Treasures of Norwich Cathedral

29th August 2013

An exhibition will be held throughout September and October in Norwich Cathedral to highlight 25 treasures which are significant not only to the heritage of the cathedral church but also in its role as a daily place of worship.


The exhibition includes a wide range of interesting artifacts from across the centuries, from the magnificent building’s early origins to the present day.

The Sainsbury Centre for the Visual Arts at the University of East Anglia, also in Norwich, has an exhibition entitled ‘Masterpieces: Art and East Anglia’ which features several items from Norwich Cathedral including Romanesque cloister capitals, the Passion altarpiece, commonly known as the “Despenser Reredos”, and nine order of angels alabaster, a panel which is being reunited with other panels believed to be from the same altarpiece. Prompted by this, and as many of the Cathedral’s treasures cannot be moved, the 25 Treasures exhibition came about.

Among the items in the 25 Treasures exhibition are some ancient fragments from the original Bishop’s throne; made from stone some of these are carved and depict the Holy Spirit as a dove, a “star from heaven” and two dragons.

The Norwich Domesday manuscript, dating from the early fifteenth century, will be on display. This has records of church valuations made for taxation purposes and lists every parish in the medieval diocese which covered most of Norfolk and Suffolk.

Another exhibit are the Nave bosses, which are the most extensive collection of story bosses in the world and tell the biblical story from Creation to Last Judgement.

Visitors can also see the Vestry Wall panelling dating from 1530 – 1550 and designed for the former Bishop’s Palace, although traditionally believed to have come from St Benet’s Abbey. They offer a wonderful insight into the “nine worthies” – chivalric exemplars from history, the Bible and literature.

A collection of architecturally significant structures are included, some of which illustrate the connection of the site with Christianity preceding the building of the Cathedral as well as other more recent additions which provide for the continued outreach activities carried out through hospitality and learning.

The Betrayal panel (pictured), examples of graffiti and the grave of Edith Cavell are all included in the range of treasures in the exhibition and illustrate the fabric and life of a church seen as one of the nation’s greatest buildings.

Gudrun Warren, Librarian at Norwich Cathedral said: “This is a wonderful opportunity to see some of our best known features in a new light and to discover some previously unknown treasures from across the centuries. Visitors will be able to understand the significance of the exhibits not only as historical artefacts but as integral to the life of a church which continues to carry out the same function it was built for over 900 years ago”.

The exhibition will be open in the Hostry from 4 September to 22 October during normal Hostry hours and admission is free. As many of these treasures can only be seen in situ, a book has been produced which visitors are encouraged to buy as it provides a map to follow giving the location and details on each individual exhibit.

Dippy the Dinosaur tour arrives in Norwich Cathedral in January 2021 as the final leg of the Dippy On Tour. More here.