What is possible with an Historic Medieval Church

There are 18 historic churches in Norwich that are no longer used for their original purpose. These irreplacable testaments to our cultural and social history must be preserved but ideally in a form that provides an ongoing contribution to the communities for which they were created. Today most of the churches continue to play an active role in the Norwich of the 21st century. The case studies below show how different organisations and individuals have rejuvinated these ancient buildings for very different purposes to their original architects.
Click on the thumbnail photos for a full description of these initiatives
All Saints a Centre of christian hospitality

All Saintsí Centre was set up in 1979 by Jo Cook, a local Christian with a vision of a place in the heart of the city where Christians of all denominations, or none, could serve the community in the name of Christ, offering food for body, mind and spirit. All Saintsí still has a chapel where weekly prayers are offered and Christian reading materials are available but the nave and side aisle of the church now house the Sanctuary Cafe, where breakfasts, lunches and light refreshments are available, seating areas, books, cards and information.

St.James Pockthorpe becomes the Puppet Theatre

The Norwich Puppet Theatre was founded in 1978 by Ray & Joan DaSilva as a permanent base for their touring company and was first opened as a public venue in 1980, following the conversion of the medieval church of St James. The conversion & subsequent use of the church epitomises the fact that although the church was established hundreds of years ago it continues to be pivotal to the local community.

St Peter Parmentergate to Martial Arts Centre

The main part of the building had been empty for over 3 years when in 2005 the NHCT were approached by Lyn & Peter Shipley who were looking for premises for the Norwich Academy of Martial Arts (NAMA). The Shipleys had dreamed of opening up a martial arts centre for a number of years. Interestingly Peter started training at the age of 5 at St Michael Coslany Church on Duke Street.  The church is in an ideal location for NAMA but as important is the atmosphere in this beautiful, magnificent building.

St Michael at Plea to Christian Resource Centre

The SPCK Resource Centre & the Forget-Me-Not Café moved to St Michael at Plea Church during July 2004. Previously the SPCK shop had been based at retail premises on Pottergate. Steve Foyster (manager) welcomed the move to the beautifully restored Norwich Church as it not only gave them a separate space to set up a café, but is was also in a perfect position being close to Norwich Cathedral and also  on the tourist trail.

St Swithin to Norwich Arts Centre

The Arts Centre has a very clear aim, namely: “to offer a venue for a broad range of performing & media arts of the highest quality together with a programme of participatory workshops and activities that offer good access to the arts”

St Michael Coslany to Inspire Discovery Centre

Since 1995 St Michael Coslany has been the home of the Inspire Discovery Centre :

“a different kind of museum , where children and adults can explore science through fun hands on activities.”

St Mary Coslany returns to Literary Roots

St Mary's is now home to a book publisher which is somewhat appropriate as outside the church is a plaque commemorating the site of the baptism of Luke Hansard who whilst in Norwich  “…served an apprenticeship as a printer ..went to London in 1771 and printed journals of the House of Commons”. The rest is Parliamentary history.................................

St Martin at Oak to Art Studio
Fred Higginson & Martin Field both studied at the Norwich Arts School. After leaving the School they found that affordable studio spaces in Norwich had long waiting lists. When they saw the church they though it would be ideal not only because it provides a beautiful space to work in but also the unstained windows provide better light for painting.
St Saviors "gives the young space to grow"
Since 1996 this church has been part of the Kings Community Church which has the very clear  belief that ‘church’ is about people who have discovered God’s love and are eager to celebrate it together and share it with others. The community which does not worship in a church building – as it believes a church is about  people rather than “bricks & mortar”  - uses a church in a none ecclesiastical sense to enable it to work with its congregation in the community.