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St Gregory's Church,
Alley & Back Alley.

Pope Gregory I (c. 540–604 AD) was the son of a Roman senator. He is the patron saint of singers, musicians, students and teachers. He was reported to have stumbled on some handsome English slave boys at a market in Rome, and said Nos Angli, sed angeli ("not Angles, but angels") while dribbling a little bit.

St Gregory's church sits off Charing Cross, on the junction of two cobbled streets (Pottergate and Maddermarket), and two alleys (the Alley and Back Alley). The church itself, including its cellar, is now rented out by an antiques dealer. Curiosities include preserved butterflies, a statuary, a mounted baboon's head, and a kudu's head.


The Back Alley. Note the graffiti at the end of the alley, by the ubiquitous Knapple.

The alleys connect onto a grassy, paved square on the south side of the church, known variously as Pottergate Square or St Gregory's Square. The side of the long, low Birdcage pub is covered in graffiti old and new. At the corner of the Square, by the Back Alley, is a cherry tree festooned with memorial ribbons, flowers and tributes for someone who died here. The church's graveyard, overlooking Charing Cross, has itself been emptied and its bones removed to an ossuary somewhere.


The paving-stones in the square are inscribed with the names of Norwich heroes. There's the anti-establishment bourgeois revolutionary hero Robert Kett; the painter John Crome; the Swedish opera singer Jenny Lind, who paid for a childrens' infirmary in the Golden Triangle; George Borrow, the writer, hyperpolyglot and long-distance walker; Walter Nugent Monck, the theatre designer and scene painter whose founded the Maddermarket Theatre; the one-time Norwich Gaol inmate Peter the Wild Boy; the hatter Rumsey Wells; Round Table founder Louis Marchesi; Will Kemp, a friend of Shakespeare who danced from London to Norwich over nine days; and an Anglo-Saxon bishop, Aelfric.

There are little modernist benches, carefully designed to be impossible to sleep on, of course; that doesn't stop them being popular with local buskers. I've busked there myself, and the square is an ideal place to go if you're just starting out and don't want to mess up your songs on a street with a lot of foot traffic.

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