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Norwich Cathedral

    In 1091 Herbert de Losinga, formerly Prior of Fécamp in Normandy, became Bishop of East Anglia. At this date the see was based in Thetford, but in 1094 it was moved to Norwich. In 1096 the bishop laid the foundation stone for the cathedral. Like many other English cathedrals, it had a body of monks attached to it who were accommodated in the neighbouring priory.

The eastern arm, transepts, crossing and four eastern bays of the cathedral nave were probably completed by 1119 when Bishop Herbert died. The eastern end is well preserved and has an apse within which is an ambulatory which gave access to three chapels. The eastern chapel has gone, but those to north-east and south-east survive. They are oddly shaped with a plan based on two intersecting circles of differing sizes.

The chancel arcades have been re-cast in Gothic (Perpendicular) style, but the triforium gallery is untouched and has impressive single arches. The Norman transepts each had a projecting chapel to the east, although only the northern one survives. Originally set in the exterior northern wall of the north transept, but now in the church, is a sculpture thought to represent Bishop Herbert. The basic design of the Norman chancel was continued largely unchanged in the nave which is of the typically eastern English elongated form also seen at Ely and Peterborough. The west end of Norwich cathedral was completed by c. 1145.

The Norman tower, with polygonal turrets at each corner, was complete by 1170. It is elaborately embellished, with amongst other motifs, distinctive circles. The tower has a spire of the 15th century and this is also the date of spirelets on the turrets.

The priory cloister on the south side of the cathedral was built in the first half of the 12th century, although little can be seen of it today. The bishop's palace, north of the cathedral, has, however, some Norman work surviving in its north-south range.


Fernie, E., 1976. 'The ground plan of Norwich cathedral and the square root of two', Journal of the British Archaeological Association 129, 77-86
Gilchrist, R., 1998. 'Norwich cathedral: a biography of the north transept', Journal of the British Archaeological Association 151, 107-36
Pevsner, N. and Wilson, B., 1997. The Buildings of England, Norfolk 1: Norwich and the North-East (London, Penguin, 2nd edition), 193-220