Church History

An informal look at the history of the Christian church from an English perspective.

Scout & Guide HQ
4th Tuesday of the month
2.00 - 4.00
  • Leaders:
  • Peter Goodrich - 01695 573285
  • Peter Gateley - 01695 572794
  • Peter Hatfield - 01695 424880
  • Coordinator: Christine Henderson - 01695 573180


Just to re-iterate the recent Beacon message, the U3A Committee have followed Government guidance (re the Coronavirus) and cancelled all group activity until further notice.  Peter Hatfield is in the process of cancelling both the programmed visits (Lancaster and Beverley) and all the remaining talks are now postponed until we have a green light to become active again.

Please note that the planned talk on Chichester Cathedral will not now go ahead next Tuesday (24th March 2020)

Very best wishes to you all, from the Peters.

English Medieval Cathedrals – 2020 series

Medieval Cathedrals of South East England

Speakers: Peter Goodrich, Peter Gateley and Peter Hatfield

A new series of talks and visits will start on Tuesday 28 January.

The full programme can be viewed here.

The talks are at Scout & Guide HQ, and the entrance cost is £2.00 including refreshments.

The visits will be by coach as usual, and arrangements and costs will be announced in January.

November 26th 2019 – mid-break meeting

Prior to starting on our exploration of medieval cathedrals of the South and South-east of England in January 2020, there will be a mid-break meeting at the Scout Hut at the usual time of 14.00 on Tuesday 26th November.

This will give the opportunity for a brief preview of the 2020 programme, including the nationally historically important Canterbury Cathedral and Westminster Abbey.

As a holiday treat we will whisk you abroad to look at eight medieval French cathedrals, although separated by relatively short distance we will be able to see some of the differences between English and French Gothic, as well as show regional differences within the large geographical extent of France itself.

Speakers: Peter Goodrich, Peter Hatfield and Peter Gateley

English Medieval Cathedrals – 2019 series

English Medieval Cathedrals of the South West

A series of six indoor meetings, looking at ‘Cathedrals of the south-western parts of England’ + two coach trips (not to SW England!).


22 January – a talk about Winchester Cathedral


26 February – a talk about Salisbury Cathedral


26 March – a visit to Liverpool Anglican Cathedral


23 April – talks about Bath Abbey and Truro Cathedral

Bath Abbey Timeline

Truro Cathedral Timeline

28th May – a visit to Selby Abbey and Sherburn Church, Yorkshire

25th June – a talk, about Bristol Cathedral

Bristol Cathedral Timeline

23 July – a talk, about Wells Cathedral

Wells Cathedral Timeline

27 August – a talk, about Exeter Cathedral

Exeter Cathedral Timeline


English Medieval Cathedrals – 2018 series

English Medieval Cathedrals, from the Wash to the River Severn

Speakers: Peter Goodrich, Peter Gateley and Peter Hatfield

23rd January Norwich Cathedral talk. Norwich Cathedral timeline
27th March Ely Cathedral talk. Ely Cathedral timeline
24th April Peterborough Cathedral talk. Peterborough Cathedral Timeline
1st May Visit to Manchester Cathedral and other historic buildings. Details
22nd May Gloucester Cathedral talk. Gloucester Cathedral Timeline
26th June Visit to Furness Abbey and Swarthmoor Hall by coach
24th July Oxford Christ Church Cathedral talk. Oxford Cathedral timeline

English Medieval Cathedrals – 2016-17 series

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.