English Medieval Cathedrals – 2016-17 series

By | November 7, 2017

English Medieval Cathedrals in the North and Midlands

Speakers: Peter Goodrich, Peter Gateley and Peter Hatfield

English medieval cathedrals are widely admired both at home and abroad as both architectural masterpieces and touchstones of English History. Their stylistic diversity is remarkable reflecting their longevity and origins. Some cathedrals are descendants of former abbeys, others purpose built as cathedrals, all have seen major changes over the past millennium, and all continue to serve their primary purpose of providing a regional seat (cathedra is the Latin word for the Bishop’s throne) for the local Bishop or in the case of Canterbury and York, for the Archbishop. The series of talks covered their Anglo-Saxon origins, the impact of Viking raids and occupation, the Norman conquest and the English Reformation.

The introductory talk on 25th October 2016 reviewed all those cathedrals (ten in all) which are included in the monthly talks, briefly covering their differences, special features and their local impact.

Subsequent sessions explained the development of floor plans, internal and external features, the evolution of the Gothic style and the archaic terminology used to describe their key parts, all accompanied by illustrations. We visited the origins of the Christian church from Roman times and the establishment of dioceses in the Saxon period and looked at surviving examples of Saxon church architecture.

The following four meetings showcased the northern cathedrals: Durham Cathedral, York Minster, Carlisle Cathedral, Ripon Cathedral and Chester Cathedral showing their origins, history and examining in detail their magnificent architectural features, stained glass and furnishings. This was also a visit to Chester Cathedral to illustrate many of the points made during the talks.

We concluded the series with the great cathedrals in the midlands: Lincoln, Southwell, Worcester, Lichfield and Hereford, with a second cathedral visit to Lichfield.

Programme of Talks, English Medieval Cathedrals: North and Midlands

All talks were held at 2.00-4.00pm on the fourth Tuesday of the month in the Scout and Guide HQ (large room), with breaks for coffee and discussion.

1. Introductory Talk – October 25th 2016

North of England

2. Durham Cathedral – November 22nd 2016. View the Durham Cathedral time line.
3. York Minster – January 24th 2017. View the York Minster time line.
4. Carlisle and Ripon Cathedrals – February 28th 2017. View the Carlisle and Ripon time lines.
5. Chester Cathedral (Visit) March 28th 2017. View the Chester Cathedral time line.


6. Lincoln Cathedral – April 25th 2017. View the Lincoln Cathedral time line.
7. Southwell Minster – May 23th 2017. View the Southwell Minster time line.
8. Lichfield Cathedral (Visit) – June 27th 2017.
9. Worcester Cathedral – July 25th 2017. View the Worcester Cathedral time line.
10. Hereford Cathedral – August 22nd 2017. View the Hereford Cathedral Timeline.

 The Speakers:

Peter Goodrich is a former Canon of the Liverpool Diocese with a keen interest in Anglo Saxon church history.

Peter Hatfield is a retired architect who specialised in ecclesiastical work and was a Cathedral Architect.

Peter Gateley has had a lifelong interest in the history of architecture and last year presented a well received short course to U3A.

Last Updated on December 11, 2017