Norwich, Norfolk

St. George Tombland, Norwich, Norfolk

The macabre sounding name is actually misleading, the area is named for the marketplace which has stood here since early Saxon times. “Tombland” comes from the Norse for open space.

Before the Norman Conquest this area was the heart of Norwich, but the Normans moved the centre to the area around their Castle and built Norwich Cathedral to match. The original church here was destroyed by the Normans, but the handsome church of St. George cannot have been built much later as it played a key role in rioting in 1272 between “town and gown”. The Trinity Sunday Fair that year descended into violence between the Normans around the Castle and Cathedral and the Monks around St. George Tombland. They even fired burning arrows at the Cathedral from the top of the tower of St. George causing vast amounts of damage in the process. Unusually, the King sided with the Monks and executions took place amongst those at the Castle-end of town.

The tower which the Monks fired from cannot have been the one which now stands as it dates to the 15th Century and the rest of the church would appear to have been rebuilt at about the same time.

Not unusually the church was rebuilt in the 19th Century, but with a degree of restraint which allows it to look quite old still. Inside is a memorial to the magnificently named Alderman Anguish – unremarkable aside from his name which sounds like something from a Dickens novel!

The Tombland area is one of the best preserved parts of Norwich with a number of old rickety buildings centred around the church and is certainly a place where most visitors would spend some time.

Photo - Andrew J. Müller

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and Shaun Runham
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