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Norwich Cathedral







Following the conquest of England in 1066, the Normans took less than 10 years to build a castle in Norwich, and this was followed by the laying of a cathedral foundation stone in 1096, just as the First Crusade was marching towards Jerusalem.   The de novo cathedral took 150 years to build, and on the way became a monastery as well (normally it was the other way round).  Perhaps the lack of monastic history made it easier to navigate through Henry VIII's dissolution of monasteries in 1538, when the prior seamlessly became Dean and his monks became canons with no fuss.  Today, the only significant monastic survivor is the huge vaulted and narratively bossed gothic cloister (which replaced the original Romanesque job). 

History of Norwich Cathedral


Norwich Cathedral in the "Handbook to the Cathedrals of England" by Richard John King





Heroes, Heroines and Bishops of Norwich


 Include Sir Thomas Erpingham (c1357 - 1428 (71)) (Archer Marshal at Agincourt), Admiral Nelson (1758 - 1805 (47) (victor of Trafalgar et al), Nurse Edith Cavell (1865 – shot by a German firing squad 12 October 1915 (49)), and Bishops de Gray, Henry Despenser, and Goldwell (whose tomb surrounds include an embedded civil war cannon ball).



The medieval wooden nave roof of Norwich Cathedral was destroyed by fire after a lightening strike in 1463, following which stone vaulting replaced wood, and gave the opportunity to follow what had earlier been done in the cloister in the 1300s when hundreds of painted narrative roof bosses were set at the joining points of the structural ribs. 


In total there are now over a thousand painted bosses in the church and cloister, either components of a meta story (like the story of the world or the life of Jesus) or individual events.  Of course in the nave the bosses are a bit less accessible to the naked eye than in the cloisters (like they are the tiny little dots at the top centre of the above photo), but that did not stop Paradox having a burl with the Nikons .....





Norwich Cathedral Web Site (Including shop)




The Old English Cathedrals




Adam and Eve (and Serpent) holding together the roof of the east nave             More Adam and Eves


El Paradox was rather chuffed with some of his boss photos - For the technically minded they were taken with a monopodded Nikon D80 using right angle eyepiece attachment, 70 - 200 high speed VR Nikon lens plus a x 2 Nikon teleconverter, giving a 35mm equivalent of over 600.


This photo from the back cover of the book (see below) shows how the "Adam and Eve ensemble" fits together, though to get even this sort of perspective you would need one of the mirrors provided or a pair of binoculars.


A cloven handed devil wheelbarrows a terrified soul off to hell, straddled by a naked alewife waving a jug of mild and bitter.



Noli me Tangere

The Jaws of Hell - devil gate-keeper on the left.




postcard image

Last Supper


Unconventional Resurrection / Ascension - no clothes and papal tiara - not a scene Piero della Francesca would recognize!
The blind archer Lamech shoots Cain


An early dragon bashing during the Old Testament



Lower down in a choir misericord Saint George picks up the theme against  a dragon standing on a sheep who seems to be ......?


Link to photos of all the Norwich misericords


More to come ... Meantime there is a book (and indeed a CD ROM) of stunning roof boss photos and explanatory text.  The photos below come from the book, which is sadly difficult to get hold of.




Norwich Cathedral Web Site (Including shop)




Nativity scene




The shepherds reach Bethlehem, their leader playing, OMG, a bagpipe!  They are wearing the same sort of medieval pilgrims' tunics and purses that one sees in rare surviving pilgrim frescos.  The profusion of painted clothing in the roof bosses of Norwich makes this a prime source for those studying medieval clothing of the 1300s and 1400s.  




Noah's ark-full


Link to Noah and his arc in Burgundy:      Autun      Vézelay




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