Chester Cathedral, Cheshire UK
Very local to me, Chester city cathedral is the mother church of the Church of the Diocese of Chester, and is located in the administrative walled city. 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.
The cathedral is a Grade I listed building, and the heritage site, including the former monastic buildings, lying to the north of the cathedral is also listed Grade I. 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. All the major styles of English medieval architecture, from Norman to Perpendicular are represented in the present building.
The cathedral and monastic buildings were extensively restored during the 19th century amidst some controversy, and a free-standing bell-tower was added in the 20th century. The buildings are a major tourist attraction in Chester, a city of historic, cultural and architectural importance. In addition to holding services for Christian worship, the cathedral is used as a venue for concerts and exhibitions.
The city of Chester was an important Roman stronghold (Deva). 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 907 AD her shrine was placed in the church.
The interior of Chester Cathedral gives a warm and mellow appearance because of the pinkish colour of the sandstone. The proportions appear spacious because the view from the west end of the nave to the east end is unimpeded by a pulpitum and the nave, although not long, is both wide and high compared with many of England's cathedrals. The piers of the nave and choir are widely spaced, those of the nave carrying only the clerestory of large windows with no triforium gallery. The proportions are made possible partly because the ornate stellar vault, like that at York Minster, is of wood, not stone.
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