All Saints Church Westlegate Norwich
We lack documentary evidence for the foundation of the church but we can see that in the later Middle Ages there was a major 'makeover' of an earlier building.
Though now surrounded by a tower block, a large office complex and a department store, the church remains the focal point of Westlegate and All Saints Green.
All Saints became redundant in 1973. In 1979 it was leased by the Norwich Historic Churches Trust to the All Saints Centre, as a place of Christian hospitality. The chancel remains a consecrated chapel
The tower is fifteenth century, very plain, without buttresses. Its corners were rebuilt in brick in the nineteenth century. The top stage was rebuilt in 1913.
The nave windows with 'flat' arches and strong vertical emphasis are in the late fifteenth-century Perpendicular style; the chancel windows, with pointed arches and curved tracery are slightly earlier. The large east window is in the fourteenth-century Decorated style but is, in fact, Victorian.
Some clues to alterations:
The porch must have been a later addition because it 'laps over' the nave plinth.
Rougher masonry above its roof shows it was once higher.
Rough areas where the west side of the porch meets the nave show there was once a stair turret to an upper room ('parvise').
Beside the last nave buttress the exposed area of flint foundation shows where the rood-loft stair turret stood.
Evidence of the older structure include the stump of thicker wall by the tower end of the arcade and the fact that the south wall of the nave and the north arcade wall lean outwards.
The church was transformed from a place of solid walls and small windows to an elegant framework of columns and arches supporting a handsome, canopy-like roof. The north wall was replaced by the present arcade of flat, 'four-centred' arches opening into a new north aisle . The south wall was made more elegant by modelling it with arches. The chancel and tower arches were enlarged.
A fine new carved font (now in St Julian's) was placed at the west end of the nave.
The church would have been adorned with painted screens, altars , stained glass, rich fabrics, images and candles
Contemporary documents from other Norwich churches give us an idea of what must have happened at All Saints during the Reformation. They list the dismantling of rood screens, the replacing of stained glass with clear, the removal of images and whitewashing over of wall paintings. In their place, boards inscribed with the Ten Commandments and a new pulpit would have emphasised the centrality of the Bible and the preaching of the 'Word'.
The bell near the tower screen was cast in 1647 by John Brend II who had his foundry near-by and is buried here.
Eighteenth century Eighteenth-century box pews survived until 1929. A memorial floor slab of 1735 (by the servery) commemorates Elizabeth Cox. A wall monument in the nave to William Clabburn commemorates one of the leading manufacturers of the famous Norwich Shawl.
Nineteenth/ twentieth centuries From the 1860s until 1973 All Saints was furnished in the high-Anglican tradition. There was an elaborate reredos, the Virgin and Child,were represented in a stained glass window over the high altar (now in St John Timberhill) and in a statue, right of the chancel arch. A new rood beam was erected. Choir stalls were placed in the chancel, and a side altar and an organ in the north aisle.
Late twentieth century
Since 1979 the building has been repaired and is now basically in good condition. The tenants' alterations include a new, enclosed gallery in the north aisle, available for meetings, a kitchen and servery, and the partitioning off of an office. A gallery (from St Saviour's Church) has been placed in the tower to provide a platform for bell ringers and to screen new toilets beneath. Glazed doors have been installed and access for people with disabilities provided