This post was written in 2013 after a lovely holiday in Norfolk. We did actually consider moving to Norfolk as we really enjoyed our time there, but soon realised that the part we loved the most (north coast) was prohibitively expensive. Hard to believe this was 8 years ago!
Just Back From… North Norfolk
We managed a little getaway break in the windmill at Cley-next-the-sea back in January just as the snow arrived across the country. Literally snowed in we could only venture a little way along the windswept, wild north coast so promised ourselves a return in less inclement weather. The upside was that the coast was practically deserted apart from a few hardy twitchers, and we saw lots of wild geese flying overhead in formation.
We returned for two weeks in mid-August, not the period I had visualised because I feared the north coast would be over-run with families during the school holidays, but life conspired against me to sort anything out in June. At least it would give us a fair impression of what life is like there in the hustle and bustle of the summer. With the temperature and humidity soaring, sun shining and the big, blue skies you associate with Norfolk it felt like the driest county in the UK, though rivals have sprung up to dispute this. Whatever, it was dry enough whilst we were there other than one day of persistently heavy showers.
What is so special about North Norfolk? Well it has to be the sheer openness of the countryside – the peace and solitude found away from the major arterial roads – where you can stop and observe cornfields and church towers poking up into the wide sky. The landscapes and the seascapes are calming and you feel as though you have space to breathe under that big Norfolk sky.
Driving along those narrow roads and single lanes is not for the faint-hearted though as some idiot usually in a huge 4WD is likely to come flying around a blind bend in the middle of the road and scowl at you as if you have no right to be there. Several times I was thankful that I had practically crawled around such a bend because at least one of us could hit the brakes and stop before a collision. My rather low-slung VW Jetta however, is not really built for the off-roading that she was forced to do on so many occasions and has returned slightly worse for wear.
Finally, the windows. I am only going to show you a few glimpses of some of the windows, to be honest it is was quite dark inside this cathedral on this day (it was raining) and not easy to photograph the stained-glass. There are some lovely pieces so if you are able to visit then make sure you examine the windows or visit the Norfolk Stained Glass site which provided much of the information about the windows in Norwich Cathedral.
The Bauchon Window was designed by Maria Forsyth and made by Dennis King of G King & Son in 1964. The window given in honour of Julian of Norwich is in memory of Harriet Mabel Campbell (1874 – 53). The main lights depict Julian of Norwich, unusually dressed as a Benedictine nun, together with another eleven Benedictine Saints and other personages.
The tracery lights contain angels (some playing musical instruments) flanking a cross proclaiming “Pax.”
At the south east corner of the nave, next to the south transept, is the more spectacular of two doors leading from the priory cloisters into the cathedral church. This is called the Prior’s Door. The door dates to about 1300 and has a finely carved arch decorated with thin piers at its sides and decorated recesses in the arch. These recesses contain statues of Christ at the top, John the Baptist and possibly Aaron to the left, and David and Moses bearing a scroll detailing the Ten Commandments to the right. To the right of the doorway are three sedilia, or seats, recessed into the wall of the cloister. The wear and polishing of the stone from feet and bottoms is very noticeable!
Norwich Cathedral has more bosses than any other cathedral worldwide: some 1106, including those of Lyhart’s nave roof; those of the presbytery vault, added in 1480 by Bishop Goldwell; those of the transept vaults, added in 1509 by Bishop Nykke after a further fire; and those in the cloister. The bosses represent the largest collection of decorative roof bosses in Christendom, and depict scene from both the old and new testaments. Carved into the stone vaulting and then painted, each boss would have taken almost two weeks to complete. They represent a Christian view of the history of the world including carvings of Noah and the flood, the Nativity, the Crucifixion, the end of the world and the tales of judgement day.
There are some good examples of medieval art.
There are also bosses depicting mythical beasts and figures like the Green Man. It is thought that roof bosses such as these provided one of the earliest forms of theological education, at a time when illiteracy was high.