St. Nicholas, Great Yarmouth

Great Yarmouth is the most easterly point on the Norfolk Saints Way. The place where the Angles and Wherryman’s Ways meet.

The Minster Church can be seen from afar.

St. Nicholas presides over the doorway. It is a warm place with open doors. 

A church – this version replaces one destroyed by bombs in 1942 – has been on this site since a cell of Norwich Priory was established here in the year 1101.  Since when it has been at the heart of this port/town/seaside place that grew up around it.

At the far end of the Acle Straight to modern travellers Great Yarmouth  might seem to be the end of the world but for most of its history it has been Norfolk’s doorway to the world!   In 1154 the Islamic geographer Al-Idrisi was acquainted with England and East Anglia.  He writes it “is an island resembling the head of an ostrich, and contains flourishing cities, lofty mountains, flowing rivers, and level ground. There is abundant fertility in it. Its inhabitants are hardy, resolute, and prudent. The winter there is of long duration… ” And describes Great Yarmouth “Gernemutha is a handsome town beside the sea… From the town of Gernemutha to the town of Norwicca [Norwich] is ninety miles.” (Dr.Caitlin R Green).

Until the railway came to Great Yarmouth in 1844,  the easiest way to get to London from Norfolk was by passenger ferry from Great Yarmouth. Great Yarmouth and Norwich were connected by a passenger ferry too.  In recent memory Thames Barges and other coastal vessels were regular visitors to Great Yarmouth and Norwich beyond.

A graffito on a pillar in Norwich Cathedral – a wife or a merchant’s prayer for ship overdue perhaps – depicts a 16th Century cargo ship. 

St.Nicholas is patron saint of sailors and has had a ministry to seamen of all nations many of whom are buried in the churchyard. He is also patron of children. In the stories told about him he rescued 3 poor lads from a nasty situation and three poor young women from a life of prostitution.  Great Yarmouth’s sandy beaches cannot be bettered, but in a,  sometimes gritty,  port/town/ seaside place  like Great Yarmouth , there are similar challenges to be faced.

Author: norfolkpilgrim

Retired CofE clergyperson. Thinking globally acting locally. Here we have no abiding city.

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