Like its close neighbour, St Peter Mancroft, St Stephen was one of the three churches of the new French Borough. Its construction poses some interesting problems.
As it stands, the chancel is of 1522, but the nave is a good deal later – post-Reformation, in fact. Bequests and donations for the finishing of the building work were being made so late as 1545, and the date 1550 is over the west door, and the large west window above it certainly fits stylistically with that date. The clerestorey, with sixteen windows on each side, is faced with freestone, and the buttresses between them have a post-Reformation feel.
The tower is unusual, being an extension of the north porch. The lower two storeys are fourteenth-century Gothic, but the top one exhibits a mixture of Gothic and renaissance motifs. The date 1601 in iron numerals used to be above the door, but these were removed in 1960: the date would fit for a rebuild at this time. Was there originally a west tower? A slight clue is in the ‘Sanctuary Map’ of 1541, which shows all the sanctuary churches, each drawn individually. St Stephen was one of these, and it is shown with a chancel, nave, and west tower with spire. The porch is vaulted in two bays, with bosses of St Stephen being stoned, and of St Lawrence rescuing a soul from a demon.
Inside, the arcades run for eight bays, as at St Peter Mancroft. The change in religious belief is clearly seen: in the pre-Reformation chancel, the corbels are angel heads; in the post-Reformation nave, they are non-figurative. The whole is covered by a hammerbeam roof. The inside was re-ordered in 1859, and the furnishings date from then. The reredos is later, being made an presented by Lucy Bignold in 1894. It has the Creed, the Lord’s Prayer, and the Ten Commandments, together with two texts from the New Testament, painted on zinc panels, and is very late for this type of reredos.
The glass is a mixture of styles and dates. As at St Peter Mancroft, much was lost in the ‘Great Blow’ of 1648. The east window contains some of 1511 from the monastery of Mariawald in the Ruhr valley –given to the church in 1794 and 1803 – together with some English glass of similar date. The transept has a Nativity window by Wilkinson, and another by him in the north aisle of the Resurrection, both of 1950.
For more details visit: www.norfolkstainedglass.co.uk/St_Stephen
Many Norwich worthies, who were part of this church and community, are commemorated by by one of the finest collections of monuments in the City.
To learn about the main characters linked with the church and the roles they played in history click here
|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|