st benedicts church blitz 2 © Nick Stone

Quite hidden away, a poor little thing. The tower is still there, preserved like like a thick flint chimney, or a Cloigtheach except no bells ring here, It reminds me of Messines in Flanders too. It’s set in some grass just off St Benedicts Street, behind a new development, in the middle of a slightly older development of what I think are or used to be assisted housing. I knew a lovely chap called Colin who lived in one of them years ago, I taught him everything I knew about photography, which took about half an hour then we took photos of this bit of Norwich using a tripod and shutter release as his palsy was quite bad. It was a laugh. Then we retired to the Arts Centre and drank beer until we both fell over. That was 1985, I suspect he may still have the photos we took of St Benedicts church and the street. I’d love to see them now.

This was shot from the top of St Benedicts alley, looking down the river terrace towards St Benedicts Street Westwick Street and Coslaney below. The church took a panning in April 1942, the night this whole area did. You can see this here and some Blitz in Colour versions here.

I did one of this fella a few weeks ago, and had this one as a backup if that didn’t work, which it did, so did this one, so I’ve done both, it’s another site where the ability to stand inside something might have helped, but I’d probably either get arrested or side with magneto if I could.

It strikes me as odd, that of the five churches that were bombed out in Norwich, four retained their towers, of those two were demolished in the 1950s, two were demolished except their towers, and the one that suffered a direct hit on its tower was rebuilt with a tower (St Julian), eh, but… anyway, They’re all worth a visit. Even St Michael Thorn, which just isn’t there at all, there’s probably a row of Audis and BMWs on it.

I’ve been cruising the street looking at stuff in googlemaps, trying to work out where certain things are, or mostly in fact aren’t, I’ve found Compass Street anyway, which isn’t there, along with lots of other streets, you suddenly realise how much damage Rouen Road did and was suddenly struck by how much of Norwich was actually removed when it sliced into that area after the clearances. Same with Vauxhall Street, rows of terraces that were still there after the bombing, vanished under bulldozers, replaced by visions of the future that maybe didn’t hold up quite as well as they should have.

Another superb moment in time caught in the capable hands of George Plunkett. Thanks as always to Jonathan Plunkett.

st benedicts church blitz 1 © Nick Stone