Manual Ref* NFnrNOR013 Show 11 images 12

Erpingham Gate

County Norfolk   District Council Norwich City Council 
Civil Parish or equivalent Norwich City Council  Town/Village* Norwich - Cathedral Close 
Road Tombland 
Precise Location Opposite to the west front of the Norwich Cathedral 
OS Grid Ref TG234088  Postcode NR3 
Previous location(s)  
Setting Gateway to Cathedral  Access Public 
Artist/Maker Role Qualifier
James Woderofe  Builder(s)   

Commissioned by

Sir Thomas Erpingham 

Design & Constrn period

Probably 1416-1425 

Date of installing


Exact date of unveiling



Abstract Animal Architectural
Commercial Commemorative Composite
Free Functional Funerary
Heraldic Military Natural
Non-Commemorative Performance Portable
Religious Roadside, Wayside Sculptural
Temporary, Mobile Other  

Object Type

Building Clock Tower Architectural
Coat of Arms Cross Fountain
Landscape Marker Medallion
Mural Panel Readymade
Relief Shaft Sculpture
Statue Street Furniture War Memorial
Other Object Sub Type: Gate(way)

Subject Type

Allegorical Mythological Pictorial
Figurative Non-figurative Portrait
Still-life Symbolic Other

Subject Sub Type

Bust Equestrian Full-length
Group Head Reclining
Seated Standing Torso
Part Material Dimension
Arch  Ketton stone  H. 9 W. 6 metres 
Gable  Knapped flint  H. 3.2 metres 
Sir Thomas Erpingham  Stone  H. 1.3 metres 

Work is

Extant Not Sited Lost


Dean and Chapter of Norwich Cathedral 

Listing status

Grade I Grade II* Grade II Don't Know Not Listed

Surface Condition

Corrosion, Deterioration Accretions
Bird Guano Abrasions, cracks, splits
Biological growth Spalling, crumbling
Metallic staining Previous treatments

Structural Condition

Armature exposed Broken or missing parts
Replaced parts Loose elements
Cracks, splits, breaks, holes Spalling, crumbling
Water collection Other
Detail: Restored 1938 by E.W. Tristram and 1989-90 by Feilden and Mawson


Graffiti Structural damage Surface Damage

Overall condition

Good Fair Poor


No Known Risk At Risk Immediate
Inscriptions The roof of the gateway was restored in 1955 in memory of John Henry Guy a friend of Norwich and a director of the Mackintosh & Caley companies. 

Description (physical)

An impressive gateway which frames the rather disappointing west end. It is decorated with the coat of arms of Sir Thomas Erpingham and members of his family together with his motto 'yenk' (think) on small scrolls. Unlike the earlier St Ethelbert Gate there is one high and well-proportioned arch supported on either side by semi- hexagonal buttresses taken to the apex of the arch. The buttresses are topped with now very worn figures, perhaps the evangelists, while the niches are filled with elegant figures, very worn at the top, less so lower down, holding shields and further heraldic decoration. The impressive double row of figures, female in the outer course, male in the inner, in the arch set on elaborate tracery, shown in Cotman's etching included in the 1818, Architectural Antiquities of Norfolk, are finer and much better preserved than those on the St Ethelbert gate, even though the gateway was first restored under Dean Bullock (1739-60), then by E.W. Tristram in 1938 and finally under Feilden and Mawson in 1989.  

Description (iconographical)

A plain gable is centered over the arch below with a canopied niche, now displaying the kneeling statue of Sir Thomas Erpingham. This, however, was not shown in an early eighteenth century engraving, but was first mentioned in 1740. The original location of the statue, which shows Sir Thomas wearing armour and surcoat with a collar of Esses and the order of the Garter below his left knee, is not known, but it cannot have been his now bare tomb in the north presbytery of the Cathedral. The niche, which had to be enlarged to take the statue, may have originally been dedicated to the ‘image of pity’, the five wounds of Christ, flanked by the four evangelists and with the Trinity above. Sir Thomas Erpingham (1357-1428), who was born into an East Anglian gentry family, became the major figure in East Anglia, through his loyalty to Henry IV and Henry V. They presented him with control of the region’s two most important magnate estates, those of Mowbray and Mortimer, giving him effective control of the region in the absence of any resident magnate. In addition to his patronage of the Erpingham gate he was responsible for the west tower of Erpingham parish church and made a major contribution to the rebuilding of the Dominican friar’s church, St Andrews, after a disastrous fire, recognised in the series of shields with his coat of arms between the clerestory windows. 


Date taken:  24/4/2006
Date logged: 

Photographed by:
Sarah Cocke

On Site Inspection

Date:  27/6/2006

Inspected by:
Liliana Erichsen and Yurika Konuma

Sources and References

Tony Sims, 'Aspects of Heraldry and Patronage' in Atherton, I., Fernie E., Harper-Bill C. and Hassell Smith. Norwich Cathedral. Church, City and Diocese. 1096-1996. London and Rio Grande: 454-455 and Veronica Sekules idem, 205-206; Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford, 2004, vol. 18,512-514;BOE I 226 


Date entered:  31/10/2009

Data inputter:
Richard Cocke