Record Details

NHER Number:406
Type of record:Building
Name:Remains of St William in the Wood's chapel, Mousehold Heath


The chapel of St William in the Wood was originally dedicated to St Catherine, but was rededicated in 1168 following the supposed martyrdom of St William of Norwich in 1144. It is said that the chapel was founded on the site where his body was found, and it served as a parochial chapel of Norwich Cathedral Priory. The date of its dissoluation is unclear, but the last offering is recorded in 1506, and by 1556 the site was leased out by the Dean and Chapter. At the present time a large banked enclosure remains, within which are the remains of a possible flint building platform. These features are visible as earthworks on aerial photographs.

Images - none


Grid Reference:TG 2466 1050
Map Sheet:TG21SW

Full description

Site of St Williams in the Wood.
The chapel, originally founded as St Catherine's (see (S1)), was refounded in 1168 (27 April) following the supposed martyrdom of St William of Norwich in 1144. The chapel was founded on the site where the body was found. It was served as a parochial chapel of Norwich Cathedral Priory. The date of the dissolution is not clear, but in 1550 the site was leased out by the Dean and Chapter to William Bleverhaysset as 'the chapel-yard called St William in the Wood' (Blomefield 1806, 425).

Plan by J. Kirkpatrick in NCM Art Department (1740.76.94).

Large (around 100m by 130m) trapezoidal, banked enclosure; with the earthworks surviving to a height of up to about 1m. Within this enclosure are the remains of a possible building platform. The remains are incomplete and it may merely be an inner enclosure.

August 1978. Field Visit.
Remains considerably overgrown by small trees and vegetation.
M. Atkin (NCM).

See file for further details.

March 1996. Field Observation.
Examination and back-filling of a series of animal burrows which had disturbed the structure of the chapel.
No finds retrieved.
See site records in file.
S. Manifold (NAU) 11 April 1996.

Brian Ayers comments that he does not believe these were animal burrows. Flint footings had been exposed and dug out on the line of the inner enclosure, suggesting treasure hunters. Photographs taken.
Information from B. Ayers (NLA).
E. Rose (NLA), 24 July 1996.

(S2) says the last offering made at the chapel was in 1506 so one assumes it vanished soon afterwards.
E. Rose (NLA), 5 January 2001.

2002 or thereabouts.
A shallow hole noted with freshly-disturbed soil and a piece of moulded ashlar of possible 15th century date (not collected).
D. Gurney (HES), 18 September 2012.

June 2003.
Area of chapel densely covered by nettles, brambles, elder and hawthorn. A few mature trees, mostly oak. Cover less under trees. Estimate to be obtained for clearance of undergrowth under Section 17 agreement.
H. Paterson (A&E), 26 August 2003.

May 2004. Visit.
Scrub has been cut back, 1 foot to 1 foot 6 inches (30cm to 45cm) from ground. Cut items stacked off site for wildlife. Some regeneration of bramble and bracken. Nettles thick to north. Scatter of flint and pebbles seen in area of bare soil. Strimming of regrowth will be undertaken later in the summer under Section 17 prescription.
H. Paterson (A&E), 31 August 2004.

Photographs (S3) and conservation statement (S4) in file.

For an article on the legend of St William, see (S5).
D. Gurney (NLA), 2 February 2009.

2007. Geophysical Survey.
Magnetometry and resistivity surveys carried out in expected location of St William's chapel in order to identify surviving structure remains and compare the effectiveness of the two techniques. Neither survey managed to conclusively identify structural remains associated with the chapel, although the magnetometer survey did reveal a number of potentially archaeologically significant anomalies. The resistivity survey was less successful, principally due to the site's topography and geology and the presence of dense vegetation.
See undergraduate dissertation (S12) for further details.
P. Watkins (HES), 9 October 2018.

April 2009.
Five year Section 17 agreement signed, including funding for an earthwork survey.
See (S6).
D. Robertson (HES), 7 May 2015.

April 2010. Norfolk NMP.
Banks and ditches relating to the chapel described above are visible as earthworks and cropmarks on aerial photographs (S7-S8). It was not possible to define the features any more clearly than those depicted on the Ordnance Survey map, and they have therefore not been mapped.
E. Bales (NMP), April 2010.

February 2010. Earthwork Survey.
The earthworks consist of two concentric banked and ditched enclosures located on land gently sloping southwards. Within the earthworks are mounds and depressions of flint rubble which are likely to be the remains of buildings. Three north-south aligned banks originally linked to the southern boundaries of the two enclosures were observed. A short length of former tramway survives as a cutting close to the south-east corner of the site with an extraction pit on the southern boundary and gaps in the north-south boundary from a former trackway that crossed the heath. The central features are probably the remains of the chapel and the two adjacent structures could be the associated monks quarters. The inner enclosure and the building platforms are possibly contemporary. The outer enclosure is likely to be a boundary possibly enclosing the churchyard and a small feature in the north-western corner could be a former entrance.
See report (S9) for further details.
S. Howard (HES), 11 May 2011.

August 2012. Field Observation.
Site visited to investigate report of heritage crime.
Disturbance by mountain bikers reported by members of the public.
Two areas of disturbance seen, both the result of mountain biking.
See damage report (S10) and local press articles (S11) for further details.
D. Robertson (HES), 9 August 2012.

May 2015. Interpretation panel installed.
D. Robertson (HES), 7 May 2015.

Monument Types

  • BANK (EARTHWORK) (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD)
  • CHAPEL (12th Century to 16th Century - 1168 AD? to 1506 AD?)

Associated Finds - none

Protected Status

  • Scheduled Monument

Sources and further reading

---Designation: [unknown]. Ancient Monuments Form. SAM Record. DNF461.
---Unpublished Document: H. Paterson (A&E), MPP. Section 17 Management Agreement.
---Record Card: Ordnance Survey Staff. 1933-1979?. Ordnance Survey Record Cards. TG 21 SW 16.
---Archive: Norfolk Monuments Management Project File.
---*Verbal Communication: Colin Howey (NCC Education). 2012. [unknown].
---Record Card: NCM Staff. 1973-1989. Norfolk Archaeological Index Primary Record Card - Norwich.
---Record Card: Clarke, R. R. and NCM Staff. 1933-1973. Norwich Castle Museum Record Card - Norwich - Post Roman.
---Secondary File: Secondary File.
---Newspaper Article: Evening News. 2012. Anger at illegal biking trail at Norwich's Mousehold Heath. 7 August.
---Unpublished Document: Cattermole, P. 1985. Extract from Some Norwich Churches as seen in the Obedientary Rolls of Norwich Cathedral Priory..
---*Digital Archive: Norfolk Monuments Management Project Photographic Archive.
---Designation: Department Of The Environment. 1882-1984?. Department of the Environment Scheduling Notification. Notification. DNF461.
---Designation: English Heritage. 1994? -2011?. English Heritage Digital Designation Record. Record. DNF461.
<S1>Unpublished Document: Carter, A.. Building Survey.
<S2>Article in Monograph: Harper-Bill, C. 1996. The Medieval Church in the Wider World. Norwich Cathedral: Church, City and Diocese, 1096-1996. Atherton, I. et al (eds). pp 281-313. p 304.
<S3>Photograph: JQL 32-6.
<S4>Unpublished Report: Tremlett, S. 2003. St William's Chapel, Mousehold Heath, Norwich: Conservation Statement.
<S5>Newspaper Article: David. A. Berwick (Triangle Norwich). 2009. Local History Matters. February.
<S6>Unpublished Document: Norfolk County Council. 2008-2009. Section 17 Management Agreement.
<S7>Vertical Aerial Photograph: RAF. 1947. RAF CPE/UK/2019 5112-3 18-APR-1947 (NMR).
<S8>Vertical Aerial Photograph: RAF. 1951. RAF 58/775 5052-3 21-AUG-1951 (NMR).
<S9>Unpublished Contractor Report: Cushion, B. 2010. St William's Chapel, Mousehold Heath. Archaeological Earthwork Survey. Brian Cushion Archaeological & Cartographical Surveyor.
<S10>Unpublished Document: Robertson, D. A. 2012. Damage report for St William's Chapel, Mousehold Heath, Norwich. Norfolk Monuments Management Project Report.
<S11>Newspaper Article: Eastern Daily Press. 2012. [Articles on the illegal bike trails created in 2012].
<S12>Thesis: Cottee, L. 2007. Comparing the success of magnetic and resistivity geophysical methods in identifying the location and nature of St William's chapel in Norwich.

Related records

824Parent of: 12th to 13th century enamelled plaque (Find Spot)
Site 1102Parent of: Site of St. Williams in the Wood Chapel (Monument)
Site 1974Parent of: St William Chapel, Mousehold Heath (Monument)

Find out more...

Norfolk County Council logo Heritage Lottery Fund logo

Powered by HBSMR-web and the HBSMR Gateway from exeGesIS SDM Ltd, and mojoPortal CMS
© 2007 - 2021 Norfolk Historic Environment Service