Norwich Cathedral is an English cathedral located in Norwich, Norfolk, dedicated to the Holy and Undivided Trinity. It is the cathedral church for the Church of England Diocese of Norwich and is one of the Norwich 12 heritage sites.
The cathedral was begun in 1096 and constructed out of flint and mortar and faced with a cream-coloured Caen limestone. An Anglo-Saxon settlement and two churches were demolished to make room for the buildings. The cathedral was completed in 1145 with the Norman tower still seen today topped with a wooden spire covered with lead. Several episodes of damage necessitated rebuilding of the east end and spire but since the final erection of the stone spire in 1480 there have been few fundamental alterations to the fabric.
From Bell’s Cathedrals: The Cathedral Church of Norwich, C.H.B. Quennell, 1898:
Norwich Cathedral stands on the site of no earlier church: it is to-day, in its plan and the general bulk of its detail, as characteristically Norman as when left finished by the hand of Eborard, the second bishop of Norwich.
The church was founded by Herbert de Losinga, the first bishop, as the cathedral priory of the Benedictine monastery in Norwich (a sketch of its constitution at this period will be found in the Notes on the Diocese); the foundation-stone was laid in 1096 on a piece of land called Cowholme,—meaning a pasture surrounded by water,—and the church was dedicated to the Holy Trinity.
The foundation-stone of the cathedral was laid in 1096; and upon it, according to the Registrum Primum, the following inscription is said to have been placed:—”In nomine patris et filii et spiritus Sancti Amen Ego Herbertus Episcopus apposui istum lapidem.” (In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost, Amen, I, Herbert the Bishop, have placed this stone.)
It was the custom of the Norman builders to start building from the easternmost part of the church, as the more sacred part of the structure, and then build westwards; so that probably this foundation-stone, for which diligent search has been made in vain, was in the eastmost wall of the original Norman Lady Chapel—in fact, the Registrum Primum describes how Herbert began the work “where is now the chapel of the Blessed Mary.” This chapel was demolished to make way for the beautiful thirteenth-century Lady Chapel which Dean Gardiner destroyed. The thirteenth-century builders of the Lady Chapel may have used Herbert’s foundation-stone in their walling; Dean Lefroy quite lately, while repairing parts of the tower and east end, came across pieces of stone with beautiful “dog-tooth” ornament upon them, which had been used to repair the masonry that, it was evident, at one time had formed part of the thirteenth-century Lady Chapel. This must be so, since in no other part of the building save the arches now remaining in the extreme eastern wall of the procession path, which at one time gave access to the Lady Chapel, does such ornament occur.
It is probable, and the more generally accredited supposition, that Herbert built the presbytery with its encircling procession path and the original trefoil of Norman chapel radiating therefrom;—the choir and transepts with the two chapels projecting eastwards and the first two bays of the nave. Harrod advances a theory that he completely finished the whole of the cathedral church, as well as the offices for the housing of the sixty monks who were placed therein, in 1101. He also built the episcopal palace on the north side of the cathedral, of which some parts remain to this day incorporated with work of a later period; he seems to have founded and built other churches in Norwich and Yarmouth. He died on the 22nd of July 1119, in the twenty-ninth year of his episcopate, and was buried before the high altar in his own cathedral church.