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The structure of the cathedral is primarily in the Norman style,
having been constructed at the behest of Bishop Herbert de Losinga
between the late 11th century and about 1145. The total length of the
building is 461 feet (140 m). Significant alterations from later
periods include a 315 foot (96 m) spire completed in 1465, and a
two-storey cloister, the only such in England, which was built between
1300 and 1430, as well as the vaults of nave and chancel.
The cathedral is built of flint and mortar faced with limestone brought in from Caen. Standing at 315 feet, the cathedral's spire is the second tallest in England, and dominates the city skyline; only the spire of Salisbury Cathedral is higher at 404 feet. Like Salisbury and Ely, the cathedral lacks a ring of bells - the only three English cathedrals to do so. One of the best views of the cathedral spire is from St. James's Hill on Mousehold Heath.
The bosses of the vault number over 1,000. Each is decorated with a theological image and have been described as without parallel in the Christian world. The nave vault shows the history of the world from the creation; the cloister includes series showing the life of Christ, and the Apocalypse.
The precinct of the cathedral, the limit of the former monastery, is between Tombland (the Anglo-Saxon market place) and the River Wensum - building materials were taken up the Wensum and unloaded at Pulls Ferry, Norwich. The Cathedral Close, which runs from Tombland into the cathedral grounds, contains a number of interesting buildings from the 15th through to the 19th century, including the remains of the Infirmary.