Manual Ref* NFnrNOR014 Show 12 images 13

St Benedict and Mother Julian

County Norfolk   District Council Norwich City Council 
Civil Parish or equivalent Norwich City Council  Town/Village* Norwich - Cathedral Close 
Road Cathedral close 
Precise Location Flanking west entrance of Cathedral 
OS Grid Ref TG235088  Postcode NR3 
Previous location(s)  
Setting On building  Access Public 
Artist/Maker Role Qualifier
David Holgate  Sculptor(s)   

Commissioned by

Dean and Chapter 

Design & Constrn period


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: Statues flanking west doorway

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
St Benedict  Hard white Ancaster stone  H 180 cms W 50 cms 
Mother Julian  Hard white Ancaster stone  H 180 cms W 50 cms 

Work is

Extant Not Sited Lost


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


Graffiti Structural damage Surface Damage

Overall condition

Good Fair Poor


No Known Risk At Risk Immediate
Inscriptions On Mother Julian's book: REVELATION OF DIVINE LOVE. On St Benedict's: AUSCULTA (LISTEN) 

Description (physical)

St Julian stands on the left of the entrance as though turning to face visitors using the main door- her right arm at her side- the left holding her book so that its title is clear. St Benedict puts his finger to his lips to urge silence - the message written on his book 

Description (iconographical)

St Benedict was the father of the Benedictine monastic order, which founded Norwich Cathedral Priory in 1096. When the Cathedral Dean and Chapter decided to commission two new statues to commemorate the new millennium and the 900th anniversary of the Cathedral's foundation, they chose St Benedict as the subject of one and Mother Julian of Norwich - a medieval mystic who was the first woman ever to write a book in English - as the other. Julian's Revelations of Divine Love was the distillation of a divine visitation that occurred amidst horrific developments in the fourteenth century, the hundred years war, black death and s a succession of crop failures. She felt that in God's economy there will be reward or blessing that is seen to be intrinsic to our suffering and impossible without it; on the great Day our capacity for suffering will be seen to be essential to that human creature whom God has finally rendered "the apple of his eye" and who can now enjoy him forever. St. Benedict's Rule was written for laymen, not clerics. "My words", he says, "are addressed to thee, whoever thou art, that, renouncing thine own will, dost put on the strong and bright armour of obedience in order to fight for the Lord Christ, our true King." (Prologue to Rule). The great disciplinary force for human nature is work; idleness is its ruin. The purpose of his Rule was to bring men "back to God by the labour of obedience, from whom they had departed by the idleness of disobedience". His Rule regulated the life of a community of men who live and work and pray and eat together with the superiors always present and in constant touch with every member of the government, which is best described as patriarchal, or paternal. The problem for the sculptor, David Holgate, was finding suitable models. "To decide what they might look like and try to portray that in stone was certainly quite a challenge." Eventually he found the perfect St Benedict, playing Jazz guitar in a restaurant on St. Benedict's Street, Norwich. For Mother Julian, David chose a Spanish woman living locally, Adela Gil de Sagredo. "The people of the 14th century would have been quite small and slight. And she had the right sort of face to give this sense of spiritual calm." David Holgate who died in June 2014 was commemorated in The exhibition 'Exuberance is Beauty' in the Hostry of Norwich Cathedral early 2017. Three display panels showed the care with which the designs were prepared. In two the models were photographed in their costumes, taking up the poses used in the sculpture, accompanied by Holgate's beautiful chalk drawings of significant details. There were plaster models of both heads and of Mother Julian's hand holding the quill pen and a final panel showing the stages of preparation of the plaster model of Mother Julian. Photos and text updated 04/02/2017  


Date taken:  9/4/2006
Date logged: 

Photographed by:
Sarah Cocke

On Site Inspection

Date:  9/4/2006

Inspected by:
Richard Cocke and Liliana Erichsen

Sources and References 02/03/06; Platten, Stephen. (2002). A Jarrold Guide to Norwich Cathedral. Norwich: Jarrold and ttp:// Benedict(accessed 02/03/06) 


Date entered:  27/6/2006

Data inputter:
David Hulks