Record Details

NHER Number:451
Type of record:Monument
Name:Site of St Clement at Conesford's Church and churchyard, Abbey Lane, Norwich


St Clement at Conesford (also referred to as St Clement at the Well) was a medieval parish church situated on the corner of Abbey Lane and King Street. The exact date of its establishment is unclear, but it was possibly pre-conquest. The parish was united with that of St Julian in 1482, although services continued to be held at St Clement's. The church and its churchyard eventually passed into private hands in 1560. It is not known when the church itself was finally demolished, although it was still standing in the mid-18th century and may well have survived into the 19th century (perhaps partly incorporated into later buildings).

In 1962 construction work on this site uncovered a significant number of human bones, these representing the remains of up to 41 individuals. All were dated to the medieval period and are believed to have been buried in the churchyard. The number of children present suggests a high rate of child mortality and it appears that the overall health of this population was also fairly poor.

Images - none


Grid Reference:TG 23620 08096
Map Sheet:TG20NW

Full description

Site of the now lost medieval parish church of St Clement at Conesford, also known as St Clement at the Well.

According to Blomefield (S1) this church was established before the Norman conquest, an assertion supported by its dedication, which is most likely Scandinavian (S2). The advowson passed through various hands, and in the 13th century was in the possession of the de Wendling family, who granted it to the Premonstratensian Abbey that they had founded at Wendling in Norfolk (NHER 7281). It was subsequently leased to various individuals before being released to the city by Edmund, Abbot of Wendling in 1456. In 1370 St Clement was united with that of the nearby chapel of St Anne (NHER 554), which was subsequently demolished (S1). In 1482 the parish of St Clement was united with that of St Julian (S3), although the church remained in use, being served by a parish chaplain appointed by the rector of St Julian (S1). This situation persisted until 1549, when the church was declared a ‘free chapel’ by the city and no further services performed. In subsequent years the church was converted to secular uses, the city selling its bells, lead and much of the steeple (S1). The church and its churchyard were eventually sold to Thomas Keteringham in 1560 (S2).

It is not certain exactly when the church was demolished, although it is clear from Blomefield that it was still standing, albeit in reduced form, in 1744 (S1). By the time the Ordnance Survey First Edition map was produced in the late 19th century (S4) the church had entirely vanished, its site shown as occupied by a malthouse operated by Messrs. Whitbread and Co; a firm of London brewers. Messent, writing in 1936, records that reused material likely to have come from this church could still be seen in the vicinity (S5). Although the O.S placed the church midway between King Street and the river, research by [1] suggests that this is probably incorrect. The site of the church is marked on the copy of Cleer’s map that accompanies (S6), being shown as lying at the junction of King Street (then Conesford Street) and Abbey Lane (then called Cockey Lane), behind a row of properties that fronted on to King Street. Mention is made of St Clement's church, with the wording making it more likely that the church lay close to the western end of the alley, rather than out of sight to the east. According to (S6) there was a ‘cistern’ at the eastern end of Abbey Lane - almost certainly the well from which the church took one of its names. A reconstruction drawn up from the information contained in property deeds of 1285-1340 (as part of the Norwich Survey), also placed the church close to the junction with King Street. See notes (S7) for further details and a reconstruction of the area based on the 14th-century deeds.

Further evidence for the likely position of this church came in 1962 when building work exposed human remains near the location suggested by Cleer's map (TG 2361 0809, see below).

The mapped extent of this record previously reflected the position of the church as it was marked by the O.S (area centred on TG2363 0811) and has therefore been moved to reflect its more likely location. The size of the area mapped has also been increased to reflect the inevitable uncertainty regarding the extent of the churchyard.
Amended by P. Watkins (HES), 11 April 2013.

1962. Salvage Excavation.
Human remains disturbed by site clearance and excavation during redevelopment of part of the Whitbread and Co. site. According to contemporary press accounts the remains of at least 15 individuals were removed by Norwich Castle Museum staff.
See (S8) and (S9). This discovey was also reported in (S10) and (S11).

An effort was clearly made to identify and separately collect the bones of individual internments; Calvin Wells (who was the first to examine these bones) recording that he received what were meant to be seventeen distinct inhumations, along with two mixed lots of bone (S12). All but two of the internments were however found to comprise the remains of several individuals. It is unclear whether this was due to the difficult circumstances in which these bones were collected or a result of much early disturbance. Wells estimated that the bones represented the remains of approximately 14 men, 15 women and 18 children (S12). These figures differ somewhat to those given by (S13), which suggests that 41 separate individuals were probably present; 17 children, 7 males (plus 4 probable) and 6 females (plus 3 probable). Either way, it is clear that a high level of child mortality is represented. According to Wells this population is likely to have had a generally poor standard of health, with the age of death of the adults also generally low. The condition of their teeth also appears to have been poor even for the time and there was much evidence for severe osteo-arthritis, particularly of the spine. Wells also observed so-called ‘squatting facets’ on the ankle joints of several individuals (S12). These remains are still held by the NCM (NWHCM : 1962.387 : A), along with a number of medieval pottery sherds that were also recovered during this work (NWHCM : 1962.388 : A).
Amended by P. Watkins (HES), 11 April 2013.

1986. Watching Brief.
Excavation of a trial pit at TG 23622 08095 revealed a north-to-south aligned flint wall. At present it is impossible to say whether this was associated with St Clement's church or one of the medieval properties known to have lain between the churchyard and the river. It is however entirely possible that this was the boundary wall of the churchyard.
See NHER 58722 for further details.
Amended by P. Watkins (HES), 11 April 2013.

Monument Types

  • CHURCH (Late Saxon to 18th Century - 851 AD? to 1800 AD?)
  • CHURCHYARD (Medieval to 16th Century - 1066 AD? to 1560 AD?)
  • INHUMATION (Medieval to 16th Century - 1066 AD? to 1560 AD?)

Associated Finds

  • HUMAN REMAINS (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD)
  • POT (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD)

Protected Status - none

Sources and further reading

---Monograph: Batcock, N. 1991. The Ruined and Disused Churches of Norfolk. East Anglian Archaeology. No 51. Microfiche 5:G12. No N8; p 175.
---Record Card: Ordnance Survey Staff. 1933-1979?. Ordnance Survey Record Cards. TG 20 NW 104 [2].
---Publication: Messent, C. J. W. 1932. The City Churches of Norwich.
---Record Card: Clarke, R. R. and NCM Staff. 1933-1973. Norwich Castle Museum Record Card - Norwich - Post Roman.
---Secondary File: Secondary File.
<S1>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 77-79.
<S2>Article in Serial: Jope, E. M. 1952. Excavations in the City of Norwich, 1948. Norfolk Archaeology. Vol XXX pp 287-323. p 321.
<S3>Monograph: Batcock, N. 1991. The Ruined and Disused Churches of Norfolk. East Anglian Archaeology. No 51. Microfiche 5:G12. No N8; pp 175, 182.
<S4>Map: Ordnance Survey. 1885. Ordnance Survey first edition maps of Norwich, reproduced in 1971 and reduced to a scale of 1:1250..
<S5>Publication: Messent, C. J. W. 1936. The Parish Churches of Norfolk & Norwich. p 173.
<S6>Publication: Kirkpatrick, J. and Hudson, W (ed.). 1889. The Streets and Lanes of the City of Norwich. p 7.
<S7>Unpublished Document: Tillyard, M. Position of St Clement Conesford.
<S8>Newspaper Article: Eastern Daily Press. 1962. 15 skeletons found. 17 August.
<S9>Newspaper Article: Eastern Daily Press. 1962. Beneath the Streets of Conesford. 5 September.
<S10>Serial: 1962. Council for British Archaeology Group 7 Bulletin of Archaeological Discoveries for 1962. No 9. p 5.
<S11>Article in Serial: Wilson, D. M. and Hurst, D. G. 1965. Medieval Britain in 1962 and 1963. Medieval Archaeology. Vol VIII (for 1964) pp 231-299. p 267.
<S12>Article in Serial: Wells, C.. 1963. Human remains from St. Clement's King Street, Norwich. Norfolk Research Committee Bulletin. Series 1 No 14 (for 1961 and 1962) pp 13.
<S13>Record Card: NCM Staff. 1973-1989. Norfolk Archaeological Index Primary Record Card - Norwich.

Related records

58722Parent of: Flint wall of possible medieval date (Monument)

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