Architecture of the Octagon Chapel

Thomas Ivory’s building retained the most modest exterior of a 17th century meeting house, but with the addition of an imposing Palladian entrance portico on a raised podium.

The building was to be a place of worship, but a modern, forward looking one, with all the dignity and beauty which every age seeks to give it places of worship.

Bare of alters. Screens, status and stained glass found in traditional churches, simplicity, integrity and the light of truth were to be the keynotes.

Octagonal design and domed ceiling

The domed ceiling conceals a roof supported by enormous timbers, in the shape of a wheel, which rest on eight fluted columns topped by Corinthian style capitals.

Eight arches rest on the columns, divided into corresponding compartments, and ornamented in the centre by a boldly projecting plaster work of flowers.

Tall windows give abundant light and are supplemented by circular skylights between the ribs of the dome.

Take a 360 virtual tour of the Chapel interior

Take a virtual tour of the Octagon Chapel below. Using this tour is given by kind permission of, if you enjoy exploring the Chapel this way why not visit them and take explore other place of interest in and around Norwich.

Click and drag the screen to move around the Chapel, if you are using a touch screen device just drag where you want to go.

Chapel exterior and grounds

Outside the Chapel and to the left is a garden, always open for visitors and forming a pleasant annex for to the Chapel.

A resolution was passed when the Chapel was constructed that no interments should take place inside the building, this has been observed to this day. This garden area was the Octagon burial ground until 1821 when Thomas Drummond, a retired Unitarian Minister, instigated the establishment of the Rosary Cemetery, the first in England where any person might be buried irrespective of religious affiliation.

To the right of the Chapel is the children’s garden with summerhouse, ‘Astroturf’ lawn, paving, fruit trees and raised beds.