St Peter Parmentergate

Summary

The original building, probably small and in the Norman style, was presented by Roger Bigod to the Cathedral Priory in the late eleventh century. In the fifteenth century it was completely rebuilt, financed by the prosperity of its location on a main route through the city, close to the merchants' quays. St Peter Parmentergate became redundant in 1981. From 1994 the vestry has been leased by the Norwich Historic Churches Trust to the Magdalene Group for their work with prostitutes. In 2005, after being empty for some time, the main church building became the Norwich Centre for Martial Arts  

Exterior

The church, built on a slope, is notable for its great height. The glorious tower, with its double crenellated parapet and richly moulded openings, is best viewed from the south-west.
The windows are uniform, on both sides of the church. They are built in the fifteenth-century Perpendicular style. The absence of any cusps in the tracery suggests a 'no frills' building budget. The two-storey porch is plain with uncarved shields in the door spandrels.
Over the west door are shields, commemorating the families who paid for the rebuilding of the church. In the spandrels are St Peter with a model of the church, and a woman with a rosary, both Victorian copies.
On the north side the doorway has been blocked. The turret houses stairs to the former rood loft. It blocks off part of a window, suggesting it was a later addition.
Notice the elaborate niche on the two-storey vestry.

Interior

Fifteenth century - Inside the building is lofty but plain, a sign again of a limited building budget. The nave walls are un-modelled and the low-pitched nave roof is of simple construction. The elegant chancel arch makes a successful transition to the steeper roofed chancel. The doorway to the rood-loft stair is in the north wall of the nave.


The font is contemporary with the re-building. On the pedestal 'wild' men and women alternate with more conventional lions.

The church would have been filled with colour. Stained glass windows, a carved and painted rood screen, wall paintings and carved images were complemented by rich fabrics, silver communion vessels and the flicker of candles. But all this was to disappear in little more than a generation.


Sixteenth century - The 1548 certificate of church goods records the changes made by the Reformation. Everything was dispersed except the font and the north half of the rood screen dado with its carved figures of leaves and animals (the south half is a good copy). The money raised from the sale of fittings paid for the painting of the Ten Commandments and other texts and for clear glass in the windows. What was left was used for 'pathing of the highway' and for the relief of the poor.

Seventeenth century - The tomb of Richard and Elizabeth Berney, erected in the sanctuary in 1623, with its stiff recumbent figures under an elaborate Jacobean canopy would alone make the church worth a visit.

Nineteenth century - Towards the end of the century, inspired by the Anglo-Catholic revival, the church was restored, the fittings were all replaced in 'Medieval' style and the interior enriched. In the chancel, the roof, the choir stalls and panelling, the restored screen dado and the splendid reredos are of this time. So also is the stained glass. Notice, in a north nave window, a touching picture of 'Christ and the little children' by William Weyer.

Late Twentieth century - The revival lasted less than a century. In 1981 the church was declared redundant and the nave pews, pulpit, organ and bells were removed by the Church of England. On being passed to the Norwich Historic Churches Trust extensive repairs have been carried out. In particular in 2004 they obtained a grant to install toilets, heating, lighting and to decorate the nave thus enabling it, in 2006, to be let to the Norwich Academy for Martial Arts.

The Berney Monument - Extensive repairs were completed on this important and beautiful monument in 2007. To learn about the characters to whom the memorial is dedicated click here

Stained Glass
To see magnified pictures and information on all the stained glass in this and other churches across Norfolk visit www.norfolkstainedglass.co.uk

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