Norwich Historic Churches Trust School Visits

The claim that Norwich has a church for every Sunday is not an idle boast. At its medieval height, the city had 60 churches and seven monastic houses. Of the 36 churches that remain, nine are still used for worship, three are in ruins and the rest are in trust. This heritage offers unrivalled opportunities for educational use in all areas of the curriculum. A visit can give insights into religious practice, history and art and can also be used to stimulate creativity and develop key skills. The following ideas, together with the book list, offer a sweep of possibilities for visiting the Trust churches in Norwich. For individual worksheets, resources, contacts and practical details, see under each church by name.

Planning a visit
In an increasingly tight curriculum, a school trip must earn its place.
  • Be clear about the aims of your visit.
  • Do visit the site beforehand and check risk factors, parking and toilets (some of the Trust churches have toilets on-site).
  • Ask permission if you want to use cameras or make rubbings of memorials.
  • Prepare the children beforehand and discuss appropriate behaviour.

Religious Education

The units, ‘Visiting a Places of Worship’ and ‘What can we learn from a Christian religious building?’ both aim to introduce children to a variety of religious practice, allowing them to compare and contrast ideas of worship. Visiting a church is central to both units and can give pupils at Key Stage 1 and 2 a grounding in the beliefs and values of Christian religious communities. It introduces them to the purpose of the building, its spaces and functions and the signs and symbols that enrich it. Click here for full text and pictures

Citizenship

Citizenship is a statutory subject at Key Stages 3 and 4 but is increasingly studied in earlier years to help develop a sense of neighbourhood and community. Central to it is discussion and debate about civic responsibilities, diversity and equality. The church forms an excellent focal point for much of this debate. At Key Stage 2 pupils are asked to think about ‘what improves and harms their local and built environment and about some of the ways people look after them’. In Norwich, a real-life issue about the care of its numerous medieval churches offers a fascinating case-study.

Click here for full text and pictures

History

Almost every area of historical study can be enhanced by visiting a church. Such a visit offers primary source material for social history, art history, local history and individual lives, all of which are made more vibrant by on-site experience.

Click here for full text and pictures

Iconology
  • cross – a Christian believer
  • open book – faith
  • dove – peace, the holy spirit
  • rocks – certainty of faith
  • anchor – hope, holding fast
  • angel – heavenly guardian
  • ivy – everlasting life
  • hands clasped – farewell
  • laurel wreath – fame
  • hour glass – passing time
  • scythe – death
  • skull – death
  • broken column – loss of support (usually shown when the head of a family dies)
  • torch – immortality
  • torch upturned – life extinguished
  • willow tree – weeping
Art and Design

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.

Click here for full text and pictures

Worksheets for Teachers

Click the arrows to download the following worksheets freely available for your use

arrowhead link KS2 St Gregory's - Discover how Angels & Animals are used in church decoration

arrowhead link KS2 A church interior - Label some familiar items inside a church

arrowhead link KS2 A church exterior - Recognise the key parts of a church building

arrowhead link KS2 St Peter Parmentergate - First steps in recognising heraldic designs

Resources

Books for children
Child, M, Discovering Church Architecture, Shire, 2000
Fewins, C, Be a church detective: a young person’s guide to old churches, The National Society and Church House Publishing, 1992
Jeuness, G, Cathedrals, Moonlight Publishing/First Discovery, 1995
Pluckrose, Henry, Local History Detective: Churches, Simon and Schuster Education, 1993

Books for teachers
Friar, S, A Companion to the English Parish Church, Bramley Books, 1996
Morris, R and Corbishley, M, Churches, Cathedrals and Chapels, English Heritage, 1996
Murray, P & L, The Oxford Companion to Christian Art and Architecture, OUP, 1998
Purkis, S, Using Memorials, English Heritage, 1995
Williamson, E, Recording a church: an illustrated glossary, Council for British Archaeology, 1996

Videos
English Heritage Education offers videos and DVDs for sale or on free loan to educational institutions.
Buildings and Beliefs, 1990, 20 minutes.
Cathedral Archaeology, 1996, 21 minutes.
Chapels, the buildings of non-conformity, 1989, 18 minutes.
God’s Acre – nature conservation in the churchyard, 1993, 24 minutes.
How Parish Churches Evolved, 1997, 21 minutes
In memoriam – the archaeology of graveyards, 1990, 21 minutes.
The Master Builders – the construction of a great church, 1991, 23 minutes.

Web sites

The Churches Conservation Trust. This site has dedicated education pages and downloadable resources.  www.visitchurches.org.uk

The Qualifications and Curriculum Authority. All units of work available to download. www.qca.org.uk

English Heritage. A good site for ideas on using all historic buildings. A Citizenship project on using redundant churches is available to download. www.english-heritage.org.uk

NHCT gratefully acknowledge the support of the Town Close Estates Charities for the support in developing the educational part of this website
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