Norwich Cathedral Close

March 2016
8 colour, 62 black and white, 33 line illustrations
316 pages
24.4x17.2 cm
Studies in the History of Medieval Religion
Boydell Press

Norwich Cathedral Close

The Evolution of the English Cathedral Landscape

Roberta Gilchrist

Changes in the layout of the cathedral and its close traced over 600 years, using Norwich as a case-study.
Winner of a CHOICE Outstanding Academic Title Award

What explains the layout of the cathedral and its close? What ideas and beliefs shaped this familiar landscape? Through this pioneering study of the development of the close of Norwich cathedral - one of the most important buildings in medieval England - from its foundation in 1096 up to c.1700, the author looks at changes in cathedral landscape, both sacred and social. Using evidence from history, archaeology and other disciplines, Professor Gilchrist reconstructs both the landscape and buildings of the close, and the transformations in their use and meaning over time. Much emphasis is placed on the layout and the ways in which buildings and spaces were used and perceived by different groups. Patterns observed at Norwich are then placed in the context of other cathedral priories, allowing a broader picture to emerge of the development of the English cathedral landscape over six centuries.

Roberta Gilchrist is Professor of Archaeology and Research Dean at the University of Reading. She is a Fellow of the British Academy and held the post of Archaeologist to Norwich Cathedral for 12 years.

Table of Contents

Introduction: Norwich Cathedral in Context
Norwich Cathedral: Defining the Medieval Landscape
Entering the Monastic Precinct: Zoning, Access and the Outer Court
Monastic Memory and Meaning: The Church, Cloister and Cemeteries
Community, Hierarchy and Hospitality: The Claustral Ranges
Landscapes of Power: The Bishop's Palace and the Prior's Lodging
Charity and Commerce: The Infirmary and the Inner Court
The New Order: The Post-Medieval Cathedral Close, 1538 - c.1700
Reading Sacred and Social Space in the English Cathedral Landscape


One of the great successes of Gilchrist's book is to populate those marvellous building we can still admire in the 21st century with some of the living, breathing people who once called them home. EASTERN DAILY PRESS

Given its complementary verbal and illustrative wealth as well as its historical, archival, archaeological, and architectural historical breadth, this is a consequential book that deserves to be broadly consulted. SPECULUM

This splendid book is groundbreaking and fundamental. Immensely learned but also well written and effectively designed to be accessible to a wide audience. Essential. CHOICE

This excellent book is the most detailed treatment to date of such a landscape, packed with detail and new insights. BRITISH ARCHAEOLOGY

Splendid...triumphantly demonstrates how much more can be learnt not only about cathedral priories but about monasteries more generally. SOUTHERN HISTORY

This splendid book provides insights to both the division of a location into sacred, public, private and functional spaces, as well as investigating the various religious and social influences upon changes in a landscape through time. Always an exhilarating read. LANDSCAPE HISTORY

[A] splendid new book. [...] An impressive and important book [which] will deservedly remain for many years a standard work of reference. NORFOLK & NORWICH ARCHAEOLOGICAL SOCIETY NEWSLETTER

A seminal work of scholarship: a vital reference for all future historians and archaeologists of this and other cathedral-priories. THE CHURCH TIMES

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