Princes Street
United Reformed Church, Norwich

History

Beginnings

Rev’d John Alexander first came to Norwich as a student in 1817. He so impressed a group from the Tabernacle that he was invited to become the first pastor of a proposed new Congregational Church when it opened in 1819. He stayed for 47 years.

The site for the church was on Hungate (now Princes Street) where a group of tenement houses were situated round a courtyard.

The original building was a simple non-conformist style and cost £4,800. The flat roof was found to be unsafe so alterations were carried out in 1828. After other serious problems it was decided to engage Edward Boardman to redesign the building. This was completed in 1868. The quality reflected the increasing prosperity and influence of many in the congregation.
There is spectacular plasterwork on the ceiling and bold decorative ironwork round the balcony in an otherwise simple interior.

Princes Street Chapel Built 1819

Developments

The original box pews and benches were replaced with pine pews and in 1927 payment for pews was replaced by freewill offering.

Stairs connecting the Sanctuary to the Church Rooms in the adjoining Boardman House were added in 1969. Some rear pews were removed and a screen erected in 1977 to create the Conversation Area.

Our millennium project was the installation of glass doors making the church more visible to passers-by and the outside more visible to ourselves. The platform at the front of the church was extended and the high level pulpit removed to reflect changes of style in worship. In 2013 it was decided to sell Boardman House and develop the Sanctuary and attached buildings to create a flexible, modernised space for worship and church and community use, together with a number of meeting rooms.

Today

We are one of seven URC Churches in the Norwich area. Four churches are in the city, Princes St., Ipswich Rd., Jessopp Rd. and Trinity on Unthank Rd and three in the surrounding area at Wroxham and Hoveton, Mattishall and Wymondham. The churches are served by a Team Ministry.

We are also part of Norwich Central Churches Together (NCCT) which has 19 members including the Anglican and Roman Catholic Cathedrals, Norwich Central Baptist Church, Chapelfield Road Methodist Church and the Salvation Army. Pulpit exchanges and joint celebration of festivals result from this partnership.

The United Reformed Church on Princes Street has been transformed. Following two years of planning and a year of action, the church has reopened its doors to all for worship, mission and community support in the city centre.

A large, versatile space has been created in the Sanctuary with the removal of pews. A spectacular glass screen has been built to create a bright new welcoming area at the front of the church. The re-design, by Purcell Miller Triton has also created a variety of high quality, attractive rooms with refreshment facilities.

In the Sanctuary, state of the art lighting, audio visual equipment and under-floor heating add to the attraction for worship, concerts, exhibitions and meetings. An adjacent, fully equipped kitchen provides meals for Luncheon Club and for special occasions. Altogether, a fresh and stimulating new look offering a warm welcome to all.

For many years the church was a place for seven day activities, with Sunday Worship and Tuesday Prayers at its heart. Groups and individuals found support, education and recreation within its walls. Concerts, exhibitions together with our regular “Good Cause” raised a considerable amount for charities. As well as church use we continue to have rooms for hire.

As a result of the innovative changes, carried out by W.S. Lusher & Son Ltd, our new look premises provide a vital setting for both worship and a wide range of church and community activities adding to the cultural life of the city.