This small church has an international reputation, as it was here that Dame Julian of Norwich lived in the later 14th century.
The building as it now stands dates almost entirely from 1953, when it was rebuilt after suffering a direct hit from a bomb in 1942. The church was also reconsecrated in 1953.
There is good reason to believe that a church has stood here since Anglo-Saxon times, although whether the destroyed building was of Saxon date, or Saxon workmanship but post-1066, is difficult to decide.
The north wall of the nave is original, and repairs after the bombing revealed a number of circular windows, (oculi) quite high up – a standard method of lighting Anglo-Saxon churches. One has been reopened, and another was turned into a round-headed window. Similar windows were found in the south wall of the chancel, although these were not reopened.
The tower, one of four round towers in Norwich, took the hit, and collapsed across the body of the church. It was partly rebuilt, and further heightened by about four feet in 198., to provide a housing for the bell.
Almost everything in the church dates from the rebuild of 1953. Three things pre-date it. First, the font, which is c1420, and stood originally in All Saints’ church; it was brought here when that church closed in 1977. It has carvings of the twelve apostles round the bowl, and eight other saints round the stem. The reredos survived the bomb, and was placed here in 1931; it was made in Oberammergau. Finally, the door to the Cell, which is a Norman archway. It was in fact the main door to St Michael-at-Thorn, a nearby church which was also destroyed on the same night in 1942, and never rebuilt.
The organ loft was built in 1981. The organ on it is by Henry Jones, of 1860.
Some photographs showing the interior before damage are at the back of the church.
All except a couple of floor-slabs were destroyed.
There are two windows, one between the Cell and the chancel, showing the Lily Crucifix, and Julian; the other, in the opposite wall, shows the seven sacraments. Both are by the firm of King of Norwich.
This was built on what was thought to be site of Julian’s cell, although there is no evidence to support this. It was more likely to have been on the north side, and may have been detached from the church altogether. (The flint ‘foundations’ are more likely to be those of buttresses.)
Despite common perceptions, the church is not dedicated to her, not did she necessarily take her name from the church, as ‘Julian’ (a form of Gillian) was a common name for women in the Middle Ages. Falling ill in 1373, she had a series of visions (‘shewings’) dealing with aspects of Christ’s passion. When she recovered, she became an anchoress at this church, and her musings on her shewings were eventually written down (‘The Revelations of Divine Love’). This is the first known book to be written in English by a woman.
Further information about Julian and her book can be found in the Julian Centre next door.
For a fuller account of Julian of Norwich visit: http://www.julianofnorwich.org/
|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|