Roger Norris 1941-2021

Trustees were sorry to learn of the death on December 19 at the age of 80 of a former Trustee and Honorary Secretary, Roger Norris. His funeral took place on 11 January in Durham Cathedral, with many friends and colleagues in attendance.

Roger was born in Hayes, Middlesex, studied ancient and modern literature at Trinity College, Dublin, worked in various libraries while becoming professionally qualified, and arrived in Durham in 1966 to take up the post of Deputy Cathedral Librarian.

Despite on his own admission not knowing much about the City when he arrived, within a year he had joined the Trust and become its honorary Secretary. On retiring from that position in 1973 he joined the Trustees, a position he held until 2006.

Roger was younger than the existing Trustees of the time and brought a different perspective to the meetings. The Trust became more inclusive and more outward-looking.

The sheer breadth of his knowledge meant that he soon became invaluable as a walking directory on historic Durham, to the benefit of the Trust and the people of Durham in general. On the rare occasions when he did not know the answer to any query, he knew immediately where to look. From his base in the libraries of the University and Dean and Chapter, he assisted countless researchers. International scholars and pupils on school projects alike, all received unstinting assistance, with Roger himself seeming always to share the enthusiasm of the quest. Goodwill was extended to all.

In 1990 History of County Durham, co-authored with Douglas Pocock for the Darwen County Histories, was published to considerable acclaim.

Roger’s other roles, gladly taken on, were to chair the Durham Council of Churches, be President of the Architectural and Archaeological Society of Durham and Northumberland, and to chair the Trustees of the Durham City Freemen for 20 years until 2015. In addition, as reported in the Northern Echo, he had long associations with the Durham Diocesan Committee for the Care of Churches, Durham Victoria County History Trust, and the Northumbria Historic Churches Trust.

Roger was Honorary Secretary for six years then a Trustee for a third of a century. We owe him a huge debt, as do other bodies in both city and diocese, for his devotion to the City and to the people who treasure it.


  1. I m very saddened to hear the passing away of my good friend whom I had known for over 25 years!- when I moved to Durham. Very sad news and loved by many.

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