Norwich Cathedral

Unearth over 900 years of history and explore the awe inspiring Cathedral, view fascinating exhibitions, enjoy the Refectory café and experience the tranquillity of the Herb and Japanese Gardens.

About this church

Norwich’s Norman Cathedral is one of the city’s iconic buildings, dominating the skyline with a 315ft spire that is second in height only to Salisbury. Here are 12 things to see and do in one of the seven wonders of Norfolk.

As you approach the main gate from Tombland you’ll notice the statue of Edith Cavell, a nurse from nearby Swardeston who was shot by the Germans during the first world war for helping Allied prisoners escape from Brussels. She is now buried inside the cathedral precinct. The gate is named after the kneeling figure above the arch, Sir Thomas Erpingham, a local knight who led the Welsh archers at Agincourt against the French. That’s one back in the eye for the Normans!

Going through the gate you might see blue blazered pupils of the Norwich School, which is just inside the precinct, and a statue of the school’s most famous pupil, Horatio Nelson, which is opposite on the green in the Upper Close. You’ll also notice the cathedral’s majestic sand-coloured Caen stone and flying buttresses.

There’s a lot of history attached to the cathedral. After all, it was built more than 900 years ago, and has seen civil unrest, plague, war and fire. So you don’t miss out, take a free guided tour. Make sure you see the treasured Despenser Retable behind the altar of St Luke’s chapel. It’s a 14th century painting that depicts the death and resurrection of Christ. It went missing during the Puritan days of the 16th century and was only rediscovered in 1847 when someone dropped something on the floor and looked up at the bottom of a table, the painting had been nailed face down to hide it!

The Cathedral has the largest collection of medieval roof bosses of any cathedral in the Christian world, more than 1000. It’s also possibly one of the greatest collections of Bible stories in stone. Walk round the largest monastic Cloister in England, with its stunning high arches and roof bosses. Designed to house 100 monks it was rebuilt in 1297 after its destruction during riots 25 years earlier. Shakespeare plays are performed here during the summer. Based on the site of the original monks’ dining hall, the Refectory is a superb restaurant/coffee shop that combines medieval and modern architecture. It would be rude not to pop in for a cup of tea and piece of cake.

Don’t miss the peregrine falcons which have made a nest on the spire and hatched chicks the past few years, the first time to happen in Norwich in living memory. Thousands of people every year, from March to June, view the birds from the observation point located in the Cathedral Close.

Experience the beauty of Evensong sung by Norwich Cathedral Choir every evening except Saturday. It’s not often you can witness a medieval tradition that stretches back to 1096.

Take in one of the exhibitions at the Hostry Visitor and Education Centre which has a variety of local, national and international events throughout the year.

Stroll around the Cathedral Close, the largest to survive of any English cathedral and covering 44 acres, dotted with listed buildings and beautiful, tranquil green spaces. There are few better places to escape the bustle of the modern city.

Key Features

  • Captivating architecture
  • Spectacular stained glass
  • Magnificent memorials
  • Glorious furnishings
  • Enchanting atmosphere
  • Fascinating churchyard
  • Wildlife haven
  • Social heritage stories
  • National heritage here
  • Famous connections

Visitors information

  • Bus stop within 100m
  • Train station within 250m
  • Level access to the main areas
  • On street parking at church
  • Parking within 250m
  • Accessible toilets in church
  • Café in church
  • Café within 500m
  • Dog friendly
  • Muddy boot friendly
  • Space to secure your bike
  • Church shop or souvenirs

Other nearby churches

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St Peter Hungate

Set amid cobbled streets and old cottages near the top of Elm Hill, this church dates from the 15th century but looks older than other Perpendicular examples in Norwich; perhaps partly because of its dumpy, pyramid topped tower.

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St George Tombland

Originally it is believed there were 63 medieval churches in the city. St George is one of the remaining 31 and has the distinction of not only being architecturally worth a visit but is one of eight in regular weekly use.

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St Peter Mancroft

Far more than the cathedral, tucked away in its quiet close, the church of St Peter Mancroft is in the very heart of Norwich.

Supported by National Churches Trust, for people who love church buildings