Census shows Norwich ‘least religious city’ in England and Wales


It was once said to have a church for every week of the year, not to mention a pub for every day.

It has two cathedrals and is said to have more standing medieval churches – 32 – than any city north of the Alps.

But the 2011 Census has revealed Norwich had the highest proportion of respondents in England and Wales reporting “no religion”. 

The city’s figure was 42.5% compared with a figure of 25.1% for England and Wales as a whole.

The question was the only voluntary one in the census and 7.2% of people chose not to answer it.

The census found the Christian population of England and Wales had fallen by four million to 33.2 million in the past decade. 

In Norwich 56,268 people reported having no religion, but the census revealed a wide range of groupings within that category. 

There were 169 Spiritualists, 131 atheists and 783 said they were Jedi Knights, a reference to the Star Wars films.

Sixty-five people gave their affiliation as Heavy Metal.

The Bishop of Norwich, the Right Reverend Graham James, was sceptical about the census’ findings.

“Norwich is a city of churches. They are around every corner,” he said.

“It’s also a centre of vibrant Christianity today.

“The cathedral is seeing hundreds of worshippers every day during December and will welcome thousands on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.”

He said there were many other large and growing churches in Norwich of all denominations.

“So it seems doubtful that Norwich is a less religious place than anywhere else in the country,” he said.

“It would not have above-average churchgoing rates if that was the case.

“But it may be a place where the vibrant presence of the churches means that people have to make up their minds about faith more definitely, and that’s no bad thing.”

Written By: Jon Welch
continue to source article at bbc.co.uk


  1. This is my neck of the woods and I can confirm that I don’t know anyone who goes to church regularly, apart from a priest who’s one of my neighbours. At least, I assume he goes regularly – who’s to know?

    It’s also unbelievably rare ever to hear any conversation on religion.

    Norwich is a really civilised city, a very peaceful and attractive place to live.

    What more can I say. Thank God I live here.

  2. It even has one less non-religious person in its population, now that my son no longer goes to university there!

  3. Norwich ‘least religious’ city. Of course it is, and will be until Genesis specifically states that God’s image includes six fingers on each hand! I mean, I’m not casting aspertions on the good gentle-folk of Norfolk by any means, but two million people and just four surnames between them? Just saying, that’s all 🙂

  4.  “Michael Loveday, chief executive of Norwich Heritage Economic and
    Regeneration Trust (Heart) and author of The Norwich Knowledge, said the
    city was one of the most religious in Europe during the Middle Ages.”

    It was also the place where the Passover Blood Libel originated!

  5. I like Norwich  – very civilised sort of place. Used to travel to it regularly from Aberdeen when I worked on the gas rigs in the southern North Sea off East Anglia. Totally unlike my native Scotland (very low lying of course) but a great place and great people. Really fond memories of Norwich and all the other towns nearby.

    I bet you that when the Scottish figures get released (next year I think) Aberdeen will be the least religious in Scotland. According to the 2001 Census, nearly 43% of people claim no religon apparently.

    That puts it on a par with the figures for Norwich in the 2011 census.

    So, add 10 years and a downward trend, to the Aberdeen figures. I reckon it might be more than 50%…..

    Roll on publication of the Scottish census figures!


  6. University of East Anglia at  Norwich, is in the least religious place in England, – and the focus of attacks by the Climate Change Deniers!  A centre of scientific research and rationality!  Connection???


    I’m not casting aspertions on the good gentle-folk of Norfolk by any means, but two million people and just four surnames between them? Just saying, that’s all 🙂

    Ha, ha. Well, I wasn’t born here, so I’m pleased to say I come with the regular number of digits.

    You’re probably nudging in the right area, though, in explaining why Norwich is relatively unreligious compared to the rest of the UK. I don’t know what the official census reported, but it’s clear just walking around the city that Norwich does not have the same level of multi-cultural diversity as most other cities. Norwich did not attract large numbers of immigrants from the Indian sub-continent and Carribean during the 50s & 60s, and being relatively geographically isolated from other cities in the UK, the influx of cultural and ethnic minorities from other UK cities over recent decades has been slow. 

  8. “It’s also a centre of vibrant Christianity today.”

    What’s the difference between Christianity and vibrant Christianity?

  9.  I think Vibrant Christianity is the version where, not only are you the centre of affection for an invisible, jealous, vindictive, megalomaniac, but also you believe that everyone else feels the same love!

  10.  I think you’ll find the lack of immigration to Norwich and East Anglia in general is down to the constant gale force winds that rip across the flattest part of the UK, blowing you away everytime you nip out for a packet of cigs or a swift half.
    This probably also explains why the indigenous population has evolved supplementary digits providing better stability against sudden gusts.

  11. Vibrant Christianity is , I suspect, the type where you stand around for ages singing inane “Jesus is my boyfriend” type songs, while waving your arms around in front of the praise band. Of course, the whole thing is “awesome” You have to use the word “awesome” a lot . Like “We had an awesome time with God” and so on

    Once this embarassing display of mawkish toe curling “worship” is over, you then get treated to some crap about YEC, how evil homosexuality is, and how Jesus is coming back REAL SOON NOW. 

    You then have much “fervent” prayer (which will also be awesome, and uses the words “Lord” and “just” every sentence)  and then you repeat the clappy happy delusion-fest of ghastly nursery rhymes again for another 20 minutes

    After that, you then go and “fellowship” (note verbal use of the word)  with your co-delusionists and have another “awesome” moment.

    Whole thing then repeats in the Sunday evening

    I feel sick…..


    “Norwich is a city of churches. They are around every corner,” he said.

    “It’s also a centre of vibrant Christianity today.

    With all those churches playing bass notes on church organs, it would not surprise me if the place was “vibrant”!

    In the words of Bob Dylan,- “It’ll soon shake your windows and rattle your doors, – for the times they are a changin’ !”

  13. i think it’s the addition of things like “christian rap”

    *shudders and crawls under the bed until the bad thoughts go away*

  14. Re the bass notes on the organ. This appears to happen at this church:


    Note this bit:

    “At the end of the service they said the blessing. All went quiet. The floor started to rumble. It wasn’t a metro passing underneath, but the organ had cranked up a big bass note. I surreptitiously glanced around at everyone else, but no one moved. Heads remained bowed. Then the three clergymen in their robes swooshed down from the stage and marched down the aisle to the back. All of a sudden, everyone came back to life and I learned from the friend who had come with me that the service had now finished. It was truly disturbing.”

    Cult or what?


  15. This is my home town when in the UK: It’s difficult to express how much this delicious news has cheered my Christmas. I am informed that gloating is rarely an attractive characteristic in a  man, but there it is.

    Hi Jumped Up Chimpanzee. Is anyone else from around these parts, polydactylous or otherwise, reading this? Perhaps a pre- or post-Saturnalia/Festival of Mithras drink is in order?  To raise a toast to the Glorious Godless Heathen of Norwich. Anyone in? (Anyone wot can rite and follows this site must be OK in my (not so good) book.)


    Re the bass notes on the organ. This appears to happen at this church:


    Interesting!  I drive past that building from time to time. They do get rumblings from the underground trains in that part of town.

    I have personal experience of vibrations from bass notes. 
    In my student days I once brought down a poorly fixed light fitting on the head of the student in the next-door flat.
    – I had turned up the power amp on my electric guitar to drown out the noise of his bagpipes – and then hit a bass note which resonated with the harmonics of the ceiling! 

    BTW:  I love the way they describe the church’s surrounding “student digs area and bars”, as a posh area of town!

  17. Eeek!  57 octaves lower than middle C. You would need one hell of a Marshall stack to reproduce that one…..


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