History of Bowthorpe Church

History of Bowthorpe Church

Picture1RuinNext to Bowthorpe Church Centre stands the ruin of St. Michael and All Angels. Once a large church with an imposing round tower, all that remains are three-quarters of the chancel wall, a patchwork of flint and exposed red brick. Through an impressive entrance, a path snakes into what was the body of the church and a cross marks the place where the altar once stood.

This atmospheric ruin used to overlook the medieval village of Bowthorpe, standing guard at the highest point of the village. 680 years later a sculpture of Bowthorpe houses merging into the wings of the arch-angel behind his sheathed sword was placed on the wall of St. Michael’s Junior School.

This was a church that was enlarged during the 14th and 15th centuries, despite the ravages of the Black Death, using the same stone as that used in the construction of Norwich Cathedral. As the church fell on hard times and the population of Bowthorpe dwindled, the precious limestone was plundered. The Reformation in the 16th century left the church redundant, although there is evidence to suggest it was used as a barn in the second half of the century.  Possibly repaired and restored to its former use in 1636, the roof of the church finally collapsed in the 1790s and the church was left to fall into ruin. (Click on this link for: ‘A Brief Timeline of Bowthorpe’)

Restoration of the ruin began in 1984 when construction of a new church building on the adjacent site commenced and is ongoing today. The ruin is open to the public and is managed and maintained by The Ruin Trust, so that it will always stand as a reminder of Bowthorpe’s past heritage.

Both the ruin and the Garden of Remembrance (which is situated to the rear of the ruin) can be accessed by walking along the footpath behind the church.

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