Church of St John Maddermarket, Norwich, Norfolk
- What's nearby
A 500-year old city church with explosive history
The handsome flint tower of St John's rises above Maddermarket in the city centre. The best view of it is from the north, where its tower stands over Maddermarket Alley, affording one of the city's most attractive townscapes. The present church was built in the fifteenth century when Norwich was one of the wealthiest cities of Europe.
Squeezed ingeniously into a cramped site, St John's is rather oddly proportioned, being almost as wide as it is long. It is believed that an original chancel may have been demolished as part of a road-widening scheme when Queen Elizabeth I came to visit Norwich. It survived a gas explosion in 1876 during a choir practice that stunned the rector, singed the choirboys and shattered windows and furniture.
Today's sumptuous stained-glass windows are Victorian and twentieth-century replacements and the close set windows in the upper level flood the church with light. The church's square interior is filled with marvellous monuments, from elegant plaques to detailed little figures in Tudor dress including one to Nugent Monk who founded the nearby Maddermarket Theatre and was one of the earliest people to recreate a Shakespearean stage in the 1920s.
All around are rich furnishings -- part of an interesting and eccentric collection assembled by William Busby (rector from 1898 to 1923). He sought out, or commissioned, a whole variety of items to beautify his church, including the magnificent Georgian canopy over the high altar and the altar screen in the lady chapel.
A prominent Norwich landmark
The only seventeenth-century brick tower in Norwich
Signs of past splendour
Church is located in city centre.
The main door is accessed from Pottergate, which has a gentle incline and is combined brick and slab
There is one step down from street level, three steps into porch, and a further three steps into the church. There are no handrails for the steps. All doors and gates at this entrance are open when visitors can access the church. The maximum width at this entrance is 145cm.
Due to the historic nature of the building, the alternative entrance is only opened in good weather, or can be opened upon request. This entrance can be reached by going through the external tower arch towards the Maddermarket Theatre. Maximum width through this entrane is 90cm and there is a 10cm step up to the porch. A ramp is available for this entrance upon request.
Both doors enter near to our Welcome Desk area where there will also be volunteers.
From the welcome area, there are three gangways into the main body of the church through wooden gates, that remain open. The gangways are between pews. The widest gangway entrance is 114cm wide and the narrowest 76cm wide.
Internally, the flooring is a combination of flag stones, wood, and partial carpeting. There are internal steps onto the wooden pew platforms, and to the chancel area of the church.
Facilities & Hire
There is lighting in the porches and the welcome area, with the remainder of the church lit by natural light.
In the Nave, there are 16 pews, each seating five people (80), and in the South Aisle, there are a further 5 pews x 5 people (25), seating a total of 105 comfortably. There are an additional ten chairs which can be used in the North Aisle.
There are 18 electric (13A) sockets in the church and a further two in the vestry. All equipment used in the church must be PAT tested.
Due to the historic nature of this church, there is no heating, running water or toilet facilities. The nearest public toilets are located in The Forum (including baby change and accessible toilets).
There is a wide selection of independent and chain cafes, restaurants and shops nearby.
Located in ‘The Lanes’ at the junction of Pottergate and Dove Street, near to the Maddermarket Theatre.
Norwich Train station approx. 0.7 miles walk to the church. Train Station also has a taxi rank and regular busses depart station to the city centre
Norwich Bus Station: approx. 0.5 miles walk to the church. For bus information see the bus operators website
Park and Ride
There are numerous Park and Ride locations around norwich. Please see the Park and Ride website for more information
There are numerous car parks in the city which can be found on the Visit Norwich website
History & Further Information
On site interpretation and activities:
Take a short self guided tour around some of the key features of the church using our walk around guide
Come in to discover our explorer bags and our family friendly art and craft activities and available every day we are open
Find Your Voice! Climb up into our pulpit and read aloud from our selection quotes, or why not bring along your own favorite book or poem?
Discover more about the Mayors and Sherrifs of Norwich associated with this city center church
Our tactile selection of wood, stone and fabric will help you discover materials that go into building a church
Our volunteers will also be on hand to answer your questionsChurches can often feel like serious and intimidating spaces where everyone has to speak in hushed tones, whilst pulpits can often feel out of bounds for most ordinary people, so Find Your Voice provides an excellent opportunity for visitors to challenge their preconceptions and interact with the church in a fun new way. - See more at: https://www.visitchurches.org.uk/what-we-do/news/find-your-voice.html#sthash.thpkIqSO.dpuf
A 360-degree panorama view of the church interior can be found on the following website (please note this is an external site which is not managed or maintained by the CCT)
Why not make your visit more enjoyable and informed by finding out more about this church before you visit? You can download a range of publications below including the relevant county guide, and any walk round guides we have for this church.Norfolk County Guide 2012
This free of charge short guide contains details of all the churches we care for in Norfolk. Printed copies of the county guide are also available at the church.Norwich_St John.pdf
If you would like to get involved to help tell its many stories to our visitors, or help keep the doors open please have a look at our current roles. If you aren't sure what role would suit you, or think you may be able to help in another way please email firstname.lastname@example.org
Could you share the fascinating history of beautiful St John's Maddermarket in historic Norwich?
To join as a volunteer, please email. Whether it's one session a month, or more frequently, we'd love to hear from you. Bring your talents - we're sure to find a use for them!
- Community information