The Dean and Chapter commissioned two new statues for the west front of the Cathedral to commemorate the new Millennium. Local sculptor, David Holgate, created powerful images of St Benedict and Mother Julian of Norwich, a medieval mystic who was the first woman ever to write a book in English.
Holgate spent a long time looking for people whose features would be just right to use as models. Eventually he found the perfect St Benedict, playing jazz guitar in a restaurant on St Benedict's Street, Norwich. He picked Robbie Broomhead because of his ‘wonderful Romanesque face and Roman nose’. The guitarist even shaved his head for him!
For Mother Julian, he chose a Spanish woman living locally, Adela Gil de Sagredo. 'The people of the 14th century would have been quite small and slight, and she had the right sort of face to give this sense of spiritual calm’, David explained.
The life-size sculptures are made from Ancaster stone, from Lincolnshire. The statues occupy niches, either side of the West Porch of the Cathedral, which had stood empty for over 500 years. Now St Benedict and Mother Julian look out over the Close, welcoming visitors to Norwich Cathedral.