Tribute to Durham Cathedral Librarian after his death aged 80


TRIBUTES were paid to a former cathedral librarian who “lived and breathed it all in Durham” – after his death at the age of 80.

Roger Norris, who had lived in the historic town for over 50 years, died Sunday, December 19 – and leaves behind an army of friends and colleagues after a distinguished career that saw him join the Freemasons, the charitable trusts and historic groups.

Although he was born in Hayes, Middlesex, and moved across the country in his youth, due to his father being an RAF officer, his heart belonged to Durham, according to those who knew him the better.

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To prepare him for his career as a librarian at Durham Cathedral, Mr. Norris studied ancient and modern literature at Trinity College Dublin, worked as a librarian at Kilburn Polytechnic in London and graduated as a professional librarian in Sheffield. before taking up a post at the University of Edinburgh.

His appointment to Durham Cathedral in 1966 introduced him to one of the most important cathedral collections in the country, including some of the earliest Anglo-Saxon manuscripts and ancient artefacts.

Although he did not know much about the area before settling there, by his own admission, from 1966 onwards, his appointment as Honorary Secretary of the City of Durham Trust a year later “sparked” this interest and that passion for all of Durham and County Durham.

Mr. Norris has served in historic societies, charitable trusts and many other groups throughout his life.

After that, it was about immersing yourself in everything the city did, whether it was its extended stays at the Durham Diocesan Committee for the Care of Churches, the Durham Victoria County History Trust, and the Northumbria Historic Churches. Trust.

Similar roles as chairman of the Durham Council of Churches and chairman of the Durham and Northumberland Society for Architecture and Archeology, as well as chairman of the Durham Freemasons Board of Trustees for 20 years.

It was his role as a cathedral librarian that he was most passionate about, however, according to his 40-year-old friend Chris Meikle.

L'écho du Nord: the former librarian never had a family of his own, but had The former librarian never had a family of his own, but had “an army of friends,” according to those who knew him most. Photo: CHRIS MEIKLE.

Even though Mr. Norris has never been married or had children, Chris says his “dear friends” have become his family – including spending Christmases with those he holds dear.

Paying tribute to his’ incredibly kind and wickedly funny ‘friend, Mr Meikle said:’ He had friends from everywhere – from all walks of life, from all walks of life, and that’s because he got really involved in everything. and anything Durham. Everyone knew him, whether as a great friend or a nice person who was part of a group, he was greatly appreciated.

“For the past 40 years we have welcomed him into our family, taken him on vacation with us and he has become such a special person in all of our lives.

Echo of the North: Freemasons also occupied an important place in Roger's life, since he became chairman of the board for 20 years.  Photo: CHRIS MEIKLE.Freemasons have also occupied an important place in Roger’s life, having served as chairman of the board for 20 years. Photo: CHRIS MEIKLE.

“He has a special gift for never prejudging people. I don’t know how he does it. He didn’t care where you came from, what you do, but he wanted to take an interest in every person he met.

Throughout his life, the former cathedral librarian remained “modest and humble,” which showed that he always had to accept an award, Mr Meikle said.

Instead of crediting himself, he “always credited others and sang their praises” – something he will remember.

The Northern Echo: Roger will also be remembered for his loyalty to his faith, having traveled 50 miles at a time on long journeys to see churches in the United Kingdom.  Photo: CHRIS MEIKLE. Roger will also be remembered for his loyalty to his faith, having traveled 50 miles at a time on long journeys to see churches in the United Kingdom. Photo: CHRIS MEIKLE.

However, Mr. Meikle also points out that his “father figure” of a friend will be remembered for his loyalty to his faith, which saw him become a vital part of the community of St. Paul’s Monastery in Jarrow.

For many that would mean staying in the same church every week, but for Roger he had to “constantly” visit many churches in the UK on long journeys, making detours 50 miles at a time, according to Chris.

Mr Meikle added: “He had a wicked sense of humor and such an impressive and complex vocabulary – I feel like I learned so much from him, he was so smart.

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“He had a lot of friends who became his family. After his death, I first thought of the massive impact he had, and then I thought of the many people who will be saddened by his death.

“He leaves behind his career, his endless collection of books, but, above all, he leaves behind some great friends that he has made along the way.”

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