VIEWS of ST. CLEMENT'S CHURCH and surrounding neighborhood in Norwich, Norfolk, England
Photos taken in August, 1997, by Pam Wilson
The Aldrich family, originally from Greater Yarmouth (coastal Norfolk), was prominent in the civic affairs of Norwich, Norfolk in the 15th and 16th centuries. The two Norwich parishes in which the Aldrich family was active were St. Clement's and St. Michael's-at-Plea. Both churches survive today, though St. Michael's is now an antique market. St. Clement's has been maintained as a small church, though it shows evidence today of being a meeting place for local garment-worker's unions.
Both churches are architecturally constructed in a style distinctive to Norfolk: the exterior walls are formed of round (water-smoothed) shiny reddish-colored rocks, cut in half with the "sliced" side outward, mortared together. Like other late medieval English churches, there are many tombs in the stone floors of the sanctuaries. Unfortunately, centuries of feet passing over them has made them difficult to read, and much of St. Clement's is now carpeted, so I was unable to locate John Aldrich's altar tomb. I was also unable to locate the stained glass cluster mentioned in the account below.
Cozene, Hardy and Kent's "The Mayors of Norwich, 1403-1835" gives the following account of JOHN ALDRICH's service:
"John Aldrich was sheriff in 1551, burgess in parliament in 1555, 1558 and 1572. Blomefield states that as such he received 4s. per diem. He was mayor 1558 and 1570. He was the son of Thomas Aldrich, mayor in 1507, and married Elizabeth, daughter of Nicholas Sotherton, alderman, by whom he had, inter alios, a son, John, an alderman, who died in 1583, having married Faith, daughter of Augustine Steward. He was a grocer by trade. He died about 1582, giving f5 to the poor. His altar tomb is in St. Clement's Church. He lived in the Flint house, now absorbed by the Labour Exchange, at the west side of St. Clement's churchyard. It was formerly the "Sun and Anchor," a weaving factory belonging to the Custances and then to the Willetts, and later the warehouse of Messrs. C. and F. Bolingbroke. The ancient carved door, originally from Walsingham priory, is now in the Castle Museum. The spandrels of other doors with "1570," the date of his second mayoralty, and the initials of John Aldrich and Elizabeth his wife, are said to be incorporated in the interior of the Exchange. There is a quarry of stained glass in St. Clement's church window consisting of a knot containing the initials I.A., which Mr. T.G. Bayfield thought to be those of John Aldrich. It was during his mayoralty that there was a popish conspiracy in Norwich. His merchant's mark is recorded by Ewing."
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