Norwich, Norfolk – St Martin-at-Palace

St-Martin-at-Palace is on the corner of Bishopsgate and Whitefriars – TG 234 091 – and is the HQ of Norwich Historic Churches Trust, The East Wall dates to 1070, nave and chancel C11/12, south nave aisle 1400, and the chancel chapels 1490. The chancel collapsed in 1851, and was rebuilt (as was the porch). The tower fell in 1783 and rebuilt in 1874.

The church closed in 1973 and was used as a store for the Diocesan Furnishings Officer. It was re-ordered in 1985 and taken over by the Probation Service. The re-ordering involved the screening off the two chancel chapels so they could be used as meeting rooms, inserting a mezzanine floor in the north aisle and an amazing three-tier structure in the nave. They dug down and went up – and none of it is accessible if you are disabled. The course we were on met in the Chancel, which had a step into it (and no ramp). The Probation service moved out in 2013, and NCHT moved in – they are developing the area as a better visitors centre, so one hopes they will address some of these things.

We sat and looked at the east window of 1952, made by the William Morris workshop – Jesus, Mary and a Roman Centurion.

This glass is C19.

In the (locked) north chapel is the tomb of Dame Elizabeth Calthorp (died 1578). She married three times. Her first husband was Sir Henry Parker (1507-52) who held various posts at Henry VIII’s court, then Sir William Woodhouse of Waxham (1517-64) who became Vice-Admiral of the Navy in 1552, and finally Sir Drue Drury (1531-1617) who became Gentleman Usher of the Privy Council in 1559. Her mother, Amy Boleyn, was a first cousin of Queen Anne Boleyn. There are some other nice memorials too.

No doubt there is more that they could do, but it’s an interesting place. They have lots of leaflets and guides to Norwich churches.

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