Self catering cottages near Norwich Cathedral

The Two Cathedrals of Norwich


When you’re staying at Boundary Stables, in Happisburgh, there are so many interesting and picturesque places to visit. Norwich, situated on the River Wensum, is just 20 miles away from Happisburgh, and it’s one of very few UK cities that can boast two cathedrals. In the Domesday Book of 1086, Norwich had 25 churches (or thereabouts), and a population of between five and ten thousand; it was one of England’s largest cities.


Norwich Cathedral, dedicated to the Holy and Undivided Trinity, is the cathedral church for the Church of England Dioceses of Norwich. The cathedral is constructed from flint and mortar, and faced with Caen stone, an aesthetically pleasing, creamy-coloured limestone, quarried near to the city of Caen, in France. Caen stone was formed in the middle Jurassic period (about 166 million years ago), and because of its homogeneity (uniformity of composition), it’s particularly suitable for carving.


It took 49 years – from 1096 to 1145 – for this beautiful giant to be built. The spire, at 96 metres high, is the second tallest in England. It was built in 1480 to replace the spire that was struck by lightning in 1463, which, in turn, replaced the original Norman spire that was blown down in 1362.


Norwich Cathedral is the burial place of Edith Cavell, the Norfolk-born nurse who helped to save the lives of many soldiers at the beginning of WW1. She was executed by a German firing squad on October 12 1915, at the age of 49. Also buried in the cathedral is 12-year-old William of Norwich, who acquired the status of martyr, and then saint, after being murdered in 1144 on Mousehold Heath; it was believed that Jews were responsible for the boy’s death.


The cathedral grounds are also home to a statue of Horatio Nelson, a Norfolk boy who grew up to be Britain’s most famous naval hero. Nelson attended the Norwich School, which is also located in the cathedral grounds.


A lot of effort has been put into making the cathedral accessible to everyone, so you’ll find ramps and lifts available, as well as disabled toilet facilities. Parking permits and free loan of a wheelchair are available for disabled visitors on a first-come, first-served basis. Because all of our cottages at Boundary Stables are suitable for wheelchair users, with level access and wet-room showers, we’re keen to recommend places to visit that provide convenient access. Norwich Cathedral is certainly one of those places.


Norwich’s second cathedral is the Roman Catholic Cathedral of St John the Baptist. Construction of this gorgeous church began in 1882, commissioned and funded by philanthropist Henry Fitzalan-Howard (1847-1917), 15th Duke of Norfolk, as part of a personal campaign to aid the reconstitution of Roman Catholic dioceses in Britain. The original architect was a converted Catholic, George Gilbert Scott; after he became ill, his brother, John Oldrid Scott, another talented architect, took the project over.


The building plot was situated over medieval chalk mines, and it took two years to make the site secure and safe. The foundation stone was at last laid in 1884, but it was not until 1910 that the church was completed. When the Roman Catholic Dioceses of East Anglia was re-established in 1976, this magnificent church was consecrated as its cathedral church.


Less than a century before the completion of Howard’s church, practice of the catholic faith had been against the law, resulting in extreme discrimination and violent attacks. Now, standing peacefully within walking distance of the Church of England cathedral, this beautiful building can be seen as a celebration of tolerance.





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