Record Details

NHER Number:598
Type of record:Building
Name:St Stephen's Church, Rampant Horse Street


This parish church has a 16th century tower which was remodelled in 1601, a nave and chancel combined as one, north and south aisles and a north transept chapel. It is built from flint with stone and brick dressings. The church is of interest because the flushwork on the tower is unique and of outstanding importance. The internal fittings of the church have had a tumultuous history. The communion rails were removed and the chancel steps were levelled in 1642-3 and in 1656 a brass eagle, purchased only in 1615, was sold. The church was also presented with a Gothic German stained glass figure in the 19th century and the east window glass comes from Mariawald monastery, Heimbach. Archaeological observations here in 1999 recorded parts of a brick-lined 18th/early 19th century burial vault and in 2005 several more 19th century burial vaults were uncovered in the churchyard.

Images - none


Grid Reference:TG 22919 08294
Map Sheet:TG20NW

Full description

St Stephen's Church, Rampant Horse Street.

1859. Stray Find.
Found in St Stephen's churchyard and subsequently acquired by Robert Fitch:
Anglo-Saxon bone draughtsman of probable Viking workmanship.
This object is illustrated in (S1) and is now part of the Norwich Castle Museum Fitch Collection (NWHCM : 1894.76.422).
Information from museum records.
Amended by P. Watkins (HES), 19 January 2019.

1954. Listed Grade I.
Listing Description Excerpt:
"Parish Church. 16th century. Tower remodelled in 1601 as previously dated in flint frieze. Flint with stone and brick dressings. Ashlar faced east and west walls. Nave and chancel in one. North-west tower. North and south aisles and north transept chapel. Three-stage tower with diagonal buttresses."
Information from (S2).
Please consult the National Heritage List for England (S2) for the current details.
Amended by P. Watkins (HES), 19 January 2018. Amended by H. Hamilton (HES), 8 November 2019.

1970s or 1980s. Building Survey.
Examined as part of Norwich Survey.
See draft report (S3) for further details.
P. Watkins (HES), 22 January 2018.

1989. Watching Brief.
Examination of three holes dug to support new chapel walls. One fully excavated at time of watching brief.
Rectangular hole in south aisle 1.70m x 0.52m x 0.60m deep. Ground surface at 0.33m below Victorian wooden floor level. Very dry sand loam observed. No human remains. Offset flint foundation of south wall of south aisle made up of large flint cobbles.
One body sherd and local medieval ware observed but not collected.
See notes (S4) for further details.
J. Bown (NAU) 14 February 1989.

Source [1] states that the flushwork on the tower is unique and of outstanding importance. The tower is said to have a brick core with flint and stone facing.
E. Rose (NLA) 4 September 1992.

Date 1601 removed from tower in 1961 - see (S5).
Press cutting and copies of old photographs in file.
E. Rose (NLA) 5 October 1992.

Paintings of church furnishings in 19th century by Hamlet Watling are in the Victoria and Albert 1907 accession.

6 May 1999. Field Observation.
Exposed at [2]:
Brick lined 18th/early 19th-century burial vault (for single burial or superimposed burials) partly exposed during installation of electricity cable. Not vaulted but covered with flat flagstones (?secondary). Roughly measured by contractors and shown to be (minimum) 2.7m (9ft). Now very close to pavement of Rampant Horse Street.
A. Rogerson (NLA) 7 May 1999.

A Gothic German stained glass figure was presented to the church by the antiquarian dealer S. W. Stevenson, FSA, in the 19th century. The east window glass comes from Mariawald monastery, Heimbach.
Information from (S6).
E. Rose (NAU) 3 March 2000.

20 March 2001. Field Observation.
NLA visit.
Grave slab has settled on north-west corner. No way of lifting at present as it is partially covered by new stone.
A temporary wood floor is being built over for health and safety reasons.
See file.
A. Hutcheson (NLA) 21 March 2001.

Repair work undertaken including reconstuction of south-west diagonal buttress of south aisle and securing and refixing of horizontal ribs in north porch vaulted ceiling.
See specifications (S7) and (S8) for further details.
P. Watkins (HES), 22 January 2018.

The communion rails were removed and the chancel steps levelled in 1642-3 and in 1656 a brass eagle, purchased only in 1615, was sold.
See (S9).
E. Rose (NLA) 25 April 2005.

Corbridge's 1727 Plan of Norwich (S10) shows a west tower, with huge buttresses and cupola. Source [3] suggests nave walls were extended to west to construct it, however this seems to be a mistake caused by the small scale of the illustration, see (S11).
E. Rose (NLA) 5 July 2005.

August 2005.
Two, possibly three, 19th century burial vaults uncovered in churchyard (different to those described above).
One of these vaults proved to be a World War Two stained glass store. However in September 2005 another vault was excavated.
See report (S11) and photographs (S12). These discoveries are also noted in (S13).
E. Rose (NLA) 2 September 2005.

A chalice and paten of 1625 were restored in 2005 by the Goldsmiths Company.
E. Rose (NLA) 31 October 2005.

A brass inscription censored by iconoclasts is noted in (S14): Burght 1516.
E. Rose (NLA) 10 October 2005.

See press cuttings (S15), (S16), (S17) and (S18) in file.
T. Sunley (NLA) 7 November 2007.

July 2009. Geophysical Survey.
A survey was undertaken around the eastern end of the church to supplement ongoing investigations to determine the cause and nature of possible settlement adjacent to the south-eastern gable end of the church. The survey indicates wash-out of material in close proximity to the cracked retaining wall on the west side of Malthouse Road. Inside the church there was some evidence of minor voids which may relate to burial chambers or vaults.
See report (S19) for further information.
A. Cattermole (NLA), 8 October 2009.

September 2009.
A burst water has damaged the foundations of the church, resulting in a large crack in the eastern gable wall. Repairs will take approximately 6 months to complete.
See newspaper articles (S20) for further details.
H. White, (NLA), 23 September 2009.

September 2009.
In view of the structural repairs required at the eastern end of the church, a synthesis of available information on the content and condition of the under-floor area has been compiled. This is largely based on a survey of monuments and gravestones carried out in 1729 (S21).
See (S22) for further information.
A. Cattermole (NLA), 8 October 2009.

October 2009. Building Survey.
Assessment of the reredos and the likely need for its dismantling as part of the works to stabilise the chancel east wall.
The reredos is located near to, but set apart from, the chancel east wall. The upper part is constructed in partially painted ornamental oak timber with gilding. Below the timber structure at about waist height, is a painted ornamental stone base consisting of plain panels divided by pilasters with a moulding along the upper end.
For further information on the reredos and its proposed dismantling.
See report (S23) for further details.
A. Cattermole (NLA), 20 October 2009.

November 2009-February 2010. Excavation.
The remains of 52 individuals were recovered from deposits dating between the medieval and post-medieval period (see human skeletal remains report for full details). The earliest deposit dating to before AD 1350 was a buried soil that has been cut into by later inhumations but it was still possible to identify grave cuts that were close to the interface between this layer and underlying geological deposits. A total of 13 burials were dated to this phase and predate the construction of the early eastern wall of the chancel. One skeleton had a large flint nodule placed close to the skull that may have supported the head during burial. A thin lens of organic material was observed in one of the graves that could be the remains of some sort of grave cover.
Between AD 1350 and 1533 burials were inserted that post-dated the construction of the chancel wall. There was very little variation between burials of this period and the form of the grave cuts and presentation of burials could suggest that burials were interred in shrouds. The remains of the north-south chancel wall and associated footings are believed to belong to a phase of mid-14th century construction identified in other areas of the church.
Features dating to the period AD 1533 to 1805 included a small plinth of light grey silt sand appeared to be the remnant of a soil horizon that had been almost entirely cut away by grave cuts. A small number of inhumations were assigned to this period that were distinguishable from earlier inhumations by the use of wooden coffins of which only the iron coffin fittings survived.
During the period 1805 to 1854 a large brick barrel vault was constructed in the south of the site close to the southern wall of the chancel. The vault measured 2m high and 2.18m wide and was built from red brick bonded with hard lime mortar. The vault contained at least 8 lead coffins with two still encased in wood. According to a plaque in the north transept of the church the vault belonged to the Noverre family. The vault was preserved in situ following the excavation.
From 1854 onwards an under floor heating system of interconnecting brick runs was joined to a large brick culvert that run along the western elevation of the eastern chancel wall. The culvert contained a large ceramic pipe that had been joined to a boiler in the eastern end of the north aisle that existed to a chimney on the eastern gable wall close to the vestry.
Finds from the excavation included Middle and Late Saxon, medieval and post-medieval pottery; typical medieval to post-medieval brick and roof tile fragments; window and vessel glass; the stem and bowl of a clay tobacco pipe dating to between the late 17th to early 18th century and a late 18th to 19th century spurred bowl. A pinner's bone (roughly shaped bone implement to hold pins whilst being sharpened) made from a section of cattle metatarsal was recovered from a post-medieval construction cut. A medieval jetton and two silver coins were recovered from spoil during the excavation. Various copper-alloy objects were recovered during metal-detecting of spoil probably associated with burials and iron coffin fittings were recovered from features. A single prehistoric flint flake was recovered from an unstratified surface collection.
Information from assessment report (S24). Final report awaited.
The archive associated with this work has been deposited with the Norwich Castle Museum (NWHCM : 2011.396 and NWHCM : 2017.204).
S. Howard (NLA), 9 August 2010. Amended by P. Watkins (HES), 16 May 2019.

March 2010. Watching Brief.
During the demolition and reconstruction of a 13m length of retaining wall to the east of the church a watching brief was undertaken to try and determine the construction date. Although a date could not be securely assigned documentary evidence suggests that this wall may date from the medieval period.
See report (S25) for further details.
S. Howard (HES), 12 June 2011.

August 2011.
The majority of the structural repairs to this building are completed.
See (S20).
A. Cattermole (HES), 19 August 2011.

May 2015.
Priest's door in need of repair. Advice given.
See (S26) for further details.
S. Heywood (HES), 26 May 2015

Monument Types

  • FINDSPOT (Prehistoric - 1000000 BC to 42 AD)
  • FINDSPOT (Early Saxon - 410 AD to 650 AD)
  • CHURCH (Medieval to 19th Century - 1066 AD to 1900 AD)
  • FINDSPOT (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD)
  • FLOOR (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD)
  • GRAVE (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD)
  • GRAVE SLAB (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD)
  • PARISH CHURCH (Medieval to 19th Century - 1066 AD to 1900 AD)
  • PIT (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD)
  • WALL (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD)
  • BURIAL VAULT (Post Medieval - 1540 AD to 1900 AD)
  • COFFIN (Post Medieval - 1540 AD to 1900 AD)
  • FINDSPOT (Post Medieval - 1540 AD to 1900 AD)
  • GRAVE (Post Medieval - 1540 AD to 1900 AD)
  • PIT (Post Medieval - 1540 AD to 1900 AD)
  • VAULT (Post Medieval - 1540 AD to 1900 AD)
  • WALL (Post Medieval - 1540 AD to 1900 AD)

Associated Finds

  • FLAKE (Lower Palaeolithic to Late Iron Age - 500000 BC to 42 AD)
  • POT (Early Saxon - 411 AD to 650 AD)
  • GAMING PIECE (Late Saxon - 851 AD to 1065 AD)
  • ANIMAL REMAINS (Medieval to 19th Century - 1066 AD to 1900 AD)
  • ARCHITECTURAL FRAGMENT (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD)
  • GAMING PIECE (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD)
  • POT (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD)
  • ARCHITECTURAL FRAGMENT (Post Medieval - 1540 AD to 1900 AD)
  • CLAY PIPE (SMOKING) (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

---Publication: [Unknown]. [unknown]. Palimpsests Behind 'Norfolk' Brasses (N).
---Article in Serial: Manning, C. R. 1864. A Monumental Brass Discovered Under the Pews in St. Stephen's Church, Norwich. Norfolk Archaeology. Vol VI pp 295-299.
---Publication: Rye, W. 1909. Catalogue of Antiquities Found Principally in East Anglia. p 128; No 1247.
---Article in Serial: Jope, E. M. 1952. Excavations in the City of Norwich, 1948. Norfolk Archaeology. Vol XXX pp 287-323. p 319.
---Newspaper Article: Eastern Daily Press. 1977. Washerwoman and her knight. 15 August.
---Article in Serial: Wood, R. 1999. The Chantry Certificates of Norfolk: Towards a Partial Reconstruction. Norfolk Archaeology. Vol XLIII Pt II pp 287-306.
---Publication: Cox, J. C. 1911. Country Churches: Norfolk. Vol II. pp 189-190.
---Record Card: Ordnance Survey Staff. 1933-1979?. Ordnance Survey Record Cards. TG 20 NW 15.
---Photograph: Rose, E.. 2005. KZL. 1-7.
---Monograph: Pevsner, N. and Wilson, B. 1997. Norfolk 1: Norwich and North-East. The Buildings of England. 2nd Edition. pp 251-253; Pl 59.
---Publication: Anon. n.d.. St Stephen's Church Norwich A Visitor's Guide.
---Publication: Messent, C. J. W. 1932. The City Churches of Norwich. pp 76-80.
---Newspaper Article: Eastern Daily Press. 2009. Winning view of old churches. 10 December.
---Leaflet: Some Notes on St Stephen's Church Norwich.. The Church Publishers, Ramsgate..
---Leaflet: 1933. Church of St Stephen Norwich..
---Newspaper Article: Eastern Daily Press. 2011. Crypts, hidden coffins and a real Norfolk high light. 24 March.
---Article in Serial: Harrod, H. 1859. Goods and Ornaments of Norwich Churches in the Fourteenth Century. Norfolk Archaeology. Vol V pp 89-121. pp 104-107.
---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.
---Newspaper Article: Eastern Daily Press. 2013. Church has survived centuries of drama. 7 May.
<S1>Article in Serial: Chester, G. J.. 1859. Notice of an Ancient Chess-piece, found at Ashwelthorpe, Norfolk. Norfolk Archaeology. Vol V pp 229-232. pp 231-232.
<S2>Designation: Historic England. National Heritage List for England. List Entry 1051920.
<S3>Unpublished Report: [Unknown]. [unknown]. St Stephen's [draft report]. Building Report.
<S4>Unpublished Document: Bown, J. 1989. [Notes on watching brief at St Stephen's Church, Norwich].
<S5>Newspaper Article: Eastern Evening News. 1961. Date disappears, fell apart. 15 April.
<S6>Article in Serial: Tracy, C.. 1999. Importation of Church Furniture.. Journ British Archaeol Ass. vol CLII. pp 109-110.
<S7>Unpublished Document: Wearing Hastings & Norton. 2003. St Stephen's Church Norwich. Specification. North porch repair to ribs.
<S8>Unpublished Document: Wearing Hastings & Norton. 2003. St Stephen's Church Norwich. Specification. North porch repair to ribs.
<S9>Publication: Spraggon, J. 2003. Puritan Iconoclasm during the English Civil War. pp 100, 112.
<S10>Map: Corbridge, J.. 1727. Plan of Norwich.
<S11>Unpublished Report: Rose, E. 2005. 598 NORWICH. St Stephen's Church. Observations on burial vaults and other details revealed in building works August 2005.
<S12>Photograph: Rose, E.. 2005. LBD. 4-6, 10-14.
<S13>Article in Serial: Gurney, D. and Penn, K. 2006. Excavations and Surveys in Norfolk in 2005. Norfolk Archaeology. Vol XLV Pt I pp 124-136. p 132.
<S14>Monograph: Cooper, T.. 2001. The journal of William Dowsing: iconoclasm in East Anglia during the English Civil War.. p 121.
<S15>Publication: 1961. [unknown].
<S16>Newspaper Article: Eastern Daily Press. 1997. Repair bill rises threefold. 17 November.
<S17>Newspaper Article: Eastern Daily Press. 1998. Church 'desecration'. 14 May.
<S18>Newspaper Article: Eastern Daily Press. 2005. Churchyard path 'desecration'. 8 September.
<S19>Unpublished Contractor Report: Matthews, A. and Lewis A. 2009. Geophysical Survey Report. Mapping Potential Voids, Vaults and Solution Features. St Stephen's Church, Norwich. TerraDat Geophysics. 2684.
<S20>Newspaper Article: Eastern Daily Press. 2009-2012. [Articles on the work undertaken at St Stephen's Church after damage was caused by a burst water main].
<S21>Documentary Source: Mackerell, B.. 1729. An Account of all the Monuments and Gravestones in the Church.
<S22>Unpublished Report: Birkett, E. 2009. St Stephen's Church, Norwich. Report on possible content and condition of underlying area of the sanctuary.
<S23>Unpublished Contractor Report: Swann, S. 2009. Conservation report. St Stephen's Church, Norwich, Dismantling reredos and associated elements. Simon Swann Associates.
<S24>Unpublished Contractor Report: Adams, D. 2010. An Archaeological Excavation at St Stephen's Church, Norwich, Norfolk. Assessment Report and Updated Project Design. NAU Archaeology. 2283.
<S25>Unpublished Contractor Report: Adams, D. 2010. An Archaeological Watching Brief at St Stephen's Church, Norwich, Norfolk. NAU Archaeology. 2518.
<S26>Correspondence: Heywood, S. 2015. Priest's door at St Stephen's.

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