Europe Quick Trips
England’s Norwich Cathedral brims with beauty and history
By WILLIAM HOWARD | STARS AND STRIPES Published: December 13, 2017
I was immediately drawn toward the Norwich Cathedral in England during my first visit to the Norwich city center.
As I left the shopping mall, I looked up to see the cathedral’s 315-foot-tall spire towering above the other buildings.
It led me like a beacon to the amazing Norman cathedral, a superb example of Romanesque architecture.
Construction of the cathedral began in 1096. It was completed in 1145, topped with a wooden spire clad in lead.
Lightning struck the wooden spire in 1169 and again in 1463, causing fires inside the building. The second fire was so intense it changed some of the building’s Caen limestone from a creamy color to pink.
After several reconstructions over the centuries, a spire of stone was erected in 1480. It remains the second-tallest in England.
If you’re brave enough to climb the steps to an observation point in the spire, you’ll see a pair of resident peregrine falcons and their chicks on a nesting platform up close.
The cathedral houses England’s second-largest cloister, which was completed in 1430, after the Black Death.
I asked a bishop about the cathedral’s history and was enthralled for about an hour by tales of drama throughout the centuries.
I spent the rest of my visit in quiet reflection, walking under stained-glass windows and along the flat labyrinth carved into the grass outside.
Outside the east end of the cathedral I found the grave of Edith Cavell, who started the first professional nursing school in Belgium in 1907. After the outbreak of World War I, she treated combatants on both sides of the conflict.
The cathedral holds Church of England morning prayer, Holy Communion and evensong services. It hosts 50-minute tours between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m., Mondays to Saturdays and at 1 p.m. and 2 p.m. Sundays.
Address: 65 The Close, Norwich NR1 4DH, England.
The cathedral is about an hour’s drive from RAF Mildenhall via the A11. Limited parking is available at the cathedral for disabled visitors, and there are several parking lots nearby in the city center and Park and Ride services.
Hours: Open daily 7 a.m. to 6 p.m.
The Refectory inside the cathedral is a cafe that serves light lunches, soups, cakes and hot and cold drinks.