Gratuitous Christmas Blog

The temperature’s dropped, the lights are on, the animal stories are in the paper and Christmas Coca Cola truck is outside the Forum against a backdrop of hourly fake snow showers; it must be Christmas time!

 Just for fun, here are some festive snippets to be enjoyed with a glass of mulled wine and some left over turkey and pickled onions.

The surname Christmas is a fairly common one in these parts. Just a few examples:

  • John Christmas Mann, baptised 28 August 1830 at Cley next the Sea.
  • Eliza Holley Christmas, baptised 18 March 1794 at Holt
  • Christian Christmas, baptised 10 December 1608 at Colkirk
  • John Worship, married 27 September 1791 at Hindolveston – witness William Christmas
  • Harriet Louisa Tinsel, baptised 11 November 1803 at Great Yarmouth 

In a more general sense, has (accessed today): 

  • 182,121 results for first name ‘Santa’
  • 206,651 for ‘Rudolf’
  • 64 results for surname ‘Bauble’
  • 1548 results for surname ‘Turkey’
  • Seven listings for surname ‘Reindeer’
  • 13,679 Dashers; 23,704 Dancers; 30 Prancers; 279 Vixens; 1578 Comets; 1,717 Cupids; 36,931 Donners and 107 Blitzens.
  • 1973 results with surname ‘Elf’
  • 12,608 hits for surname ‘Sprout’
  • …and a christening for a Lilian Ruth Christmas Tree on 18 January 1903 at Hackington, Kent

Post yours below!

Merry Christmas to you and yours.

A foggy blog: three hours, two legs and nearly 40 churches (Part A)

Waking up to a misty morning, I decided nonetheless to carry out today’s planned mission to visit all the medieval churches within the old city walls, photograph them, and map out the route,  just in case anyone else would like to carry out such a trek themselves. By ‘all the medieval churches’ what I really mean are those churches with ‘working’ parishes in 1837, as well the sites of those that have been lost since. I also included a couple of others which I passed on my way that were already out of use whencivil registration came around. 

While this morning’s walk takes in churches, it also passes a great deal of other sights and sounds, ancient and modern vistas, bits of city wall, 60s redevelopment (love it or loathe it), the legacy of 19thCentury industry, more recent regeneration and the old standbys – Cathedral, Castle, Guildhall and Market – so if you’re new to the city or just looking to uncover more of it, you might like to give the following a go. 

To give you an idea of how close together the churches are, I’ve included the time at which I took the first of each pair of photographs below. The fog makes for moody shots, and while there is a trade off here with the loss of some towers to the mists, the weather does help disguise some of the less impressive architecture close to the churches. It is not very difficult to imagine yourself part of a grey Victorian morning on a day like this. 

It is not my intention here to talk about the history of the churches, rather to help you put them into the context of their modern surroundings and give a flavour of what they look like. There are many here that locals will recognise, but there are others which are right next to busy thoroughfares and nevertheless unnoticed by passers by on their way to work, nestled as they are in the peripheral vision of drivers and pedestrians. 

So, in order to help you identify the names (in some cases the 'old names' as new uses have come to the buildings) and locations of the churches, here are two views of each, in the order I visited them, starting from Chapelfield and heading out and back again around the city. I’ve done the route from the bus station as this is where most visitors are likely to arrive, but you could start it at whichever point takes your fancy. 

And so, at 9:30am, the Beastie Boys and I headed up to the city, fog lights blazing, and the mission began… 

From the bus station, enter Surrey Street, turn right and then left up All Saints Green. Follow the road north onto Golden Ball Street into Cattle Market Street and then turn right beside the old Marquee Pub to enter the churchyard of St Peter Permountergate at the end of a short alley. 



Leave the churchyard through the entrance on King Street. Turn right and then right again in the vicinity of Dragon Hall to walk past St Julian, rebuilt after bombing in World War Two.



At the top of the alley, turn left along Rouen Road and head south towards the very bottom of the spine of Conesford. St Etheldred is nestled in trees to your left.


Keep walking towards King Street and turn right continuing towards the bottom of the inner ring road. Almost at the junction with the ring road itself, look right and walk up a pedestrian path. The ruin of St Peter Southgate, pulled down in the late 1800s, is now inside a children’s playground. 

10:26 (closer together than this – took a little detour!) 


Walk up hill past the playground and the end of Argyle Street. Follow the pedestrian path up a further steep hill which turns into Southgate Lane. At the top, turn right back towards the city centre and right again down Ber Street, next to a small section of city wall. St John de Sepulchre is on the left by the junction with Finkelgate.


Continue along Ber Street until you see the ruin of St Bartholomew on the right, pulled down just before the Second World War after a few centuries of use as a factory and store. Not to be confused with the ruin of St Bartholomew, Heigham, to the west of the city wall. 


Keep walking up Ber Street and cross over the road by some new flats on the right. You have just come to the site of St Michael at Thorn, bombed in the Baedeker Raids in 1942 and never rebuilt (although the doorway became part of the rebuilt St Julian). 


Continue along Ber Street back to All Saints Green having completed a loop to the south of the city. St John Timberhill is in front of you. 


A foggy blog: three hours, two legs and nearly 40 churches (Part B)

Turn left down Westlegate. The church to your right, dwarved by Norwich’s best loved (this is most definitely sarcasm) tower block, is All Saints Church. The graveyard here is almost level with the top of my head! 


Continue down Westlegate and cross St Stephen’s Street. Climb up Rampant Horse Street and St Stephen’s church is on your left just past the twinkling lights of M&S. Chapelfield shopping centre is just behind it. 


Carry on up the hill and cross the road to the Forum. Opposite the entrance is St Peter Mancroft, often mistaken as one of the city’s cathedrals. It is easy to see why as it dominates its immediate area in a way that few other Norwich churches do, except perhaps St John de Sepulchre and St Giles which sit at the top of hills (Norfolk does actually have them!) 


A foggy blog: three hours, two legs and nearly 40 churches (Part C)

Follow Bethel Street past the police station and old (very recently ‘old’) fire station and you will see St Giles rise up in front of you. I believe the top of the tower may be the highest point in the city (even above the Cathedral’s spire). On a clear day, you can see the Catholic cathedral’s tower in the background. Today was not such a day.


Walk down Cow Hill (to your right after St Giles’ church) and then turn left along Pottergate. Before entering the underpass, turn right and you will see the tower of St Benedict in the centre of an 80s housing development. The church was bombed in the same raids which claimed St Michael at Thorn and St Julian.


Continue north to St Benedict’s Street and turn right. You will spot St Swithin’s church, now better known as the fabulous Norwich Arts Centre, to your left. 



Keep going east and you will almost immediately come across St Margaret (see St Laurence in the right hand photo, too).  


And then almost immediately St Laurence.


The parishes here were very narrow, running north to south and taking in part of the Wensum. The next one is St Gregory, on the other side of the road.