Bishop Hall of Norwich is finally remembered
PUBLISHED: 14:49 07 August 2012
The Bishop of Norwich who was thrown out of his palace and told to eat his own books is honoured in a fascinating new book.
It is a book which has captured the imagination of the people of Norwich – the story of the bishop who was mocked, forced out of his palace, and told to go and eat his own books to survive.
Until recently the name of Joseph Hall, appointed Bishop of Norwich in 1641 by King Charles I, had been forgotten about. His memory had been lost in the mist of time.
That was until David Berwick, a guide at Norwich Cathedral, started investigating his remarkable and colourful life. The more he discovered about the mysterious bishop the more he wanted to know.
It has now resulted, with help from the Evening News and Norwich Heart & The Harry Watson Bursary, in a wonderful book which is selling like hot cakes in the city.
More than 120 people turned out to hear David gave a talk about Bishop Hall at the launch of the book at Norwich Cathedral – not far from where his last remains are now buried.
“The response to the book so far has been very good. I am very pleased,” said David.
His book deserves to be a sell-out. Bishop Hall was a man, probably the first satirical writer within these shores, who had been “air-brushed” from national and local history.
Now, at long last, we can all learn more about the troubled life and times of the man who was among those who left his cell in The Tower of London with his head still on his shoulders!
“My aspiration in writing this book about his life is chiefly to redress the public humiliation unjustly meted out to this fine man by Puritanical zealots here in Norwich during 1643,” said David.
The bishop, married with six children, came to Norwich after his release from the Tower accused of treason but by now he had many enemies.
In Norwich he was treated like a common criminal. His salary was stopped, he was told to eat his books, and he was banished to Heigham where he lived in what became The Dolphin Inn and helped out at St Bartholomew’s Church.
Bishop Hall dedicated the rest of his life to caring for the people of humble Heigham – one of the poorest districts in the city. After his death in 1656 he was buried at St Bartholomew’s and more than 300 years later his remains were re-interred in the Garth of Norwich Cathedral cloisters.
The actual whereabouts of the casket were forgotten about until the Evening News came to the rescue with this photograph of the unique ceremony conducted in 1975 by the then Bishop of Norwich, Bishop Maurice Wood.
The mystery was finally solved.
This is one of the those Norwich books which deserves a place on any bookshelf, owned by people who loved the city and the characters who have lived in it over the centuries.
The Divine “Delinquent” – Bishop Hall of Norwich costs £8.50 and is on sale at The Cathedral Bookshop, at Jarrold in London Street and City Books in Davey Place. It is also available from author David Berwick on Norwich (01603) 612206 or email firstname.lastname@example.org