Welcome to Norwich Historic Churches Trust

Visiting a church offers great possibilities for those studying the unit, ‘What’s in a building?’ The church can be used for looking at pattern, shape and texture. Both the interior and exterior can provide examples of repeating shapes in battlements, arches, tracery and vaulting.

For pupils at Key Stage 2, using a view-finder (a small cardboard frame or slide mount) can be useful to isolate patterns in floor tiles, ceilings, screens or stained glass. Ask for sketches that can be made into lino-cuts back at school. Make rubbings of brass or stone floor monuments or of decorative heating grilles. These can be turned into stencils and used to make further patterns by rotating and repeating them.

At Key Stage 3 pupils can investigate decoration and ornament in greater depth. Ask them to distinguish geometric shapes from organic ones such as plants, tendrils, garlands and wreaths. Consider a project in which the patterns are made into gift wrap for a church gift shop, say, or for scarves and bags.

Older pupils can be given the task of looking for emblems and symbols within the church. This can be very useful in focusing them on detail. Each church will have a patron saint whose emblem may well be represented in the fabric of the church. (St Gregory’s church in Pottergate, for example, has the Pope’s hat repeated in carvings under the entrance arch.)

Preparation at school will be necessary beforehand to familiarize pupils with such emblems. (See the list above.) Most churches contain emblems of the four evangelists somewhere inside. These are: a winged ox for Saint Luke; a winged man for Saint Matthew; a lion for Saint Mark and an eagle for Saint John.

Monuments can be a good source of symbolism of another kind, for example, kneeling figures as a sign of piety; an obelisk as a sign of immortality. Click here for a glossary of church symbolism. Where there is painted detail in screens or wall paintings it can be useful to discuss the symbolism of colour. The most able pupils may also be interested in the Christian symbolism of number.

  1. — unity
  2. — the duality of material and spiritual
  3. — the Holy Trinity: father, son and Holy Ghost
  4. — the four evangelists
  5. — the five wounds of Jesus
  6. — Creation in six days
  7. — seven sins and seven virtues
  8. — regeneration and resurrection  
  9. — the number of the orders of angels
  10. — the number of completion; Ten Commandments
  11. — the whole church; the twelve apostles
  12. — the number of betrayal; Judas as the thirteenth


Churches managed by NHCT are highlighted in in bold below. Click to visit a church.
All Saints Westlegate St. George Tombland St. Julian St. Michael at Plea
St. Andrew St. Giles St. Lawrence St. Peter Hungate
St. Augustine St. Gregory St. Margaret St. Peter Mancroft
St. Benedict St. Helen St. Martin at Oak St. Peter Parmentergate
St. Clement St. James Pockthorpe St. Martin at Palace Plain St. Saviour
St. Edmund Fishergate St. John de Sepulchre St. Mary Coslany St. Simon & St. Jude
St. Etheldreda St. John Maddermarket St. Mary the Less St. Stephen
St. George Colegate St. John Timberhill St. Michael(Miles) Coslany St. Swithin