base of his memorial is a typically Elizabethan, poignantly death-focused inscription,
'All you that do this pass bye
Remember death for you must dye
As you are now even so was I
And as I am so shall you be
Thomas Gooding here do staye
Wayting for God's judgement day,
I have been told that this is because of the shift from the Julian Calendar to the Gregorian one but I have yet to stumble across something that explains this fully. However, the dates certainly show a death date (February 20th 1736) before the birth date (April 13th 1736).
This is said to be from the civil war (1642 - 1651) when in 1643 a mob of city folk broke into the cathedral and removed pictures, books and statues, took them to the market place and burnt them. The effigy on the tomb - along with the font in a nearby chapel - were also vandalised at this time. The grave is of Bishop Goldwell (bishop from 1472 until 1499) and he was responsible for some significant rebuilding of the cathedral.
4) The steps worn down
- by many, many years of use.
6) The bosses in the cloisters.
There are loads of bosses decorating these monks' corridors. They vary from pagan to completely bizarre. For example - from the green men....
There is a lot of graffiti and a guide told me he was still discovering more. The medieval attitude to graffiti did not replicate our modern approach to it and it was far more usual and acceptable to carve your initials into a cathedral wall.
Here are some examples. There is the Elizabethan man - with ruff, buttons and doublet. (You need a torch to be able to see it).
This is a relatively modern addition. It was once used in the process of toffee making in the Norwich Rowntrees factory before it closed down.
- put together with 'important medieval glass' from the cathedral that survived the Reformation, patchwork style. It commemorates Sir Thomas Erpingham who fought at the Battle of Agincourt. I wonder if he would have liked it.
I was told years ago that these were not centralised but that I cannot see as wonky - despite looking many times. I put it in here so it can torment you too! The arches themselves are much older than the chapel they form the entrance to.
....by abstract painter John McLean and installed in 2014 (so the newest of all the windows), I rather like them because they cast a strange light down this part of the aisle.
A 12 year old Christian boy was found murdered on Mousehold Heath. There was much controversy at the time and the local Jews were ultimately blamed for the murder. It is an interesting story that appears to be mostly about anti-semitism. This part of the cathedral is know as the 'Chapel of the Holy Innocents' - a space dedicated to the victims of cruelty, persecution and intolerance - which you could argue William was - though whose intolerance it was is not certain.
There are many strange carvings dotted around he place. There are some great faces high up in the Presbytery near the alter - one of a really happy face and another, opposite, of a tragically sad face. (I have merged the two photos of them together here - they are actually on separate pillars). Please forgive the poor quality of my photos - I ran over my camera with my car.
These were merciful ledges upon which monks could surreptitiously perch for some relief during sustained periods of prayer in a standing position! They can also be lowered to create full seats. Below the ledges are lots of exampled of beautiful carvings. As one depicts a griffin being speared and another of the local football team - I am guessing they are quite varied in age.
15) The bosses in the nave.
And although they are too far away to be photographed well with my camera, the bosses in the nave tell the story of the bible - starting with the old testament at the altar end, with the birth of Christ just over halfway as you travel backwards. There is a book with photos of all the bosses on sale in the cathedral gift shop (see below). I love the fact that to medieval man - a lion was just as mythical as a griffin or a dragon - on account of them being equally unlikely to have been actually witnessed. There are also several medieval 'interpretations'. Without knowing what an Egyptian chariot looked like, for example, the local carver represented one as medieval Norfolk farm cart.
Other things I have learned about the bosses include:
• There are unicorns on Noah’s ark
• The red sea is actually painted red. (This is clearly visible without binoculars)
• The serpent’s tree in the Garden of Eden is in a pot. This is a clue to the fact the masons based their carvings on the Medieval Norwich Mystery Plays – which would have travelled around Norwich’s Street on a cart – thus the pot!
• Noah plants a vineyard to celebrate dry land after the flood and then proceeds to get drunk
• Jacob has a lot of roof dedicated to him probably because 15th Century Norwich’s wealth came predominantly form the wool trade – so local people would have identified with rural depictions of sheep care!
• The Tower of Babel looks remarkably like one of the medieval city gates of Norwich!
• The current roof was built in 1463 to replace the wooden one destroyed by fire and the spire collapsing onto it.
• Bishop Lyhart sold some of his estate to fund the roof. Medieval stonemasons were in high demand at the time – so there might have been considerable search for the right person to lead the project.
• The bosses were painted over during the reformation (probably too ornate for those lot!) and then uncovered in 1870.
Just three of my favourites from 'Norwich Cathedral Nave Bosses' by Paul Hurst ARPS
While we're in the nave - I like this snippet: the nave would have been overwhelming to the folk of the middle ages. In the eleventh and twelve centuries naves were the only large indoor places and were used for more than just worship - e.g. gatherings on feast days, processions and meetings. They would not have had the seating in place as it is now for these occasions. The cathedral was built as two churches - the nave for the public and the other end for the monks.
16) The censing angel hole!
The bosses are interrupted by a hole. As early as 1401 - an angel was hung from here. Apparently it would have been swung over the heads of the congregation. It was also used for releasing doves - apparently!
The earliest examples of floor monuments show a very casual approach to letter carving - as replicated in hand-written works of the time. This example shows how there was little forethought to letter placement. See how the word 'departed' is split and the 'th' of the date put over the number.
19) The effigy of St Felix
It was originally believed that this was an effigy of Herbert de Losinga - the bishop who founded the cathedral. However, turns out - it wasn't and it is in fact St Felix: the chap who converted East Anglia to Christianity in the seventh century. It is thought that Felixstowe might have been named after him.
20) The founder's tomb and commemorative slab!
This was made in 1996 to commemorate 900 years of the cathedral. Situated at one end of Herbert de Losinga's tomb it depicts 1) the devil running off with the money de Losinga paid to secure the post of bishop (this 'sin' is called simony - he later asked for the Pope's forgiveness for this) 2) someone carrying the bishop's throne in front of him 3) Norfolk Broads reeds 4) a mason and 5) (I think) a boat carrying the stone than came from Caen to build the cathedral.
21) The raredos that survived the Civil War and Reformation
This is found in St Luke's chapel. It survived the Civil War and the Reformation (when under the Protestantism of Edward VI, images, altars and stained glass were ordered to be destroyed) because it was turned upside down and used as a plumber's table. It remained 'lost' for 200 years and rediscovered in 1847.It includes the colour 'Norwich Red' (like a lot of old paintings from the city)- a pigment that made the city famous until the early 1800s.
22) The Reliquary Arch
This arched over the ambulatory on the north side and was accessed by the tiny spiral staircase and you now climb a modern replica of these to the treasury. It was was built in 1424 to house the cathedral's relics for pilgrims to visit. The space itself is more interesting than the contents of the newly added treasury in my opinion. The arch to the north shows the door of the Relic Chapel where the relics would have been stored and/or displayed. I am sad that the Cathedral's Seal box is not on display here - which is a two compartment box that was the home of two seals that needed four separate keys to open each side - to prevent anyone acting without consensual agreement.
23) The 'Jacks'
Two 'Jacks' in Jacobean clothes stand over the south door. They once used to sound each hour on the clock (there is another clock that can be seen in this position outside the cathedral) until complaints forced them to be disconnected because they were disturbing the devoted congregation! It is reputed that they were also once stolen and retrieved from a stall on Norwich Market.
24) The story carved in the bosses of the Bauchun Chapel
The Bauchun Chapel was once used as the cathedral court but the notorious case of the Vicar of Stiffkey (and his link to prostitutes) in the 1930s drew so many people it has to be moved to London. The Vicar's ceremonial de-robing still happened in this chapel though.
25) The scandal of the pregnant nun.
Or so I was told! When I originally posted this I received feedback that the pregnancy was nonsense and that she wasn't a nun! However, what I find fascinating is that such a rumour existed, that I heard it from a choral scholar at the cathedral and looked at and believed the subtle 'pregnancy bump'! This rumour might have come about by the fact that this young woman had affection for the Bishop Bertram Pollock (1863–1943) (as demonstrated in several poems she wrote about him) that caused him some embarrassment. Things get twisted! Her name was Violet Vaughan Morgan and she died of Spanish flu in 1919 aged just 20. Her parents commissioned the statue two years after her death.
26) The stained glass window in the Bauchon Chapel
This was fitted in 1964 and shows significant players in history from East Anglia of the religious sort. You can spot Herbert de Losinga with his completed cathedral behind him, William Bauchun - a monk who helped with the building and he holds his chapel in his hands and St Julian of Norwich with her crucifix and her book; Revelations in Divine Love.
27) The depiction of Henry II that survived the Reformation
28) A break in building because of the plague
The present cloisters took a long time to complete (from 1297 until 1430). In the north walk of the cloisters there is an abrupt change in decoration that occurs because of the plague of 1349. The time gap this change represents is actually about 60 years. The plague - not being in any way discriminatory - significantly reduced the population of craftsmen including masons. When the work was eventually returned to, the perpendicular style was adopted because it required less skill and labourers could be shown how to complete such decoration.
29) The monks played Nine Men Morris
Carved into the seating in the cloisters are what is left of a few games of Nine Men Morris. This is even more entertaining to imagine because it would have been played without speaking because of the monks' vow of silence. Further along the same walk are the three doors to the no-longer-there Chapter House where monks would have held meetings and therefore certainly did speak. However, there is a slight possibility that the holes post-date the monastic years - even so, they are still interesting!
After death, the poor people of medieval Norwich would have been simply wrapped in a woollen shroud and buried in a shallow grave. This often meant a skeleton would reappear a few years later. As bones were believed to hold the soul and therefore considered sacred, Bishop Salmon founded the Carnary Chapel in 1316 so that such bones from the overcrowded churchyards of Norwich were placed in the undercroft. It's now part of the Norwich School.
In two bays of the cloisters can be found the troughs for the waste water that would have been used by monks in ritual washing. There would have been pipes and taps and relatively sophisticated plumbing.
32) The monument to Osbert Parsley
33) The pelican that does not resemble a pelican
34) A wonderful epitaph
35) A slightly more egocentric bishop
After Bishop Lyhart's admirable work in 1463 of replacing the wooden roof (damaged by a lightning strike) with a stone roof, his successor: Bishop Goldwell completed the repair work. He rebuilt the spire (it is the one we seen now) and he also vaulted the presbytery in stone. However, unlike Bishop Lyhart's nave bosses that mostly tell the story of the bible, Goldwell made 97 of the 135 carvings in the presbytery his rebus: a golden well!
36) The alter slab for relics
Called a 'mensa' this slab of Barnack Stone (the stone from Northamptonshire that was used in the cathedral but was cheaper than the lighter stone from Caen) has a small hollow in it for the containment of relics. it was originally found in the floor but now sits in the altar of the Jesus Chapel.
Another place for relics is a little square hole in which relics were placed to give the bishop, sitting on the throne above, extra religious power!
A kiwi in the sail represents the fact the Earl of Orford (who this window is a memorial for) died on his way to New Zealand. I was origianlly looking for a fruit when I read this!
40) Another reminder of death