phone mail2 facebook twitter play
Top 5 Cathedral Cities You Have to Visit
Image Credit: Canterbury Cathedral. Christopher John SSF

Top 5 Cathedral Cities You Have to Visit

19 March 2017 | Belphoebe New

Britain’s abundance of cathedrals are not only a fascinating insight into the country’s religious history, but a stunning example of some of its most iconic and enduring art and architecture. You’ll be able to find a cathedral in most of the UK’s cities, but there are some particular points of interest that are a must-see for any cathedral connoisseur (or just anyone who wants to spend a few hours inside a beautiful building).

Wells Cathedral
 
The smallest city in England, Wells feels very much like a town. However, it’s centerpiece, the stunning Wells Cathedral, is truly a marvel. Described as ‘the most poetic cathedral in Britain’ it’s arguably one of the most beautiful examples of Gothic architecture in the country. Wells as a cathedral city dates back to around 909 AD, but many of the features of the current cathedral were built between 1175 and 1490. The West Front is a sight to behold, featuring a plethora of statues tucked into alcoves and sharp spires reaching up into the sky. Inside, you’ll notice the famous scissor arches and intricate carvings dotted around the building, as well as a 14th century astronomical clock that is said to be the oldest in Europe.

Wells Cathedral on a sunny day.
Wells Cathdral. Photo Credit: Gary Ullah.
 
Cathedral Green, Wells BA5 2UE. Visit their website.
 
Lincoln Cathedral
 
It may seem hard to believe now, but at one time Lincoln Cathedral was the tallest building in the world. Dating back to 1072, it’s gothic spires tower over the city of Lincoln. Heading inside the cathedral, walk up to St Hugh’s Choir where you’ll be surrounded by arched pillars and Victorian stained glass windows. Don’t forget to look out for the Lincoln imp, perched high above the choir. According to mythology he is said to have been turned into stone by the angels for causing mischief in the cathedral!

Lincoln Cathdral frmo the outside.
Lincoln Cathedral. Photo Credit: Martin Pettitt.
 
Minster Yard, Lincoln LN2 1PX. Visit their website.
 
Winchester Cathedral
 
Rather than towering high into the sky, Winchester Cathedral stretches 556-feet across, making it the longest Medieval Cathedral in Europe. There has been a cathedral in Winchester since 648 AD, and it’s been remodeled and renovated many times since then. Winchester cathedral is characterised by a perpendicular (Gothic) style of vertical paneled windows, narrow octagonal towers, as well as Norman pillars and heavy round arches. The nave stretches out far in front of you, and if you walk up it you’ll see the beautiful choir and altar, embellished with a 15th century ornate gold screen depicting Christ and many saints. Some of Britain’s ancient kings and queens are buried here, as well as one of the UK’s most famous authors, Jane Austen.

Winchester Cathedral on a bright day.
Winchester Cathedral. Photo Credit: RJP.
 
9 The Cl, Winchester SO23 9LS. Visit their website.
 
Durham Cathedral
 
Moving away from the Gothic, Durham Cathedral is possibly the finest example of a Norman cathedral in the UK. Whilst most other Norman buildings have been rebuilt and modified beyond recognition, Durham Cathedral is almost entirely preserved. Work began on the cathedral in 1093 to house the remains of St Cuthbert, the 7th century Bishop of Lindisfarne, and ended around 1133. Since then, the cathedral has been constantly used as a place of worship and pilgrimage. Highlights include: their Frosterly marble which is over 310 million years old; the distinctive ribbed zig-zagging around the pillars in the centre of the cathedral; the 12th century cloisters used in the filming of Harry Potter; and the tower that you can climb up for truly unrivalled views of the city.

Durham Cathedral
Durham Cathedral. Photo Credit: Reading Tom
 
The College, Durham DH1 3EH. Visit their website.
 
Canterbury Cathedral
 
The seat of The Archbishop of Canterbury and Britain’s oldest cathedral, Canterbury is one of the most famous religious structures in England and has a colourful history. The cathedral dates back to around 597 AD, but almost nothing of the original building remains. It has a mixture of Gothic and Norman architecture, with the famous 14th century Romanesque nave and the beautiful crypt which dates back to the 11th century, making it the oldest part of the cathedral.  The beautiful carvings on the stained glass windows illustrate some of the cathedral’s history, most significantly the martyrdom of Archbishop Thomas Becket, who was murdered in the cathedral in 1170 and is now buried there, alongside other important figures from English history such as King Henry IV.

Canterbury Cathedral from the front.
Canterbury Cathedral. Photo Credit: Andrew Crump
 
Cathedral House, 11 The Precincts, Canterbury CT1 2EH. Visit their website.

Tell us what you think

You may also like

Mark Haddon: Portraits

Mark Haddon: Portraits

While Oxford local Mark Haddon is known and revered for his writings – most notably his 2003 smash hit novel The Curious Incident of the Dog…

On Record: An Interview with Sophie Willan

On Record: An Interview with Sophie Willan

Sophie Willan is a rising star in British comedy, and her first solo stand-up show, On Record, has been making waves across the country. After…

George Hardie: Fifty Odd Years

George Hardie: Fifty Odd Years

Having recently retired from teaching illustration at the University of Brighton in 2014, Professor George Hardie, a graphic designer, illustrator and cover artist to some of the…

Mother’s Day in Oxford: A Guide

Mother’s Day in Oxford: A Guide

26 March is Mother’s Day, and it’s time to treat your mother to something a little more luxurious than the gas station flowers and a card…

An Interview with Amy Macdonald

An Interview with Amy Macdonald

With her latest album Under Stars propelling her onto playlists around the country, Amy Macdonald is getting ready to open her tour in Bristol’s Colston Hall,…

FILM REVIEW: The Eyes of My Mother

FILM REVIEW: The Eyes of My Mother

You thought the torture porn era was over? Hostel, The Human Centipede, A Serbian Film – they came and went leaving a blood and faeces stained…

An Interview with Jessica Ennis-Hill

An Interview with Jessica Ennis-Hill

After calling time on her career as one of Great Britain’s most successful Olympians, Jessica Ennis-Hill has turned her hand to the world of children’s fiction. As…

FILM REVIEW: Lost City of Z

FILM REVIEW: Lost City of Z

The Amazon has proved a perilous environment for films to venture into over the years. For every Fitzcarraldo that has discovered the cinematic El Dorado,…

Bristol on a Budget

Bristol on a Budget

Famed for its maritime history, Bristol has since become a go-to city for year-round festivals, exciting bar life, and stunning green spaces. Compact enough to…

Six Things You Didn’t Know About Brighton’s History

Six Things You Didn’t Know About Brighton’s History

For many, Brighton is home to the new, hip and trendy – no place for those stuck in the past, it would seem. Beneath the chic…

More inspiration...

Mark Haddon: Portraits

Mark Haddon: Portraits

We discover the author of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time's new venture - a series of portraits on display at The Jam Factory, Oxford.
On Record: An Interview with Sophie Willan

On Record: An Interview with Sophie Willan

We talk to Sophie Willan about her experiences of social care and mental health, and her sell out comedy show.
George Hardie: Fifty Odd Years

George Hardie: Fifty Odd Years

We investigate the new exhibition of the work of designer and illustrator George Hardie at Brighton University Gallery.
Mother’s Day in Oxford: A Guide

Mother’s Day in Oxford: A Guide

We pick out a few ideas for you to book for upcoming Mother's Day.
An Interview with Amy Macdonald

An Interview with Amy Macdonald

We talk to Amy Macdonald ahead of her UK tour, starting in Colston Hall, Bristol.

Your inbox deserves a little culture!