This is one of two mediæval churches dedicated to St George in Norwich, which may indicate a late foundation date. The ‘surname’ Tombland is from Old English words meaning ‘empty land or space’, referring to the site of the late Saxon market.
The church is built of flint rubble, but the nave clerestorey stands out as it is of brick, a high-status material when it was built in the C17. The tower is made prominent by the large blue clock-face. The front of the south porch was put there in the 1880s, and bears no relation to its original appearance. Its interior vault has some fine bosses – possibly carved by the same people who were working at the Cathedral.
The organic growth of the building is easy to see: originally just a nave and chancel with west tower, the north porch was added, then the north aisle, then the south aisle, and finally the south porch.
Despite being heavily restored in the 1880s, the church retains a good deal of its Georgian furnishings. Principal among these is the reredos, a fine piece of the early C18. The Decalogue is unfortunately covered by brocade, and the Lords’ Prayer and Creed in the side panels were painted over in 1880. The altar, with its gradines and tabernacle, was set up in the 1890s, although the actual altar table is of C17 date, but much altered. It was further modified in the 1960s to accommodate a mediæval mensa, or stone altar-slab.
The pulpit is C17, and possibly of French workmanship. Note the extremely delicate foliage carving on the front panel. Its tester may be older. Close examination of the staircase will reveal how it was cut down from the original ‘three-decker pulpit ’. The aisle benches are made of wood recycled from the old box pews.
The font is C13, and made of Purbeck marble. Its cover is C17, and very similar to those at the neighbouring churches of St Michael-at-Plea and St Andrew.
Beside the font is a stone bread table, used for giving out bread to the poor.
There is a coloured relief carving of St George, which is probably German, of about 1530, in the north aisle.
The church is extremely rich in monuments. The principal ones are: Mary Gardiner (1748) (north wall of sanctuary), by Scheemakers; Thomas Anguish(16..) (beside the organ), by Nicholas Stone; John and Olive Symonds (1609) (above the bread table) – now lacking its surround.
To learn about the main characters linked with the church and the roles they played in history click here
There is a good deal of glass. There are two mediæval roundels in the south aisle window; two C17 Flemish panels set high up in the north aisle. The Magnificat window (east end of south aisle) is by the studio of William Morris. The extraordinary mosaic windows in the north aisle are of the 1860s, and may be the earliest surviving Victorian coloured glass in Norwich.To see magnified pictures and information on the stained glass in this and other churches across Norfolk visit www.norfolkstainedglass.co.uk
In 1633, William Bridge was appointed Vicar. He held very strong Puritan views, and the church became a centre for extreme Protestant preaching. He was ejected in 1638, and went to Rotterdam. On his return to England in 1642, he ministered at Yarmouth until 1660, and founded what is now the Old Meeting Congregational Chapel.
The church remained ‘unrestored’ until the late 1880s, owing to the long incumbency of Kirby Trimmer (1882-87). The Rev’d Walter Crewe (Vicar 1895-1920) introduced the High Church form of services, which still continues.
|All Saints Westlegate||St. George Tombland||St. Julian||St. Michael at Plea|
|St. Andrew||St. Giles||St. Lawrence||St. Peter Hungate|
|St. Augustine||St. Gregory||St. Margaret||St. Peter Mancroft|
|St. Benedict||St. Helen||St. Martin at Oak||St. Peter Parmentergate|
|St. Clement||St. James Pockthorpe||St. Martin at Palace Plain||St. Saviour|
|St. Edmund Fishergate||St. John de Sepulchre||St. Mary Coslany||St. Simon & St. Jude|
|St. Etheldreda||St. John Maddermarket||St. Mary the Less||St. Stephen|
|St. George Colegate||St. John Timberhill||St. Michael(Miles) Coslany||St. Swithin|