Sunday, August 18, 2013

Cathedral of St. John the Baptist, Norwich

The Cathedral of Saint John the Baptist in Norwich, England, is a fine example of the Victorian Gothic revival church. Begun in the late 1800s by George Gilbert Scott Junior, it was finished in 1910 by his brother John Oldried Scott. The donor who made it possible was Henry Fitzalan Howard, the 15th Duke of Norfolk. He gave it in thanksgiving for his marriage to Lady Flora Abney Hastings.

The church initially served as the parish church for Roman Catholics in Norwich. In 1976 the Diocese of East Anglia was created and the church became the cathedral for the diocese, i.e. the church of the East Anglian Roman Catholic bishop. What an East Anglican Roman Catholic bishop would be is unclear, but would probably make a great story. But I digress...

The exterior is beautiful but a little difficult to photograph. The cathedral is on a hill but has a fairly busy road curving around it and a lot of buildings surrounding it, not allowing for a good wide shot. We took this photo from the interior garden.

Cathedral of St. John the Baptist, Norwich

To enter the church, we had to come in through a small side door at the back of the nave. The lintel of the door has a nice arch of saints.

Lintel of the side entrance

The nave is about 150 feet long with a large and airy atmosphere, that was enhanced by the incense they used at the 1100 Sunday Mass we attended.


Two side altars caught my eye. First is the Our Lady of Czestockowa icon and memorial to the Polish men and women who died fighting the Second World War. There is a large Polish community in Norwich and the cathedral has a Mass in Polish on Saturday evenings.

Our Lady of Czestockowa

Further up is a small altar to Saint Anthony, which is charming because the child Jesus is more hugging him than just standing by him.

Saint Anthony

In the north transept is a large stained glass window dedicated to Our Lady, Queen of Heaven. Hence the window is known as the Queen's Window. Other biblical women are also depicted, including Esther, Judith, and the Queen of Sheba.

Queen's Window

To the left of the main altar is the Lady Chapel dedicated to Our Lady of Walsingham.

Lady Chapel

Behind the main altar is the Chapel of the Saints of East Anglia. The modern painting is of St. Felix, St. Etheldreda, and St. Edmund. This chapel is used for daily masses and is flooded with light and color by the stained-glass above.

Chapel of the Saints of East Anglia

Nearby is a nice colored bas-relief of the Annunciation.


In the back of the church is a small display of papal regalia from when Pope John Paul II visited.

From the Pope's visit

After Mass was over, we walked into an attached building where the Cathedral shop and the Refectory are located. This area also has access to the garden which was full of people due to nice weather. A man was practicing his clarinet. L wanted to give him some money (as we often do for buskers) but he didn't have a hat or his case open. We assumed he was just practicing and didn't make a donation.

Soon enough we were off to other adventures in Norwich, like finding a place for lunch. We probably should have eaten at the Refectory since we had some trouble finding food. Eventually we came across a coffee shop that was still serving breakfast. The children were excited to eat pancakes for lunch!

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