Norwich St Julian

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What you need to know about this church

St Julians Church Norwich

Where to find this church

Church Information

St Julians church is located in the City of Norwich. It is the only of the four Round Tower Churches in this city still in use as a parish church.

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Norwich St Julian church
Tower from the west
Norwich St Julian church
North doorway

Visiting Norwich St Julian

It is difficult to decide how much of the church of Norwich St Julian is original, for it was largely destroyed in June 1942 by a bomb, when the tower fell inwards. Here, the photos by George Plunkett are invaluable once again, or even more so than at any other church: they show the state in the 1930s before the air raid of 1942 inside and outside, the state in 1946 after the destruction, and several states during the reconstruction in the 1950s.

However this damage did reveal some circular and round-headed double-splayed windows in the north nave wall. These indicate that this wall and the tower were built in the 11th century. All that remained of the Church was the base of the tower and sections of the east and north walls. The Church was rebuilt ten years later, and re-dedicated to Bishop Julian of Le Mans. The plain round tower was rebuilt to about 25 feet high, half its original height. In 1993 the parapet was raised to accommodate a small bell-gable on the west side, in which now hangs an early bell, (cast about 1490, which came from the former round tower). On the south side a chapel was built on the foundations of the anchorage where the 14th century anchoress (a recluse), known as Mother Julian or St Julian, lived. She took this name from the church where she was incarcerated. Her cell would have had no doorway, just a window looking into the chancel and a window in the south wall, opening to the road.

The fine 15th century font came here from another redundant city church, All Saints, in 1977. It has the standing figures of two Saints on each panel of the octagonal bowl, and a further selection of standing Saints around the stem, 24 Saints in all! At the east end of the nave an 11th century arch, with billet, spiral and chevron mouldings, marks the entrance to St Julian’ Cell. This doorway was rescued from a destroyed city church, St Michael at Thorn.

St Julian’s Cell is not as she would have known it. It is just furnished as a simple chapel. The window looking into the chancel has modern glass showing a Lily Crucifix (Christ crucified on a lily) being adored by the kneeling St Julian. She is remembered for her early writings “Revelations of Divine Love”, at the end of the 14th century, the first known book written by an English woman, with her avowal that “All shall be well, and all manner of things shall be well”.

The reredos in the chancel came from Oberammergau in 1931, and survived the bombing without too much damage. Its outer panels show St George killing the dragon and the Blessed Virgin Mary and Child. The inner ones show censing angels either side of the Cross.

Conclusion: rebuilt church well worth a visit

Norwich St Julian church
15th century font
Norwich St Julian church
Inside St Julians cell