Faiths in Norfolk and Suffolk

History of faiths in East Anglia

Catholicism was widespread in England before the reformation, dating from the Roman period to the middle ages and beyond. Other faiths included a Jewish community in Norwich, which coexisted with the Catholics for centuries but ended in a massacre in 1144. The new Protestantism arrived in 1567 with the immigration of Flemish merchants, known as Strangers. Catholic shrines, such as the one at Walsingham, tended to be displaced by the new Protestantism once it was adopted as the official religion of the Church of England. Protestant Anglicanism tended to discourage ritual piety and ceremony, but the 19th century Anglo-Catholic revival re-introduced practices such as the wearing of vestments and honouring of the Eucharist.


Churches and temples

Most villages have churches, most of which date from medieval times.  They are used mainly on Sundays, almost always for worshippers in the Anglican faith, but can also often be visited during the week when services are not going on. Roman Catholicism is also well established in East Anglia, also with sometimes historical churches but located mainly in towns and cities rather than in the countryside. Eastern faiths are also represented in the East Anglian region, although centred more on the city than in towns and villages. Ipswich, for example, has a Sikh temple (Gurdwara), Muslim mosque (Masjid), and Buddhist shrine, all of which can be visited by prior arrangement.  


Faith schools and holidays

Many primary schools in Norfolk and Suffolk privilege Church of England principles and often begin or end the day with a broadly Christian assembly. While it is possible for other faiths to set up their own schools, this is unusual. Non-Christian religions follow a different calendar of festivals and holidays to the more usual Christian calendar.