The Norfolk and Norwich Christian community website

Pews and papers question godless Norwich title

Packed churches over Easter have led both local and national newspapers to question Norwich’s new title as “the most godless city in the country”.

WelbyCrowd450Recent figures from the 2011 census claimed that 42.5pc of the city’s residents said they had no religion, the highest proportion in England and Wales. Now the Eastern Daily Press and Daily Mail have run articles questioning the statement.
The Bishop of Norwich told the EDP that the Anglican Cathedral was “absolutely full” on Easter morning, with 2-2,500 people taking communion during Easter week, a similar number to last year. He also pointed to the enthusiastic reception recently afforded the Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby on a visit to Norwich, as evidence against the survey results.
He said: “If you look at the city, it probably has a younger population, and if you are younger you are more likely to tick ‘no religion’. If you go out to the suburbs and the rest of Norfolk the figures change radically.
Fr James Walsh, dean of St John’s Roman Catholic Cathedral, estimated the Easter attendance at 3,000, but said that while congregations have grown in recent years, the demographics have changed, with more people from the Philippines, Poland and India, and fewer people from England.
Rev Madeline Light said St Stephen’s in Rampant Horse Street had a congregation of 100, the highest for at least a decade: “There are living churches, within denominations and independent, full of passionate young people as well as full of old stalwarts. There’s a real passion for Christianity from young people who catch the flame.”
Norwich North MP Chloe Smith said: “My experience has been that Norwich’s church communities are thriving and contribute an enormous amount of life to the city. However, it’s also the case that Norwich has a long and proud non-conformist history and perhaps this is what is showing through it the census figures.”
Daily Mail writer Robert Hardman visited Norwich and observed: “It used to be Norwich’s proud boast that it had a church for every week of the year and a pub for every day. That is certainly no longer the case for the pubs, which can now be counted in the tens rather than the hundreds. But the churches have fared much better. There are still 32 of them inside the old city walls and another dozen on the city fringes. Indeed, another of Norwich’s proud boasts is that it has more medieval churches than any other city in northern Europe."
Mike Loveday, author of The Norwich Knowledge, and chief executive of the city’s Heritage, Economic and Regeneration Trust, told the Mail: “If you took the religious dimension out of this city, there would be a vast, gaping hole. I don’t think it’s a case of Norwich being godless. It’s an example of Norwich being different. Right across Norfolk, there’s always been a strong tradition of non-conformists and dissenters.”
Read more at EDP24
Read more at Daily Mail
Pictured above is an enthusiastic reception for the Archbishop of Canterbury during his recent visit to Norwich.

To submit a story or to publicise an event please email: