St Peter Hungate
Being based at St Peter Hungate church, Hungate also offers the opportunity to explore a beautiful 15th century parish church.
The name St Peter Hungate preserves an otherwise lost Norwich street name, which may commemorate hounds being kept in kennels in this area.
The church as it is now seen is mainly 15th century. The nave and transepts were totally rebuilt in 1458.
A stone on the outside of the church shows a tree trunk without branches (to symbolise the decay of the old church) with a new shoot (to symbolise the new building), together with the date of completion of the rebuilding in 1460.
The chancel and tower were rebuilt in 1431 by Thomas Ingham. The Chancel was rebuilt again in1604 after it collapsed, using plastered rubble and a pin-tile roof. The tower has been shortened, with an unusual pyramid cap put on in1906 when the belfry was demolished.
Both the doors are original – of about 1460. The south porch was added in 1497, by Nicholas Ingham, who is buried in it. Inside, the nave has wall-arcading and a low pitched roof decorated with angels with scrolls. There is a central boss of Christ in Judgment.
The font is fifteenth-century, and its cover, with an open-work steeple, is dated 1605. There are two squints which give a view from the nave into the transepts.
In the north transept the doors to the rood-stair can be seen. The collapse of the chancel in 1604 demolished the rood-screen, and it was never replaced.
The church has one surviving monument dedicated to Matthew Goss (died 1779). He was voted the freedom of the City in 1756 as thanks for the gift of a gold chain for the Mayor.
A virtual tour of St Peter Hungate highlighting some of our own beautiful medieval art is now available on our Flicker page
All the windows in St Peter Hungate are perpendicular making the church very light. The church contains 15th and 16th century medieval glass. Much of this glass exists as fragments and has been moved around the different windows of the church at different points in the church’s history.
As part of Hungate Medieval Art's glass exhibition, the impressive medieval stained glass in the east and west windows have been interpreted by Claire Daunton of the University of East Anglia and Trinty Hall, Cambridge.
The church was one of the earliest to be affected by the Oxford Movement of the Nineteenth century, and was ‘one of the most fashionable places of worship in Norwich’. However by the end of the century it was in a bad way: in 1888, the tower was so dangerous an order was served on the churchwardens. In 1897, a large hole in the chancel roof was covered only by a tarpaulin.
The Church was saved from dereliction by the patronage of a Punjabi Prince. Prince Frederick was the son of Duleep Singh, the former Maharaja of Lahore who moved to Suffolk following the annexation of his kingdom by the British. Prince Frederick was a voracious collector of antiquities and benefactor of historic buildings. Restoration was completed in 1906.
However, by 1931 the church was again in a bad state and was threatened with demolition. The Norfolk Archæological Trust raised money to repair it, and it was used as a museum of church art from 1936 until 1995, latterly under Norfolk Museums and Archaeology Service. St Peter Hungate was the fist Church to be resued for a secular perpose in the entire country.
In 2006 the church was put in the care of The Norwich Historic Churches Trust, established by the City Council in 1973 to repair and maintain redundant churches and chapels within the city walls. It currently has eighteen buildings in its care. Repairs are financed by letting the churches to suitable tenants and through fundraising.
St Peter Hungate is one of the best examples of the endowment of public buildings by the Paston family.
A prominent Norfolk family, the Pastons are most famous for writing the Paston Letters. These letters, which survive from the 15th century, document many aspects of everyday life as well as the dynastic instability which surrounded the Wars of the Roses.
It was John Paston(1421-1466) and his wife Margaret who rebuilt the church in the 15th century, as ‘a neat building of black flint’. It has been suggested that the headstops on the window in the south transept are supposed to represent him and his wife.
Click here to download the findings of the Paston Research Group (PDF)
You can also find out more by visiting the Paston Heritage Society website
in 2010 Hungate Medieval Art engaged in a community research project around the Pastons, sponsored by Norwich HEART.