1902 Encyclopedia > Norwich, Norfolk, U.K.

Norfolk, United Kingdom

NORWICH, a city of England, the capital of Norfolk, a county of itself and a municipal and parliamentary borough, stands mainly on the right bank of the winding Wensum, a little above its confluence with the Yare, by rail being 20 miles west of Yarmouth, 68-i north-east of Cambridge, and 114 north-north-east of London. The municipal and parliamentary boundaries enclose an area of 7472 acres ; but the ancient walls (1294-1342), some portions of which remain, with their twelve gate-houses - the last demolished in 1808 - were only 4 miles in circuit. Those narrow limits were long ago outgrown, for Evelyn writes in 1671 that "the suburbs are large, the prospects sweete, with other amenities, not omitting the flower-gardens, in which all the inhabitants excel." Beneath the low chalky heights of Mousehold Heath, once wooded now heathery, lies antique Norwich. "A fine old city, truly," to quote George Borrow, "view it from whatever side you will ; but it shows best from the east, where the ground, bold and elevated, overlooks the fair fertile valley in which it stands. At the foot of the heights flows the narrow and deep river, with an antique bridge [Bishop's Bridge, 1295] communicating with a long and narrow suburb, flanked on either side by rich meadows of brightest green, beyond which spreads the city ; the fine old city, perhaps the most curious specimen extant of the genuine old English town."

In 1094 the seat of the East Anglian bishopric was removed by Bishop Herbert de Lozinga or Lorraine from Thetford to Norwich, where in 1096 he laid the foundation of the cathedral, and dedicated it to the Holy Trinity in 1101, establishing at the same time a Benedictine monastery. As completed by his successor before the middle of the 12th century the cathedral in style was purely Norman; and it still retains its original Norman plan to a much greater degree than any other English example of equal magnitude. True, changes and additions were made from time to time in the successive styles - the Early English lady chapel (demolished about 1580) belonging to the middle of the 13th century, the mixed Decorated and Perpendicular spire to the 14th, the west front and porch and the lierne stone vaulting of the nave, with its elabo. rate 328 bosses, to the 15th, and to the 16th the vaulting of the transepts and Bishop Nix's chantry, whilst the fine cloisters, 175 feet square, 12 feet wide, with .45 windows, in style mainly Decorated, were begun in 1297 and not completed till 1430. The following are the dimensions in feet of the cathedral : - total length, 407 ; length of nave, 204 ; length of transepts, 178 ; breadth of nave and aisles, 72 ; total height of spire, 315 (in England exceeded by Salisbury only) ; height of tower, 14015,2 ; height of nave, 69i; height of choir, 83i. The chief entrance on the west is a Perpendicular archway, above which is an immense window filled with poor modern stained glass. The nave within is grand and imposing, divided by fourteen semicircular arches of great depth and solidity, whose massive piers are in two instances ornamented with spiral mouldings. The triforium is composed of similar arches. The side aisles are low, their vaultings plain. The choir, extending westward some way beyond the crossing, is of unusual length, and terminates in an apse, with the only fragment of an ancient episcopal chair that has been allowed to remain in situ. The oak stalls and misereres are very richly carved. A curious quatrefoil, opening on the north side of the presbytery, beneath the confessio or relic chapel, deserves mention. There are but two monumental effigies - one of Bishop Goldwell (c. 1499), the other of Bishop Bathurst (1837) by Chantrey. Mural monuments are plentiful. Sir William Boleyn, great-grandfather of Queen Elizabeth, is buried on the south side of the presbytery, in the midst of which stood the tomb of Bishop Herbert, the founder. Of three circular apsidal chapels two remain ; and in one - the Jesus chapel - the ancient colouring has lately been renewed, this being part of a series of restorations carried out at great cost since 1801. Two richly-sculptured gateways lead to the cathedral - the Erpingham gate (1420) and the Ethelbert gateway (c. 1300). The bishop's palace and the deanery are buildings of high antiquity, but both have undergone many alterations. The latter has a well-restored chapel. A beautiful Early Decorated ruin in the palace garden, known as "Bishop Salmon's gateway," is supposed to have been the porch to the great hall (c. 1319). The grammar-school is a Decorated Nelson, Rajah Brooke, and George Borrow. St Andrew's Hall (124 by 64 feet) is the seven-bayed nave of the Black Friars' church, rebuilt with the aid of the Erpinghams between 1440 and 1470. A splendid specimen of Perpenheld the triennial musical festivals, second only in date and in fame equal to those of Birmingham. It was restored in 1863. The guildhall, on the site of an earlier tolbooth, is a fine flint Perpendicular structure of 1408-13; one of its rooms, the mayor's council-chamber, fitted up with furniture NORWICH of the time of Henry justice of that period. Of forty-three churches in England. Measuring 212 by 70 feet, it has a richly-ornamentedtower and fleche,148 feet high, four windows, a beautiful carved-oak roof, a remarkable font cover, and the tomb of Sir Michael Coslany, St about to be built at the cost of the duke of Norfolk, will be much the largest and finest of a number of Nonconformist places of worship.

The museum (1839) has collections of fossils and birds (especially Itaptores). It houses the literary institution (1822 ; 26,000 vols.), as also archaeological, medical, art, and meteorological societies. Adjoining it is the free library (1857 ; 8000 vols.), These two buildings mark the site of the 17th-century palace of the dukes of Norfolk, said to have been the largest townhouse in the kingdom out of London. The public library (1784 ; 50,000 vols.) in 1835 was transferred to its present quarters, a handsome building with Doric portico. The Norfolk and Norwich Hospital, first built in 1772, and rebuilt in 1879-83, is in the Queen Anne style, and on the pavilion system, with 220 beds. Other buildings are the lunatic asylum (1877-80 ; accommodation, 300), the workhouse (1858-60 ; accommodation, 1057), Jenny Lind Infirmary for sick children (1853), St Giles's or the old men's hospital (1249), Doughty's Hospital (1687), an asylum and school for the indigent blind (1805), the cavalry barracks (1791), the drill hall (1866), the agricultural hall (1882 ; 175 by 103 feet), the corn exchange (1861 ; 125 by 81 feet), the post-office (1865), and the theatre (1826). The cemetery (1856 ; 43 acres) has four mortuary chapels and a striking soldiers' monument (1878).

The textile manufactures of Norwich, once so important, have declined ; and now its great industrial establishments are a mustard and starch works employing upwards of 2000 hands, three or four large breweries, and ironworks. Boots, clothing, vinegar, and agricultural implements are also made in large quantities. There is one daily paper, and eight others are published weekly. The corporation consists of a mayor, deputy mayor, and sheriff (elected annually), sixteen aldermen, and forty-eight councillors ; and the city has sent two members to parliament since the reign of Edward I. The population has been successively (1801) 36,832, (1831) 61,110, (1871) 80,386, (1881) 87,842 - males 40,288, females 47,554 - in 20,764 houses (1881).

Frequently sacked by the Norsemen, Norwich was Guthrum's headquarters in 878, in 1004 was burned by Sweyn, and in 1017 was Canute's residence. In Domesday the city is described as having 1320 burgesses with their families, 25 parish churches, and between 800 and 900 acres of land. Ralph de Guaer in 1075, rebelling against the Conqueror, defended the castle unsuccessfully ; in 1122 Henry I. gave Norwich a charter containing the same franchise as that of London, and the government of the city was then separated from that of the castle, the chief magistrate being styled Prapositus or provost. In the same reign a colony of Flemish weavers introduced the woollen manufacture at Worstead, about 13 miles from Norwich ,• and a second colony settled at Norwich itself under Edward III., when the city was made a staple town for the counties of Norfolk and Suffolk. The dauphin plundered and burned the city in 1216 ; and in 1272 the priory was burnt in a riot between the monks and the citizens. The "black death " of 1348-49 cut off two-thirds of the inhabitants, and in 1381 the Norfolk Levellers, under John le Littester, did much damage ; but by 1403 the city had sufficiently recovered to be honoured with a charter, under which it might elect a mayor and two sheriffs. In 1422 the doctrines of the Reformation made their appearance in Norwich ; and several persons were executed as Wickliffites or Bollards. Among the list of martyrs is the name of Thomas Bilney, who was burned in 1531. In 1549 the city was the scene of an insurrection which grew out of the enclosure of commons, and was headed by Robert liett alias Knight, a tanner. Norwich, in common with all Norfolk and Suffolk, warmly espoused the cause of the Reformation ; and under Elizabeth the burnings of Roman Catholics rivalled the flames which Protestants had fed in former reigns, whilst martyrdoms for heresy of doctrine even among Protestants themselves were far from uncommon. In 1582 the city contained 5000 Dutch and Walloons, Protestant refugees from the Low Countries, who did much to foster manufactures. During the Commonwealth the city was put in defence against the royal cause and the castle was fortified for the service of Cromwell. But at the Restoration Norwich was amongst the earliest to do homage to Charles. In June 1660 the fee-farm of the city was resigned to him, with a present of £1000 in gold ; and in 1663 the charter of the city was renewed and enlarged. In 1701 the art of printing, which had been introduced in 1570 but discontinued for many years, was revived, and newspapers began to be printed. The famous "Norwich school" of landscape painting flourished during the first half of the present century, the principal artists being Crome, Cotman, Stark, and Vincent. Distinguished natives were John Kaye or Caius, Arch- bishop Parker, Robert Greene, Thomas Legge, Bishop Cosin, Bishop Pearson, "Old Crome," William Taylor, Amelia Opie, Harriet Martineau, and Dr Crotch, whilst among residents the best known have been Sir Thomas Erpingham, Bishop Hall, and Sir Thomas Browne.

See A. D. Bayne, Norwich, its Political, Religious, and Municipal History OM); Dean Goulburn, Sculptures in the Roof of Norwich Cathedral, with a History of the See (1876); Jerrold, Handbook to the City of Norwich (1883); and other works cited under NORFOLK. (F. H. G.)

About this EncyclopediaTop ContributorsAll ContributorsToday in History
Terms of UsePrivacyContact Us

© 2005-19 1902 Encyclopedia. All Rights Reserved.

This website is the free online Encyclopedia Britannica (9th Edition and 10th Edition) with added expert translations and commentaries