St Michael at Plea, Norwich

St Michael, St Michael at Plea, Norwich.

St Michael at Plea, at the corner of Queen Street with Redwell Street, represents one of the more successful transformations of a medieval Norwich church, having become a religious bookshop with café at the altar end. The altar has been removed, as have been the 14th Century painted panels which were once its chief treasures, but still there are a number of relatively modest but interesting wall panel monuments, and the font, with its apparently 17th C Jacobean wooden cover. There is also a fine wooden ceiling, with the arched supports bearing small decayed figures of angels.

A notice inside records that St Michael at Plea, having fallen into ‘a wretched state of neglect’, was restored under the Rector, Carmichael Clarke, in 1887, including a reredos made from the 14th C wooden panel paintings. A modern renovation at least of the porch took place exactly 100 years later.

I noted the following monuments, in date order:

From the 18th Century:

From the early 19th Century:

We should note on the outside wall, a statue of a male angel with sword, presumably St Michael, stabbing a very small naked leprechaunish figure - see top of this page. Clean 19th C face and wings, presumably from the 1887 restoration, but the little victim looks older, or at least more worn, and this could be a replacement or remodelling of an older work. The group stands within a shallow niche, with above, a very decayed and perhaps medieval floral backing. The oversized height of the angel to its position reinforces this. Among bits and bobs surrounding the building is a nice coffer tomb with decayed panels showing skulls and thighbones (below), also a panel to John Warne, wife Mary, and son Henry, the latter of whose date of death can be read as 1821?, and second wife Elizabeth who died in 1839.

Coffer tomb outside the church.

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