Great Yarmouth Minster
Great Yarmouth Minster, the parish church of St. Nicholas, was founded by Herbert de Losinga, the Bishop of Norwich, in 1101 as a penance for an act of simony. It is the largest parish church in the country and arguably the oldest building in Great Yarmouth.
The Minster is usually open to visitors daily from 10am to 1pm. The café inside serves light refreshments when the church is open. The church has a beautiful interior and houses a free heritage exhibition showing its role in the history of Yarmouth. The Minster hosts a number of events, from exhibitions to recitals throughout the year, in addition to regular church services.
Brief history of the Minster
During the Medieval period the church was at its most magnificent with stained glass, tapestries, painted and gilded walls, frescos, 19 guild chapels, various relics of the saints and ornate furnishings. At this time Great Yarmouth was the fourth richest town in England. The interior was destroyed at the Reformation and the Priory dissolved.
In 1649 the church was divided into three parts as the Puritans, who were now in the ascendancy, demanded use of the building as their church. The arches were bricked up (two feet thickness) on the north side of the nave, the eastern side of the transepts and the eastern side of the tower. The three portions of the church were used by the Anglican Church (south aisle), the Puritans led by Rev. Bridge (the chancel, which they fitted up as a church house) and the Presbyterians (the north aisle).
A new door to the chancel destroyed the altar tomb of Thomas Crowmer, the Bailiff of Yarmouth from 1470-97. The mutilation of this tomb was contrary to the Act of Parliament of 1644, which allowed the demolition of monuments of idolatry and superstition, but not monuments to dead people, unless they were deemed to be saints. The windows in the east end were filled up with bricks. The north aisle was used by the local militia as a drill hall when the weather was wet. All the three denominations held their services simultaneously and the alterations to the church were paid out of a rate levied on the townspeople.
At the Restoration of the Monarchy in 1660, the Puritans were ejected from the church, however the bricked up arches put up by the Independents and the Presbyterians were not taken down until the restoration of 1859-64 when the church became undivided for the first time in about 200 years.
Over time, the church gradually declined, the fabric deteriorated and the chancel collapsed. It was the Victorians who mounted several large and expensive restoration schemes and by 1905 the church had been completely renovated.
In 1942 the church was gutted during a German air raid leaving only the Norman tower and the walls standing.
With the aid of a War Damage Commission grant and fund raising by local people and businesses the church was rebuilt and reconsecrated in 1961 by the Bishop of Norwich. St. Nicholas celebrated the 50th anniversary of its reconsecration in 2011, and was subsequently designated as a Minster in December 2012.
Today the Minster is the focal point of the town from the Market Place, its tall spire a dominant feature on the town's skyline. Many events take place inside the church, known for its superb acoustics, throughout the year, including many services, recitals and the Great Yarmouth Arts Festival.
Events at the Minster
Churches in Greater Yarmouth - not all are open to the public
St Andrew's church has many architectural features dating back to the Medieval period. With stained glass windows from the Victorian era and church organ dated 1904. The Bacon Brass dating back to 1292 can be seen in the Lady Chapel.
Great Yarmouth Minster was founded in 1101 by Herbert de Losinga (Bishop of Norwich), as a penance for an act of simony. It is the largest parish church in the country and arguably the oldest building in Great Yarmouth.
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