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Newsletter, October 2003 (Issue 153)

In Search of Bishop Salmon


We were fairly confident that under the able leadership of Charles Tracy our search would be rewarded, and so it was.

The Bishop emerged as a powerful figure, close to Edward II, and a man of wealth and influence. In Norwich, by the cathedral, we toured the remains of Bishop Salmon's Camary College, now incorporated into the buildings of Norwich School, and admired its magnificent chapel (its ossuary now disappointingly bereft of bones). We were privileged to enter the present bishop's garden and to explore the surviving but crumbling gateway of his illustrious predecessor's palace. We walked through the cathedral cloisters, the eastern range of which was Bishop Salmon's work, and zoom lenses were soon in evidence snapping the intriguing roof-bosses.

We examined St Ethelbert's Gateway (to the cathedral) and then the Arminghall Arch, originally the entrance to the nearby Carmelite Priory, which following a spell as the doorway to a country house was again displaced and is now encapsulated within the new Magistrates' Court, the business of which swirled around us as in leisurely fashion we admired the carving.

From the bustle of urban Norwich we journeyed to the lonely site of the ancient Abbey of St Benet of Holme where in a wide Broadland landscape under brooding clouds we viewed one of East Anglia's strangest sights - a fine abbey gateway, richly carved, but now partly and incongruously incorporated into and supporting the brickwork of a decayed 18th century windmill.

This long-gone abbey has one further claim to fame; it was never formally dissolved by Henry VIII. Thus since the reign of King Canute there has been an Abbot of St Benet and to this day that title is held by the Bishop of Norwich.

KEN WILSON

    Front cover of issue 153 Cover, issue 153

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