Norwich – St. George’s Church, Tombland (John Coppin)

This stone tablet (clicking on the photo makes it larger) is located on the external wall of St. George’s Church in Tombland and it commemorates the life of John Coppin, who was born in 1630.

John was the long-serving (probably from 1660 until 1711) rector of Winfarthing church, located near Diss, and he died on 23 November 1711 at the age of 81. It seems, slightly surprisingly, that John Coppin wasn’t a rare name at the time, so I can’t quite ascertain where he was born or died, nor what his relationship was with this church in Norwich.

A short distance away from this church is Red Well, which is where in 1701 Francis Burges set up the Norwich Post, which is considered to be the first provincial newspaper in England. Unfortunately, very few copies of this newspaper remain, the earlier survivor being from 1707. I wonder whether John’s death would have been mentioned in the newspaper, although I think the aim of provincial newspapers was often a little more political than the more mundane reporting of local obituaries.

Sometimes graves are moved onto the structure of the church at a later date, but it appears this was placed here following John’s death. A book of the city’s history written by Francis Blomefield at the beginning of the nineteenth century notes that the stone was in its current location in 1806. Much of the stone tablet is blank suggesting at some stage it was thought more might be added. Inside the church is (or was) a memorial to Dorothy Mettyer, the daughter of John, who died in 1722. It seems possible that perhaps it was initially planned to add her details to that of her father.