Brian and Sandy at St Mary the Less

Brian Ayers and Sandy Heslop on a site visit.

The objective of the Norwich Churches Project is to study the medieval church buildings, their furnishings and imagery in order to better understand the city’s architectural and spiritual landscape.address the questions which arise from our research mission, our work begins with gathering data directly from the buildings and their locational contexts. The detailed data collected will then be supplemented with information drawn from the surviving primary and antiquarian documentary sources, textual and visual, and with information from archaeological records.

Amongst other things, we will gather and analyse information concerning:

  • Locations, orientations, and boundaries of parishes, including sizes of churchyards
  • Reasons for the multiplication of parishes
  • The impact of churches on the urban layout of the city
  • Choices for church dedications
  • Patronage and architectural influences within and outside of Norwich
  • Catalysts for church building and renewal
  • Measurements, moulding profiles, and use and distribution of stone types


Method in Practice  


Tools of the trade

Starting in Autumn 2014, the research team has made an initial visit to every medieval church and church site in Norwich, taking measurements, photographs and making site survey notes. Our first extended area of detailed study is the city’s north bank, an area which has contained 17 parish churches, nine of which are still standing, eight of which have been lost. To break this down further for study, we are collecting the churches into distinct groups on the basis of their shared topographical contexts; notably Coslany, Colegate and Magdalen Street and Fishergate/Whitefriars.