The cathedrals in our gazetteer are
primarily medieval. Most were intentionaly built as cathedrals, though there are several that were originally monastic churches (e.g. Bath Abbey) or parish churches (e.g. Southwark Cathedral) that were later raised to cathedral status after the Reformation, as population
expanded and settlement patterns changed. Dress warmly. Even in summer
the medieval stone giants can chill your bones.
WHAT IS A CATHEDRAL?
Technically, a cathedral is the 'seat', or home church of a bishop. The term originated with the Latin word 'cathedra', which was a throne, a literal 'seat' for a bishop. Some of the original medieval 'cathedra' - stone bishop thrones - are still preserved.
The honour of 'first English cathedral' is usually awarded to Canterbury Cathedral, begun in 597 AD by St Augustine. However, the first cathedral in England may actually have been built around 370 AD by the Romano-British Emperor Magnus Maximus, on Tower Hill, later site of the Tower of London. That 4th century church was destroyed by barbarians in the 5th century, and the masonry was used to build London's city walls and the Tower of London itself.
The smallest cathedral - Oxford - serves the largest diocese!
Even if Thomas à Becket had chosen somewhere else to earn his martyr's crown, Canterbury would still deserve attention for its role in the spread of Christianity throughout England. It was here that St. Augustine began the conversion of the pagan islanders in 597. ... more