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St Stephen's Street.

Saint Stephen (c. 5 – 34 AD) was the first Christian martyr, living in Jerusalem and allegedly stoned to death a year after Christ's crucifixion. He is the patron saint of headaches, masons, casket makers, deacons and horses. The Grateful Dead wrote a quite good song about him.

St Stephen's street, named after the church some distance away on Theatre Street, used to be a narrow, winding alleyway stretching south-by-south-west from the city centre. During the war, the warren of slums and teetering buildings was partially destroyed by the Baedeker raids, so-called because the Luftwaffe picked Norwich, among other cities, from a Baedeker tourist guidebook on the UK's most picturesque and historic places.

St Stephen's Plain 6 to 7 St Stephen's St 1 [4234] 1953-10-25.jpg

St Stephen's Street before it was widened in 1953. Photo by George Plunkett.

The council took the opportunity to widen the street and build a sweeping boulevard of art-deco department stores, many of which have since folded as part of the famous and ongoing  'Death of the High Street'. The overall impression is a place a lot more archetypally 'urban' than most of the city. Until you turn the corner onto Red Lion Street and see the Castle ahead of you, you could easily be in London or any other major UK city.

At the bottom of the street, beneath the roundabout connecting St Stephen's, the Queens Road section of the ring road, and Newmarket Road, is a four-way underpass, one of Norwich's graffiti amnesty zones. Murals, flyers and scrawls line the tiled walls, and the place is so much more vibrant for it. Unlike the Pottergate underpass, artists don't fight over space here, and many murals have been up for several years.

On either side of the roundabout are long sections of the city wall, framing what was once the site of St Stephen's gatehouse.

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