The Medieval Churches of Norwich

St Martin at Oak (Coslany)


Evidence from the enrolled deed maps indicates the parish to have been a ribbon development extending up Oak Street to Baker Road, with the River Wensum to the west. Given the church’s dedication, it is plausible that at the time of foundation an entrance into Coslany (through a ditch or rampart) was located close to this church – perhaps immediately to the north, just beyond St Martin’s Lane. Churches dedicated to St Martin are very often just inside entrances, referencing the location at which the saint divided his cloak to share with a beggar. The other known examples in Norwich, at Palace Plain and the outer bailey at Norwich Castle, followed the same principle. The church’s popular sobriquet ‘at Oak’ references a tree in the churchyard which contained an image of the Virgin Mary. Together the oak and its icon were a focus for popular devotion and the requested burial place of John Buxton in 1513 and his wife Alicia in 1521.