Church of St Helen Bishopgate – Norwich
Image by ell brown
Leaving the grounds of the Cathedral in Norwich on Bishop Gate.
About to leave this gate, I saw the tower of the Church of St Helen Bishopgate.
The church is Grade I listed.
Mediaeval hospital and parish church. C13, C14, C15 with major
C16 and later alterations. Flint and brick rubble; stone dressings;
slate roof replacing lead roofs stripped in 1809-10; 3 red brick
chimneys. Aisled infirmary hall, nave, chancel, south transept,
south porch and south-west tower with additions, including first
floor in chancel and infirmary hall and stair towers on the south
South porch of 3 bays with no vault is all that remains of the
C13 building. Upper floor repaired 1754.
Chancel rebuilt by Bishop Despenser C1380, has four 3-light and
one 2-light early perpendicular windows on north side, those on
the south side replaced by smaller C18 windows with wooden intersecting
tracery. East window of 7 lights is partly blocked by C16 inserted
chimney stack and is flanked by diagonal buttresses. Interior has
inserted C16 floor on massive re-used moulded beams. Pump ward on
ground floor has north range of cubicles, those on the south side
removed. Stair cut through south wall and partly contained within
an extension adjacent to the south transept has moulded handrail
and acorn finials to newel posts. Eagle Ward on first-floor has original
ribbed chancel waggon roof with bosses and 252 painted spread eagles.
Full set of panelled cubicles with fluted pilasters. Fireplaces at
east and west ends.
Church comprises nave and aisles of 3 bays and a south transept, all
rebuilt C1480 by Bishop Goldwell. North aisle has 3 flat-headed 3-light
windows, another with 2-centred head, and a 3-light east window. Three
3-light clerestory windows. A 4-light window in the south transept is
flanked by diagonal buttresses. Interior has quatrefoil piers;
blocked chancel arch; small C15 window in west wall of south aisle;
arch-braced roofs on corbels and lierne vault in south transept.
Poppyhead bench ends; box pews and raised pulpit at east end and
Ivory family pew in south transept, dated 1780 and inscribed with
names of William Ivory, son of famous architect, and his wife.
Infirmary Hall. late C14. Four bays; south aisle demolished. 3-light
window with 2-centred head at west end of north aisle. C16 stair tower
on south side has C18 three-light window with intersecting tracery.
Similar smaller clerestory windows. Blocked west window of infirmary
hall has C16 brickwork (with some repairs) and 4-tier moulded wooden
mullioned and transomed windows with leaded lights. Interior has inserted
floor with C19 cubicles in Parker Ward on ground floor and in Fawcett
Ward on the first floor, reached by stairs with moulded handrail and
acorn finials to newel posts. Arch-braced roof; large fire-place at east
end concealed by tongue and groove boarding.
South-West Tower. Legacy for construction in 1375. Four stages with
diagonal buttresses. 2-centred window; string course; 2-light traceried
belfry windows and brick parapet. Weather vane.
Fart of the Great Hospital founded in 1249 by Bishop Walter de Suffield.
After C16 alterations men were accommodated in the west wards; women
in the former chancel.