The Spire of the Cathedral
(photo by O6scura)
The Cathedral of Norwich is famous for one of the highest spires in England. It has a prickly octagonal shape and is 315f high, beaten only by the spire in Salisbury. To fully enjoy the view of the Cathedral's exterior you should see it from the Lower Close Street. From here you can appreciate the high architectural skills mostly reflected by the flying buttresses with their thick curves, the uncommon for the English cathedrals rounded excrescences of the chapels in the ambulatory and the impressive symmetries of the main body.
The interior is uniquely light by the sun rays passing through the clear-glass windows in the nave and reflected by the creamy tint of the stone walls. The colossal pillars are the most clearly recognizable legacy of the Normans who began the building of the cathedral in the end of 11th century. The nave is covered by a splendid fan vaults, decorated by graceful and extremely delicate carvings, culminating in hundreds of reliefs depicting scenes from the Old and the New Testaments. At the south or right side of the ambulatory is located the St. Luke's Chapel where is kept probably the most precious art work of the Cathedral. This is Despenser Reredos - a marvellous painting on a panel created in the last quarter of the 14th century to celebrate the defeat of a peasants' rebellion. The amazing cloisters can be reached from the southern aisle of the nave. They were built in a long period of time – from the end of the 13th century to the middle of 15th century. These are the only two-storey cloisters preserved intact in the entire England. Here you can see an impressive set of sculpted bosses which resemble those in the nave but you can see them from a shorter distance and distinguish the depicted scenes without the help of binoculars. The reliefs are very sophisticated and intricate and the accent is put on theme of the Apocalypse. If you take a closer look you can see some bosses depicting the figures of green men, considered ancient pagan fertility symbols.
The trunk of the Cathedral and the
cloisters (photo by crashcalloway)
Right opposite the entrance of the Cathedral is located the Canary Chapel. This is a medieval building housing today the Norwich School, together with the other rambling buildings in the close surroundings. The statue of Horatio Nelson, one of the most renowned school's graduates, is facing the chapel from the green of the Upper Close. The latter is guarded by two richly decorated medieval gates, called Erpingham and Ethelbert. Close to the Erpingham Gate you will see the memorial to Edith Cavell. This is a woman from Norwich, who was a nurse in the Belgium city of Brussels during the German occupation in the World War I. Edith was shot by German troops in an attempt to help English prisoners escape. The grave of the brave woman is right outside the ambulatory of the Cathedral. The two already mentioned medieval gates will both lead you to the ancient Saxon market place - a broad and busy thoroughfare, called Tombland, after the old Saxon word for a large open space. From the north side of the Tombland, going left along Wensum Street and cobble-stoned Elm Hill, which is more a slight slope than a real hill, you will see the Wright's Court. This is one of the few well preserved enclosed courtyards which were a characteristic feature of old Norwich. On the top of Elm Hill are situated St. Andrew's Hall and Blackfriars Hall. These are two adjoining structures which were once the nave and the chancel of a church in the Dominican monastery that existed on the site. Today the two halls are creatively restored to house concerts, antique fairs and various events, including even weddings. The crypt of the former monastery church is now a pleasant café.