Following on from the article on Flint Knapping Colin Lansdell has done another on the Flints that have been used as part of the buildings in and around Norwich and Norfolk. This was first published in the Summer edition of the Society magazine Stone Chat, and is reproduced here with more pictures
ALL AROUND US
Norfolk members, if you go outside right now and pick up the first stone you see, the chances are that it will be a flint. If you go to a North Norfolk beach it will be covered in them. They are so common that we do not appreciate them, unlike some of our American readers who would dearly love to be so lucky.
Next time Richard has a display at a show, stop and have a look at his beautifully polished flints and it’s easy to realise that we have an inexhaustible supply of lapidary material, all free.
We all know that flint has been used by man in Norfolk for tools since early times. We have heard, and perhaps visited, Grimes Graves the Norfolk flint mines, known worldwide. We know that man has used flint as a building material since Roman times. We daily pass buildings old and new that incorporate the material – but do we stop and look at it? Probably not.
I made a short walk in Norwich recently specifically to look at some of the notable flint work we have on our doorsteps. This is what I found
Photos 1 & 2 randomly broken flints in cement panels – Westwick Street – modern.
By contrast, just over Coslany Bridge, the beautiful flushwork of St Michael’s Coslany contrasting shaped stone and flint re-interpreting the tracery of the windows in photos 3, 4 & 5 - are 16th century.
(This is the church that houses the Inspire Centre)
The next building visited (below) was the Bridewell Museum as its North wall (the one facing St.Andrew’s Church) is reputed to be the finest in Britain – some say Europe. The flints are shaped so accurately that the mortar cannot be seen. You cannot get a “fag paper” between the stones. I should admit that the unseen side of the flints would be rough.
The final building visited was one we all know, and pass daily, the Guildhall. Originally built 1407-12, but much modified over the centuries, it has a number of different styles of flint work. The first, and most obvious, is the lozenge-shaped chequer work of black flint and limestone, see below.
The following shows a technique know as “galleting”, also on the Guildhall. This employed flakes of flint placed in the mortar between the cobbles, which protected the mortar and gives an interesting contrast.
There are also some fine panels of squared flints similar to those at the museum.
So next time you are hurrying through the city on your shopping expeditions, spare a moment to admire the work of craftsmen of the past in our fair city.
The final pictures were not taken in Norwich, but Aldeburgh and goes to show that the artistry is not dead.
The house is on King Street in the town and shows one of the panels inserted, unusually the cobbles are mainly edge-on.