[image ALT: Much of my site will be useless to you if you've got the images turned off!]
Bill Thayer

[image ALT: Cliccare qui per una pagina di aiuto in Italiano.]

[Link to a series of help pages]
[Link to the next level up]
[Link to my homepage]

[image ALT: link to previous section]
This webpage reproduces a chapter of
Handbook to the Cathedrals of England

by Richard John King

published by John Murray, Albemarle Street,
Oxford, 1862

Text and engravings are in the public domain.

[image ALT: link to next section]

p146 Norwich Cathedral

Part II. History of the See,
with Short Notices of the principal Bishops.

After the death, in the year 616, of Ethelbert of Kent, who had received and been baptized by St. Augustine, and partly in consequence, according to Bede, of the temporary apostacy of his son Eadbald, the Bretwaldaship, or predominating influence among the Anglo-Saxon princes, passed into the hands of Raedwald, King of the East Anglians. Raedwald, during a visit to Kent, had adopted Christianity, and had been baptized; but he afterwards relapsed into paganism, and gave a place in the same temple to the altar of Christ and to that of his ancient gods.1 It was whilst an exile at the court of Raedwald that Eadwin of Northumbria received the mysterious visit which prepared the way for his conversion by Paulinus after his restoration to the throne.2 This event belongs to the early history of the see of York; but it was not without influence on the kingdom of East Anglia. Eorpwald, the son of Raedbert, was converted by Christian missionaries p147(possibly by Paulinus himself) sent into his kingdom by Eadwin. On the death of Eorpwald, East Anglia became once more heathen; but Christianity was finally established by Sigeberht, brother of Eorpwald, who had been converted whilst an exile in Burgundy. About the year 630, Felix, a Burgundian missionary to whom Sigeberht may have owed his own conversion, was duly appointed by Honorius, Archbishop of Canterbury, to the see of the East Anglians, among whom his labours seem to have been eminently successful. St. Augustine had landed on the coast of Thanet in 597; and East Anglia thus "assumes a regular place in the ecclesiastical scheme of England" little more than a quarter of a century later.

A.D. 630‑647. Felix established his see at Dummoc, or Dummoc-ceastre, now Dunwich, a seaport on the coast of Suffolk. Dummoc had been a Roman station, as is sufficiently proved by the remains which from time to time have been discovered there; and besides the advantage of its port, its walls may still have been strong enough to afford some protection. It was, moreover, connected with the interior by ancient, perhaps British, roads, which led in one direction toward Bury St. Edmunds, and in another toward Norwich. At Dummoc, Sigeberht built a palace himself, and a church for Felix: but soon after the establishment of the see he resigned his crown in favour of his kinsman Egric, and retired to a monastery which he had himself founded. In 635, during an invasion of East Anglia by the Mercians, under Penda, Sigeberht was dragged unwillingly from his cloister, and compelled to be present on the battle-field; where, however, professionis suae non immemor, he refused to carry weapons, and was only distinguished by a rod (virga) which he held in his hand. Sigeberht fell in this battle. In his kingdom, says Bede, "desiring to imitate those things which he had seen well arranged in Gaul, he founded a school in which boys might be taught letters, with the aid of Felix, the bishop whom he had received p148from Kent, and who furnished them with paedagogues and masters, after the Kentish fashion." Bede gives no locality for this school; yet the passage, without the slightest reason, has been looked upon as recording the foundation of the University of Cambridge — a place which, at that period, was not even within the limits of Sigeberht's kingdom.

Sigeberht was succeeded by Anna, father of Etheldreda, the sainted foundress of Ely (see that Cathedral), and of three other daughters, Sexburga, Ethelburga, and Wihtburga — all of whom, at different periods, embraced the monastic life.

The successor of Felix in the see of Dummoc was —

A.D. 647‑652. Thomas, who had been his deacon, and who was a "Gyrwian," or inhabitant of Cambridgeshire.

A.D. 652‑669. Berctgils, surnamed Bonifacius, a Kentishman, appointed by Abp. Honorius, and

A.D. 669‑673. Bisi, succeeded. Bisi was present at the council of Hertford, held under Abp. Theodore in 673, at which it was proposed to "increase the number of bishops as the number of the faithful increases." No determination was come to by the synod: but Bisi soon afterwards became incapable, from a severe illness, of discharging his episcopal functions, and Abp. Theodore proceeded accordingly to divide his diocese. A new see was established at Elmham in Norfolk, to which Baduwini was appointed. Bisi was deposed, and the see of Dummoc was filled by Aecci.

A.D. 673‑870. From the division of the East Anglian diocese to the year 870, in which occurred the great irruption of the Northmen and the martyrdom of St. Edmund, the sees of Dummoc and of Elmham seem to have been duly filled, although it is scarcely possible to establish the exact years of succession. Little more than the names of the bishops has been recorded. Humbert, Bp. of Elmham, is said to have fallen by the side of St. Edmund in battle with p149the Danes (870). "Nor was there another bishop of East Anglia for more than eighty years, when Aethelwulf was consecrated by Archbishop Oda, and the two sees united in one. In fact, the compelled Christianity of Guthorm and his followers, whom Aelfred suffered to take possession of the country, did not hold out any very secure prospects to a bishop; and till some time after 921, paganism was very probably the profession of a majority in East Anglia."3

A.D. 956‑1070. From the consecration of Aethelwulf to that of Herfast, the first Norman bishop, East Anglia contained but a single see — that of Elmham. The will of Bp. Theodred, who died about 975, has been printed by Kemble, and is a document of considerable interest; but of the remaining bishops we have little more than the names: and even of these the true arrangement is uncertain. Egelmar, the last Bishop of Elmham, was the brother of Stigand, Archbishop of Canterbury, and was deposed, together with him, in a synod held at Winchester in the year 1070. (See CanterburyAbp. Stigand). Stigand had himself held the East Anglian see for a short time, before the accession of Egelmar.

A.D. 1070‑1086. Herfast, one of the Conqueror's chaplains, partly in obedience to the decree of the council of London (1075), which ordered the removal of bishops' sees from villages (villulae) to more important towns, transferred the East Anglian see from Elmham to Thetford, the Roman Sitomagus, and one of the principal towns of East Anglia before, and for some time after, the Norman Conquest. Malmsbury, however, who "gives Herfast but a moderate character, either for learning or hospitality," asserts that he made the change "ne nihil facere videretur, (ut sunt Normanni famae in futurum studiosissimi.")4 Herfast had p150been a monk of Bec, and had obtained a considerable reputation for learning there, before the arrival of Lanfranc. Lanfranc exposed his entire ignorance, and drew upon himself in consequence the resentment not only of Herfast but of William of Normandy, which was not appeased without difficulty. Herfast seems to have retained the favour of William after the Conquest, since it was the King himself who placed him in the East Anglian see.

A.D. 1086‑1091. William de Beaufeu, one of the "King's Clerks," succeeded.

A.D. 1091‑1119. Herbert Losinga was the bishop who removed the see from Thetford, and fixed it permanently at Norwich, in accordance, apparently, with the original intention of the Conqueror.

The place of Bishop Herbert's birth is doubtful, but there is strong reason for believing him to have been born at a manor called Esham, in the hundred of Hoxne, in Suffolk. Educated probably as a Benedictine, he became Prior of Fécamp, in Normandy, and was brought thence to England by William Rufus, who made him Abbot of Ramsey. The chroniclers, with Malmsbury at their head, declare that he bought his bishopric for a sum of £1,900, and that he purchased at the same time the abbacy of Winchester for his father. Verses recording the simoniacal dealings of the prelate have been preserved: —

"Proh dolor! Ecclesiae nummis venduntur et aere
Filius est Praesul, Pater Abbas, Simon uterque.
Quid non speremus si nummos possideamus!"

But Malmsbury adds, that if Bishop Herbert sinned in his p151earlier days, he amply redeemed his errors by his subsequent virtuous life and good deeds, — "prae se semper, ut aiunt, ferens Hieronymi dictum, 'Erravimus juvenes, emendemus senes.' "

Herbert removed his see from Thetford to Norwich in the year 1094; and two years afterwards laid the first stone of the existing cathedral. (See Pt. I § I.) Norwich, the ancient Venta Icenorum, was then, as it still is, by far the most populous and important place in the eastern counties; and the site of the new cathedral was overlooked by the great Norman stronghold which Rufus had but just constructed on the highest ground within the city. A letter of Herbert's to his overseers, or appares, seems to describe the progress of the structure, and "delineates a lively picture of the hive of workmen at the cathedral": — "Languet opus, et in apparandis materiis nullus vester apparet fervor. Ecce regis et mei ministri fervent in operibus suis; lapides colligunt, collectos afferunt, campos et plateas, domos et curias implent; et vos torpetis." The church, however, was not entirely completed during Herbert's episcopate. (See Pt. I § I.) "Many passages in his epistles shew him to have laboured under infirm health during, at least, his latter years . . . . . He appears, notwithstanding, to have been always ready to obey his Sovereign's call, or that of the church; and there are, I think, intimations that, with more vigour of constitution, he would have been the successor of Anselm at Canterbury. This mental activity led him, in 1116, to embark with Radulfus de Turbine, the new Archbishop, in an embassy to Rome, with a view of arranging the long-disputed points respecting investitures, and the legislative authority in east; but the exertion seems to have been fatal to him. On his return he fell sick at Placentia; and although he became, after some time, sufficiently convalescent to admit of his return by easy stages to Norwich . . . . yet nature yielded on the 22nd of July, either of 1119 or of 1120 (for it is p152uncertain which), and he was buried before the high altar in his cathedral church."5

The epithet Losinga, 'Flatterer,' was perhaps not applied to Bishop Herbert until after his death. His "Epistles," which are curious and interesting, although they throw little or no light on his own life, were recently discovered in a MS. belonging to the Burgundian Library at Brussels, and have been published (Bruxelles, 1845). They sufficiently prove that Herbert was a man of high literary attainments, and, for the most part, shew us a kind-hearted and benevolent prelate. One among them, however, addressed to the brethren at Thetford, in which he excommunicates "certain malicious persons who during last week have broken into my park at Humersfield, and killed in the night the only deer which I had there," indicates the Bishop Herbert could be fierce on occasion:— "May the flesh of those," he writes, "who eat my stag's flesh rot away as the flesh of Herod rotted, who shed innocent blood for Christ . . . Let them have the anathema maranatha unless they quickly repent and give satisfaction. Fiat! Fiat! Fiat! This excommunication I ordain, my beloved brethren, not because I pay much regard to one stag, but because I would have them repent and confess, and be corrected for such an offence."6

In addition to the cathedral of Norwich, and its adjoining priory, Herbert is said to have built five other churches; two at Norwich, one at Elmham, one at Lynne, and one at Yarmouth.

A.D. 1121; deposed 1145. Everard, Archdeacon of Salisbury, succeeded. Little is known of him, beyond the fact p153that in the year 1145 he retired from Norwich. According to Henry of Huntingdon he was deposed on account of his cruelty:— "Vir crudelissimus, et ob hoc jam depositus."7 He had probably been concerned in the wars of Stephen. From Norwich, Bishop Everard retired to Fontenay, near Mont Bard, Côte d'Or, where he had built an abbey, the foundations of which were laid in 1137. "He fixed his retreat upon a mountain in the neighbourhood of the newly erected abbey, on the south side of which he caused a modest palace to be built, of which numerous ruins remain in a wood, with a walled-in park, and roads fenced by thick thorns." Everard died in 1150, and was buried under the great altar of the abbey church, where a monument was erected to his memory. The original stone with its inscription disappeared at a very early period, and it is believed to have been replaced soon after by another, with the following inscription: —

"Hic jacet Dominus Ebrardus Norvicensis
Episcopus, qui edificavit Templum istud."8

Bishop Everard had the true Normand instinct for building; and the nave of Norwich Cathedral is attributed to him. (Pt. I § IV.) It was during his episcopate that the boy "St. William" was said to have been crucified by the Jews (March 22, 1144). His shrine formerly stood on the north side of the choir-screen. (Pt. I § VII.) A similar story is localized in many other towns, both in England and on the Continent; some remarks on the amount of historical truth contained in the accusation against the Jews will be found in Lincoln Cathedral, Pt. II, Bishop Lexington, in whose time the murder of "sweet Hugh of Lincoln" took place, according to Matthew Paris.

A.D. 1146‑1174. William de Turbe, a monk of the priory p154attached to the cathedral, was elected on the deposition of Everard. During his episcopate the church suffered much from fire. (Pt. I § I.)

A.D. 1175‑1200. John of Oxford, had been Dean of Salisbury. He restored and completed the cathedral. (Pt. I § I.) In 1176, the year following his elevation to the see of Norwich, he conducted the Princess Joanna, daughter of Henry II, to Sicily, where she married the King, William the Good. In 1179 the Bishop of Norwich was appointed one of the Itinerant Justices for deciding civil and criminal pleas within the eastern Counties. These Justices of Assize, to whose institution we owe the uniformity of our common law, were first appointed by Henry II.9

A.D. 1200‑1214. John de Gray, was one of three bishops (the other were Peter de Roches of Winchester, and Philip of Durham) who, in spite of all the insults and oppressions heaped by King John on the Church and country, continued his firm partizans and the instruments of his exactions. John de Gray, who had been Archdeacon of Gloucester, and, in 1189, one of Henry the Second's Justices Itinerant, became Bishop of Norwich in the year 1202; and in 1206, on the death of Hubert Walter, was by the King's influence elected to the primacy. The monks of Canterbury, however, who had been divided into two parties — one of which had chosen their sub-prior, Reginald — appealed to Rome. Innocent III annulled both elections, and appointed Stephen Langton. (See Canterbury Cathedral, Pt. II, Archbishop Langton.) The long quarrel between King John and the Pope, which produced the famous Interdict, and which terminated in the King's resignation of his crown to Pandulf, was the result.

In 1211 Bishop de Gray was appointed Grand Justiciary of Ireland. In 1214 he died at St. Jean d'Angely, in Poitou, on his return from Rome. His body was brought p155to England, and interred in the cathedral at Norwich. The Interdict had ceased in the same year.

A.D. 1222‑1226. Pandulf Masca, the legate of Pope Innocent III — who had received King John's submission in the church of the Templars, and who had subsequently raised the Interdict — was the next bishop of Norwich. The see, however, had remained vacant for seven years (1214‑1222), during the struggle between King John and his barons, and the commencement of the reign of Henry III. Pandulph, after his election, proceeded to Rome, where he was consecrated by Pope Honorius III. The "practice of purchasing the support of Rome by enriching her Italian clergy" had been commenced by John; but it attained its highest pitch during the long reign of Henry III, and after causing many popular outbreaks, was at last one of the grievances set forth by the revolted barons, under Simon de Montfort. "Pope Honorius writes to Pandulf not merely authorizing but urging him to provide a benefice or benefices in his diocese of Norwich for his own (the Bishop's) brother, that brother (a singular plurality) being Archdeacon of Thessalonica. These foreigners were of course more and more odious to the whole realm; to the laity as draining away their wealth without discharging any duties; still more to the clergy as usurping their benefices; though ignorant of the language, affecting superiority in attainments; from their uncongenial manners, and, if they are not belied, unchecked vices. They were blood-suckers, drawing out the life, or drones fattening on the spoil of the land. All existing documents shew that the jealousy and animosity of the English did not exaggerate the evil."10

As Bishop of Norwich, Pandulf procured the grant to himself of the first-fruits (primitiae) from all the ecclesiastical benefices in his diocese. His successors continued the p156same exaction until the accession of Bishop Ralph de Walpole in 1289. Pandulf died Sept. 16, 1226, and was buried at Norwich.

A.D. 1226‑1236. Thomas Blunville, Clerk of the Royal Exchequer. After his death the see remained vacant for three years; when

A.D. 1239‑1244. William de Raley, Treasurer of Exeter, was appointed. In 1244 he became bishop-elect of Winchester, and died at Tours in 1250. (See Winchester Cathedral.)

A.D. 1245‑1257. Walter Suffield, whose reputation in the University of Paris was considerable, succeeded. He is said to have been totius divini ac humani juris peritissimus, and was chosen accordingly by Pope Innocent to conduct a valuation of ecclesiastical revenues throughout England. "This valuation was entered upon record, called the Norwich tax, and was afterwards made use of upon the grant of subsidies and assessments of the clergy."11 Bishop Walter built the hospital of St. Giles at Norwich, and added the Lady-chapel at the east end of his cathedral, pulled down by Dean Gardiner in the reign of Elizabeth. (See Pt. I § I.) During a great dearth, the Bishop sold all the silver plate he possessed, and distributed the proceeds to the poor; among whom the reputation of his charity and great virtue became widely spread, and miracles were said to be wrought at his tomb in the Lady-chapel. He died at Colchester in 1257.

A.D. 1258‑1266. Simon de Wanton.

A.D. 1266‑1278. Roger Skirnyng. During his episcopate much of the priory and portions of the cathedral church were greatly damaged by fire, which broke out during an attack on the prior by the citizens. Constant disputes between the monks and the men of Norwich concerning the right of the former to a toll on the merchandize brought to p157the great fair, held annually at the time of festival of the Holy Trinity, at last broke into violence. Two accounts of this tumult have been preserved: the first by Bartholomew Cotton, a monk of the priory12 — which is, of course, the monastic history of it; the second in the Liber de Antiquis Legibus of the Corporation of London,13 probably obtained from communication with the Corporation of Norwich, and giving the version of the citizens. The two accounts differ much as to the causes which led to the fire, but nearly agree as to the amount of damage done by it. "Certain of them" (the citizens), says Cotton, "without the tower of St. George, with catapults, threw fire into the great belfry which was above the choir, and by this fire they burned the whole church, except the chapel of the Blessed Mary, which was miraculously preserved. The dormitory, refectory, strangers' hall, infirmary, with the chapel, and almost all the edifices of the court, were consumed by fire." "As the fire waxed stronger," says the London account, "the belfry was burned, and all the houses of the monks, and also, as some say, the cathedral church; so that all which could be burned was reduced to ashes, except a certain chapel, which remained uninjured." The roofs and ceilings, which were no doubt of wood, were at this time entirely destroyed; the Norman stone-work of the nave suffered little; that of the choir was probably more injured.

The year of this attack on the priory (1272) was the last year of the long reign of Henry III, who came to Norwich to investigate the affair, and who died at St. Edmundsbury after leaving the city. After long disputes, during which Norwich was placed under an interdict by the Bishop, Edward I in 1275 decided that the citizens should, within three years, pay 3,000 marks to the prior and convent, for p158the restoration of the church and other buildings; that the Corporation should give a golden pyx ("— "Unum vas aureum . . . ad tenendum Corpus Christi super altare") of ten pounds weight for the high altar, and that the interdict should be at once removed.14 St. Ethelbert's Gate, usually said to have been built by the citizens in expiation of their attack on the priory, was probably built with the money thus paid. The King's decision permits the prior and convent to make their new entrance wherever they pleased.15

A.D. 1278‑1288. William Middleton: dedicated the cathedral in the name of the Holy Trinity on the day of his enthronization. The roofs had by this time been restored. Bishop Middleton, who was distinguished as a canonist and civilian, was for some time Edward the First's Seneschal at Bordeaux; "qui in esculentis et poculentis aliis prae caeteris magnatibus Angliae ibi moram trahentibus, se exhibuit recommendatum."16

A.D. 1289, trans. to Ely 1299. Ralph Walpole, Archdeacon of Ely.

A.D. 1299‑1335. John Salmon, Prior of Ely; Lord Chancellor from 1319 to 1323. Bishop Salmon built a hall and chapel for his palace at Norwich.

A.D. 1325‑1336. William Ayermin, Master of the Rolls; Keeper for some time of the Great Seal, during the illness of Bishop Salmon, and Edward the Third's Treasurer of the Exchequer.

A.D. 1337‑1343. Antony Bek, nephew of Antony Bek, the powerful Bishop of Durham, and Patriarch of Jerusalem, was a severe master to his monks, and is said to have been poisoned by his own servants.

A.D. 1344‑1355. William Bateman, a vigorous defender p159of the rights of his see, compelled Robert, Baron of Morley, who had broken into certain of the Bishop's parks, to perform public penance, in spite of the King's threatening letters. Bishop Bateman died at Avignon, where, with Henry Duke of Lancaster, and other nobles, he had gone on an embassy from Edward III, to arrange, under the presidency of Pope Innocent VI, the English claims to certain portions of French territory. During his episcopate more than fifty-seven thousand persons are said to have perished in Norwich alone, from the plague called the "Black Death." Following the examples of Walter de Merton (see Rochester Cathedral, Pt. II) at Oxford, and of Hugh de Balsham, Bishop of Ely, at Cambridge (see Ely Cathedral, Pt. II), Bishop Bateman founded Trinity Hall at Cambridge, for the study of civil and canon law.

A.D. 1356‑1369. Thomas Percy, intruded by the Pope at the instance of Henry Duke of Lancaster. During his episcopate the spire of the cathedral was struck by lightning, and the masses of stone which fell from it did serious mischief to the choir roofs.

A.D. 1370‑1406. Henry Spenser, grandson of the favourite of Edward II, had been, with an elder brother, in the pay of the Pope, Hadrian V, during his war with Bernabo Visconti of Milan. By the Pope he was named Bishop of Norwich; and he brought with him to England the love of arms, and the skill in the use of them, which had in effect procured him his bishopric. During the insurrections of 1381, whilst Wat Tyler and his followers advanced on London, the men of Norfolk and Suffolk rose in great force, and made Litster, a dyer of Norwich, their captain. "Spenser, the young and martial Bishop of Norwich . . . at the head of eight lances and a few archers, boldly arrested one of the ringleaders. A few knights gathered round him. Armed from head to foot, with a huge two-handed sword, he attacked an immense rabble, hewed them down, put the rest to flight, seized the captain, a dyer of Norwich, and p160reduced his diocese to peace by these victories, and by remorseless executions."17 "At a later period, when the Lollards, by preaching against pilgrimages, endangered the interests of Our Lady of Walsingham, Bishop Spenser swore that if any of Wycliffe's preachers came into his diocese, he would burn or behead him 'Faith and religion,' says Walsingham, 'remained inviolate in the diocese of Norwich.' "18

In 1385, the ninth year of Richard II, "just at the time when the schism had shaken the Papacy to its base, and Wycliffe had denounced both popes alike as Antichrist, and had found strong sympathy in the hearts and minds of men . . . for the first time a holy civil war is proclaimed in Christendom, especially in England, the seat of these new opinions — a war of pope against pope. The Pontiff of Rome promulgates a crusade against the Pontiff of Avignon." The Papal schism had commenced in 1375, when Robert of Geneva, by the influence of France, was elected pope in opposition to Urban VI: Robert took the name of Clement VII. In the autumn and winter of 1382, however, Flanders had been invaded by the young King of France. Philip Van Artevelde had fallen at Roosebecque, and the country had been compelled to submit to Charles VI, who obliged all the conquered towns to recognise Clement VII as Pope. Accordingly, the Bishop of Norwich directed his crusade against Flanders, as being then in effect French territory.19 "Public prayers are put up, by order of the Primate (William Courtenay), in every church of the realm, for the success of the expedition into Flanders. The bishops and the clergy are called on by the Archbishop to enforce p161on their flocks the duty of contribution to this sacred purpose. Money, jewels, property of all kinds, are lavishly brought in, or rigidly extorted; it is declared meritorious to fight for the faith, glorious to combat for the Lord. The same indulgences are granted as to crusaders in the Holy Land."20

"But, after all, the issue of the expedition, at first successful, was in the end as shameful and disastrous as it was insulting to all sound religious feeling. The Crusaders took Gravelines; they took Dunkirk; and this army of the Pope, headed by a Christian bishop, in a war so‑called religious, surpassed the ordinary inhumanity of the times. Men, women, and children were hewn to pieces in one vast massacre. After these first successes, the London apprentices, and the villains throughout the kingdom, were seized with a crusading ardour. They mounted white cloaks, with red crosses on their shoulders, red scabbards to their swords, and marched off defying their masters. Many religious, monks and friars, followed their example. The Crusaders had neither the pride nor consolation of permanent success. The army of Spenser returned as ingloriously as it had conducted itself atrociously. He had 60,000 men, besides auxiliaries from Ghent. Before Ypres he failed shamefully. At the first approach of the French army he withdrew to Gravelines, and was glad to buy a safe retreat by the surrender of the town."21

p162 It need hardly be said that the crusade of Bishop Spenser was more an affair of policy than of religion, and that it was mainly the result of hostility between France and England. On the failure of the expedition, the young King, Richard II, in a frenzy of rage, ordered the temporalities of the see of Norwich to be seized, on pretence that the crusade had been countermanded by the King's writ when it was on the point of sailing, and that the Bishop had taken no notice of the writ. The temporalities were soon restored; but the Bishop, retaining his pugnacious disposition, kept up a constant quarrel with his monks, on various pretexts, until his death in 1406.

A.D. 1407‑1413. Alexander Tottington, Prior of the convent, whose election was opposed by the King, was at last consecrated, after the see had been vacant nearly two years.

A.D. 1413‑1415. Richard Courtenay, second son of Philip Courtenay, Earl of Devon, and Chancellor of Oxford: accompanied Henry V on his expedition to France, and died at the siege of Harfleur. He was brought to Westminster Abbey for interment.

A.D. 1416‑1425. John Wakering, Archdeacon of Canterbury, and Keeper of the Privy Seal: was present at the Council of Constance.

A.D. 1426, trans. to Lincoln 1436. William Alnwick, Keeper of the Privy Seal, and Archdeacon of Salisbury. His works in the cathedral have been noticed, Pt. I § III.

A.D. 1436‑1445. Thomas Brown: was translated to Norwich from Rochester, during his absence at the Council of Basle. He stood firmly for the liberties of his Church against the citizens of Norwich.

A.D. 1445‑1472. Walter hart, or Le Hart, Provost of Oriel College, Oxford: was sent by Henry VI, to Savoy, on a mission to the Antipope Felix, and had some share in inducing him to abdicate — by which the long papal schism was at last closed. Bishop Walter's work in the cathedral has been noticed, Pt. I § V.

p163 A.D. 1472‑1498. James Goldwell, Dean of Salisbury. Little is recorded of him beyond his great work in the choir of his cathedral, noticed at Pt. I § X. His tomb, with effigy, remains on the south side of the choir: Pt. I § XI.

A.D. 1499‑1500. Thomas Jane.

A.D. 1501‑1536. Richard Nykke, or Nix, "a person of very slender character," in Collier's words, succeeded; who, says Godwin, "in spite of his name, had little of snow in his breast." Bishop Nykke had been Archdeacon of Exeter and Canon of Windsor. He took the oath of supremacy, and, according to Fox, five persons suffered in his diocese on this account, and on the question of transubstantiation. Toward the end of his life Nykke became blind, and was said "to have offended the King (Hen. VIII) signally by some correspondence with Rome, and was kept long in the Marshalsea, and convicted, and cast in a praemunire."22 "But this relation," says Collier, "goes only upon conjecture, and looks improbable, even from Nix's age and behaviour: for he was a very old man, and had been blind for many years; and as he could have no prospect of advantage from such a correspondence, so neither did he manage like one that would risk his fortune for any religion . . . . . The true cause of his conviction and imprisonment was this: the town of Thetford, in Norfolk, made a presentment upon oath, before the King's judges, in proof of their liberties. . . . The Bishop, taking this as a check upon his jurisdiction, cited Richard Cockerell, Mayor of Thetford, and some others, into his court, and enjoined them, under penalty of excommunication, to summon a jury of their town, and cancel the former presentment. For this the Bishop was prosecuted in the King's Bench, cast in a praemunire, and had judgment executed upon his person and estate, pursuant to the statute. This was done in the beginning of the year 1534. The King afterwards, upon his submission, discharged him out of p164prison: however, he was not pardoned without a fine, with part of which it is said the glass windows of King's College Chapel in Cambridge were purchased."23

In his own cathedral Bishop Nykke constructed the existing roofs of the transept: (Pt. I § XII); and arranged his own chantry in the nave: (Pt. I § VI).

A.D. 1536, resigned 1550. William Rugg, or Repps, Abbot of St. Bennet of Holm, which abbacy he retained with the bishopric. During the vacancy of the see "the King took into his own hands all the manors of the bishopric. For the seizing this large endowment there was nothing given in exchange but the Abbey of St. Bennet's in the Holm, the Priory of Hickling in Norfolk, and a prebend in the collegiate church of St. Stephen's, Westminster. This exchange was confirmed in Parliament."24

The Bishop of Norwich, in right of this exchange, is still titular Abbot of Holm.

Bishop Rugg alienated much of the diminished property of the see — no doubt to his personal advantage; but on complaints made to the King (Edward VI) he was compelled to resign the bishopric — paying a fine of £900, and retaining a pension of £200 for life. The Norwich priory was finally suppressed after his accession, and the Dean and Chapter duly installed in its place.

A.D. 1550, trans. to Ely 1554. Thomas Thirlby, the first and last Bishop of Westminster. (See Ely.)

A.D. 1554‑1558. John Hopton, Chaplain to Queen Mary: at whose death he is said to have died of grief. Many Protestants suffered in his diocese during his episcopate.

A.D. 1560‑1575. John Parkhurst, born at Guildford in Surrey; the tutor of Bishop Jewell, and an exile with him. He is said to have "repaired and beautified" his palace at Norwich, where he died. His tomb, without the brasses, remains in the nave: (Pt. I § VI).

p165 A.D. 1575, translated to Worcester 1584. Edmund Freak; translated to Norwich from Rochester.

A.D. 1585‑1594. Edmund Scambler, translated from Peterborough. Bishop Scambler alienated much at Peterborough (see that Cathedral, Pt. II); and did the same at Norwich. His monument was destroyed by the Puritans.

A.D. 1594‑1602. William Redman, Archdeacon of Canterbury.

A.D. 1602‑1617. John Jegon, Master of Bene't College, Cambridge.

A.D. 1618‑1619. John Overall, translated from Lichfield; "a discreet presser of conformity in his diocese," says Fuller; and one of the most learned of English controversialists. He had the character, according to Antony Wood, of being the "best scholastic divine in the English nation." He was the correspondent of Grotius and Gerard Vossius; but is best known in England by his so‑called "Convocation Book," written, says Bishop Burnet, "on the subject of Government, the divine institution of which was very positively asserted." The treatise, which consists partly of canons and partly of introductory and explanatory dissertations on the matter of the canons, was duly sanctioned in the Convocation of 1610; but it "did not see the light till many years after it was composed, when it was published by Archbishop Sancroft, to justify the principles of the Nonjuring party. It was, however, a strange oversight in Sancroft's party to publish the book, as there are several canons in it which clearly lay down that a de facto government is, when completely established, to be held in the light of a de jure government; and it was upon the very grounds set forth in this book that Dr. Sherlock took the oaths to King William."25

The composition of the latter part of the Catechism (containing an explanation of the Sacraments) is generally p166attributed to Bishop Overall. "It was added (in 1604) by royal authority, 'by way of explanation,' in compliance with the wish which the Puritans had expressed at the Conference at Hampton Court; and with two emendations was afterwards confirmed by Convocation and Parliament in 1661."26

The monument for Bishop Overall, erected by his secretary, Dr. Cosin, Bishop of durham, has been already noticed: (Pt. I § XI). In the inscription he is declared to be "Vir undequaque doctissimus, et omni encomio major."

A.D. 1619, translated to York 1628. Samuel Harsnet.

A.D. 1628, translated to Ely 1631. Francis White.

A.D. 1632‑1635. Richard Corbet, born at Ewell in Surrey, was translated to Norwich from Oxford. Corbet was a distinguished wit; and although one of the bishops who carried out the Laudian discipline with a high hand, was scarcely himself an example of religious living. He could not restrain his facetiousness even on the most solemn occasions. "One time, as he was confirming," says Aubrey,27 "the country people pressing in to see the ceremony, said he, 'Bear off there, or I'll confirm ye with my staff.' Another time, being to lay his hand on the head of a man very bald, he turns to his chaplain, and said, 'Some dust, Lushington,' — to keep his hand from slipping. The Bishop would sometimes take the key of the wine-cellar, and he and his chaplain would go and lock themselves in and be merry. Then, first he lays down his episcopal hat — 'There lies the Doctor.' Then he puts off his gown — 'There lies the Bishop.' Then 'twas, 'There's to thee, Corbet,' and 'Here's to thee, Lushington.' "

A more favourable character is given of Bishop Corbet by Fuller, who calls him "an high wit and most excellent p167poet, of a courteous carriage, and no destructive nature to any who offended him, counting himself plentifully repaired with a jest upon him."28 His poems, which are noticeable as illustrations of the period, were published after his death, under the title of Poetica Stromata, 1648.

A.D. 1635, translated to Ely 1638. Matthew Wren. (See Ely Cathedral, Part II).

A.D. 1638‑1641. Richard Montague, translated from Chichester. For a sketch of Bishop Montague's life, which, happily for himself, ended before the breaking out of the Civil War, see Chichester Cathedral, Part II.

A.D. 1641- died 1656. Joseph Hall, translated to Norwich from Exeter. A short life of this excellent bishop will be found in Exeter Cathedral, Part II. To the notices there quoted may be added "the eloquent tribute of the venerable Bishop Morton to the merits of his friend: 'God's visible, eminent, and resplendent graces of illumination, zeal, piety, and eloquence, have made him truly honourable and glorious in the Church of Christ.' "29

In December, 1641, Bishop Hall, with the Archbishop of York and eleven other prelates, was committed to the Tower for protesting against the validity of laws passed during the enforced absence of bishops from Parliament. He was soon afterwards released on giving security for five thousand pounds, and returned to Norwich, where he remained unmolested until April, 1643. His property was then sequestered as that of a "notorious delinquent." He was expelled from his palace, and treated with all possible insult, till he withdrew to the village of Heigham, where he was permitted to remain in comparative security until his death, in 1656. The present "Dolphin Inn" at Heigham — a house with the date 1635 on its front —a was the residence of Bishop Hall; who was buried in the adjoining p168church. His monument, with a "cadaver," an emblem then greatly affected, still remains.

In his "Hard Measure" Bishop Hall has given the story of his sufferings; and from it the following picture of the desecration of the cathedral is extracted:— "It is tragical to relate the furious sacrilege committed under the authority of Linsey, Tofts the sheriff, and Greenwood: what clattering of glasses, what beating down of walls, what tearing down of monuments, what pulling down of seats, and wresting out of irons and brass from the windows and graves; what defacing of arms, what demolishing of curious stone-work, that had not any representation in the world but of the cost of the founder and skill of the mason; what piping on the destroyed organ-pipes; vestments, both copes and surplices, together with the leaden cross which had been newly sawed down from over the greenyard pulpit, and the singing-books and service-books, were carried to the fire in the public market-place; a lewd wretch walking before the train in his cope trailing in the dirt, with a service-book in his hand, imitating in an impious scorn the tune, and usurping the words of the litany. The ordnance being discharged on the guild-day, the cathedral was filled with musketeers, drinking and tobacconing as freely as if it had turned ale-house."

A.D. 1661‑1676. Edward Reynolds, who had joined the Presbyterian party during the Civil War; afterwards became Dean of Christ Church, Oxford, and Bishop of Norwich. He was accused of deserting his party for preferment: but Blomefield (Hist. of Norfolk) gives him a high character; and his works have been often reprinted. He was interred in the chapel of his palace at Norwich.

A.D. 1676‑1685. Antony Sparrow, was translated from Exeter. Bishop Sparrow, the well-known author of the "Rationale upon the Book of Common Prayer," was born at Depden, in Suffolk. At Norwich, according to Blomefield, p169he obtained the "praise and commendation of all men." Little is recorded of his public life, either here or at Exeter.

A.D. 1685, deposed 1691. William Lloyd, had been successively Bishop of Llandaff and Peterborough. He was deposed as a Nonjuror, and lived at Hammersmith until his death in 1710.

A.D. 1691, translated to Ely 1707. John Moore.

A.D. 1708, translated to Winchester 1721. Charles Trimnell.

A.D. 1721, translated to Ely 1723. Thomas Green.

A.D. 1723‑1727. John Leng.

A.D. 1727‑1732. William Baker, translated from Bangor.

A.D. 1733, translated to Ely 1738. Robert Butts.

A.D. 1738, translated to Ely 1748. Sir Thomas Gooch, translated to Norwich from Bristol.

A.D. 1748‑1749. Samuel Lisle, translated from St. Asaph.

A.D. 1749, translated to London 1761. Thomas Hayter, Preceptor to George III.

A.D. 1761‑1783. Philip Young, translated from Bristol.

A.D. 1783, translated to St. Asaph 1790. Lewis Bagot, translated from Bristol.

A.D. 1790‑1792. George Horne, author of "Letters on Infidelity."

A.D. 1792, translated to Canterbury 1805. Charles Manners Sutton.

A.D. 1805‑1837. Henry Bathurst.

A.D. 1837‑1849. Edward Stanley. A Memoir of Bishop Stanley has been published by his son, A. P. Stanley, D.D., Regius Professor of Ecclesiastical History in the University of Oxford.

A.D. 1849, resigned 1857. Samuel Hinds.

A.D. 1857. John Thomas Pelham.

For later bishops up to our own time, see Peter Owen's site.

The Author's Notes:

1 "Atque in eodem fano et altare haberet ad sacrificium Christi, et arulam ad victimas daemoniorum; quod videlicet fanum, rex ejusdem provinciae Alduulf, qui nostra aetate fuit, usque ad suum tempus perdurasse et se in pueritia vidisse testabatur."— Bede, H. E., lib. II. c15.

2 See the narrative in Bede, H. E., II.12.

3 J. M. Kemble, "The Bishops of East Anglia," in the Norwich volume of the Archaeological Institute.

4 De Pontif., lib. II. There is reason to believe that the transfer (p150)of the see to Thetford was only a temporary arrangement, and that the Conqueror from the first intended to fix it at Norwich. The Doomsday Survey records at Norwich, — "In the proper court of the bishop, 14 mansurae which King William gave to Arfast for the principal seat of the bishopric." The reason for the temporary transfer to Thetford is quite uncertain.

5 From a memoir of Bishop Herbert in the Norfolk Archaeology, vol. III., quoted by Harrod, Castles and Convents of Norfolk, p241.

6 Harrod, p326. Mr. Harrod has given translations of the more interesting epistles of Bishop Herbert in the appendix to his Castles and Convents.

7 H. Huntingdon, De Contemptu Mundi, quoted by Wharton, Anglia Sacra, I. p408 (note).

8 Harrod, from Norfolk Archaeology, vol. V.

9 See Hallam, Middle Ages, vol. II. p337 (ed. 1855).

10 Milman's Latin Christianity, vol. IV. p308.

11 Collier, Ch. Hist.

12 See it in Wharton's Anglia Sacra, I.399.

13 This very curious account is given at length by Mr. Harrod, Castles and Convents of Norfolk, pp250‑253.

14 Cotton, ap. Angl. Sac.,I.400.

15 "Dicimus insuper et ordinamus; quod dicti Prior et Conventus faciant ex quacunque parte voluerunt introitum dicti Prioratus, absque damno vel praejudicio alieno." — Cotton, p401.

16 Cotton.

17 Milman, Latin Christianity, VI.133.

18 Id. VI.134 (note).

19 A very full and interesting account of the crusade will be found in M. Kervyn de Lettenhove's Histoire de Flandre, vol. II. (ed. 1853).

20 Milman, Lat. Christ., VI.132. The form of absolution is thus given by Collier (Eccles. Hist., bk. VI. cent. 14), from Knighton. "By apostolical authority committed to me for this purpose, I absolve thee, A. B., from all thy sins confessed, and for which thou art contrite; and from all those which thou wouldest confess, provided they occurred to thy memory. And, together with the full remission of thy sins, I grant thee the assurance of the reward of just persons in the life to come. I give thee, moreover, all the privileges of those who undertake an expedition to the Holy Land, and the benefit of the prayers of the Universal Church, either met in synods or elsewhere."

21 Milman, id.

22 Burnet.

23 Eccles. Hist., Pt. II. bk. II.

24 Id.

25 Perry's History of the Church of England, vol. I. p178.

26 Procter on the Book of Common Prayer, p391.

27 Lives, II.293, quoted in Perry's History of the Church of England.

28 Worthies — Surrey.

29 Quoted in Perry's History of the Church of England, vol. I. p629.

Thayer's Note:

a The present "Dolphin Inn" at Heigham — a house with the date 1635 on its front —: For further details about the building, also known as Brown's House, see this section of Walter Rye's History of the Parish of Heigham; the Plunketts' Norwich site states that the date on the front is 1615.

[image ALT: Valid HTML 4.01.]

Page updated: 9 Dec 07