Record Details

NHER Number:454
Type of record:Building
Name:St George's Church, Tombland, Norwich


St. George’s church, Tombland was first mentioned 1248. The present building has a 13th century core but is mostly of various dates in the late 15th century. It was restored in the late 19th century by Ewan Christian, and has the only remaining Ritualist interior in Norwich. The church also contains several 17th and 18th century monuments, including one attributed to the sculptor Scheemakers.
The church was built in what was, in the 13th century, a declining market place. The commercial importance of the market place had been eclipsed by the establishment of the new market in the Norman borough. The position of the church blocked the alignment of several roads, and encroached on the Saxon market place. A late medieval resurgence in the importance of Tombland led to the development of a line of stalls to the east of the church, giving Tombland its modern shape.

Images - none


Grid Reference:TG 23312 08831
Map Sheet:TG20NW

Full description

Late foundation upon Tombland, diverting Hungate. First mentioned 1248. Present building has 13th century core but is mostly of various dates in the late 15th century. Restored late 19th century by Ewan Christian. Contains important monuments (one by Sheemakers), stone dole table, etc.

See guide book (S1) and entry in (S2) for further details.

February 1954. Listed, Grade I.
Listing Description Excerpt:
"Parish church. 15th and 16th century. Flint with stone and brick dressings. Brick clerestory. Lead roofs. West tower. Nave and chancel. North and south aisles and porches. North chancel chapel. Three-stage tower c.1445 and repaired 1645. Four-stages of diagonal buttresses."
Information from (S3).
Please consult the National Heritage List for England (S3) for the current details.
P. Watkins (HES), 2 October 2017. Amended H. Hamilton (HES), 8 November 2019.

1963. Stray Find.
Fragments of chain mail found under a roof timber during re-roofing of south aisle.
Identified by Tower of London as ?late 15th century.
Previously on loan to Norwich Castle Museum [2], but possibly now returned to church.
P. Watkins (HES), 2 October 2017.

1970s or 1980s. Building Survey.
Church examined as part of Norwich Survey.
See unfinished report draft (S4) further details.
P. Watkins (HES), 2 October 2017.

1991. Architectural Survey.
Survey of the chancel arch carried out prior to remedial works.
See report (S5) for further details. The results of this work are also summarised in (S6).
A microfiche copy of the report has been deposited with the Norwich Castle Museum (NWHCM : 2008.64).
Amended by P. Watkins (HES), 10 March 2017 and 5 May 2019.

1998. Watching Brief.
Monitoring of excavation of pipe trench across churchyard.
No archaeologically signficant features were observed and the work produced only late post-medieval finds.
Report awaited.
The archive associated with this work has been deposited with the Norwich Castle Museum (NWHCM : 2008.64).
Amended by P. Watkins (HES), 8 February 2017 and 5 May 2019.

November 1999. Field Observation.
Lecture and visit by Royal Archaeological Institute conducted by [1].
The building was a proprietry church in the 13th century and may have been founded to take care of the western section of the parish of the church of Holy Trinity destroyed when the cathedral was built, the line of Hungate (Princes Street) formerly having followed Tombland Alley. The North Porch is about 1440, the south porch 1490, north aisle 1445. The Index Monasticus mentions an anchorite, possibly the present north chapel or the vestry, which used to be separate from each other and the aisle. Ewan Christian restored the church in 1880s. A three light window is cut by the aisle/chapel wall. A map of 1541 shows a gabled north projection. Nave clerestory and wallplate 16th century, later refaced in brick. The Anguish Monument is by Nicholas Stone and it has recently (1999) been established that the Gardner Monument is by Scheermaker.
The stone altar was 'found in a house in Elm Hill' in 1902. There is a burial of 1732 in the vestry floor.
During the visit it was noted by E. Rose (NLA) that the vestry has putlog holes of late medieval brick and some stone quoins, as well as later repairs. Other observations included the presence of diagonal skintlings on the red and black brick outer facing to the south clerestory, possibly indicating a pre 1780 date.
See notes at beginning of report (S7).
E. Rose (NLA), 10 November 2000. Amended by P. Watkins (HES), 2 October 2017.

September 2000. Building Survey.
Examination by E. Rose (NLA) of parts of the building not normally open for inspection.
The chuch has a tower dating to the mid-15th century and a north porch of the same period. At some date after c. 1770 and before 1879, the triangular area between the two was walled in as a yard or shed, when the building was restored in 1879 the interior of this triangle was therefore the only section which escaped. In September 2000 a vault was found beneath the floor of the yard, running under the north porch and conatining a heating machine of 1880. the section beneath the former yard has a brick barrel vault of trapezoidal plan. This seems to date to the early 19th century and was probably a charnel vault, its unusual shape due to the need to contain it within the church boundaries. It would appear that during the late 19th century restoration the footings of the medieval proch were broken through to extend the space, using Penkridge bricks and iron girders, so as to form a boiler room under the porch, the charnel becoming a stoke hole.
See report (S7) for further details. These observations are also summarised in (S8).
D. Holburn (HES), 14 November 2011.

[1] in (S1) notes that the internal arrangement of the church is of 1895 and is the only remaining Ritualist interior in Norwich, whereas in 1910 twenty out of thirty-one churches there had this format. The Commandment Boards on the reredos, obnoxious to Ritualists, were covered by braiding and this still remains. The candlesticks removed from St Lawrence in 1876 were brought here.
E. Rose (NLA), 22 April 2006.

A planning statement by GBM Architects in 2006 states that there was a doorway in the east wall of the north porch, formed at some date to access a staircase to a gallery in the north aisle, and which was removed in the late 19th-century restoration.
lnvestigations by Andrea Kirkham for wallpaintings in the north aisle revealed only 19-century decoration.
Beneath the north aisle is the brick vault of Benjamin Kittmer, probably 18th-century.
Compiled by E. Rose (NLA), 18 July 2006. Information from (S9).
P. Watkins (HES), 2 October 2017.

January 2008. Excavation and Observations
The remains of a possible brick structure was identified in Inspection Chamber 1, on the exterior of the north aisle. A tobacco pipe stem and disarticulated human bone fragments were recovered. Inspection chamber 2, at the boundary of the churchyard, contained a grave cut, post medieval pottery, a silver shilling and an undated fragment of lead sheet. The eastern boundary wall of the churchyard was also exposed, and comprised flints with occasional bricks in lime mortar and had a limestone capping over a course of red brick. A south-east to north-west linear feature was observed abutting the wal. It seems probable that this represents the original foundation cut for the wall. An in situ human skeleton was present within the grave cut, and iron nails and a post medieval knife handle were recovered from the fill. A dark brown linear stain was present and possibly represents the remain of a wooden coffin. Disarticulated and fragmentary human bones were recovered from the trenches, along with clay tobacco pipes, glass and pottery.
One ledger stone within the north aisle was lifted, relating to the Foulger family with inscribed dates of 1845 and 1846. A red-brick tomb was revealed, and is probably of Victorian date.
See (S10) for further details
H. White (NLA), 28 May 2009.

Monument Types

  • GRAVE (Unknown date)
  • CHURCH (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD)
  • FINDSPOT (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD)
  • HERMITAGE (RELIGIOUS) (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD)
  • CHARNEL HOUSE (Post Medieval - 1540 AD to 1900 AD)
  • FINDSPOT (Post Medieval - 1540 AD to 1900 AD)
  • TOMB (Post Medieval - 1540 AD to 1900 AD)

Associated Finds

  • HUMAN REMAINS (Unknown date)
  • MAIL ARMOUR (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD)
  • CLAY PIPE (SMOKING) (Post Medieval - 1540 AD to 1900 AD)
  • COIN (Post Medieval - 1540 AD to 1900 AD)
  • POT (Post Medieval - 1540 AD to 1900 AD)
  • WINDOW GLASS (Post Medieval - 1540 AD to 1900 AD)

Protected Status

  • Listed Building

Sources and further reading

---Article in Serial: Boileau, J. P. 1864. Returns of Church Goods in the Churches of the City of Norwich, 6 Edward VI. Norfolk Archaeology. Vol VI pp 360-378. pp 365-366.
---Photograph: Rose, E.. 2000. JVG, Frames 16-22. St George's Church, Tombland, Norwich. black and white. print.
---Publication: Cox, J. C. 1911. Country Churches: Norfolk. Vol II. p 175.
---Archive: NIAS. Norfolk Industrial Archaeology Society Records.
---*Verbal Communication: Groves, N.. 2006. Lecture at Cambridge.
---Newspaper Article: Eastern Daily Press. 1996. Pizza party to mark topping church project. 30 January.
---Publication: Messent, C. J. W. 1932. The City Churches of Norwich. pp 29-30.
---Newspaper Article: Eastern Daily Press. 2010. In praise of our churches. 19 May.
---Publication: Tillett, E. A. 1891. St. George Tombland: past and present: a contribution to the history of a Norwich parish.
---Record Card: Clarke, R. R. and NCM Staff. 1933-1973. Norwich Castle Museum Record Card - Norwich - Post Roman.
---Secondary File: Secondary File.
---Slide: Various. Slide.
---Fiche: Exists.
---Illustration: Stannard, J. [unknown]. Drawing of St George's Church, Tombland, Norwich. Pencil and wash on paper.
---Photograph: Norwich Survey Staff. 1983. Photographs of interior of St George's Church, Tombland, Norwich.
---Illustration: [Unknown]. [unknown]. Plan of St George's Church, Tombland, Norwich. Pencil and wash on paper.
---Newspaper Article: Eastern Daily Press. 2015. Restoration work back on track at 13th-century Norwich church. 25 April.
---Photograph: Andrews, P.. 1991. FRY, Frames 2-36. St George's Church, Tombland, Norwich.
<S1>Publication: Groves, N. 1996. The Parish Church of St George, Tombland, Norwich: a short guide to the church and it furnishing.
<S2>Monograph: Pevsner, N. and Wilson, B. 1997. Norfolk 1: Norwich and North-East. The Buildings of England. 2nd Edition. pp 235-236.
<S3>Designation: Historic England. National Heritage List for England. List Entry 1051809.
<S4>Unpublished Report: [Unknown]. [unknown]. St George, Tombland [draft report]. Building Report.
<S5>Unpublished Contractor Report: Andrews, P. 1991. Report of Survey at St George's Church, Tombland, Norwich. Norfolk Archaeological Unit. 62.
<S6>Article in Serial: Gurney, D. (ed.). 1992. Excavations and Surveys in Norfolk in 1991. Norfolk Archaeology. Vol XLI Pt III pp 371-379. p 377.
<S7>Unpublished Report: Rose, E. 2000. 454 NORWICH. St. George's Church, Tombland. Building Report.
<S8>Article in Serial: Gurney, D. and Penn, K. (eds). 2001. Excavations and Surveys in Norfolk 2000. Norfolk Archaeology. XLIII Pt IV pp 707-728. p 723.
<S9>Collection: Norfolk Historic Environment Record Staff. 1975-[2000]. HER Record Notes. Norfolk Historic Environment Service.
<S10>Unpublished Contractor Report: Birks, C. 2009. Report on an Archaeological Excavation at the Parish Church of St. George Tombland, Norwich. Chris Birks Archaeological Services. CB096R.

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Site 1585Parent of: St Georges Church, Tombland (Monument)
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