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Chester Cathedral

Chester, Cheshire

Location Guide

Photo by Neil Kennedy 

The cathedral, formerly St Werburgh's abbey church of a Benedictine monastery, is dedicated to Christ and the Blessed Virgin Mary.

Since 1541 it has been the centre of worship, administration, ceremony and music for the city and diocese. There are former monastic buildings lying to the north of the cathedral.  The cathedral, typical of English cathedrals in having been modified many times, dates from between 1093 and the early 1500s, although the site itself may have been used for Christian worship since Roman times.

The city of Chester was a Roman stronghold.  There may have been a Christian basilica on the site of the present cathedral in the late Roman era, while Chester was controlled by Legio XX Valeria Victrix. Legend holds that the basilica was dedicated to St Paul and St Peter. This is supported by evidence that in Saxon times the dedication of an early chapel on this site was changed from St Peter to St Werburgh. In the 10th century, St Werburgh's remains were brought to Chester, and 907AD her shrine was placed in the church.  It is thought that Æthelfleda turned the church into a college of secular canons, and that it was given a charter by King Edgar in 968. The abbey, as it was then, was restored in 1057 by Leofric, Earl of Mercia and Lady Godiva. This abbey was razed to the ground around 1090, with the secular canons evicted, and no known trace of it remains.

In 1093 a Benedictine monastery was established on the site by Hugh Lupus, Earl of Chester, and the earliest surviving parts of the structure date from that time.  The abbey church was not at that time the cathedral of Chester, from 1075 to 1082 the cathedral of the diocese was the nearby church of St. John the Baptist, after which the see was transferred to Coventry. In 1538, during the dissolution of the monasteries, the monastery was disbanded and the shrine of St Werburgh was desecrated.  In 1541 St Werburgh's abbey became a cathedral of the Church of England by order of Henry VIII. At the same time, the dedication was changed to Christ and the Blessed Virgin. The last abbot of St Werburgh’s Abbey, Thomas Clarke, became the first dean of the new cathedral at the head of a secular chapter.

photo by Tom Pennington

Remains of Norman cathedral of St.John the Baptist

Plan of Chester cathedral today, another can be seen by clicking here

While no trace of the 10th century church or earlier has been discovered, there is much evidence of the monastery of 1093. This work in the Norman style may be seen in the north west tower, the north transept and in remaining parts of the monastic buildings. The abbey church, beginning with the Lady Chapel at the eastern end, was extensively rebuilt in Gothic style during the 13th and 14th centuries. At the time of the dissolution of the monasteries, the cloister, the central tower, a new south transept, the large west window and a new entrance porch to the south had just been built in the Perpendicular style, and the south west tower of the façade had been begun. The west front was given a Tudor entrance, but the tower was never completed.

Location: Chester Cathedral, Chester, Cheshire

Grid Reference: SJ406665 Ceremonial County: Cheshire

Map Link: Roads - Multimap

Walking -Multimap

Aerial photo: Multimap

Birds Eye multi angle - Multimap

From an aircraft or similar

Getting there: Centre of Chester

Access: By foot, parking in Chester city centre car parks.
Website: Own
Other Useful Websites: wiki    History online
Email: Contact form is on their website
Address: Chester Cathedral Office, 12 Abbey Square, Chester
Postcode: CH1 2HU Telephone: 01244 324756
ffice hours: Mon-Fri 9am-1pm and 2pm-4pm.
Opening Times: Monday - Saturday 09.00 - 17.00 and Sunday 12.30 - 16.00

Charges:  Adults £4.00; Children (10-16) £1.50; Senior Citizens £3.00; Family Ticket £10.00

Nearby Locations: Cheshire's Top Attractions

Other Location Pages:

List of all Anglican cathedrals and other major Anglican churches in the UK

Abbey section, including all major Christian buildings, regions orders, normal layouts and history.

Notes: Photography allowed for private use and there are no additional fees for this.



Page Ref: Chester_Cathedral

Classification: Abbeys (incl. all Christian buildings)

Date Updated: 09/2008

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