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Norwich, East Anglia

Updated: Jan 18, 2020

[Note: more photos associated with this blog can be found by clicking here or the "Google album..." at the end of this post.]

In #Norwich I was staying at the Hotel Belmonte for two nights. Out of the station, I crossed at the bridge over the River Wensum and wheeled the bag up Prince of Wales Road probably less than a quarter mile. The hotel is situated over the club Mojo which was being renovated. After finally finding the manager, I got the bag up a flight of stairs and into a room with a single bed but sufficient floor space for the bag. No room information regarding WiFi, but my reservation said it was included. The advanced copy of my photobook, Cathedrals to the Glory of God, was supposed to be there, but the manager didn’t have the FedEx package.

Leaving the hotel, it was about a half mile to the Cathedral Church of the Holy and Undivided Trinity. Evensong was at 5:30, so I entered and found my usual location in the choirstalls. The choir sang a really beautiful Latin anthem, In pace by Blitheman. Able to take some pictures, I was impressed with the tower at the crossing and the very long nave with fan arching in the vault. Outside, I found that trees and the school would make it difficult to capture a full view of the cathedral, but I managed to get some satisfactory ones. While in the church I had used my mobile battery to recharge the smartphone, which died as I came down the hill toward the cathedral gate.

Out the gate, leaving the close, I went on a wander about town as it was too early for me to eat. Norwich is a very green city when one gets away from the street I was staying on – gardens and trees were everywhere in both residential and retail settings.

Thatched roof inn seen on my stroll

Firing up my phone, after a partial charge, I used my mobile data to check with FedEx on my book. Their records showed a receipt at 11:15am, so I knew I would be confronting the manager in the morning. Popping into the St Andrews Brew House, I had an ale called Sweeney Todd, a red bitter ale. With only bar nibbles available, I decided to push on to find dinner, and found Mambo Jambo, which offered Latin American/Mexican cuisine. [Really, when am I going to learn?] I had been looking for a pizza place, finding a Tesoro to get 4 bananas instead. Speaking with 2 locals, they warned me off one pizza place. Walking Benedict Street with a variety of places, nothing appealed. On a side street, the name appealed, so I entered without noticing the style of cuisine.

Ordering an IPA, it was a local East Coast offering. [Norwich is about 10 miles from the North Sea, and was probably the furthest east I would get on the trip.] Asking for water, it came with ice and was chilled! For a main, the beef chilli with a green salad. The IPA had a sweet palate, a surprise. While waiting for my dinner, I noticed other patrons were getting large portions – mine followed suit. Nicely spicy and piquant, the chilli was merely warm and lacked beans. I needed to ask for shredded cheese. The salad was fresh and crisp, and undressed. I did opt for dessert, a peanut butter brownie with ice cream. [For some strange reason, my phone photos taken at dinner all have a green hue.]

Walking back towards the hotel, I passed by the Church of St Peter Mancroft, stunningly lit. With a large imposing front tower, it loomed over the neighborhood. Across the street was The Forum, a huge modern mall-type structure abounding with restaurants. Trying to get my bearings (Wrong Way Ken was in fine form that night) I walked past patrons leaving the Norwich Royal Theater, saw St Stephen’s Church before finally finding my way back to my room.

Surprise! Sitting on my bed was a FedEx package. My book really had arrived. I spent some time going through it carefully, until fatigue kicked in. Meanwhile, I had over 300 photos to upload. After sending an email to Regal Printing to advise them I had it, I crashed for the night.

Ø July 2 Norwich (Tuesday)

Waking about 8, I finished my review of the advanced copy of Cathedrals to the Glory of God, making notes of things I had issues with. Before communication by email with the printer, I wanted to speak with my friend Joan who had used Regal for her 6 children’s books. So I cleaned up, headed downstairs to find no one about, and went out onto the streets. My morning objective was the Cathedral Church of St John the Baptist, the Catholic cathedral in Norwich. Geographically due west, I took surface streets to walk past the #NorwichCastle, the market and the City Council buildings. Just beyond a rotary at Chapelfield Gardens and behind a sound wall, I reached the cathedral.

The cathedral is listed on Unthank Road, but it bends at a 60°angle into Earlham Road. The north face runs along Earlham, while the East and south sides are along Unthank. From the rotary, it was difficult to see how to enter the building. The south, blocked by additional church buildings, showed no public access. Going around the bend and the north side, across from the Norwich Synagogue I was able to find an entrance (and some great angles for pictures.) A cruciform floor plan, the longer nave is to the west. Built in the early twentieth century with funds from the 5th Duke of Norfolk (as was Arundel), it became the cathedral for the See of Norfolk, Suffolk, Cambridge and Peterborough in 1976.

Ceiling boss: St John baptizing Jesus

With Mass at 10am, I arrived in time to attend. Afterwards, I spoke with the younger priest who suggested some elements of the church for my photography. In addition to the treasury, he pointed out the baptistry and the magnificent stone vault ceilings throughout. Without much color, the light gray stone presents a somber, thoughtful venue. After a few more outside shots, I began a wander, with the objective of returning to Trinity Cathedral for the hourly tours.

My route took me back to those colorful market sheds I’d seen the evening before. In a grid format, I was able to wander for a bit up and around the aisles and survey diverse merchandise, none of which I needed. A glass-roofed arcade, lined with antique shops, reminded me of similar in Paris. Nearing the castle again, I dropped into the Castle Walk Mall, and noted a clever use of “empty space” or an unused storefront: a well-lit “football parlour” had bar multi-player games (“Foosball”) set up for free use. I wound up seeing more like it in other malls throughout the rest of my trip.

Arriving back at Trinity just before noon, I discovered what the large screen I’d seen in front of the nave altar was for. The entire nave was full of well-behaved students in uniform, attentively listening to a book festival program. Awards were being handed out for best writing by form levels, in creative writing, non-fiction and poetry. The talks they listened to were being given by adult writers and by fellow students, all addressing the writing process. Access to the nave was obviously blocked, with tours cancelled, although during the lunch break, visitors were able to explore the nave on a tour at noon. Led by two guides, three older couples and I were walked around the nave and quire, ending out in the cloister.

In the quire, the highly ornamented fan arches joined at creatively carved and painted bosses. Larger major-joint bosses celebrated the Creation story, the Annunciation and the Evangelists. Then on the floor in front of the main altar, an elaborate Victorian tile pattern echoed the color above. A cathedra, set up steps in back of the high altar, was a wooden replica of that simple one in Canterbury, however, an elaborately carved Victorian-style throne sits in the presbytery. In a room up a short flight of stairs, the Cathedral treasury was displayed. As I had seen at other pre-Commonwealth cathedrals, ceilings had been elaborately painted; destroyed by Cromwell’s men and painted over by Victorians, Norwich Cathedral’s recovered sections were some of the largest I’d see.

The apse, traditionally used as a Lady Chapel, is used as the military memorial and is named for St Saviour.

A five-panel Medieval altarpiece sits atop the table. Exiting briefly from the ambulatory, we visited the gravesite of Edith Cavell, a British nurse who was martyred by German forces in Belgium during the Great War. Finishing inside, the guides took us out into the cloister, second largest in England (behind Salisbury), where tables had been set to sell books. Walking the covered outer walks, more painted bosses were easily visible (only 10 feet up), including Green Men. A labyrinth had been defined by cobblestones outlining the circular path in the grass green of the cloister.

From prior experiences, I thought I might get that defining picture of the cathedral from the cloister. Folded chairs had been taken down, but the stacks were awaiting staff to come and remove, so I found a spot on an inside wall to watch and wait. Falcons had been nesting annually on the spire, so I was able to get some shots with the super telephoto lens on the Nikon. New buildings have been added against the south and west cloister walls and serve as a refectory café and a history, education and visitor center.

Norwich Cathedral from cloister

With the book festival program ending and the students collecting their backpacks to return to class, I was able to return to the nave and get more inside shots. Feeling churched-out, I left the interior and walked to the river. Turning right, I walked along the river’s edge until I came to the bridge I’d crossed coming from the train station.

Stairs from Riverwalk to pub

A pub, The Complet Angler, sat at the junction, so I went in for a late light lunch of cheese toasty, fries and an Abbot amber. Sitting outside under a large umbrella, the bright sunshine was welcome to all.

After lunch, I returned back the way I came along the riverbank to an athletic field at the junction of the path from the cathedral. In the bandshell, a rock band was rehearsing. Continuing along the Wensum, I walked past the bridge at Bishopsgate to the Cow Tower. Just before the river took a 90° bend, a modern pedestrian bride, the Jarrold Bridge, gave some angles for nice river shots. Proceeding further upstream, at Whitefriars the Riverwalk ended. Having spent the hour walking, I was able to return to the cathedral for the Evensong service. I’d had a word with one of the adult choir members earlier in the day, and the baritone would have a solo lead for the Stanford Nunc Dimittis. The adult choir was joined by the girls’ choir, and as the previous evening, it was superb, a nice peaceful quiet time.

Opting for an evening beer, I popped into Last Pub Standing for a Lawns Encore Amber. Staffed by friendly folk, it was a nice pub and not busy. I asked at the bar for a recommendation for pizza, and the woman barkeep suggested the chain Pizza Express. A patron, male, about my age, jumped in and said that he had a better recommendation. Heading back north into the area I’d been the evening before, I settled into Trattoria Rustica for a pizza dinner. Starting with Asparagi al Forno and a glass of a Fiano, my main was a Vesuvio Pizza, where I substituted garlic for the mushrooms. I had a glass of Intrigo Puglia (red, primitivo) with the pizza. Great ambiance, and the food as promised was excellent.

Leaving the restaurant after composing and sending an email, I was concerned I might run out of juice if I needed Maps. Returning without incident, while transferring photos to the cloud, I began the task of packing the book in with all my other stuff. I’d pulled most everything out when the new double USB charging adapter broke and I searched for its backup. With half my dark clothes awaiting a laundry, keeping clean from soiled was part of the packing challenge. It all got done, Internet stuff all handled, and I crashed once again.

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