Record Details

NHER Number:415
Type of record:Building
Name:St James' Church (Puppet Theatre), Norwich


This former parish church became rendundant but has since been converted into use as a small theatre. It is currently used by the internationally important Norwich Puppet Theatre. The building dates to the 15th and 16th centuries, and is of flint with stone and brick dressings. The most eye-catching feature of the building is the short three-stage tower, which rather than being built on the end of the nave, was actually built inside the church! Inside this resulted in the three-way partitioning of the west end, as the tower is supported by internal arched supports. Outside, the square tower rises a few metres before finishing in a small octagonal brick and stone turret dating to the 18th century.
St James was one of the few buildings in this area to survive the combined depredations of the widening of the inner ring road in 1938 and bombing of World War Two. This area was previously densely populated with terraced streets, 17th century street-frons and small industry, but all of this is now gone, and St James stands almost squashed against the ring road.

Images - none


Grid Reference:TG 23413 09358
Map Sheet:TG20NW

Full description

Church of St James, Pockthorpe or Cowgate. Also known as St James the Less.

1954. Listed, Grade I.
Listing Description Excerpt:
"Former parish church now redundant and used as Puppet Theatre. 15th century and 16th century. Flint with stone and brick dressings. Brick. Slate roofs. West tower. Nave and chancel. South aisle. South porch. The short three-stage tower is supported on internal arched supports."
Information from (S1).
Please consult the National Heritage List for England (S1) for the current details.
P. Watkins (HES), 7 September 2017. Amended H. Hamilton (HES), 8 November 2019.

Rood screen of ten painted panels now at St Mary Magdalen, Silver Road (NHER 26424).
Church of St James (Pockthorpe) Cowgate probably, identified as the church of Letha in the Domesday Book. Founded in time of the Conqueror. (Blythe G.K.).
R. R. Clarke (NCM).

Around 1976.
Internal alterations for 'Puppet Theatre' and extension outside.
Details in file.
M. J. Atkin (NCM).

1970s or 1980s. Building Survey.
Church examined as part of Norwich Survey.
See draft report (S2) for further details.
P. Watkins (HES), 7 September 2017.

The 'temporary Christmas screen' that caused commotion at St John Timberhill was moved to here but vanished in the 1960s. See details under NHER 563.
E. Rose (NLA), 24 April 2006.

Monument Types

  • CHURCH (Medieval to Mid 20th Century - 1066 AD to 1960 AD?)
  • THEATRE (Mid 20th Century to 21st Century - 1960 AD? to 2100 AD)

Associated Finds - none

Protected Status

  • Listed Building

Sources and further reading

---Article in Serial: Jope, E. M. 1952. Excavations in the City of Norwich, 1948. Norfolk Archaeology. Vol XXX pp 287-323. p 320.
---Monograph: Batcock, N. 1991. The Ruined and Disused Churches of Norfolk. East Anglian Archaeology. No 51. Microfiche 5:G12. No N19; p 175.
---Monograph: Blomefield, F. 1806. The History of The City and County of Norwich, Part II. An Essay Towards a Topographical History of the County of Norfolk. Vol IV. pp 423-425.
---Publication: Cox, J. C. 1911. Country Churches: Norfolk. Vol II. p 178.
---Monograph: Pevsner, N. and Wilson, B. 1997. Norfolk 1: Norwich and North-East. The Buildings of England. 2nd Edition. pp 238-239.
---Publication: Messent, C. J. W. 1932. The City Churches of Norwich. pp 38-41.
---Publication: Blyth, G. K. 1842. The Norwich Guide. p 137.
---Newspaper Article: Eastern Daily Press. 2011. Sharing the vision for a very special venue.. 20 November.
---Unpublished Document: Cattermole, P. 1985. Some Norwich Churches as seen in the Obedientiary Rolls of Norwich Cathedral Priory, 1276-1536.
---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.
---Article in Serial: Beale Poste. 1858. Remarks on Some Representations of Minstrels in Early Painted Glass, Formerly in St James’ Church, Norwich. Journal of the British Archaeological Association. First Series Vol XIV pp 129-131.
<S1>Designation: Historic England. National Heritage List for England. List Entry 1372521.
<S2>Unpublished Report: [Unknown]. [unknown]. St James Pockthorpe, Norwich [draft report]. Building Report.

Related records

Site 2555Parent of: Church of St James , Pockthorpe (Monument)
737Parent of: Medieval to post medieval pottery sherds, St James' Churchyard (Find Spot)
Site 1111Parent of: St James' Church (Cowgate), Whitefriars (Monument)
Mon 702Parent of: St James' Church (Monument)
Site 2065Parent of: St James' Church Pockthorpe (Monument)
Site 2068Parent of: St James' Church Pockthorpe (Monument)
Site 2016Parent of: St James' Church, Pockthorpe (Monument)
Mon 1189Parent of: St James' Churchyard, Pockthorpe (Monument)
Site 1396Parent of: St James' Churchyard, Whitefriars (Monument)

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